In the opening days of his term and against a backdrop of economic turmoil, President Barack Obama made clear his support for labor unions and America’s working families.
The president signed a series of executive orders he says will “level the playing field” for workers simply trying to get ahead.
The announcement came on the same day the U.S. Commerce Department released data showing the nation’s gross domestic product shrank 3.8% during the final quarter of last year. It was reportedly the quickest economic contraction since 1982.
“The recession is deepening, and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing,” said President Obama. “Every day it seems there is another round of layoffs, and another round of families’ lives turned upside down. Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution.”
The three orders undo policies put in place by the former Bush Administration. They do the following:
Require federal contractors offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
No longer require federal contractors post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
In keeping with his promise, President Obama also formally announced the creation of a new White House task force to focus on the problems of the middle class. The group, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will explore ways to expand opportunities for education and training, improve the work-family balance, restore labor standards, and protect retirement security.
“With this task force, we have a single, highly visible group with one single goal: to raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country,” said Biden.
The task force has its own web site: www.astrongmiddleclass.gov. The site not only posts information, but also asks for ideas.
The Bush administration has spent the last eight years appointing anti-labor people to all areas of the federal government, including the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that has jurisdiction over labor-management relations in the airline and railroad industries.
President Barack Obama has an opportunity to replace the Mediation Board’s anti-worker chair, Read Van De Water, with a labor-friendly appointee. Van De Water, whose term expired in July 2006, previously was the legislative counsel for international trade and investment with the Business Roundtable, and legislative counsel and director of government affairs for Northwest Airlines.
“The Bush Mediation Board hindered Amtrak negotiations for eight years, unilaterally eliminated the collective bargaining rights of airport service workers and condoned anti-union campaigns aimed at airline employees,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Workers need a National Mediation Board that defends the rights of air and rail employees, and IAM members can help make that happen.”
Congresswoman Lucille Royball-Allard (D-CA) is urging her fellow members to sign on to a letter urging President Barack Obama urging to take swift action to appoint new members to the National Mediation Board.
With pressing issues such as the pending merger of Delta and Northwest and new rounds of airline and railroad industry bargaining ahead, IAM members are asked to take a few brief moments to urge your U.S. Representative to sign on to Rep. Royball-Allard’s letter to restore fairness to the National Mediation Board. You can call, write a custom email or send a pre-written message to your representative directly through the IAM website.
Highly skilled Electronic Simulator Technicians at Miramar MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) near San Diego, CA, recently ratified a new contract with service contractor Cubic Worldwide Technical Services. The technicians are members of IAM Local 1125 in San Diego, CA.
The three-year agreement provides for raises of $1.26-$3.69 in the first year, followed by a four percent general wage increase in each of the following years. Additional provisions boost the health and welfare contribution in each year, and add a HMO plan that will reduce employee premium contribution costs. Lead positions were established for each shift, with a ten percent pay premium. Other provisions include no-cost life insurance and a four percent 401(k) match.
“Congratulations to District 725 Area Director Virginia Cobb for a well-negotiated agreement,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “These members are highly skilled, and will benefit from the security this contract provides, especially in our current trying economy.”
Cubic Corporation’s Defense Group provides a variety of training systems and support, including air and ground combat training systems and tactical engagement simulator systems.
A new report from The U.S. Department of Labor shows union workers made an average of $10,140 more than non-union workers last year.
The report further supports previous surveys that show having a voice on the job gets workers higher wages, better health care, stronger job security and the ability to retire with dignity.
Researchers also say the number of workers belonging to a union in 2008 rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million – a welcomed increase after a few years of declining membership. But with the current economic climate, the continuing decline of America’s once-powerful manufacturing sector, and the enormous difficulty workers face when trying to form or join a union, those numbers could change.
“In a time of high unemployment and uncertain economic times, it’s critical to know our families are protected,” says IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “That’s why it’s even more important for our new president and Congress to step up to the plate and pass the Employee Free Choice Act, and enable the voices of working families to be heard.”
Employees and employer are both winners in the latest contract agreement ratified by the members of IAM Local 1758 and landing gear manufacturer Messier-Dowty.
The five-year agreement provides a signing bonus of $1,000 and wage increases of two percent in the first year retroactive to January 1, 2009, plus 2.25 percent in the second year, 2.5 percent in the third year, 2.75 per cent in fourth year and three percent in the fifth year.
“Recognizing the current global economic situation, I feel we were able to negotiate a contract that will ensure the financial stability of our members and the company for the next five years,” said District 11 Business Representative Claude Boisvert. “The bargaining committee and the membership are to be congratulated for this contract because it was their understanding of the critical issues at stake during this round of negotiations that made ratification of the agreement possible.”
Other agreement highlights include: increased employer’s pension plan contribution; increased vacation; increased vision care benefits and increased sick leave benefits. The 138 members at the Mirabel facility northwest of Montréal design and manufacture landing gear for aircraft manufacturers worldwide.