Dozens of cities in the U.S. and around the world are holding vigils, marches and teach-ins this week to bring attention to human rights abuses and the corporate war on workers’ rights to form unions.
“For years, this nation strived to live up to the ideals of democracy, human rights and a fair shot at a better life for its citizens,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.
“The message being sent to the world today is that the American dream is reserved for the rich, the powerful and the well connected. This country already fought one revolution to end tyranny, and the last time I looked, the Bill of Rights did not come with an expiration date.”
The week-long mobilization, which will culminate in the December 10 celebration of International Human Rights Day, included a march to the White House where thousands of union activists presented a petition calling for the U.S. to enforce current laws that prohibit the illegal harassment, discrimination and firing of employees who express an interest in unionization.
The petition also calls on President Bush and the Congress to reestablish the United States as the world leader in protecting human rights, including the right to join a union.
In a blistering report on Alaska Airlines’ ground safety record since hundreds of IAM ramp jobs were outsourced last year, Channel 5 TV in Seattle, Washington, detailed a 300 percent increase in incidents since the airline hired Menzies Aviation to perform the work formally done by IAM members.
Among the problems uncovered were increased theft from checked baggage, more injuries to workers, more vehicle accidents and a rash of aircraft damage caused by the replacement workers. Menzies management brushed off the injuries and accidents, describing them as “part of doing business,” and “absolutely nothing unusual at all.”
Airport officials and safety experts disagreed. Sea-Tac General Manager Mark Coates was stunned by the results of the Channel 5 investigation. “I am disappointed … I’m hoping that I wouldn’t see this many in a whole year on the whole airport, so it is disconcerting to know that there are this many, in this short of time frame.”
The problems at Alaska went far beyond accidents involving aircraft and ground equipment, according to the report. “In the first nine months of this year, the port issued 19 security citations against Alaska Airlines. Again, up substantially from the years before,” said the report.
One incident involved a previously fired Menzies employee, who was witnessed bypassing security checkpoints and entering restricted areas of the tarmac. The episode chilled one safety expert. “It’s a very, very serious violation, in my opinion,” said Doug Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines.
“This report will hopefully open up the eyes of all airlines and airline customers to the fact that you can never sacrifice safety to save a dollar,” said District 143 President Robert DePace.
The application deadline for the IAM Communications Department’s Communicator course is December 16, 2005. The class will be held from Feb.19 – Feb. 24, 2006 (there will be one more class August 6 – August 11, 2006).
The course is aimed at Communicators who are not publishing newsletters or websites and need help in basic skills such as news writing, internet research, desktop publishing, creating a web page using the IAM Microsite Service, expanding their network of email contacts and learning what is needed to start an effective newsletter or website for their lodge.
For more information, call the Communications Dept. at 301-967-4520.
More than 28 members from Local 1650 in Kansas City, Missouri gathered this week to receive certificates and be honored for 50 years of membership in the IAM.
The retired members, who worked as airline mechanicsand at other positions for TWA in Kansas City braved a snowstorm and high winds to receive their honors and thanks from Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., who called them the “heart, soul and the backbone of the IAM.”
“There was almost 2,000 years of experience here in that room,” said Roach of the group of 50-year members.
“What those members have seen and what they have done for the union during their time can never be fully acknowledged or repaid. But I guarantee that it will never be forgotten.”
More than 2,400 IAM members at LL 660 at Olin Corporation in East Alton, Illinois voted to ratify a new three-year accord by an overwhelming margin earlier this week.
The agreement will boost wages 9.5 percent during the next three years. Members will receive 3.5 percent the first year, 3 percent the second and 3 percent the third.
Other benefits included increases in life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment and a $3,000 retiree life insurance benefit for future retirees that will be converted to an insurance policy, which enables the benefit amount to be tax free for the beneficiary of the policy.
“The proof of a job well done is in the numbers,” said IAM Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown as he praised the negotiating team. ” That is obvious in this case with a huge majority of our member voting in favor of the agreement.”
“This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of IAM District 9 BR Ellen Arbogast, BR Dennis Pearson and the LL 660 Committee Chairs at Olin.”
IAM members at Olin Brass and Winchester make ammunition and brass products.
Hundreds of Northwest Airlines employees rallied this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a show of solidarity to protect employee jobs.
”We want to remind Northwest, we want to remind the country that the union movement on Northwest property is alive and well,” said District 143 PDGC Bobby De Pace.
A bankruptcy judge has already put in place temporary pay cuts for all of the union groups at Northwest; IAM members took a 19 percent pay cut.
The airline has said if it does not come to agreement with its unions on further cuts, it will ask the bankruptcy judge to abrogate union contracts. Unions have threatened to strike if the contracts are terminated. A hearing is set to begin January 17 before a bankruptcy court judge in New York.
Seattle-based computer software giant Microsoft announced plans this week to boost its presence in India, adding 3,000 jobs over the next four years. The increase will bring the total number of Microsoft positions in India to nearly 7,000.
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates traveled to New Delhi to make the announcement, which was widely applauded by a forum of Indian business leaders and politicians. The news confirmed India’s role as a supplier of inexpensive labor for U.S. companies anxious to outsource the “jobs of tomorrow” that were once touted as replacements for the millions of high paying manufacturing jobs lost during the past decade.
In an effort to protect North American jobs, officials in Burlington, VT have passed a city law banning the use of outsourcing.
The Burlington city council unanimously adopted a resolution that restricts the city from giving service contracts to contractors, subcontractors and vendors who are not performing that work in the United States or Canada.
Like the rest of the country, Vermont has seen outsourcing strip them of thousands of quality jobs. In the past decade, Vermont has lost more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs. Efforts to push similar proposals through the Vermont state Legislature have stalled due to a lack of support.