Thursday, January 03, 2008

IAM Files Election Petition for Lockheed Flight Specialists

The IAM today filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for an election to represent 850 Automated Flight Service Specialists (AFSS) employed by Lockheed Martin.

The IAM currently represents more than 15,000 Lockheed Martin employees under thirty-five contracts at forty-six sites nationwide. More than half of these contracts are negotiated under the unique guidelines of the Service Contract Act.

The IAM is the preeminent union in North America for service contract workers with more members in this specialized sector than any other organization.

“The IAM is working closely with the AFSS group at Lockheed Martin to win the right to negotiate the pay and benefits they deserve,” said IAM General Vice President Rich Michalski. “They’ve developed a tremendous communications network since the start of the campaign and we’re looking forward to the election.”

Obama Chided for Maytag Remarks

IAM President Tom Buffenbarger this week called on Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to stop his public hand wringing over the loss of 1,600 jobs when Maytag moved from Galesburg, IL, to Reynosa, Mexico.

“He didn’t lift a finger to help those people when they needed help the most,” said Buffenbarger. “Even now, he doesn’t have a clue and thinks those jobs went overseas and not to Mexico.”

In recent campaign speeches, Sen. Obama has repeatedly cited the plight of Maytag workers in his bid to win sympathy and support from union members battered by factory closings and lost jobs.

“This is the same candidate who recently labeled unions as ‘special interest’ groups with too much influence in Washington, D.C.,” said Buffenbarger. “For the last eight years, we’ve defended our members’ jobs, pensions and health care benefits against a political agenda that’s been openly hostile to unions and working families. But a Johnny-come-lately candidate won’t solve the problem facing blue collar families.”

FedEx Ordered to Pay Millions to Employees

The Internal Revenue Service has ordered FedEx Corp. to pay back taxes and fines totaling nearly $320 million to ground employees who were improperly classified as independent contractors.

The ruling covers employees of FedEx in 2002, with similar investigations underway for those hired between 2004 and 2006. FedEx disclosed the ruling recently in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The IRS’s ruling is one of many in recent months finding FedEx Ground improperly classifies their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, allowing them to shift millions of dollars in expenses to the drivers. FedEx’s misuse of the “independent contractor” status has spawned lawsuits in nearly 30 states, which were granted class action status by a federal judge in Indiana recently.

A new report from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and American Rights at Work found FedEx is “circumventing federal anti-discrimination laws, avoiding payment of millions of dollars in benefits to 15,000 FedEx Ground drivers and hindering workers’ rights to form unions.”

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Register Now for MLK Observance in Memphis

More than 500 labor and civil rights activists will take part in the 2008 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Observance in Memphis, TN. This year’s observance will take place from January 17-21 and mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, who traveled to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers there.

The week-long observance, coordinated by the AFL-CIO Executive Civil Rights Committee and the federation’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, also includes workshops, guest speakers and community service activities in addition to the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., parade in downtown Memphis on January 21.

Hotel rooms for this historic event are still available at the rate of $109 per night by contacting Hyatt Place Hotel directly at 901-680-9700 or toll free at 888-492-8847. Be sure to identify yourself as a participant in the MLK Holiday Observance. Additional information and registration forms for the observance are available online at

New Poll Lists Top Voter Concerns

A host of domestic issues, including the economy and health care, are the most pressing issues for Americans as the 2008 election season kicks off this week with the Iowa caucuses, according to polling released by the Associated Press and Yahoo News.

Fifty-three percent of respondents listed health care as an “extremely important” issue in the 2008 elections, up from 48 percent in November. The poll found 65 percent of Americans favor universal health care coverage, compared to just 34 percent who favor the current system.

The economy was also a top concern, with 52 percent of those polled rating it as “extremely important,” up from 46 percent in November. Nearly 50 percent of Americans listed Social Security and gas prices as “extremely important” as well, ahead of such issues as the war in Iraq and terrorism.

On both the economy and health care, a majority of those polled overwhelmingly favored Democrats to handle those issues over Republicans.

Bush Kills Health Care Hope for Millions

President Bush signed legislation maintaining current funding levels for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through March 2009, despite broad bi-partisan support to expand the program and provide more children with health insurance.

The President twice vetoed legislation that would have expanded SCHIP by $35 billion over the next five years, continuing health care coverage for more than six million mostly low-income children while providing coverage for an additional four million children.

House Democrats have said they will continue to fight for the expansion of SCHIP. “The health of our children is of the highest priority to the Democrats in the Congress of the United States,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Let it be clear that Democrats will not rest until 10 million children in America have access to health care, and that it is paid for. Let it be clear that we will persist with this effort.”

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