iMail for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Texas District 776 DBR Pat Lane to Retire

With only two days before District 776 DBR Pat Lane closes the books on an IAM career than spanned nearly three decades, the Ft. Worth Star Telegram took a look back at the man who began life “with patches on his patches” and went on to become a highly respected leader in one of the IAM’s largest districts.

The article http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/business/16571137.htm, by Star Telegram reporter Bob Cox, tracks Lane’s life from his earliest days to his years as a union leader representing thousands of IAM members at General Dynamics, and later Lockheed.

Lane’s work as a union representative drew praise from allies and adversaries who faced him across the bargaining table. Ralph Heath, president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, praised Lane’s efforts to maintain a cordial, constructive relationship with the company. “He’s very likable, but don’t get the sense he’s a pushover,” said Heath in the article. “You always knew who he was working for. He’s a civil person, very respectful of people … and very credible. You can take his word to the bank.”

Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez called Lane “a unique leader, not only in the IAM, but in the entire labor movement. Pat has fought tirelessly on behalf of Texas workers, and we will most assuredly miss him.”

Continental Flight Attendants Speak Out on Pensions

With their retirement security at stake, Continental Airlines Flight Attendants are speaking out about the vote to transition from an under-funded, company-sponsored pension plan into the IAM National Pension Plan (NPP).

“For many Flight Attendants, the choice between the National Pension Plan and the Continental Airlines Retirement Plan (CARP) is a no-brainer,” said Cleveland-based Flight Attendant Marcus Valentino. “They’ve compared their benefits and seen the wreckage of airline pension plans that didn’t survive deregulation, bankruptcy or restructuring.”

Flight Attendants at Continental Micronesia already participate in the NPP. IAM members at United Airlines, US Airways, Northwest Airlines and Aloha Airlines have also ratified the NPP. It is the only defined benefit pension plan to survive bankruptcy and reorganization at those carriers.

“I came to Continental from another airline that had the National Pension Plan. That airline is gone and the union no longer represents the former employees, but the NPP still pays benefits,” said Newark-based Flight Attendant Charlie Hromjah-Black. “Single-employer airline plans like CARP can’t match a multi-employer plan like the NPP when it comes to preserving benefits you’ve earned.”

More information about the Continental pension vote is available at www.iamdl142.org/fa

Firefighters, Guards Approve Pact with Bombardier

Members of Local 2235 in Montreal, Quebec, who provide security and fire fighting services for Canada’s largest aircraft manufacturer have ratified a new collective agreement with Bombardier Aerospace by an 85 percent margin.

“The membership stood behind their bargaining committee,” said District 11 Business Representative Claude Boisvert. “The company wanted the right to replace bargaining unit members who retired or were dismissed, with sub-contracted workers. With the support of the membership behind them, the bargaining committee rejected this demand and the company was forced to drop the idea.”

The new four-year and four-month deal provides wage increases of three percent in each year of the agreement in addition to improved vacation allowances, holidays, bereavement leave and shift premiums. 

Enroll Now for Basic Women’s Training

There is still time to enroll in the 2007 Basic Women’s Training program being held April 22 – 27, 2007, at the William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, MD.

More information and the enrollment form can be obtained from the Official Call Letter by going to http://www.goiam.org/uploadedFiles/Call_and_Enrollment.pdf

White House to Monitor Federal Agencies

In a move that is certain to have a chilling impact on federal rulemaking, President Bush signed an executive order this week to place a White House political operative at federal agencies charged with protecting public health, the environment, civil rights and privacy rights.

“The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). “This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for the special interests.”

The directive was welcomed by business groups, who regularly complain about public health and workplace safety regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupation, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“Having lost control of Congress, the president is doing what he can to increase the control of the executive branch,” said Columbia Law School professor Peter Strauss in the New York Times. Strauss said the executive order “achieves a major increase in White House control over domestic government.”

Senate Bill Seeks to Ban U.S. Sale of Sweatshop Products

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced legislation that would bar the U.S. sale of imported products made in sweatshop factories. The bill would also give those who sell legitimately produced products the right to sue to recover damages from those who violate the ban.

“There is no reason for the United States of America to allow the sale of products made in slave labor-like conditions,” Dorgan said in a statement. http://dorgan.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=267838 “This bill would help put an end to it. It would also stand up for American producers and American workers and tell them they don’t have to compete against those who cut corners at the cost of human health, dignity and even human lives.”

The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act http://dorgan.senate.gov/newsroom/extras/Sweatshops%20bill%20text.pdf is being co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Byrd (D-W.VA), Russ Feingold (D-WI.) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

 Iowa Governor Signs Minimum Wage Bill

Signing his first bill as Iowa’s newly elected governor; Chet Culver inked legislation that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 in two steps.

Nearly 260,000 Iowans are expected to see their pay grow because of this bill. Backed by labor, community and religious groups, the bill was also the first piece of legislation passed by the state Senate and House since voters handed control of the legislature to Democrats in November.

Voters and state legislatures around the country are – like Iowa – moving on their own to raise state minimum wages while Republicans in the U.S. Senate continue to obstruct action to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for a decade.

U.S. House members in both parties voted overwhelmingly for the increase in the first 100 hours of the new Congress. But Republican Senate leaders refuse to give low-wage workers a raise without tacking on tax breaks for business.