iMail for Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Federal Workers Win Key NSPS Ruling

In a major victory for federal workers and unions everywhere, a federal judge in Washington yesterday blocked the Bush administration’s attempt to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for 700,000 civilian Defense Department employees.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan follows a lawsuit filed in November by the IAM and a coalition of unions, challenging the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System (NSPS) as a violation of current labor law and a politically motivated assault on labor unions in the federal sector.

The union coalition also charged the government’s proposed NSPS rules violated Congress’s intent when lawmakers authorized changes to work rules in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Judge Sullivan wrote that the personnel system proposed by the Defense Department “fails to ensure that employees can bargain collectively” and does not provide for independent review of labor relations decisions or a fair way for employees to appeal disciplinary actions by managers.

The decision follows a ruling in a similar lawsuit brought by unions against the Department of Homeland Security, where a U.S. District Judge delayed implementation of rules that would have gutted collective bargaining rights for nearly 160,000 employees in the newly created federal agency.

“This ruling is a huge victory with implications that go far beyond the federal workforce,” said Frank Carelli, Director of the IAM’s Government Employees Department.

“The Bush Administration’s plan to use the war on terror as an excuse to hobble workers’ rights at home is not limited to federal workers. The next stop in their campaign was private sector firms doing business with the federal government. We won a key battle with this latest ruling, but the war is far from over.”

While Congress did approve changes to personnel rules governing federal workers in 2003 to allow for a more nimble response to the threat of terrorism, they specifically called for workers’ rights and union rights to be protected.


Enroll Now for Human Rights Seminar

Enrollment applications for the June 4-9, 2006 Human Rights Seminar must be in to the Human Rights Department by March 17th, 2006.

The call is out and applications are available on the Human Rights web page. This seminar is designed to provide the participants with practical guidance on ways to become a constructive and pro-active force for Human Rights in their Local and Districts through the establishment of a functioning and effective Human Rights Committee.

The seminar will also provide participants with practical strategies for being effective and vigorous advocates for diversity, mutual respect, fairness, and equality in the workplace, in the Union, and in the community.


Bush Approval Rating Drops to New Low

President George W. Bush’s approval rating has dropped eight points to an all-time low of 34 percent, according to a CBS News poll released Monday. Increased opposition to the ongoing conflict in Iraq and outrage over the Dubai Ports World deal were the main driving forces behind the President’s plummeting approval ratings.

Continued frustration with Bush’s handling of the economy also played a roll in his all-time low marks. Only 32 percent of respondents approved of President Bush’s handling of the economy, down from 39 percent in January.

The poll also found only 29 percent Americans have a favorable view of Bush, with 51 percent saying Bush doesn’t care about people like them.


AFL-CIO and NEA Announce Solidarity Partnership

An historic agreement between the 9.2 million-member AFL-CIO and the 2.8 million-member National Education Association (NEA) allows the 13,250 NEA locals to affiliate with the labor federation and participate in central labor councils and state federations.

In the Solidarity Partnership agreement, approved by the AFL-CIO Executive Council on Feb. 27, 2006, affiliating NEA locals will have the same rights as any direct affiliate of the AFL-CIO—including jurisdictional protection and representation and voting rights. 

Long Time Local President Retires

On February 25, 2006, Local 2458 in Argonne, IL held a unity banquet and retirement party to honor retiring member Richard Prien for his 33 years as President and over 40 years of service at Argonne National Laboratory.

Prien served his local through 16 contract negotiations with the laboratory and endeavored to get the best contract possible for the Local 2458 membership. He also served as Shop Committee Chairman, processing over 200 grievances. Following his retirement, Richard will continue as an officer serving as Secretary-Treasurer and Educator.

IAM Midwest Territory GVP James E. Brown praised Prien saying, “We sincerely appreciate Richard’s hard work and dedication serving 33 years as president of Local 2458. We wish Richard all the best in his retirement.”


Fed Report Paints Grim Picture for Younger Workers

Faced with falling incomes and rising debt, America’s young workers are finding it harder and harder to achieve the middle-class living standards their parents enjoyed.

A new survey released by the Federal Reserve Board found median incomes actually dropped for householders under 45 between 2001 and 2004. When adjusting for inflation, income fell 8 percent for those under 35 and 9 percent for those between 35 and 44 years old.

Older households, meanwhile, have seen their incomes grow in recent years. For workers age 45 to 54, family income has increased 23 percent since 1995.

Rising health carecosts, a shaky job market, stagnant wages and the rising cost of higher education are some of the main reasons younger workers find themselves with less income than previous generations.