iMail for Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCain Gets Cold Shoulder in Boeing Country

IAM members in the Pacific Northwest braved wind, rain and cold temperatures to send a heated message to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who played a key role in delivering the $40 billion tanker contract to a European aircraft consortium.

Holding signs that declared “America’s Jobs – America’s Economy – America’s Tanker” and “Taxpayers Want a U.S. Built Tanker,” IAM members from District 751 lined the highway as McCain left Boeing Field for fundraising events in nearby Bellevue, WA.

Lawmakers, taxpayers and Boeing workers are still steaming over the Pentagon’s February 29 decision to award the multi-billion tanker contract to EADS/Airbus instead of Boeing. The decision could impact as many as 44,000 U.S. aircraft and aerospace workers at hundreds of primary and secondary contractors in more than 40 states.

Over the next seven to ten years, the U.S. expects to purchase 179 new tankers, a number that will grow to over 350 in the next two decades. With over 85 percent domestic U.S. content, Boeing’s KC-767 tanker offered more storage for fuel, troops, medical supplies and equipment. The Airbus tanker is larger but also burns 24 percent more fuel while airborne.  It is so large that it cannot land at many critical military bases, reducing its value as a military support asset.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) is currently investigating the bidding procedure that resulted in a major military contract being largely outsourced just as the country slips deeper into recession. A decision is expected soon.


US Airways Fleet Ratifies Contract

Airline District 141 today announced ratification of a forty-four month agreement with US Airways covering 7,700 Fleet Service employees. Sixty-three percent of the voting membership ratified the agreement.

“This agreement provides for fair seniority integration, higher wages, better vacations, increased overtime pay, more job security for all Fleet Service employees,” said District 141 President Randy Canale. “After three years we can finally move forward as a single, unified workforce.”

The Machinists union had previously completed new agreements with US Airways for 3,300 IAM-represented Mechanic & Related and 40 Fleet Technical Instructors. All IAM agreements include participation in the IAM National Pension Plan, the only defined benefit pension plan to survive US Airways’ bankruptcies.

“Ratification of this agreement ends three years of uncertainty for Fleet Service workers,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “This is the third and final transition agreement ratified by IAM members following the US Airways-America West merger.”

Complete details of the agreement are available at www.iam141.org.


Machinists, BIW Reach Tentative Agreement

Members of Local S6 in Bath, ME, will vote May 18 on a tentative agreement between the IAM and Bath Iron Works (BIW).

Details of the agreement are being distributed to IAM members at all locations for review. The final offer will be presented to members on Sunday, May 18 at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, ME, where members will then vote to accept or reject the offer and take a strike vote.

The IAM represents approximately 3,400 shipbuilders at BIW, including fitters, welders, painters, electricians, mechanics and other classifications.


House Committee Weighs Airline Mergers

Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., blamed airline management for the industry’s turmoil and urged lawmakers to take an active role in the industry’s recovery.

“Some airlines are constantly asking the government for relief, begging the courts to abrogate contracts and forcing the government to absorb its pension obligations,” said Roach in testimony before a House Transportation Subcommittee this week “History has shown that poorly managed airlines cannot operate without government assistance.”

The hearing was held by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Aviation to examine the “Impact of Consolidation on the Aviation Industry, with a Focus o

n the Proposed Merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines.” It was the fourth hearing in less than three weeks to investigate the potential impact of airline mergers.

“If airline executives spent as much time running their airline as they do looking for bailouts or mergers, this industry and our country’s transportation system would be much better off,” said Roach. “A Delta-Northwest merger will eliminate jobs, reduce choices for passengers, further deteriorate customer service, trigger additional senseless mergers, make millionaires even richer, and most importantly, do nothing to address the problems of a failing industry.”

As it has in previous hearings, the IAM urged Congress to take an active role in establishing an airline transportation summit so that labor, management and passengers can come together and discuss ways to improve the troubled industry.

The IAM’s complete testimony and other airline merger-related news is available at www.goiam.org/mergers.


Machinists Ratify Accord with Vancouver Shipyards

After months of long and difficult bargaining, members of five unions, including IAM Local 692, finally have a new contract with Vancouver Shipyards – Vancouver Drydock.

Among the improvements in the five-year agreement are wage increases of 4.25 percent in each year and annual increases to the Health, Welfare and Pension (HWP) plan.

Contract duration was a contentious issue during the negotiations. Initially, the five unions proposed a three-year agreement, while the company wanted eight years. A compromise was reached via a Letter of Understanding that commits the parties to enter into negotiations for the terms of any extension to the existing agreement.

The 47 members of Local 692 at Vancouver Shipyards – Vancouver Drydock include engine fitters, machinists and mechanics.


May 11-17 is National Women’s Health Week

Beginning on Mother’s Day, May 11, and running through May 17, women across the U.S. are being urged to make their own health a top priority and to take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life.

The nationwide initiative, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH), encourages women to engage in physical activity, eat a nutritious diet, get regular check-ups and avoid risky behavior such as smoking and not wearing seat belts.

During the week, families, communities, businesses, government, health organizations and other groups will work together to educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and prevent disease.

With women making up nearly half of all union members, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) is also encouraging union members across the country to promote women’s health by urging women to maintain a healthy lifestyle.