iMail for Thursday, February 9, 2006

Unions Support Fairness for FAA Controllers

The IAM is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow aviation union counterparts in support of legislation introduced by Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama to deny the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the ability to unilaterally impose contract terms on its workers.

The “Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006” (S.2201) will restore fairness to a bargaining process that has been poisoned by a highly partisan FAA management that is ignoring its obligation to bargain in good faith and is seeking to use Congress to impose contracts on its employees.

Calling it a “common sense” approach to a unique collective bargaining situation, IAM Airline Coordinator Tom Brickner said the FAA’s belief that it can impose contracts on its workers is “part of a disturbing trend of putting costs ahead of safety.”

Brickner was joined by John Carr, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Duane Woerth, President of the Air Line Pilots Association and leaders from other airline workers unions.

The Obama bill would establish a three-step process for resolving bargaining disputes: first, calling on the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; second, giving Congress the option of resolving disputed portions of a contract; and lastly, submitting the dispute to binding arbitration if Congress takes no action within 60 days.

IAM Fights for Connecticut Jobs

A proposal by State of Connecticut officials to rewrite a law designed to protect high-tech jobs in the Nutmeg State drew a strong rebuke from IAM representatives.

“Why is a state agency – the Office of Consumer Counsel – taking it on itself to challenge a law that helps preserve and create Connecticut jobs?” asked Grand Lodge Representative William Rudis in testimony before the Connecticut Department of Public Utility.

“What authority do they have to question the constitutionality of a law passed by elected members of the General Assembly, and signed into law by the top elected official in our state?”

The IAM is calling on Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel to withdraw their opposition to legislation passed in 2005 that provides special incentives for construction of fuel cell projects in Connecticut, “…provided those fuel cells are primarily manufactured in the State of Connecticut.” The IAM represents thousands of manufacturing workers in Connecticut, including the hourly workers at UT Fuel Cells in South Windsor, Connecticut.

“It’s especially disheartening to have a state agency holding themselves above our elected representatives, and threatening to bring suit over legislation that helps create jobs,” said John Harrity, Director of GrowJobsCT.

Connecticut is currently ranked dead last in the nation in job growth. Polls show the loss of jobs in Connecticut is the number one issue concerning residents today. Young people, especially those with advanced education, are leaving the state at a higher rate than any other state but Alaska.


Budget Cuts Hammer Middle Class

2006 is shaping up to be a bad year for struggling families. Congress passed $40 billion in budget cuts that reduce programs for the poor and middle class and the President proposed huge cuts in Medicare and other programs in his 2007 budget.

Over strong objections by Democrats and some moderate Republicans, the House voted 216 to 214 to narrowly approve the spending cuts. Last December, it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Cheney to get them passed in the Senate.

The cuts will make student loans more expensive, allow states to raise fees for poor people on Medicaid and make it harder to get nursing care for elderly parents covered under Medicaid.

While most lawmakers see the need for spending restraint to rein in the deficit, it’s useless if the President keeps pushing tax cuts. The day after the House voted in the cuts, the Senate approved a package of new tax cuts and extensions of expiring cuts worth $70 billion.

Even some Republicans were outraged. “I don’t know how anyone can say with a straight face that when we voted in December to help achieve deficit reductions, we can now turn around a short while later to provide tax cuts that exceed or cancel out the reduction in spending,” said Senator George Voinovich (R-OH). “We can’t afford these tax cuts.”

The President’s 2007 budget proposal is more of the same, deep cuts in social programs and more tax cuts. “The tax cuts would favor the most well-off, while the program cuts would primarily affect low and middle-income Americans,” according to an analysis of the President’s budget by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Take Action to Save Airline Jobs

U.S.-based air carriers are attempting to make up for failed business plans and ineffective management by eliminating high-quality jobs and outsourcing work to low-wage workers overseas.

Major U.S. airlines like United, Northwest, American and Delta currently employ foreign nationals from overseas locations as flight attendants, depriving U.S. workers of much-needed job prospects.

Likewise, the same carriers subcontract essential aircraft maintenance to overseas repair facilities that aren’t subjected to the same rigid oversight as U.S. facilities.

The IAM has been successful in limiting our members’ job loss to overseas workers. IAM-represented Flight Attendants at Continental Airlines are the only cabin crew employees at a U.S. legacy carrier whose contract protects their jobs from overseas foreign nationals. Similarly, all the overhaul maintenance performed on US Airways aircraft is done in North America.

Send your elected representatives a message telling them to support good-paying, U.S.-based jobs where workers have collective bargaining rights and a voice in their future.


Bush Denials on Abramoff Wearing Thin

An attack of acute amnesia swept over the White House soon after disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff plead guilty to multiple counts of bribery and fraud. “I, frankly, don’t even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don’t know him,” said the President.

Abramoff, however, told a much different story in emails to Washingtonian editor Kim Eisler. Abramoff said the president “ saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids” and said that he had been invited to the president’s Crawford, Texas ranch during the 2004 presidential campaign.

The White House refused to release any photos showing Bush and Abramoff, and now questions abound about who ordered Reflections Photography, the official photographer for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign and the inauguration, to scrub its website of any photos showing Abramoff and the president together.

For someone who the White House claims it barely knows, Abramoff shows up quite a bit. In 2001, when Karl Rove was setting up his White House operation and needed an assistant, Jack Abramoff recommended his own assistant, Susan Ralston. She was hired as a Special Assistant to President Bush and deputy to Karl Rove.

While working for Abramoff, Ralston wrote the guidelines for doling out Abramoff’s skybox seats to politicians and Congressional staffers.

In 2002, Abramoff was a lobbyist for sweatshop operators in the Marianas, a chain of islands in the Pacific. The Superior court of Guam hired Abramoff to lobby on their behalf but tried to hide the arrangement.

When U.S. Attorney Frederick Black launched an investigation and subpoenaed the court’s records, the next day the White House announced it was demoting Black and appointing a new U.S. Attorney.

In 2006, just weeks after Abramoff’s guilty plea, the chief prosecutor in the inquiry, Noel Hillman, announced he was stepping down because President Bush had nominated him for a federal judgeship.


U.S. Jobless Rate Could be Millions More

The official U.S. unemployment rate released last month by the federal Labor Department is 4.7 percent—but the accuracy of that figure is in question. A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, finds the nation’s unemployment rate could be as high as 6.1 percent. That means there could be nearly 3 million fewer people working than the official numbers claim.

The report says the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Labor Department, overstates the employment rate by 1.4 percentage points for all workers and greatly undercounts the number of unemployed African Americans and Latinos.

“This corresponds to roughly 3 million fewer people working, almost as big a drop in employment as in a typical recession,” says John Schmitt, an economist for CEPR and main author of the report.

The Current Population Survey is based on answers to a monthly survey, but the report shows a large and growing portion of the population does not respond to survey, and that non-responders appear more likely to be unemployed than people who take the survey.

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