Late last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its ruling in Pennsylvania Democratic Party et al. v. Kathy Boockvar, et al. This is the case in which District 98, and nine other PA unions filed an amicus curiae brief. In the decision (attached), the Court granted relief that will protect all Pennsylvanians’ fundamental right to vote.
The lawsuit, filed by Pennsylvania Democratic Party and fifteen elected officials (“Petitioners”) in the Commonwealth Court, was removed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. Based on the twin hazards of COVID-19 and the slowdown in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”), Petitioners asked the Court to declare that: (1) county boards of election may establish satellite offices and drop boxes for voters to submit mail-in or absentee ballots; (2) county boards of elections are required to accept and count all mail-in and absentee ballots postmarked by 8 pm on November 3, 2020 (Election Day) and received within a reasonable time after Election Day; (3) county boards of election must notify voters of defects in their mail-in or absentee ballots and provide voters an opportunity to correct; (4) county boards of election are required to count mail-in or absentee ballots that are returned without the ballot placed in a security envelope provided by the county boards of elections (referred to as “naked ballots”); and (5) the Election Code requirement that poll watchers must reside in the county in which they perform those functions is constitutional.
In our Amici Curiae Brief, the PA Unions advocated for satellite and drop boxes, a reasonable extension of time to return mail-in ballots, and the counting of naked ballots. The Court’s decision denied the request to count naked ballots but granted the rest of the relief we supported. In addition, the Court upheld the residency requirement for poll watchers, and denied the Petitioners’ request to have the boards of elections notify mail ballot voters of defects in their ballots. In granting the specific relief provided, the Court reiterated its strong stance in favor of the right to vote, which will protect against future attempts to limit voting rights in Pennsylvania.
By permitting county boards of election to create satellite offices and drop boxes for use as places for voters to submit mail-in and absentee ballots, the Court has dramatically increased the chances for voters to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election and elections into the future. The Court also increased the likelihood that mail ballots will actually be counted, by extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots. The ruling requires county boards of election to count all mail-in ballots received via the Postal Service that are postmarked by 8 pm on Election Day and received in their offices by November 6, 2020 at 5 pm. Any ballot received by that date and time will be presumed to have been mailed by the Election Day deadline if it arrives by the end of business on November 6, 2020.
I expect that there will still be federal court challenges to at least some parts of the Supreme Court’s decision (e.g., regarding satellite offices and drop boxes). But this victory and the important voice that we provided in support of democracy and voting rights is in the best traditions of the labor movement in Pennsylvania, and certainly something that we all can be proud.
Working People Must Come First in Relief Package — Momentum Growing for Airline Support Extension — Progress for Striking IAM Shipbuilders
|Friday, August 7, 2020
IAM Officers, Staff and Members — This email newsletter is an effort to better communicate with our membership on how the IAM is fully engaged on important legislative matters that affect our day-to-day lives. Our goal is to get this information out to our membership on the shop floors. Please make it a top priority to consistently share this important new initiative with our membership.
HELLO AND WELCOME TO MACHINISTS ON THE HILL, a twice-monthly roundup of legislative advocacy on behalf of IAM members.
Produced by: IAM Legislative and Communications Departments
GOP’S HEALS ACT IS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Nearly three months after the House of Representatives passed coronavirus relief legislation, the Republican-controlled Senate has finally offered their own proposal. Unfortunately, the relief package, known as the HEALS Act, comes up woefully short for millions of working families.
The HEALS Act’s shortcomings include:
· Cutting federal unemployment benefits to $200 from $600;
· No airline or railroad relief;
· Immunity for companies that endanger their employees and the public;
· No OSHA standard protecting employees;
· No pension relief, no COBRA subsidy, no eviction moratorium extension;
· Fast track to cut Social Security and Medicare;
· No hazard pay for essential workers;
· No relief money for state and local governments;
· No funding for elections;
· No money for USPS; and
· Inadequate funding for schools.
“This legislation is a slap in the face to working people in this country,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “They have no problem handing out a trillion dollars in tax cuts to corporations, but want to nickel and dime unemployed Americans at a time when they need it the most.”
Alternatively, the House-passed relief bill, the HEROES Act, puts working people first by:
· Extending the additional $600 unemployment insurance benefit;
· Including an emergency workplace infectious disease standard;
· Giving aid for state and local governments, public schools, the U.S. Postal Service;
· Keeping workers on payrolls to avoid mass layoffs;
· Providing more direct payments to working people;
· Extending health care coverage; and
· Providing housing and food benefits.
