iMail for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Machinists Wary on Tanker Rebid Rules

The IAM is calling on Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates to ensure the new round of bidding for the Air Force refueling tanker contract does not include any residual bias from the initial competition, which contained significant errors and was heavily skewed toward the Airbus tanker.

“We are calling for aggressive oversight of the bidding process to make sure Boeing’s tanker is evaluated on a fair, level playing field,” said Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski. “We will not accept, nor should American taxpayers accept a process or an outcome that is only slightly less rigged than the initial round of bidding.”

Fresh concerns erupted following yesterday’s announcement that the Pentagon might once again use excessive fuel capacity and other criteria to favor the Airbus aircraft in a new round of bidding to replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of aerial refueling tankers.

“I am concerned that the department is trying to find a new way to justify selecting the larger Airbus tanker again, even though there is no current operational requirement for a larger refueling tanker,” said Washington state Rep. Norm Dicks, who learned that the criteria for the new tanker will favor a larger tanker than was initially requested.

Rep. Dicks also noted that the Airbus is 53 percent larger than the Boeing 767, requiring greater maintenance and operations costs. He noted that the Boeing KC-767 could save $35 billion in fuel costs over 40 years—an amount large enough to equal the purchase of the entire fleet.

Six Straight Months of Job Losses

The U.S. lost another 62,000 jobs last month, marking the sixth straight month of job loss and pushing the number of jobs lost this year to 438,000. The manufacturing and construction sectors continue to be hit hardest by the economic downturn, according to the Labor Department’s employment report, losing 33,000 and 43,000 jobs respectively.

The number of long-term unemployed workers, which refers to workers who have been searching for a job for 27 weeks or more also rose by 37,000 in June to 1.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed workers has jumped by 428,000 over the past year.

“The job market is clearly in recessionary territory,” said Jared Bernstein in the Economic Policy Institute’s Jobs Picture. “Most industries are cutting jobs, unemployment and especially underemployment are elevated, and perhaps most importantly, wage growth is slowing quite sharply and is well behind inflation.”

The continued job loss comes as working families continue to struggle with a mortgage crisis as well as soaring gas and food prices.

Miami-area Machinists Celebrate Local 1126 Rebirth

Several years ago, amid declining membership, the IAM merged Local 1126 in Miami, FL, with Local 2152 in South Bay, FL. Today, with new organizing drives underway and plans for future growth, Local 1126 is back in business, with a new charter and more than 300 members at area companies including AeroThrust, Greyhound, Serviceair Cargo, Merill-Stevens and the clerks and maintenance workers at the Dade County Fire Department.

“It was important to return the autonomy to these members in Miami,” said District 166 DBR Johnny Walker. “This is a strong and vibrant group, and they are planning on building the local through organizing. The Miami area has a lot of potential for the Machinists Union.”

Officers of the new local include President Jim Reynolds, Vice President Osvaldo Garzo, Secretary Treasurer Daniel Baltzegar, and Recording Secretary Terry Exley.
“Congratulations to the officers and members of Local 1126,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “This local has a bright future and great prospects for growth, and I wish them the best.”

Halvorson: ‘Don’t Send American Jobs Overseas’

Debbie Halvorson, the Democratic candidate in the Illinois 11th Congressional District voiced her strong support for working families this week at Local 124 in Channahon, IL, and spoke about the national security implications of the pending Air Force refueling contract

“Taxpayers, the labor community, veterans and national security observers are all rightfully concerned about the prospect of shifting billions in taxpayer dollars, thousands of American jobs and or sensitive military technologies to a company owned, in part by several foreign governments,” said Halvorson, who currently serves Illinois Senate Majority Leader.

In his introduction of State Senator Halvorson, Midwest Territory Administrative Assistant Roger N. Nauyalis expressed the Machinists Union’s strong support for the Boeing KC-767 as the right choice for the U.S. Air Force. “If Boeing is awarded the $35 billion contract, that would support 44,000 new jobs at more than 300 U.S. suppliers,” said Nauyalis.

“Thousands of these new jobs will be Machinists Union jobs. We’ve been asking for help from every legislator, every Senator and anybody running for office. We expect their support.”

“We shouldn’t be willing to send American jobs overseas,” said Halvorson. “I will fight for them, and will make certain that someone is looking out for our workers and companies here in Illinois.

Minnesota GDA Ride to Honor Bazzachini

The Minnesota Chapter of Hawgs for Dogs will hold its 19th annual Hawgs for Dogs Ride this weekend, leaving Blaine, MN on July 12 for a 400-mile trek that will take riders to Decorah, IA before returning to Blaine.

This year’s ride is being dedicated to Vinnie Bazzachini, the former president of Local 1833 who passed away in August of last year. Bazzachini was one of the original four who started the first “Hawgs for Dogs” charity motorcycle ride for Guide Dogs of America. He also served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Chapter of Guide Dogs and as Sergeant-at-Arms with the St. Croix Valley Riders.

For more information or to make a donation to this year’s Hawgs for Dogs, contact Steve Cohan, President of the Minnesota Chapter of Hawgs for Dogs, at 2225 133rd St. West Shakopee, MN 55379 or at 818-822-6573.

Judge Rules Wal-Mart Violated State Laws

In the latest of a string of rulings blasting Wal-Mart’s employment practices, a judge in Minnesota has ruled the corporate giant violated state laws on rest breaks and other wage issues more than two million times. Wal-Mart could face fines of $2 billion, with Minnesota District Court Judge Robert R. King Jr., threatening to impose a $1,000 penalty for each violation.

The judge also ruled that Wal-Mart owes $6.5 million to thousands of current and former employees because of wage violations, including not giving workers their full rest breaks and requiring hourly employees to work off-the-clock during training.There are more than 70 lawsuits nationwide in which employees have accused Wal-Mart of making them work off the clock or denying them breaks. On Oct. 20, a jury will determine punitive damages and the amount of statutory penalties.

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