Thursday, March 6, 2003
“You picked on the wrong union last week,” declared IP Tom Buffenbarger, in an ad appearing in today’s Washington Post. “The IAM is rightfully proud of its reputation as a clean union with solid procedures to protect our members’ dues dollars.”
The letter was published in response to highly publicized comments at a recent meeting with AFL-CIO union leaders where the Secretary itemized Labor Department charges against past IAM representatives.
“The Secretary failed to mention that it was IAM auditors who uncovered the cases cited and that any individuals found to misuse dues money are permanently barred from ever representing any member anywhere,” said Buffenbarger. “The attack on our reputation, built on years of hard work by thousands of dedicated IAM representatives, many of them volunteers, could not go unanswered.
“The Secretary owes these honest men and women an apology,” said Buffenbarger. “The IAM is doing everything possible to protect our members’ jobs and welfare in the midst of the worst economic conditions in a generation. And so should she. It is most unfortunate she has chosen a different agenda.”
IRS Authorizes Sale
of UAL Stock
The employee representatives on UAL’s board of directors will remain, however, the extraordinary governance procedures, including their ability to block the selection of future CEO’s will cease.
“The ESOP was born out of necessity,” said Randy Canale and Scotty Ford, presidents of District 141 and 141M, in a bulletin to members. “In 1993, UAL Chairman Stephen Wolf had begun selling off the airline’s assets, similar to the paths taken by management at Pan AM and TWA. The ESOP emerged as an alternative strategy to keep the airline intact and preserve thousands of jobs.”
United thrived through the late 1990’s due to significant cost savings generated by the ESOP. “It was only when a new management team failed to embrace the benefits of employee-ownership that United began to slip from a position of prominence,” said Canale and Ford.
Jobless Claims Hit
Initial applications for unemployment insurance increased by 12,000 to 430,000, marking the third week in a row that layoffs increased.
Analysts suggested the stark numbers were weather-related rather than a relentlessly slumping economy and the total absence of any government policy to stop the slide.
Tax Cut Tab Grows and
The higher numbers brought a cool response from a key Senate Democrat, John Breaux of Louisiana. He is a key swing vote for the White House campaign if their plan is to become a reality. He says he is unconvinced of its merits and unimpressed with White House arguments promoting it.
“With the Bush Recession dragging on and the nation on the brink of war with Iraq, such a huge tax cut for wealthy taxpayers seems less than crucial,” Buffenbarger added.
IAM Joins Fight for Uniform Justice
The Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!) ratcheted up its support for the organizing effort through its UNIFORM JUSTICE campaign. The AFL-CIO joined the fight and threw its official support behind the campaign, noted IP Tom Buffenbarger, who sits on the federation’s Executive Council.
“The IAM and five other unions agreed that we will ask companies where we have agreements not to renew contracts with Cintas unless that company stops harassing its workers for exercising their democratic rights to organize,” Buffenbarger said.
“Many of our members wear work uniforms that are cleaned by Cintas, which has cleaning contracts with our employers. We will formally ask those employers to end those contracts until Cintas agrees to treat its workers fairly,” he pledged.
Cintas is the largest uniform rental provider and industrial launderer in North America, according to the AFL-CIO. With 27,000 employees, the company operates 170 laundry plants, 103 depots, 10 cleanroom laundries, 14 manufacturing facilities, seven distribution centers and 36 first aid facilities across the U.S. and Canada.
Also, Cintas manufactures many of the uniforms it cleans in a classic sweatshop operation in Mexico. At the site, workers earn less than minimum wage, are regularly cheated out of their pay and forced to work exhausting hours of overtime.
From working conditions to wages to management practices and labor relations, Cintas sets a decidedly substandard example and has a growing record of discrimination, wage-and-hour offenses and federal labor law violations, the federation said.