iMail for Thursday, January 24, 2008

Machinists Put Merger-Minded Airlines on Notice

Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. this week sent letters to the CEOs of United Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines demanding that the carriers include the Machinists Union in any potential merger discussions.

“The IAM, through our Merger Committee, is currently evaluating the various scenarios that could result from your merger discussions,” GVP Roach wrote to the CEOs. “As the certified collective bargaining agent for the largest number of United Airlines and Northwest Airlines employees, we expect to be made aware of any significant progress towards a merger within the limits of the law.”

Rumors are swirling that Delta is seeking to consolidate with either United or Northwest. “Our goal in any consolidation includes, but is not limited to, protecting our members’ jobs, seniority, and benefits. Be assured we will continue to work hard to protect our members’ pensions as well,” said Roach. “The IAM will not support United or Northwest using the money they extracted from our members in bankruptcy to fund a merger that could negatively impact our members’ careers.

“If a proposed merger agreement adversely impacts IAM members and the flying public, the Machinists Union will partner with Congress, other labor organizations and any other entity to protect our members. We are committed to ensuring that no IAM member is adversely affected as a result of any merger or consolidation, even if that means that the merger ultimately fails.”

GVP Roach noted in his letter to Delta Airlines CEO Richard Anderson that since the Machinists Union has an active organizing campaign underway, it may be appropriate for Delta management to have a dialogue with the appropriate IAM officials.

First Agreement Ratified at Edwards AFB

After more than 19 months of bargaining, members of District 725, Local 727P, in Palmdale, CA, voted on January 21 to ratify an initial three-year accord with jet engine-maker Pratt & Whitney.

Terms of the hard won accord include a $1,250 ratification bonus, an immediate raise for all employees of $1.30 per hour, a general wage increase of 3.5 percent the first year and 2.5 percent in each following year, a binding grievance and arbitration procedure, union security language and improvements to medical and pension benefits.

IAM members at the facility include highly-skilled mechanics, inspectors and support personnel who work on Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines for the F-22 Raptor program.  Pratt’s latest engine powering the F-22 is designated the F119, considered to be the world’s most advanced fighter engine.  The two F119’s per F-22 Raptor provide the ability for supersonic cruising without the use of afterburners.

“I’d like to recognize Business Representative Mike Palazzo, the District Lodge 725 staff and especially Shop Negotiating Committee members Ted Hyatt and Victor Rico, who held the unit together during this long and difficult process,” said Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos. “Special recognition goes to all 15 members of the unit, who stood united throughout this extensive journey to a first agreement.”

Iowa Machinists Ink Deal with Cargill Inc.

Members of District 6, Local 1426, in Sioux City, IA, unanimously ratified a new contract with Cargill Inc. just hours before the contract deadline. The 42 IAM members work in production and maintenance at the Cargill facility that produces refined edible oils and soybean meal flake.

District 6 Business Representative John Herrig said he felt that the negotiating process was a cooperative effort between the company and union. “There will be a general wage increase of $1.50 an hour over the next three years, a 30 percent increase in the Cargill defined Benefit Pension Plan, an additional paid holiday, a substantial increase in the accident and sickness insurance benefit, improvements in vacation and other contractual enhancements,” said Herrig. “We were able to make a significant gain in the pension, moving the rate from $32.50 per year of credited service to $41.50 by the end of the contract.”

California F/A-18 Mechanics Win Bargaining Rights

An overwhelming majority of aircraft mechanics at L-3 Vertex’s operation at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA, voted to join the IAM in an NLRB-supervised election held January 16. The mechanics perform depot level repair on F/A-18 Hornets.

The new members were organized by the San Diego office of District Lodge 725 under Service Contract Act guidelines, joining 13 other L-3 locations around the country that are represented by the IAM. L-3 Vertex is a division of Mississippi-based L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, which provides aviation and aerospace technical services, primarily for U.S. Government customers. 

Key issues in the organizing drive included arbitrary application of company policies and an overall lack of respect for the aircraft technicians and the work they perform.  Additional issues included a significant pay gap between the mechanics and the civil service workers they work alongside.

“Congratulations to our new IAM members, as well as District 725 Organizing Director Brian Miller and Business Representative John Fox for another successful organizing drive under the Service Contract Act,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson.  “Fundamental rights on the job and pay equity are well-deserved by mechanics like these, who help keep our armed forces safe and functioning.”

‘At the River I Stand’ Chronicles 1968 Strike

Union members in the Washington, D.C., area have an opportunity this week to view a compelling documentary that chronicles the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, TN. The 58-minute film details the struggle that brought Dr. King to Memphis, where he was assassinated on April 24, 1968.

The DC Labor Filmfest, the Labor Heritage Foundation, the AFL-CIO, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) will present ‘At the River I Stand’ on January 25 at 12 noon at AFL-CIO Headquarters, 815 16th St. NW, Washington, DC. CBTU President Bill Lucy, who worked with King during the strike, will introduce the film. For more info, contact Chris Garlock, 202-974-8153. For more info on the film and ordering information, click here.