iMail for Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NWA-Delta Propose Mega Merger 

Not even a year after emerging from dual bankruptcies that wiped out shareholders, devastated employees and cut service to many communities, Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines have announced plans to merge, creating the world’s largest airline and likely triggering additional mergers. 

“Airline industry consolidation will come at tremendous public expense,” warned Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “We firmly believe this merger is not in the best interest of passengers, employees or the communities these airlines currently serve.” 

While Delta and Northwest may have an agreement, the merger’s completion is far from certain. Any merger proposal must first be reviewed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The proposed merger between United and US Airways languished for 18 months before the DOJ rejected the deal.

“Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines’ attempt to merge is just the latest chapter in the crisis-filled history of our beleaguered industry,” said District 143 President Steve Gordon. “I would not blame any airline employee who sees this as nothing more than a power play by airline executives at the expense of employees and passengers.”

The Northwest-Delta deal is widely expected to trigger additional merger announcements, with some combination of Continental, United and American most likely to follow.

Maintenance Instructors at US Airways to Vote

The IAM this week announced it reached a tentative agreement with US Airways covering 40 Maintenance Training Specialists.

“The Maintenance Training Specialists are the third IAM-represented group to vote on enhanced contract terms,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “I congratulate them and their negotiating committee on a job well done.”

This tentative agreement follows a tentative agreement currently being voted on by the airline’s 7,700 IAM-represented Fleet Service employees and a ratified agreement for 3,300 IAM Mechanics at the Phoenix-based carrier.

The instructors’ tentative agreement would bring US Airways and former America West Maintenance Training Instructors under the same contract and wage scale for the first time since the merger of the two airlines in September 2005. The agreement, if ratified, will be effective through December 31, 2011.

“US Airways’ Maintenance Training Specialists represent a small number of IAM members at US Airways but have tremendous responsibility,” said IAM District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “This agreement recognizes their dedication, professionalism and skill.”

The tentative agreement must be ratified by the membership. 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,, after being presented to the membership.

BIW Ship to Honor U.S.M.C. Cpl. Jason Dunham

Friends and family of Cpl. Jason Dunham, a 22-year old U.S. Marine who sacrificed his life to protect fellow Marines in Iraq, were on hand for a keel laying ceremony at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, ME. The event marked the start of construction of a DDG Arleigh Burke class destroyer that will carry his name.

The grandson of New York Local 2741 member Skip Dunham, Jason Dunham of Scio, NY, was fatally injured in 2004 when he threw himself on a grenade during a fight with insurgents. He was the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. The destroyer is slated to be christened in 2009 and be ready for active duty a year later.

Negotiations Underway for 3,000 at Ft. Rucker, AL

District 75 Business Representative Tony Blevins delivers contract proposals to management on behalf of more than 3,000 members of Local 2003 in Ft. Rucker, AL.

Contract negotiations for more than 3,000 members of Local 2003 who fly, test and maintain Army helicopters at Ft. Rucker, AL, commenced this week with employer Army Fleet Support (AFS). Key issues for the union are seniority rights, health care and overall compensation.

As part of the month long preparation for the talks with AFS, Aerospace Coordinator Frank Santos and the Local 2003 Negotiating Committee recently took part in a unique negotiations class at the Winpisinger Center. A video of that training is available here.

Negotiations are expected to continue each day until the contract expires on May 4. The Local 2003 website, will provide regular updates on the progress of the talks.

“This is a very important contract for Ft. Rucker, the Machinists and the entire area,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “I’m proud of the professionalism of the negotiating team and the work our members do at Ft. Rucker. I wish them all the best in their quest for a strong IAM contract.”

SEIU Gets Rough with Nurses

Several union members were injured when hundreds of SEIU supporters forced their way into a Labor Notes conference in Dearborn, MI.

Leaders of the California Nurses Association (CNA) are demanding an apology from Service Employees International Union President (SEIU) Andy Stern after several busloads of SEIU members and staff disrupted a Labor Notes conference in Dearborn, MI. Several union members were injured and one retiree was hospitalized.

The melee in Michigan follows an escalating SEIU campaign of threats and harassment against CNA officials after the nurses’ union filed for representational elections at eight hospitals in Ohio and Nevada. Hospital employees have called for CNA representation over dissatisfaction with the close relationship between SEIU and hospital management.

“I am deeply concerned about this heightened attack on women and nurses directed by SEIU President Andrew Stern,” said CNA/National Nurses Organizing Committee Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro, who was scheduled to speak at the Dearborn conference. “There is an ugly pattern here of physical abuse and tactics of intimidation that have no place in either our labor movement or a civilized society.”

Click here for a CNA press release with photos and video of the Michigan meeting.

Seniors Need to File Tax Return for Rebate Check

April 15 is the deadline for filing federal income tax returns and seniors should pay extra attention. This year, the U.S. Treasury will be mailing out economic stimulus checks to more than 130 million Americans. Most taxpayers don’t need to take any extra steps to receive the payments, but seniors who may qualify and don’t normally file a federal tax return must do so this year to receive a check. The return must show at least $3,000 in qualifying income, which can include income from employment, Social Security, certain veterans benefits and railroad retirement annuities.

“For years, Alliance members have been instrumental in spreading the word to fellow retirees about key pocketbook issues,” said Alliance for Retired Americans and former IAM President George Kourpias. “Please keep that up by telling your friends and neighbors about filing a tax return to get the stimulus rebate.”

Visit the Alliance for Retired Americans website for more information and resources to help seniors file federal tax returns.