Union leaders at this week’s AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Houston, TX, got a preview of a unique educational program being developed by the IAM to teach unions and union representatives how to better protect union members at companies facing corporate bankruptcy.
“There are no good outcomes for workers when a company goes into bankruptcy, but some outcomes are better than others,” said IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach, Jr., who stressed that an educated membership and specialized legal advice were essential if hard-won contract benefits are to be preserved.
“There are established bankruptcy programs at New York University, Wharton School of Business and Penn State where business students learn how to break contracts in bankruptcy and steal benefits,” said Roach. “We need to have similar classes that teach union representatives how they can fight back.”
The IAM program is drawing on years of hard-won experience in the airline industry where nearly 70,000 members faced bankruptcy at carriers during the 10 years following September 11, 2001. “While other industries and other unions have experienced bankruptcy, I doubt any other union has represented as many active and retired members in bankruptcy as the IAM,” said Roach. “Our goal is to establish a lasting program where students and union representatives can learn how to maneuver through bankruptcy without actually experiencing it.”