Friday, January 18, 2002

PEB Report Due January 19  
The Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) appointed to investigate the contract dispute between the IAM and United Airlines is scheduled to release its non-binding recommendations on January 19. The board heard testimony last week from IAM legal and financial advisors calling for an end to the unfair advantage enjoyed by United in the area of labor costs.  

“The Saturday release of the PEB report represents a deadline,” said Scotty Ford, District 141-M president and lead negotiator. “In normal circumstances, deadlines are an incentive for both sides to reach an agreement. We met with United late into the night every day since Tuesday and we will continue to make every effort to reach a tentative agreement with United before Saturday.”

The PEB’s recommendations are made to the president and both sides of a dispute after a 30-day investigation. The report triggers an additional 30-day cooling off period and sets the stage for a Congressionally-imposed contract if no agreement is reached.

Enron Tentacles Entangle Bush Team
The growing scandal surrounding Enron Corp. and its financial machinations reveals growing ties linking the firm to President Bush and a lengthening list of players scattered throughout his administration. Bush himself is a long-time friend of Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, who has been a major financial angel throughout Bush’s political career.

In the 2000 election cycle, Enron pumped more that $1.6 million into GOP coffers, compared to $700,000 for Democrats.  Last year, Enron earmarked 90 percent of its political contributions, $205,000, to Republicans, reports the Center for Responsive Politics.  

Lay and Enron employees have given Bush more than $570,000 over his political career, according to the Center for Public Integrity, another government ethics watchdog group.  

At last count, at least five Congressional committees are investigating the Enron collapse. Thousands of Enron workers who invested in company stock through a 401(k) plan saw their retirement security disappear as Enron stock prices plummeted. In stark contrast, more than two dozen top executives unloaded their stock holdings before the collapse and pocketed tens of millions of dollars.  

Bush VP Dick Cheney, Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft and other administration officials have also been linked to Enron.

GOP Demands Stall Stimulus Bill  
Working families whipsawed by the growing Bush recession see little relief in White House demands that any stimulus package must include huge tax cuts for Big Business and wealthy taxpayers.  

That’s likely to be the most contentious item on the agenda when Congress returns to work later this month. If the Bush-endorsed package passes, it will soak up funds needed for education, Social Security, Medicare, workplace safety and any prospect for extended jobless or health care benefits for laid-off workers.  

In addition, it will unbalance the budget and send the deficit soaring.  

There is a ray of hope for workers. Senator Ted Kennedy, D-MA, proposed legislation that requires employers to provide basic health care and paid sick leave for employees.

The health insurance proposal would cover about one-third of uninsured Americans who have jobs or are dependents of those who do have jobs.

Other components of Kennedy’s agenda include limits on forced overtime, greater protections for part-time workers and an increase in the minimum wage.


IAM Websites Take Top Awards
Two IAM web sites won first and second place honors in the 2001 Union Plus Web Site Promotion Contest. The contest is designed to promote various services provided to union members through the AFL-CIO’s Union Privilege program including member loans, mortgages and legal services.

Local Lodge 1759 grabbed top honors, with District 141 coming in second place.  Each provides informative, well organized links to the many advantages offered by the union plus programs.  Both award-winning sites are maintained by Al Abromitis, Local Lodge 1759 web steward. 

You can learn more about the Union Privilege program from either website, www.iam1759.org/up.htm, or www.iam141.org/union.htm

For information on how to promote Union Privilege in your publications and web site and instructions how enter this year’s contest, visit the Union Privilege web site at www.unionprivilege.org/leaders/incentive.cfm.

Labor Department Spares Women’s Bureau Regional Offices
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao dropped a controversial plan to close 10 regional offices of its Women’s Bureau after a rising chorus of protest from women’s groups and their congressional allies, reports Cheryl Eastburn, IAM Women’s Dept. director.

“This is a victory for women,” Eastburn said. She cited a massive outpouring of protest from working women, including hundreds of IAM members, who lobbied the congressional delegations to oppose the proposal.

 “The idea of contemplating the closing of the regional offices is completely off the table,” a Labor Dept. official said.

Tinker AFB Flies Union Label
Base maintenance workers at Tinker Air Force Base voted for IAM representation after a well-organized campaign headed by a tightly knit in-plant committee and an IAM organizing team. The unit is comprised of 175 workers at DynPar, a subsidiary of DynCorp. They will become members of Local 850, Oklahoma City.

 “This is our second organizing victory in six months,” said Tony Bennett, Local 850 president.

GVP George Hooper cited GLRs Bob Bradford and George Fedo with playing key roles in the campaign. “They did a magnificent job,” he said. “This is a big win to start the New Year right.”

Food for Thought?
Here’s one to chew over in idle moments.

Arthur Anderson LLP, the same firm whose creative accounting practices have become such an integral part of the Enron scandal, provides auditing services to United Airlines as their independent public accountants.

Anderson’s auditing fees for UAL amounted to a reasonably modest, -- as such things are measured -- $715,000 in 2000. The firm’s fees for non-audit services totaled $2,478,172 that same year.

Such a heavy reliance on non-auditing fees often raises questions as to whether or not the “independent auditor” is truly independent.

Stay tuned.

Comments, suggestions, or story items? 
Contact IAMAW