iMail for Thursday, May 3, 2007

Machinists Prevail in NWA Bankruptcy Case

The Machinists Union scored a major bankruptcy court victory this week when Judge Allan Gropper ruled that IAM members at Northwest Airlines (NWA) are entitled to Series C claims against the bankrupt carrier worth $212 million.

The ruling confirms an earlier state court judgment over the carrier’s refusal to repurchase shares of preferred stock issued to IAM members in exchange for pay cuts in 1993. Judge Gropper said he was bound by law to recognize the state court ruling.

“The rare bankruptcy court win came despite fierce objections from a group of Northwest bondholders who were intent on preventing employees from recouping anything from our Series C judgment,” said District 143 President and Directing General Chairman Steve Gordon, who credited the solidarity of IAM members at NWA in addition to the dozens of IAM members who packed Judge Gropper’s courtroom for this week’s hearing. “It is rare that such a pre-bankruptcy claim has any value when a company restructures, but the IAM memberships’ strength and solidarity made this victory possible.”

This week’s ruling will impact IAM members who were holding shares of NWA preferred stock in 2003, when the carrier refused to buy back shares at the agreed upon price. Following confirmation of Northwest’s plan of reorganization, an independent Series C trustees will distribute to affected employees their pro-rata share of the claim.

Edwards Welcomed at 751 Hall in Seattle

Former North Carolina Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards told a crowd of more than 800 union members in Seattle that if elected, he would ban permanent hiring of replacement workers, end tax breaks that encourage foreign outsourcing and tighten labor standards in trade agreements. In a statement that brought the crowd to their feet, Edwards declared “It is absolutely crucial that we make it easier, not harder to organize workers in the workplace,” adding “I think if someone can join the Republican Party by signing their name to a card, any worker in America ought to be able to join a union by signing a card.

Edwards spoke at the District 751 Union Hall in Seattle as part of a series of nationwide forums designed to provide AFL-CIO members with an opportunity to meet and question candidates about their positions on labor-related issues.

Space Center Workers Ratify New Contract

One hundred newly-organized members of Local 2249 in Bay St. Louis, MS, who work at the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, MS and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, have ratified a new 4-year contract that raises pay by 13 percent over the life of the accord. The contract also provides for increased sick leave, the IAM Pension Plan and improved contract language regarding seniority and grievances.

The workers, who support testing on engines that provide lift for the space shuttle and other launch vehicles, ratified an improved contract after rejecting an initial proposal from the company, a subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering in Pasadena, CA.

 “I congratulate our Negotiating Committee for bringing a strong IAM contract to these new workers,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “It shows once again how important the IAM can be for workers in the Service Contract arena. The IAM brings results; it’s that simple.”

China Trade Drains Jobs from Every U.S. State

The U.S. has lost an average of 441,000 jobs per year since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The report, Costly Trade with China (, also finds that every single state and the District of Columbia have experienced a net job loss since China’s inclusion in the WTO.

Of the nearly 1.8 million jobs displaced, nearly three-quarters were in manufacturing industries. China’s undervalued currency and repression of labor rights are cited as key reasons for the U.S.’s massive $235 billion trade deficit with China and the resulting job loss.

“Growing trade deficits with China have clearly reduced domestic employment in traded goods industries, especially in the manufacturing sector, which has been hard hit by plant closings and job losses,” said the report’s author, Robert Scott.

New Hampshire was the state hit hardest by job loss as a share of total state employment with 2.1 percent of their job loss resulting from China’s trade practices. Close behind was North Carolina (-2.0 %), California (-1.8%) and Massachusetts (-1.8%).

In terms of total numbers of jobs lost, California has far and away been hit the hardest with 269,300 jobs lost. Also experiencing massive job loss due to trade with China was Texas (-136,900), New York (-105,900), Illinois (-79,900) and Pennsylvania (-78,200).

NFFE-IAM Honored with Veterans Affairs Award

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid tribute to members of NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 in San Francisco, CA, with an award that cited the service they provide to U.S. veterans and their local’s achievement in the field of labor-management relations.

The 2007 Secretary of Veterans Affairs Award for Labor-Management Relations was presented by VA Deputy Assistant Secretary Gary Steinberg to NFFE-IAM Local 1 President Patricia La Sala RN, MS and Ms. Shelia Cullen, Medical Center Director at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

“When employees are acknowledged for a job well done and they feel secure in their workplace, productivity increases as does job satisfaction and respect,” said La Sala, who also serves as National 1st Vice President of NFFE-IAM Federal District 1. “Patient care improves when labor and management work together and respect each other. When people feel good about themselves, they value the work they do. This is what’s happening at the VA in San Francisco.”

The VA is the second largest federal agency in the U.S. government with over 235,000 employees at 156 hospitals and outpatient clinics in all 50 states, Guam, the Philippine Islands and Puerto Rico.

New Report Details Wal-Mart Union Busting Techniques

Wal-Mart is once again coming under fire after the release of a Human Rights Watch report ( detailing the extent of the corporate giant’s aggressive union-busting techniques.

The report, which underscores the need for the Senate to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, said that when faced with unionization drives, Wal-Mart often eavesdropped on workers, used security cameras to spy on union sympathizers and planted supervisors alongside pro-union workers to monitor activities.

“Wal-Mart workers have virtually no chance to organize because they’re up against unfair US labor laws and a giant company that will do just about anything to keep unions out,” Carol Pier of Human Rights Watch said in a statement. “That one-two punch devastates workers’ right to form and join unions.”  

The Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the House in March and is currently in the Senate, would enable workers to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions by strengthening their rights to form unions.

Send a message to your Senator urging them to support the Employee Free Choice Act by clicking here. ( )