Thursday,  March 20,  2003


Machinists Meet with U.S. Labor Secretary
IP Tom Buffenbarger met with U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao on Wednesday to discuss the crisis facing airline and aerospace workers as well as the new financial reporting rules proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL).

“We believe the new LM-2 rules are politically motivated and will cost U.S. unions nearly $1 billion annually,” said Buffenbarger. “Labor unions already report far more financial information than corporations, including staff salaries, expenses and detailed spending records.”

The meeting at DOL headquarters was scheduled prior to the highly publicized confrontation between Secretary Chao and labor leaders at last month’s winter meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

“We had a cordial and professional meeting that lasted an hour longer than scheduled,” said the IP. “The Secretary was receptive and responsive to our concerns. It was a worthwhile and constructive exchange of ideas – unlike the meeting in Florida.”

Attending the meeting with IP Buffenbarger was GST Don Wharton, IAM General Counsel Allison Beck and Rich Michalski, Director of the IAM Legislative and Political Action Dept.

Click here to view an IAM Breaking News interview with IP Buffenbarger on the meeting.

AFL-CIO Unions Go to Court Over TSA Rules
The Machinists Union joined the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals to review recent Bush Administration regulations that threaten the livelihoods of many airline workers.

The new regulations, implemented by the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, cover pilots, aircraft mechanics, flight instructors, and others in the aviation industry. As currently written, the rules permit the revocation or denial of airman certifications if the government arbitrarily concludes the employee poses a “security threat."

“This new regulation endangers workers and their families,” said GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Employees are denied the right to defend themselves when accused of breaching the governments undefined security standards. The Machinists Union is prepared to defend our members and their jobs from this unacceptable violation of their basic rights to due process.”

Unions Aim to Outsource Lockheed Director
The IAM will be joined by AFL-CIO unions and shareholder advocates in a renewed effort to block the re-nomination of former Enron director Frank Savage to Lockheed’s board of directors.

Savage was narrowly reelected to Lockheed’s board last year after labor unions, shareholder rights organizations and state pension boards joined forces to hold Savage accountable for his failure to protect shareholders and employees while serving on the Enron board of directors.

“Thousands of Enron employees lost everything while senior executives at Enron bailed out of the worst bankruptcy in the nation’s history,” said Steve Sleigh, IAM director of Strategic Resources Dept. “As a director at Enron, Frank Savage failed completely to protect the interests of employees, shareholders and retirees. We see no reason to allow him do at Lockheed what he did at Enron.”

Canadian Auditor Named to New Post
Canadian GVP Dave Ritchie announced the appointment of Canadian Auditor Tom Lee as his Administrative Assistant (AA), succeeding retiring AA Vincent Blais.

GVP Ritchie saluted Blais as "an outstanding Administrative Assistant whose loyalty to his office and the Canadian membership has been of great value to all of us in our union." Brother Lee, a member of Local Lodge 235 and a former member of Local Lodge 1755, served as Auditor for Local Lodges throughout Canada since 1989. As a member of Local Lodge 1755, he served as President, Vice-President, Shop Steward, Plant Committee member, Financial Secretary and a member of the negotiating committee.

In making the appointment of Brother Lee, GVP Ritchie said he was "delighted by his willingness to serve our members. I am confident that given his long membership and experience with our union he will be an excellent Administrative Assistant.”

Raytheon Threatens Mexico Move
Just one year after a much-publicized decision to keep aircraft cable and harness production at Raytheon’s Wichita facility, company official are now hinting they may move the jobs to Mexico after all.

According to news reports, Raytheon is considering two Mexican companies, Aerotec in Chihuahua and Suntron in Tijuana as part of the company’s plans to eliminate U.S. production of detail parts and other assembly work, leaving only final assembly for U.S.-based workers.

Without confirming the plans, company officials said it was backing away from last year’s pledge to keep the jobs in Wichita. “We’re in kind of a different position now,” said Raytheon spokeswoman Jackie Berger.

U.S. firms cut more than 93,000 aerospace jobs in 2002 and the industry is operating at the lowest employment level since 1953.

Bankruptcy Court Confirms US Airways’ Plan
The U.S. Bankruptcy court for the Northern District of Virginia confirmed U.S. Airways' reorganization plan detailing how the carrier will repay creditors for pre-bankruptcy debts.

The IAM objected to the plan based on the manner in which pre-petition grievances would be "wiped out" upon emergence from bankruptcy.

US Airways’ pilots represented by ALPA and Flight Attendants represented by AFA joined the IAM’s effort, and the plan now contains assurances that pre-petition grievances will "pass through" the bankruptcy process.

Pending grievances will be processed normally and settled grievances will be paid in full.

US Airways is optimistic that the plan can be put into effect and the Air Transportation Stabilization Board loan guarantees can be obtained by March 31, 2003.

GOP Budget Cuts Draw Fire
A Republican budget plan that calls for deep cuts in working family programs came under withering fire from critics across the country. The plan pays for President Bush’s huge tax cuts by slashing $470 billion from Medicare, Medicaid, student loans, veterans’ benefits, school lunches, child care, food stamps and other domestic programs.

“Where do they come up with these ideas,” marveled IP Tom Buffenbarger. “This administration inherited a booming economy, a balanced budget and a federal surplus. The President and his supporters blew it all in a matter of months with that ill-advised tax giveaway to the very rich. Now he wants working families to pay the price. This is just wrong.”

In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times asked: “Perhaps there is some waste in these programs, but why should the middle-class and poor bear the cost of tax cuts that predominately benefit the wealthy?”

Debate on that budget plan, and it’s Democratic alternative, should provide lively floor exchanges. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said the GOP’s plan “takes the President’s blueprint and, by every measure, makes it demonstrably worse.”

In contrast, the Democratic plan “balances the budget, creates jobs, provides a meaningful prescription drug benefit through Medicare and keeps our promises to seniors, veterans, farmers and the working families of America,” Pelosi said