iMail for Thursday, February 07, 2008

Opposition Grows to ‘Worst Ever’ NLRB Chairman

Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill declared this week that she will oppose President Bush’s nomination of Robert Battista to serve again as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Battista, whose five-year term ended in December, recently told a joint Senate-House hearing that he doesn’t believe the primary purpose of the National Labor Relations Act is to promote collective bargaining.

“It’s unbelievable that President Bush would re-nominate Mr. Battista to the Board, after he led the most anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-union Board in its history,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “America’s hard-working men and women deserve a Board that will uphold their rights, not undermine them.”

Bush has also nominated Gerald Morales, a management attorney who has never represented workers, for a vacant seat on the Board. Both nominations require Senate approval.


Southern Territory Notches SCA Win in Georgia

What do you do if you haven’t had a raise in five years? At Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA, 74 workers at Data Monitor Systems, Inc. handled it by voting 52-5 for IAM representation. The new members perform maintenance and grounds keeping at the Dobbins facility.

“They understood that the only way for them to get consistent raises under the Service Contract Act is to organize and negotiate their Average Wage Determination,” said Southern Territory GLR Tommy Mayfield, who credited new member Troy McKenzie and Local 611 Steward Billy Guess as key to the organizing victory. Mayfield also praised the support from Local 709 in Marietta, GA and District 131 in Macon, GA.
 
“This shows the need for us to continue to organize in the Service Contract industry,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “Workers recognize the strength that an IAM contract provides. With every contract, we increase our ability to raise the wages and benefits of the entire industry, which is exactly what is happening.”


GOP Senators Kill Economic Aid

Republican Senators yesterday blocked a $205 billion economic stimulus package designed by Senate Democrats to provide an additional $40 billion in financial support to low-income seniors, disabled veterans and the unemployed.

Senate Democrats came up just one vote short of the support needed to move forward with the bill, putting them in the position to either proceed with the less expensive House version or delay aid to an economy that many Americans fear is quickly falling into a recession.

“It is incredible that not even nine Republicans would join us to strengthen our weakening economy by helping those who need it most,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).  “When given the opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner to help people hurt by our struggling economy, Republicans chose politics first.  And while they may view this vote as a win, the American people lose.”

The Senate measure expanded on the House version by providing rebate checks to a much broader group, including 20 million seniors, 250,000 disabled veterans and a broader range of taxpayers. It also would have extended unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks for those whose benefits have expired and provided additional relief to many struggling homeowners.


U.S. Loses 17,000 Jobs in January

The U.S. lost roughly 17,000 jobs in January, marking the first month of job loss in more than four years. The job numbers, released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, were bad news for workers and raises further concerns that the U.S. is slipping into a recession.

Manufacturing and construction continued to be hit hardest, losing 28,000 and 27,000 jobs respectively.
 
Employment figures for 2007 were also revised downward, with the economy creating 280,000 fewer jobs than had been previously estimated.


Who Really Benefits from Airline Mergers

While airline executives and their financial advisors continue to hawk the inevitability of major consolidation in the industry, the IAM is warning that any of the combinations currently being proposed would adversely affect passengers, employees and service to cities where the carriers currently fly.

Additionally, if an IAM-represented airline is merged with an airline whose employees in comparable work groups are not unionized, such as Delta Airlines, AirTran or Continental Airlines ground employees, IAM members’ contracts and right to union representation could be jeopardized.
 
To protect Machinists Union members, the IAM Transportation Department has undertaken major organizing initiatives at Delta, Continental and AirTran.

Organizing these workers before a merger is completed can protect our current membership by ensuring they have a voice in the workforce integration process and will preserve their contract, no matter which carrier survives. Visit www.goiamnow.org for more information about these campaigns.


Ontario Hotel Workers Join IAM

More than two dozen front desk and reservation clerks, switchboard operators, maintenance and security personnel workers employed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Pearson International Airport in Toronto, ON, are the newest members of Local 1295 in Toronto. They join 110 fellow Crowne Plaza workers organized by the IAM in December 2007.

“This Group was hesitant to join when we organized most of the workforce back in December,” said District 78 Organizer Scott Jackson. “But through encouragement from Apprentice Organizer Roy Bhansingh and discussions with their fellow workers who took that first step, they decided to join our family.” These newest members will begin bargaining for their first collective agreement later this month.
The Machinists also represent workers employed at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Brampton, ON, who were organized in April 2007.


No Recession for Big Oil

While record fuel prices squeezed consumers at the gas pump last year, the nation’s largest oil companies continued to rake in record profits.
ExxonMobil recently announced they recorded $40.6 billion in profits last year, the largest profit margin by a single company in history. Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Shell also recorded staggering profits in 2007, pulling in more than $70 billion combined.
 
Consumers, meanwhile, are paying nearly 80 cents more for a gallon of gasoline than they were at this time last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. It doesn’t appear 2008 will be any better for drivers, with many experts predicting record gas prices of $3.50 per gallon.