Of course, as is the case with most legislation, the HEROES Act is not perfect. It includes pension language, known as the GROW Act, which would weaken multi-employer pension plans. The IAM is working to remove this harmful language from the HEROES Act.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
1. Call the Machinists Union Legislative hotline at 866-829-3298. Tell your Senators to reject the HEALS Act.
2. Send your Senators a message now and tell them to pass a relief package that helps working people.
SUPPORT GROWS FOR EXTENDING AIRLINE WORKER SUPPORT: The IAM, along with a coalition of airline unions, are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. After securing support from a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House, the IAM needs your help convincing the Senate that they must act now to save hundreds of thousands of airline jobs before funding runes out on October 1.
The IAM sent a letter this week to every member of the U.S. Senate encouraging them to support a clean extension of the airline Payroll Support Program, resulting in 16 GOP Senators, led by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), throwing their support behind the program. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has already pledged his caucus’s support for a clean extension.
President Trump endorsed the program at a White House press conference on Wednesday.
“The continuation of this program is vital to protecting the livelihoods of thousands of Machinists come October 1,” said IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “The IAM will continue to lead the fight on Capitol Hill to ensure our members’ futures.”
The airline Payroll Support Program, passed in the CARES Act, has saved nearly 1 million jobs already, but an extension of the program through March 31, 2021 is imperative to keep the industry afloat.
“This critical program has been a success and we must extend it,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The Payroll Support Program has kept our members and hundreds of thousands of airline workers and their families off of unemployment rolls and on payrolls.”
IAM PRESSURE FORCES BATH IRON WORKS BACK TO TABLE: After a rousing union rally and mounting political pressure, Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, returned to the negotiating table to work toward a deal with 4,300 striking IAM Local S6 shipbuilders in Maine.
IAM Local S6 has been on strike since July 22 after the company refused to back off proposals to outsource good Maine jobs and gut seniority rights. The local negotiating committee and the company have made progress on several articles in the contract since returning to the table Monday, August 3.
The progress comes after International President Robert Martinez Jr., General Vice President Brian Bryant, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon and State Sen. Eloise Vitelli joined hundreds of Local S6 members for a rally on Saturday, July 25. U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree have put pressure on the company, questioning BIW’s claim that the U.S. Navy is pushing expanded subcontracting at the shipyard.
BIW was six months behind production schedule before the strike began and is falling further behind every day.
· READ: Machinists union president rallies striking shipyard workers The Associated Press
78 BIPARTISAN HOUSE MEMBERS TELL LEADERSHIP TO FUND AMTRAK AND TRANSIT NOW: A recent letter to Senate and House leadership, led by U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), was joined by 76 of their colleagues in support of emergency funding for Amtrak and transit nationwide.
The letter specifically calls for $8 billion in emergency aid to Amtrak and $32 billion for transit agencies. Importantly, the letter supports the retention of the Amtrak workforce and long-distance route frequencies.
· TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to fund Amtrak and save our jobs
STANDING UP FOR BOEING WORKERS: After news that Boeing is cutting or delaying commercial production on multiple programs, the IAM and a powerful ally in Congress are pledging to support IAM members and all workers at the aerospace giant.
“Whether you work in Everett or North Charleston, we are all performing the same work, providing for our families and just trying to get ahead; most certainly proud of the work we perform and the airplanes we build,” said IAM District 751 President Jon Holden. “Our union continues working to provide resources and support to our members getting laid-off so they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”
Boeing is projecting rate reductions for the 737, 777/777X and 787, as well as announcing that 747 production will end in 2022. Along with a slower production rate for the 787, Boeing CEO David Calhoun revealed that Boeing is launching a study to consolidate all 787 production in one location.
“I am committed to helping our region work back to full strength and remain the aerospace capital of the world,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. “The U.S. aviation economy must plan for the future and be ready to act when the nation gets to the other side of this pandemic.”
NFFE-IAM FIGHTING TO SAVE CRITICAL RED RIVER PROGRAM: House Defense Appropriators are proposing to send the Rollover Mitigation Retrofit Program, currently located at the Red River Army Depot (RRAD) in Texarkana, TX, to a military facility at Rock Island, IL. The move would result in the outsourcing of more than 100 jobs at RRAD.
The program performs modifications to the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) to prevent older models from rolling over, a vehicle defect that has injured and killed soldiers while deployed.
Both chambers of Congress support the work remaining at RRAD within the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The focus now is on Senate Defense appropriators.
NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 initiated a letter campaign through its website.