iMail for Tuesday January 31, 2006

Greenspan’s Legacy: Lots of Debt and No Jobs

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan steps down today after 18 years and five terms as the most powerful man behind the U.S. economy. Pundits and politicians of all persuasions have entered a realm of “irrational exuberance,” ignoring record deficits and lost jobs to heap praise on Greenspan’s handling of the nation’s economy.

“Alan Greenspan made the world safer for corporations and banks. But for average Americans, Greenspan’s legacy is lots of debt and no jobs. His policies have hollowed out our manufacturing base, caused record trade deficits, sent millions of jobs overseas, and burdened our children with crushing debt,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Ask the workers in towns across North America who made Ford automobiles, Maytag appliances, Levis clothes, Zenith televisions, and everything else that’s now made in Mexico or China, what they think of Alan Greenspan.”

After choking off the booming economy of the 1990’s with sharp interest rate hikes, Greenspan supported President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001. The federal budget quickly went from running surpluses to deficits. In 2004, the International Monetary Fund warned that ballooning U.S. debt levels threatened the world economy. President Bush promised the tax cuts would create millions of jobs, but the actual number of jobs lagged well behind other recoveries and Bush’s own projections.

The IAM Journal, in a 2001 article titled “Dream Stealer,” explored the detrimental effects Greenspan’s policies have on working families. “Corporate profits are up, stocks are up, but working families are down and almost out in the global free-for-all coming our way. We must change the cast of characters in Washington who are ruining our nation’s economy and stealing the American dream,” said Buffenbarger. President Bush has nominated Ben S. Bernanke to succeed Greenspan.

 

Striking Machinists to Vote New Boeing Offer

IAM members on strike for 11 weeks at Boeing’s space and defense facilities in Alabama, Florida and California will vote Feb. 1 on a revised contract offer from Boeing. If ratified, the new agreements would cover nearly 1,500 IAM members in the three states. Results of the vote will be posted at http://www.goiam.org/issue.cfm?cID=5966.

 

Coretta Scott King Dead at 78

Coretta Scott King, icon of the civil rights movement, died Monday night at 78 years old. For more than three decades Ms. King carried on the legacy of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, fighting for justice and equality.

“The world has lost a great crusader,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Coretta Scott King taught us all how to keep going through adversity and never give up fighting for what is right.”

 

Senate Confirms Alito to High Court

The U.S. Senate voted 58 to 42 to confirm Samuel A. Alito as an associate justice of the U.S. supreme court today. He was quickly sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts at the Supreme Court building. Alito’s 15-year record as an appellate court judge indicates he will swing the court far to the right and roll back the rights of workers, women and minorities. His extreme record sparked a last-minute filibuster by a group of Senate Democrats, but a vote to end debate yesterday ended the attempt.

An analysis of Alito’s dissents and opinions by the AFL-CIO showed that he argued repeatedly against workers, including denying overtime pay to newspaper employees; blocking Congress’ efforts to allow employees to take unpaid leave for serious illnesses and making it extremely difficult for workers to remedy job discrimination.

The court has been narrowly divided along ideological lines. Retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Conner has often been a key swing vote in critical five-to-four decisions upholding the rights of working families, environmental protection and limiting government power. Alito’s confirmation gives the radical right wing of the court a majority.

With the revelation of President Bush’s warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, cases about the limits of presidential power during wartime are sure to come up. In a 2004 case, Justice O’Conner wrote for the majority that “a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.” Alito, however, said in a 2000 speech to the conservative Federalist Society that he was a “strong proponent” of the “theory of the unitary executive, that all federal executive power is vested by the constitution in the president.”

 

Support Grows for Logging Legislation

Thanks to assistance from District 751, District 160 and the Oregon State Machinist Council, legislation (HB-3227) introduced last week in the Washington State Legislature to bring collective bargaining rights to log truck drivers and cutters is gaining support and moving forward.

“We really owe a lot to our brothers and sisters from Boeing and DL 160,” said Steve Fluke, Assistant DBR for District W-1. “This is example of how powerful we can be when we work together across local lines, district lines and even Territorial lines.”

The timber industry in the Northwest is currently dominated by a handful of large corporations who set rates for truckers in a near monopolistic environment. HB- 3227 would allow trucker cooperatives to join with the IAM to negotiate living wages and benefits for loggers and drivers, most who live in rural communities.

“The rapid movement of HB-3227 is causing concern for a number of Republican representatives in Washington, especially those from rural areas,” explained Rod Kelty, IAM Woodworkers Director. “They may be forced to choose between support from giant logging corporations and the economic welfare of their constituents. The growing relationship between truck drivers in the Northwest and union members from District W-1 is creating a force of historic proportion.”  

You can help loggers and log truck drivers win this most basic right by sending a message or contacting your representative directly and urging them to co-sign HB 3227.

If you live in Washington state, tell your legislator to support HB 3227.

 

NMB Rules US Airways – America West are Single Carrier

The National Mediation Board (NMB) declared on Jan. 30 that US Airways and America West Airlines are now officially operating as a single air carrier.

The NMB ruling, which was expected, paves the way for the IAM to work closely with the former America West employees to reach transition agreements that address the inequities between the America West and US Airways contracts and provide the superior benefits of the IAM contracts to all Mechanic & Related and Fleet Service employees of the newly combined carrier.

At America West, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) currently represents Fleet Service workers and the Teamsters (IBT) represent Mechanics. Both unions have 14 days to petition the NMB and show sufficient interest in a representation election. If the NMB orders an election, the process of securing a transition agreement will be delayed pending the results of the vote. Additionally, the loss of all union protection is a possibility if elections take place. If 50 percent plus one of the eligible employees of each of the combined groups do not participate in an election, the union would be decertified at the combined airline. The Stores Clerks at Allegheny and Piedmont were recently decertified in this manner.

 

IAM Mechanics at Comair Ratify Agreement

Mechanics at Comair have ratified amended contract terms with the Cincinnati-based commuter airline. Air Transport District 142 represents the carrier’s 600 mechanics.

Comair, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Airlines, entered bankruptcy last September with its parent company. More information is available on the District 142 web site, www.iamdl142.org.

 

Exxon Records Record Profits

As consumers continued to pay record gas prices in 2005, Exxon Mobil Corp. saw their profit increase 42 percent to a record $36.13 billion the company reported Monday. Exxon’s profit is the largest ever for a U.S. company and bigger than the economies of 125 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank.

Combined with profits of $13.53 billion at ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp.’s profits of $14.1 billion, Exxon’s results pushed the combined 2005 profits of the country’s three largest oil companies to $63 billion.

 

Tune in to America’s Work Force

The long-running radio program “America’s Work Force” is now simulcast online at www.labortools.com/. The hour-long show, which airs Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m., specializes in features and news about working people and is hosted by Ed “Flash” Fernec.

IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger makes regular Friday morning appearances on the show, which is broadcast from Cleveland.