iMail for Thursday, June 19, 2008

GAO Sustains Boeing Tanker Protest

They said it couldn’t happen. The industry experts and defense analysts who track the aerospace industry said there was no way the Government Accounting Office (GAO) would ever recommend an overhaul of the $35 billion tanker contract that was awarded earlier this year to EADS/Airbus over Boeing.

But the so-called experts were wrong. Not only did the GAO recommend a new round of bidding, but they rebuked the Air Force decision to award the contract to Airbus in blunt and unequivocal terms.

“Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Air Force made a number of significant errors that could have affected the outcome of what was a close competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman,” the GAO said. “We therefore sustain Boeing’s protest.”

The 69-page GAO decision was not made public because it contains proprietary and sensitive information about the Boeing and Northrop tanker bids. But the GAO did issue a three-page summary that found significant mistakes by the Air Force in seven key areas.

Among the points made in the GAO report was that the Air Force did not assess the relative merits of the tanker proposals in accordance with the criteria it initially established. The GAO also cited the Air Force for conducting “misleading and unequal discussions” with Boeing by informing Boeing that it had fully satisfied a key performance objective, but later determined privately that Boeing had not. The GAO also concluded the Air Force miscalculated the life-cycle costs of Boeing’s tanker, and incorrectly concluded that the Northrop tanker would have lower operating costs.

The IAM enthusiastically welcomed the GAO report as the foundation for reversing the award without delay. “Not only is the Boeing aircraft superior, but we can begin building these planes right away,” said GVP Rich Michalski, who urged IAM members to contact lawmakers and demand the contract be awarded to the workers, the aircraft and the company that won it in the first place.

Project Top Shelf’ Benefits Guide Dogs

Question: What does a steak house, a cigar store and the IAM have in common? Answer: They all supportGuide Dogs of America (GDA), the non-profit organization that trains and provides guide dogs for blind and visually impaired men and women in the United States and Canada.

GDA President Jay Borman was presented with a check for $10,350 after the unusual trio teamed up in Southern Ohio for a first of its kind fundraiser called ‘Project Top Shelf.’

The event was the brainchild of GDA supporter John Bell, owner of Bell’s House of Tobacco in West Chester, OH, and grew to include Jag’s Steak House, which donated food and beverages for the benefit. The Eastern States Conference of Machinists and the Eastern Territory staff helped pull off the event, selling tickets to a diverse cross section of labor, business and sports personalities from across the Eastern Territory.

“Raising more than $10,000 for a first-time event for GDA is fantastic,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn D. Tucker, Jr. “Thanks go out to the Eastern States Conference of Machinists and everyone who helped make this event such a success.”

GDA President Jay Bormann and Head Trainer Chuck Jordan brought along Oakley, a two-year old Labrador Retriever, to provide a hands-on experience for supporters at the fundraiser.

“This was truly a first of its kind event for us,” said Bormann. “As word about this event spread across the country, many are now planning similar fundraising events. You have truly started a trend. Thanks to all who made this possible and for your kind donations.”

City Workers in Florida Defy Anti-Union Campaign

Tony Myers, Isidoro Espinoza, Clinton Everett,GLR Dave Porter, Walter Sherman,Claudia Cano, BR Robert Miller, Organizer 166 Javier Almazan
Back row left to right Tiffany Mixon-Shelton , George Sandiford, Marcus Calloway and Willie Johnson.

On the southernmost tip of Lake Okeechobee, is the little town of South Bay, FL, where 13 clerical and maintenance workers rejected an aggressive anti-union campaign by city officials and voted overwhelmingly for IAM representation.

“The city fought us all the way,” said Southern Territory Organizer Dave Porter. “It took us four months to finally get an election. But everyone stayed together; they were determined to have a union.”

“We’re sure that the city management will continue to fight as we work toward a contract, but we have a strong and resolute bunch of folks,” said District 166 Business Representative Robert Miller. “They are tired of the rotten treatment they’ve received from management, and they are demanding rights and justice on the job. It’s wrong for a city to use tax money to fight workers who simply want to exercise their legal rights to collectively bargain.”

TRADE Law Would Mandate Jobs Review

Looking to put a halt to failed trade agreements such as NAFTA, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) have introduced the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act.
The TRADE Act would stop negotiations on all new trade agreements and mandate a comprehensive review of all past trade agreements, documenting the massive loss of jobs that have occurred. It would also incorporate real and meaningful international labor standards into the core of any trade agreement and create meaningful enforcement for violators of international labor, environmental, and public health standards.

“For too long our nation’s trade policy has exploited workers, betrayed middle class families, and destroyed communities,” said Brown. “It is time for a trade policy that works for everyone, not just a few.”

Click here to send a message to your Senator/ Representative urging them to sign on as a cosponsor of the TRADE Act.

Fuel Crisis Leads to Air Canada Layoffs

IAM leaders in Canada are expressing outrage over the Canadian government’s refusal to aid the ailing airline industry in the wake of the recent announcement that Air Canada will cut thousands of jobs.

“The prime minister and his government are sitting on their hands in the middle of a fuel crisis with no plans to offer any relief to the airline industry and our members are paying the price,” said IAM Canadian General Vice President Dave Ritchie.

The union was informed by the company that 600 IAM members at airports across the country and an additional 50 members in cargo operations will be affected. At this point the company has not issued a breakdown by classification of the November 1, 2008 layoffs.

District 140 President and Directing General Chair Jim Coller will meet with Air Canada in early July with to discuss ways to mitigate the layoff.

Ohio Machinists Contribute To Area Nursing Homes

A group from Local 2159 in Bellevue, OH, this week delivered Nintendo Wii’s to four area nursing homes after members of the local voted to do something to benefit the communities where they live.

The Wii game console is quickly becoming a popular means for nursing homes to  enhance resident’s physical therapy sessions, provide exercise and keep their minds stimulated while providing a social outlet that is becoming known as “Wii-habilitation.”

The group delivering the units included President Jim Reesman, Secretary-Treasurer Dave Felder, Committeeman Dave Heath, Recording-Secretary Tom Valko and District 34 Business Representative, Joseph M. Chaszar.

“All four of the nursing homes were thrilled to receive the Wii’s,” said Chaszar. “The staff and residents of each facility send their appreciation to all of the members at Local 2159.”  The effort also had a personal tie for Committeeman Dave Health, whose father-in-law is a resident of the Bellevue Nursing Center.

“I have never been involved with something like this,” said Local 2159 President Jim Reesman. “I think I speak for everyone involved when I say it feels really good to give something back to the community.”

Donna Edwards Wins Maryland House Seat

Democratic lawyer and community activist Donna Edwards won a special election this week to become Maryland’s newest member of Congress, increasing the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to 236 seats to the Republicans 199. Edwards beat Republican Peter James in the race to serve the remainder of former U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn’s term in Maryland’s 4th District, which includes Montgomery and Prince George counties.

Edwards, who won the special election with strong support from area labor unions, will hold the seat for the rest of the year. James also won his party’s primary in February, meaning he and Edwards will face each other again in November’s general election.