iMail for Thursday, March 13, 2008

Airbus Distorts Tanker Job Numbers

Union members in Washington state held a spontaneous protest in the wake of the Air Force decision to award a $40 billion contract for aerial refueling tankers to Airbus/EADS.

Less than a week after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) launched a review of the controversial $40 billion tanker contract, comes news that Airbus is grossly exaggerating the number of U.S. jobs that would be created.

As part of a full-court public relations blitz, the Toulouse-based plane maker and European parent company EADS are claiming their tanker, based on the Airbus A330, will create 48,000 jobs in the U.S., nearly double their original estimate.

In a letter to the editor at the Sacramento Bee, Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson ripped into Airbus for a history of false claims and distortions. “Earlier in the decade, Airbus claimed that it had created 100,000 jobs in the U.S., but a study by the U.S. Under Secretary for Trade, Grant Aldonas, could only find 500,” wrote Pearson in response to an article that cited the bogus Airbus numbers. “Last year, Airbus made the claim that U.S. companies would build half of the A380, yet at the same time the French press reported that production from all of North America would only amount to 21 percent.”

Even the British, who will be making the wings for the Airbus tanker, have experienced Airbus parent EADS’ outrageous distortions. In 2006, a British government agency banned as untruthful an ad that claimed, “I am British” in reference to the A330 tanker.“Given this history of gross distortions, it strains credibility to believe even the original EADS/Northrop Grumman job creation numbers and claims of 60 percent domestic content, could be true,” said Pearson. “To believe that the EADS/Northrop Grumman European Airbus tanker will create 48,000 American jobs is a fairy tale akin to the notion that NAFTA is a source of good paying U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

Machinists, US Airways Reach Mechanic Accord

Airline District 142 announced it has reached a tentative agreement with US Airways covering 3,300 Mechanic & Related employees. The tentative agreement, which must still be ratified by members, would bring US Airways and former America West Mechanic & Related employees under the same contract and wage scale for the first time since the merger of the two airlines in September 2005.

Highlights include base wage and license premium increases, improved overtime rates, new shift premiums and participation in the IAM National Pension Plan, a secure multi-employer pension plan. The agreement will be effective through December 31, 2011.

“This agreement provides stability and security for our members at a time when the airline industry is in turmoil,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “I thank our negotiating committee for a job well done under very difficult circumstances.”

The District 142 negotiating committee is recommending ratification of the agreement, and a voting schedule is being prepared. Complete terms of the agreement will be available on the District 142 website,

Negotiations for IAM-represented Maintenance Training Specialists and Fleet Service personnel are continuing.

Rail Workers Ratify New Amtrak Contract

IAM members who maintain Amtrak trains finally have a new contract after nearly eight long years.

After more than eight years of negotiations, aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill and rallies to garner public support, IAM members at Amtrak have overcome countless Bush administration obstacles to finally ratify a new contract.

“This agreement was made possible because of the strong leadership and unwavering support from the officers and members of Railroad District 19,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Amtrak failed to negotiate in good faith and the National Mediation Board ignored their statutory mandate to foster agreements, but IAM members refused to give up the fight.”

“This agreement will cost Amtrak more than $150 million over its final proposal,” said District 19 President Joe Duncan. “Most importantly, all existing job security provisions, which Amtrak sought to destroy, have been preserved.”

Retroactive wage increases, due in two installments, will be calculated from July 2001 with annual raises. Wage increases will continue until July 2009. Complete details of the agreement are available on the District 19 website,

$24.8 Million for IAM Members at United Airlines

To ensure that IAM members would share in any success derived from their contributions to the company’s restructuring, District 141 negotiated profit-sharing language into the agreements with United Airlines. That strategy paid dividends recently when United Airlines disbursed profit-sharing checks to 16,875 IAM members at the carrier. IAM members shared more than $24.8 million, with an average of $1,471 per member.
“While we welcome the profit sharing checks, they represent only a fraction of what was taken from us in bankruptcy,” said District 141 President Randy Canale. “United has to do much more if it wants to win the support of the employees who keep the airline alive.”

IAM members will receive a profit sharing distribution based on their earnings if United’s adjusted pre-tax profits exceed $10 million. United’s adjusted pre-tax earnings for 2007 was $739 million.

IAM Mourns Labor Ally, Howard Metzenbaum, 90

Former Ohio Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum, a longtime IAM ally and champion of working families, died last night at his home in Florida at the age of 90.

During his 19 years in the Senate, Metzenbaum was a major thorn in the side of big business, and stood with labor on issues including the right to strike, workplace safety and pension protection. He also played a leading role in passing a law requiring 60-day advance notice to workers of plant closings.

Metzenbaum rarely fell in line with the status quo. So much so, he was dubbed “Senator No” for his ability to lead successful filibusters and put legislative holds on projects he opposed. He frequently led the opposition to cabinet and Supreme Court nominees during the Reagan administration.

Metzenbaum served in both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, and spent time as a labor lawyer before joining the U.S. Senate.  After retiring from the Senate in 1994, Metzenbaum served part-time as president of the non-profit Consumer Federation of America.

Nurses Claim Victory in Ohio

The Catholic Healthcare Partners chain and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) cancelled a union vote planned for Friday, involving 8,000 registered nurses and other employees at nine Ohio hospitals in Cincinnati, Lima and Springfield.

The vote cancellation followed pressure from the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, who contended the SEIU was the “hand-picked” union of Catholic Healthcare Partners.

“This is a significant victory for employee rights, patient care protections, and workplace democracy, and a huge setback for a hospital industry and SEIU that hoped to make this shoddy abuse of what should be a democratic process into a national model,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association.

The group also said Catholic Healthcare Partners filed for the election without any showing of support for the SEIU and made efforts to block participation of other unions.

Machinists in Canada File for Vote at Toyota

The IAM filed for certification of 3,100 workers at the Toyota Canada assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Labour will conduct a certification vote in Cambridge, ON, on March 20, 2008.

“We welcome the opportunity to act as the representatives for the Toyota Canada assembly plant workers, in order to ensure that fairness and equity will always be a part of their daily lives in the work place,” said IAM Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie.

“The IAM is proud to have been asked to represent these workers,” said District 140 Organizer Ian Morland. “These workers have faced a wage reduction, mandatory overtime on weekends, promotion favouritism and vacation blackout periods. The Machinists have been in Canada for more than 100 years with a reputation for providing the best representation and service to its members. We think we can help the Toyota workers in Cambridge. Since we began this organizing drive in late October 2007, the response from the workers here has been overwhelming.”

The IAM represents thousands of members in the Canadian automotive transportation sector at assembly and parts manufacturing facilities in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

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