iMail for Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Teamsters, TWU Threaten US Airways Workers

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and Transport Workers Union (TWU) have filed requests with the National Mediation Board (NMB) seeking representation of US Airways workers. The IBT is asking for an election for the Mechanic & Related classification and the TWU applied to represent Fleet Service employees.

The IAM previously filed a request to represent both groups when US Airways and America West Airlines merged last year. The IAM currently represents workers at US Airways, while the Teamsters and TWU represent workers at the former America West.

If the NMB determines an election is warranted and fewer than 50 percent +1 of the employees in a particular classification at the combined carrier, including all furloughed workers, cast ballots, neither union will be certified and that classification of workers will become “at will” employees with no contract, no union, no grievance procedure and no chance for a secure pension.

“The Teamsters know they cannot win an election, but their real objective is to decertify the Machinists Union,” said William O’Driscoll, President of IAM District 142 which represents US Airways Mechanic & Related workers.

“The Teamsters would rather leave US Airways workers without any union protection than have the America West Mechanics learn just how inferior their Teamster contract is.”

“Even after two US Airways bankruptcies the Machinists Union’s contract is far superior to the TWU’s,” said Randy Canale, President of IAM District 141 which represents US Airways Fleet Service Workers.

“In addition to the higher wages the Machinists contract provides, only the Machinists union can offer the industry’s highest defined benefit pension for Fleet Service workers. If the NMB calls for an election, pensions, wage rates and job security are at risk.”


Job Killing Trade Deficit Hits New Record

The U.S. trade deficit soared to $725.8 billion in 2005, the fourth year in a row the deficit hit a new high. The country’s trade shortfall with China last year came to $201.6 billion, the highest deficit ever recorded with any country.

Economists say the deficit is well in excess of what many consider to be safe territory, not only because of the sheer size of the trade deficit, but because a number of trends raise doubts about the United States ability to rein in spending in the future.

Experts say large trade deficits can jeopardize an economy’s long-term health, and trade deficits in excess of 4 to 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product can also lead to rapid inflation and higher interest rates. The current deficit amounts to 5.8 percent of the GDP.

Job growth during the last five years in key sectors of the economy is also the weakest on record. Manufacturing lost more than 3 million jobs, nearly 17 percent of the entire workforce. Communications lost 43 percent of its workforce, while semiconductors and electronic components lost 37 percent.

The hemorrhage in jobs is not limited to hourly workers. There are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs today than there were five years ago.

Watch Video: 2005 Marks Another Banner Year for the U.S. Trade Deficit  


Katrina Investigation Blasts White House

The White House is on the defensive again following the release of a draft report by a Republican-only House Committee investigating the government’s response to the storm.

“Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare,” said the draft report.

“At every level – individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental – we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina.” The full report is scheduled for release Wednesday, February 15, 2006.

Passive reactions and misjudgments by President Bush’s top aides, including DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, the White House Homeland Security Council and the Homeland Security Operations Center are singled out in the report as the primary reasons for the massive failure.

Originally, the White House claimed it didn’t learn of the levee breaches until the day after the storm hit and the delay did not affect evacuation efforts. But testimony revealed that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff member confirmed the breaches and his reports reached the White House and DHS the night the storm hit New Orleans.

The draft report also detailed poor planning by DHS and the White House and knocks a huge hole in the President’s claim that his administration is the best choice to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. “If this is what happens when we have advance warning, we shudder to imagine the consequences when we do not,” the report says. “Four and one half years after 9/11, America is still not ready for prime time.”


Order Workers Memorial Remembrances by March 2

The IAM holds a ceremony every April 28 to honor IAM members who have died on the job during the year. Bricks bearing their names are placed at the base of the Workers’ Memorial Monument at the William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, Maryland.

If a member from your lodge has passed on due to an occupational illness or injury and has not already been recognized, a brick can be placed in their honor free of charge.

Individuals or lodges may also be part of the Workers’ Memorial by purchasing inscribed bricks. Click here for an order form and a list of all the fallen members who have died on the job and already have bricks in their remembrance.

Send order information to the IAM Safety and Health Department to Amanda Lephew. To be in time for this year’s ceremony, all orders must be in by March 2, 2006.


GOP Lawmakers Target VA Labor Pick

Despite the fact that no Cabinet appointee has ever been vetoed by the Virginia General Assembly in modern times, state Republican leaders are threatening the governor’s choice of a former state AFL-CIO president to serve as Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Recently elected Governor Timothy Kaine named former AFL-CIO President Daniel G. LeBlanc to his cabinet along with two former Republican lawmakers.

“One of the concerns is he has been his entire life against the right to work,” said House GOP Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith of LeBlanc.

Virginia is one of 22 states with Right to Work (for less) legislation allowing workers to collect the benefits of a union contract without requiring union membership.

LeBlanc was not impressed by the Republican’s plans: “If you can trust people to teach your children, to serve food in your restaurants, make your beds in hotels, you can trust one to do a good job as Secretary of the Commonwealth.”

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