Calling for a Deeper Conversation

The Summer 2019 IAM Journal will be hitting the doorsteps on IAM members by late May. Here’s a first look at one of several articles in this edition.

The IAM is a both a full-service union for its members at home and a leading voice for working people around the world. At a recent summit of labor and religious leaders in Vatican City, IAM Transportation Department leadership spoke on transport, new technology, the environment, human trafficking and other issues that affect all working people.

The Transportation Labor and Manufacturers Summit was held at Vatican City’s Casina Pio IV. It was jointly sponsored by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Vatican’s Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS).

“During this summit, participants will have the opportunity to exchange their experiences, concerns and good practices regarding respect for the environment and the dignity of all human beings,” said PAS Chancellor H.E. Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo.

IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja, a member of the ITF Executive Board, spoke about the threat that new technology presents to workers, and the even bigger threat from corporate and political campaigns against workers.

“Carriers like United, Southwest and others closed reservation centers because of the internet,” said Pantoja. “New technology forces unions to adapt in the face of anti-union forces. The loss of jobs from new technology is bad enough. But when politicians are continually passing laws that make it harder to organize the jobs created by new technology, the impact on labor unions and workers is multiplied.”

Technology is not the biggest threat faced by workers. Even more serious are the direct attacks on workers’ ability to organize to enhance their lives.

“The only reason that union density has declined over the last 20 years is because there has been an assault on workers who want to organize,” said Pantoja. “Delta Air Lines has fired people who support the IAM’s organizing drive. It is the economic death penalty for these people. The only way we can maintain a balance and protect workers is to make sure we elect politicians who have the interests of working people in mind.”

As Chair of the ITF’s Civil Aviation Section, Transportation Chief of Staff Joseph Tiberi represented more than 2 million aviation workers worldwide and led a discussion on the scourge of human trafficking. Tiberi called for universal mandatory training for all passenger-facing airline personnel to help identify human trafficking in aviation.

“Not everyone who boards an aircraft does so willingly,” said Tiberi. “Human traffickers use our aircraft as modern-day slave ships. Civil aviation is an artery that unwittingly provides passage to predators and their victims. Our industry is being exploited by traffickers who want to turn human life into a commodity. We will be accomplices to this most egregious human rights violation if we do not do everything in our power to stop it.”

– JB

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