In a widely expected move, Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in U.S. bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, September 14, 2005. With Delta’s assets of $21.6 billion and Northwest assets of $14.4 billion, they are the second and third largest airline bankruptcies ever.
“The IAM is prepared to defend our members and their interests throughout the bankruptcy process. Northwest’s filing is unfortunate, but not unexpected to anyone familiar with the airline,” said IAM Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr.
“We have assembled a team of attorneys, economists and IAM Representatives with a wealth of airline bankruptcy experience and resources to ensure our members are treated fairly and their rights protected both in the courtroom and at the bargaining table.”
“The IAM will not allow Northwest’s bankruptcy to alter our goal of reaching a fair and equitable agreement for our members,” said IAM District 143 President Bobby DePace. “We want Northwest to succeed, but not at an unreasonable cost to our members.”
The IAM’s collective bargaining agreements with Northwest Airlines became amendable on February 25, 2003, and the IAM has been in mediated negotiations with Northwest Airlines since August 26, 2003.
IAM District 143 represents 14,200 Northwest Airlines employees in the Equipment Service, Office & Clerical, Passenger Service, Plant Protection and Flight Simulator Operator classifications.
As the Machinists’ union strike against the Boeing Company enters its third week, IAM members remain united on the picket lines at all locations, including a small group of District 751 members who have drawn a line in the sand outside Edwards Air Force Base, CA. They are determined to make Boeing do the right thing on pension, health care and job security.
About 55 members have set up their picket line in the desert near the entrance to Edwards Air Force Base, which is more than 16 miles from their actual work facility. Because of their size, members at Edwards picket more often than larger locations. Many of them picket every day – and some even twice a day. They demonstrate the same resolve the members are showing at all picket locations, willing to hold the line as long as it takes to make Boeing do the right thing.
IAM members in Puget Sound, Wichita, Portland and Edwards Air Force Base voted on Boeing’s last, best and final offer September 1, rejecting the proposal and voting to strike by an overwhelming margin. No further talks have been scheduled at this time. For more information on the Machinists struggle with Boeing, go to www.goiam.org and www.iam751.org.
One of the last hurdles in the US Airways-America West merger was overcome as shareholders of America West approved the move by an almost 96 percent margin.
The merger is a central part of US Airways strategy to emerge from bankruptcy and must also be approved by the bankruptcy judge overseeing the case.
Company officials said the two airlines could begin sharing operations by the beginning of October. The newly merged airline would be the nation’s sixth largest.
Southern Territory General Vice President Robert Martinez and Automotive Coordinator Boysen Anderson joined members of Local Lodge 260 on the picket line at Landers-McLarty Ford Jeep dealership in Bentonville Arkansas to protest company unfair labor practices. The Automotive Technicians have been out of work since July 25th, 2005 and have refused to bend or break in their resolve. GVP Martinez expressed support for the employees and pledged to use all available resources to bring them victory and an IAM contract.
“I’m impressed with the show of support from passing motorists as they drove past the picket line, as well as the strong solidarity of these workers as they fight for justice in the workplace. I’m proud to stand with them,” said Martinez.
The dealership is just a few blocks from Wal-Mart’s headquarters. Despite this, the members have received several donated cases of water, snacks and visible signs of support from passing motorists. A local radio talk station has regularly made time available for the members to update the community about their campaign for representation and the area newspaper also featured Local 260’s fight in several articles.
Before Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast, GOP leaders in Congress hoped to push through the President’s plans to privatize Social Security and eliminate the estate tax that applies to the wealthiest one percent of American families.
With cost estimates for Hurricane Katrina rising daily, Congress is moving away from Social Security for now. Katrina, however, may just be the graceful exit the President has been searching from his Social Security privatization plan in the face of plummeting public support and tepid endorsements from his GOP allies in Congress.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan hinted at the defeat at a news conference. “Katrina is our highest priority and helping those in the region,” McClellan said. “There are other priorities as well and we’ll continue to work with Congress on the timetable (but) Congress is the one that sets the schedule.”
Meanwhile in Congress, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-OR., a member of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees Social Security reform, told the Washington Times that they may “eventually deal with” Social Security’s solvency, but added “It’s off the radar” for now.
Don’t forget the 2005 IAM Communications Conference is scheduled for October 30 – November 2 at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita, Kansas. Anyone planning to attend the conference has until Thursday, September 29, 2005, to contact the Hyatt Regency for a special room rate of $109 for a single or double.
If you plan to attend, please complete the registration form you received with your call letter and return it to the IAM Communications Department, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.
This year’s conference, to be chaired by GVP Robert Thayer, will combine internationally recognized speakers with hands-on workshops to enhance your communications skills.