The latest shock wave to roil a beleaguered airline industry is yesterday’s announcement that US Airways is launching an $8 billion effort to acquire bankrupt Delta Airlines.
The proposed merger, which would create the world’s largest airline, is far from a done deal. Delta remains mired in bankruptcy proceedings and other parties could come forward with offers to buy the Atlanta-based carrier. Also, the proposal by US Airways is being made over the objections of Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein, who told employees yesterday he still plans for Delta to emerge from bankruptcy as an independent carrier.
The announcement by US Airways also confirmed speculation that a new round of consolidation in the airline industry is at hand. Despite opposition by government regulators to earlier merger proposals, the massive financial losses since September 11 and the rise of low-cost carriers has changed the industry dramatically. In a statement released following yesterday’s announcement, Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr., warned of a bumpy road ahead. “The IAM is prepared for additional airline mergers and a US Airways-Delta pairing is just one of many being evaluated by our Transportation Merger Team,” said Roach, who advised US Airways to conclude its negotiations with the IAM over the integration of America West employees before embarking on another merger attempt.
The IAM’s first leadership program conducted entirely in Spanish is taking place this week at the William W. Winpisinger Center in Hollywood, Maryland. Twenty-four IAM members from thirteen states are participating in Spanish Leadership I – Liderazgo I. “This class builds on the IAM’s commitment to making first class education and training available to all IAM members,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Our union is strengthened when all IAM members know their responsibilities and can defend their rights in the workplace. I am very proud of these members and their participation in this historic program.”
The Winpisinger Center’s 2007 calendar includes two sessions of Spanish Leadership I. Local and District Lodges are encouraged to enroll members in these and other Winpisinger Center programs for 2007 as soon as possible.
Union leaders at the nation’s leading freight rail carriers are calling for federal mediation in an effort to move stalled negotiations forward between the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC) and a coalition of four unions representing 49,000 rail workers at BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation Inc., Kansas City Southern Railway Co., Norfolk Southern Corp., and Union Pacific Railroad Co.
“The carriers are making record profits, yet they are demanding unnecessary concessions from our members,” said Transportation GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Their Health and Welfare proposals are unreasonable and major obstacles to reaching an agreement.”
The Railway Labor Act, which governs negotiations at air and rail carriers, allows for negotiations to continue beyond a contract’s amendable date until after an impasse is formally declared. With help from a management-friendly National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act, air and rail management have routinely used this provision to prolong negotiations.
“This industry is awash in profits,” said Robert Scardelletti, President of Transportation Communications International Union (TCU), which affiliated with IAM in July 2005. “CEO’s and upper management have been rewarded accordingly. It is now time for our hard working members, who have contributed so much to the railroads’ revival, to share in the industry’s success.”
Nearly 1,000 retired IAM members and guests packed Bally’s Hotel in Las Vegas this week for the 2006 IAM Retirees Conference, which has grown to be second only in size to the IAM Grand Lodge Convention.
Delegates, fresh off the heels of the Congressional triumphs last week, gathered as a group and in workshops to discuss ways to meet the challenges faced by retirees and to explore how the new Democratic Congress can positively affect those challenges.
“Clearly, we’re here to work toward finding solutions to the issues confronting retirees,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger, “but we’re also here to celebrate the incredible contribution you made in last week’s Congressional and gubernatorial victories. Thank you! You were out there knocking on doors, making phone calls and doing everything needed to bring home those victories.”
GST Warren Mart struck a chord with delegates. “Even though we made tremendous progress in last week’s election, we need to remind our newly-elected lawmakers at every opportunity that we delivered for them. Now it’s time for them to deliver for us.”
“Retirees were one of the largest groups of voters in last week’s elections, and we sent a lot of bad politicians straight into retirement,” said retired IP George Kourpias, now President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “So to all of you I say a big and deeply heartfelt thank you.”
Community Services & Retirees Director Maria Cordone remarked, “This is one of the best Retirees Conferences we’ve ever had. Nothing compares to the expertise, fellowship and solidarity of union brothers and sisters.”
December 1, 2006 is the application deadline for the IAM Communications Department’s Advanced Editors class, to be held February 4-9, 2007, at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Placid Harbor, MD. The Advanced Editors course offers intensive training on news writing, research and other skills. Go to the IAM Communications Department page on www.goiam.org for a course description, requirements, copies of the call and application forms or call the Communications Dept. 301-967-4520.
A recent IAM survey identified severe morale problems among members employed by Air Canada. According to the survey, IAM members do not feel that Air Canada management supports them, communicates truthfully with them or treats them with any dignity or respect.
The survey was developed specifically for IAM-represented employees at Air Canada by Martin L. Martens, PhD of the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal. The survey was conducted between July and September 2006 and involved more than 1,300 members employed by Air Canada.
The overall results suggest that IAM members consider themselves to be professionals who are proud of their work and want to do a good job. However, the survey also finds that IAM members are frustrated and discouraged from working in an environment that appears to have negative employee relations. The findings show low levels of perceived support by and trust in Air Canada Management and local supervisors, low levels of emotional commitment to Air Canada and strong feelings of injustice in the workplace.
The presidents of six IAM Local Lodges representing Air Canada workers contend the survey findings support what the members have been telling management for a long time – workplace morale is in an abysmal state.