iMAIL for Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jobs Data Makes Strong Case for Second Stimulus

Experts warn of continued job loss, suggesting the need for another stimulus package in order to thwart the country’s current economic plunge.

Nouriel Roubini, the economist credited with predicting the current global credit crisis, is reported in Reuters as saying the economy will most likely not recover until the end of the year, and even then growth will continue to be slow.

Roubini says the U.S. unemployment rate will likely reach 11 percent – that’s 2.6 million more people added to the unemployment rolls – before things start to get better.

A separate article printed in The Washington Post predicts continued job loss well into next year, and cites economists saying the country will most likely not “return to pre-recession levels of roughly 5 percent for years after that.”

With the current unemployment rate at 9.4 percent and quickly approaching double-digits, experts say more government investment in jobs is needed in addition to the president’s $787 billion recovery package.

“There is a good economic argument to be made that the government has not done enough stimulus,” New America Foundation policy analyst, Niko Karvounis, told The Post.

“The Machinists continue our call for a second stimulus package aimed at creating immediate jobs in the manufacturing and transportations industries,” says IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “An investment in jobs is critical to our nation’s short-term recovery, as well as its long-term stability. With unemployment benefits running low and their savings dwindling, American families cannot afford to wait until the end of the year – or even next year – for things to ‘ease up.’ The time to act is now!”

New Contract for 5,300 Agents at Southwest

District 142 today announced membership ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement with Southwest Airlines. The four-year agreement covers the carrier’s 5,300 customer service and reservation agents and was approved by 54 percent of the members voting.

“This agreement provides financial security for our members while giving Southwest Airlines the stability it needs to continue growing in a very difficult economic climate,” said District 142 President Tom Higginbotham.

The new agreement provides an immediate three percent wage increase, retroactive to November 1, 2008, with top pay increasing to $26.61 per hour over the life of the accord. Other improvements include a significant increase in retirement benefits, with company-paid 401(k) contributions increasing one percent, to 8.3 percent, retroactive to January 1, 2009. The contract calls for Southwest to again increase 401(k) matching contributions to 9.3 percent on January 1, 2011.

The previous IAM-Southwest Airlines collective bargaining agreement became amendable on October 31, 2008, and a tentative agreement on new terms was reached on May 5, 2009. This new agreement becomes amendable on October 31, 2012.

Oklahoma Machinists Return to Vance AFB

Nearly 800 members of Local 898 at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK are returning to work after ratifying a new three-year contract ending a fourteen-day strike against CSC Applied Technologies and three other contractors at the base.

“We had most of our strike issues addressed,” said Aerospace Coordinator John Crowdis. The contract includes larger raises, 3.75 percent in each year, a 60-cent increase in the IAM Pension Plan (the original proposal had no pension increase), improved health-care costs, and improved Personal Time Off usage language. “We’ve fixed most of the things we struck over.”

The contract was approved by a 78 percent margin. Just two weeks ago, the members voted 94 percent to strike. “We went out together, and 99 percent of the membership walked the picket lines,” said District 171 Directing Business Representative Jerry McCune. “And now, we’re going back in together with a contract we can be proud of.”

“Our members that stood together throughout this ordeal deserve all the credit,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “The overwhelming solidarity showed by Local Lodge 898 made this strike both short and successful. When you have solid support from the membership, you can do great things.”

California Local 906 Preserves Seniority Rights

One hundred-seventy members of Local 906 in Anaheim, CA, are back on the job at Cytec Industries this week after ratifying a new contract that ended a six-week strike against the manufacturer of aerospace components.

The walkout was triggered when the company proposed a so-called “Zipper Clause” for the new contract that would have prohibited the use of prior grievance settlements and arbitration decisions as the basis for resolving future grievances.

The members also balked at the company’s forced overtime proposals and changes to established seniority language that would have significantly impacted workers’ bidding, layoff and recall rights.

“Wage rates were not a central issue in this particular dispute, but the company’s language changes would have dramatically altered working conditions at the facility and eliminated basic seniority and due process rights,” said Collective Bargaining Department Coordinator Jim Price, who praised the Local 906 bargaining committee and the District 725 staff for standing up for good contract language.

The members of Local 906 voted by 90 percent to accept a revised contract that was brokered with help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services.

“The importance of the contract language that these men and women were fighting for cannot be overstated,” said Western Territory GVP-elect Gary Allen. “Without strong due process and seniority language, members can be exposed to unfair treatment without effective recourse. I’d also like to thank District 725 DBR Gary Holt and District 75 BR Al Rosales for their assistance in this important victory.”

Airbus Delivers First China-made A-320

China’s rapidly growing commercial aerospace industry marked another historic milestone this week when Airbus delivered the first commercial A-320 jet manufactured entirely in China.

An article in the June 22 edition of the Seattle-Post Intelligencer noted the event as well as the IAM long-time scrutiny of China’s aerospace industry.

“The transfer of technology and production by Western aerospace companies to joint ventures operating within China continues to play a major role in this effort,” said IAM Director of Trade and Globalization Owen Herrnstadt, who appeared before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission almost a full year ago warning about the growing aerospace industry in China. “Forty years ago, the notion that Europe would be home to one of the top two commercial aerospace companies in the world would have been hard to believe,” said Herrnstadt at the time. “No one finds that hard to believe now. Is China next?”

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