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2003 Communications Conference

Government Employees

Collective Bargaining

Unions Win Mutual Fund Fight

Third Annual Pit Crew Competition

Buffenbarger Blasts DeLay

Jobs Worth Fighting For

Mayors Want Jobs


Executive Council

International President  R. Thomas Buffenbarger 

Secretary Treasurer
Donald E. Wharton 

GVP Western 
Lee Pearson 

GVP Canada
Dave Ritchie 

GVP Midwest 
Alex M. Bay 

GVP Headquarters
Robert V. Thayer

GVP Southern
George Hooper 

GVP Eastern
Warren L. Mart 

GVP Transportation
Robert Roach, Jr.


Tuesday,  March 18,  2003

UAL Moves to Abrogate Labor Contracts
In an expected development, United Airlines commenced a legal process that would allow a judge to dissolve collective bargaining agreements at the bankrupt carrier.

The bankruptcy judge handling United’s case can accept the carrier’s petition and abrogate the contracts in their entirety, or reject the application and leave the current agreements intact. Bankruptcy law does not permit the judge to split the difference or modify the current agreement.

If any contract were rejected, the carrier would be free to unilaterally impose wages, benefits and other terms of employment.

“Negotiations will continue throughout this period in a non-stop effort to make any action on today’s court application unnecessary,” said IAM district presidents Randy Canale and Scotty Ford, representing members at United. “We believe consensual agreements and a successful restructuring of United Airlines is possible. But the absence of any agreement thus far is an indication of how complex and difficult these negotiations have been.”

United indicated that it may also seek emergency cost saving measures to address the effects of war. Plans include additional flight schedule reductions, furloughs, and temporary wage reductions until either an agreement is ratified or the judge makes his ruling on contract termination.

Additional information can be found on the District 141 web site at www.iam141.org and on the District 141-M website at www.iam141m.org. The IAM has produced a video discussion of bankruptcy’s effects on labor agreements.

IAM-UPS Agreement Takes Effect
Nationwide voting on a new agreement between the IAM and United Parcel Service (UPS) concluded last week with all 21 IAM local lodges casting ballots on the historic national accord. The ratified agreement covers nearly 3,200 employees in 36 job categories and boosts wages and pensions while establishing an innovative investment trust fund to help offset post-retirement medical costs.

“We used a national, coordinated bargaining strategy to give our members at UPS the full benefit of their union membership,” said Boysen Anderson, IAM Automotive Coordinator and lead negotiator for the national talks. “Local representatives resolved local issues first and then came together to negotiate national terms for members coast to coast.”

The new agreement includes a common expiration date of July 31, 2009, for members at all UPS locations. Under previous agreements, expired contracts were renegotiated separately.

“Rising medical costs are a hot issue in every contract negotiation,” said Steve Sleigh, Director of IAM Strategic Resources Dept. “At UPS, we kept the spiral under control by using our combined buying power to leverage better terms from providers, better care for members and better cost management for the employer. It’s not easy in the current environment, but it’s not impossible either.”

Supreme Court Rules for Rail Workers
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that six former Norfolk & Southern employees with non-cancerous asbestosis could recover mental anguish damages based on their “genuine and serious” fear of developing cancer.

The IAM was joined by AFL-CIO rail labor unions supporting the employees’ claim that the railroad should be liable for emotional injuries linked to present physical injuries, even if the risk of developing cancer was remote.

“The stress of living with a condition that could lead to a fatal illness is only slightly less serious than the illness itself,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “This ruling recognizes the potential for serious health consequences among rail workers diagnosed with asbestosis.”

The decision gives rail workers additional means to recover damages caused by workplace exposure to asbestos under the Federal Employees Liability Act, the law governing compensation for injured railroad workers.

New Aerospace Coordinator Appointed
Veteran GLR Frank Santos moves into the role of Aerospace Coordinator, replacing Gary Allen, GVP Bob Thayer said. Allen was recently named to the post of Administrative Assistant to GVP Lee Pearson in the Western territory.

Santos joined the Grand Lodge staff in 1997 after a distinguished record in both his local and district lodges, where he held positions spanning the gamut from shop steward to DBR. An IAM member since 1977, he also served as a delegate to the California Conference of Machinists and as vice president of the Fresno-Madera-Tulane-King County-Central Labor Council.

Seniors Gain New Voice in DNC
A progressive group of seniors liberally sprinkled with union retirees recently won voting rights and a seat at the policy-making tables of the Democratic National Committee. “This is something we’ve long fought for,” said Maria Cordone, who directs the IAM’s Community Service and Retirees Department.

Senior citizens represent the largest single voting bloc in the electorate, Cordone explained, and deserve a voice in making policy. The group is chaired by Dr. Eugene Callender, an ordained minister and a long-time civil rights activist.

“We will actually have two votes,” Cordone added. “We plan to be an active partner in political affairs.” She holds the post of executive vice chair in the senior group.

Children’s Defense Fund Sets Call-In Day
White House promises that no child will be left behind fall flat in the face of tax and budget policies that pamper the wealthy, but ignore children’s needs.

The Children’s Defense Fund set March 19 as National Call-In Day and urged concerned citizens to contact their senators and representatives and demand that America’s children be protected from President Bush’s budget axe. Call toll-free 1-888-280-6279 to make your voice heard.

“The Bush administration is waging a budget war against poor children,” charged Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund president. “This country has the resources to give every child the health care he or she needs, and to give every eligible child a Head Start, if we make the right choices,” she added. Edelman said the President’s policies make a mockery of his earlier campaign promises to make children a priority in his administration.

“Instead, the President chooses to give an average of $89,000 in tax cuts to millionaires this year while dismantling Head Start and Medicaid, both of which have proven track records in helping to keep poor children healthy and getting them ready for school,” Edelman noted.

The recession and misguided government policies for trade and the economy are wiping out millions of jobs. The IAM brings together economic and policy experts to find ways to create and keep good-paying jobs in North America. The Spring 2003 IAM Journal.

The AFL-CIO has set up an exciting new website that will focus exclusively on state legislative issues. It will be password protected to enable state federations and central labor councils, affiliate unions, and union-friendly legislators to share information about state and local legislation.

A substantially high amount of people in workplaces today are suffering from low back pain or low back musculoskeletal disorders, which are both common and costly. Find out more.

Why it matters to you who is appointed to lifetime federal judgeships. Opinion by former Ohio Senator, Howard Metzenbaum.

The official site for the 36th Grand Lodge Convention to be held in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio is now online. Check it our for convention news, sponsorship offers, and convention gear.

The Winners of the 2002 Newsletter & Website Contest and a report for the judges, too.