“Since 9/11, workers have been laboring to rebuild a transportation system in turmoil,” said GVP Robert Roach, Jr. “Now these same workers are under attack by their employers and some lawmakers.”
“Airline CEO’s are using this difficult period to layoff workers, downsize carriers and send work out of the USA,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “They want employees to bear the burden caused by years of mismanagement, while promoting legislation that would deny those same workers the freedom to vote on future labor agreements.”
“The Bush Administration is spending billions to create an infrastructure in Iraq while neglecting a crumbling transportation industry right in their own backyard,” added Roach. “Their failure to properly fund Amtrak and willingness to stand idle as airlines fail borders on the criminal.”
Conference Closes on High Note
Hillary Clinton, D-NY, drew standing ovations and thundering cheers as she flayed President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress for their efforts to “turn back the clock” and erase decades of social justice and economic progress for working families.
“Fairness for working families is not ‘class warfare’,” she declared in a not-so-subtle dig at Bush, who frequently uses the term to blunt criticism of his massive tax cuts. Clinton said the White House should focus on education, health care, transportation and the nation’s infrastructure and not on policies that “make millionaires richer.”
Clinton described Bush’s budget as “a giant shell game” that does little for working families and said that the “best welfare program is a good job.” She told the cheering delegates: “I will stand with you, I will fight with you to build a brighter future for all Americans.”
For three days, more than 300 delegates fanned out across Capitol Hill and urged their senators and representatives to support policies that benefit working families. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was among the speakers who addressed the delegates.
The session closed out with a radio talk show from the conference floor, hosted by well-known talk show host Ellen Ratner, whose pro-worker leanings are a welcomed change from the rants of such as Rush Limbaugh.
Stanley CEO to
Resign, Strike Ends
“The announcement that John Trani is leaving will be welcomed by Stanley’s employees and shareholders alike,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “His tenure was marked by declining employee morale, sinking share prices and irresponsible decision-making.”
The company’s share price dropped 38 percent over the past year as Stanley shifted more and more work to overseas locations. Trani’s bid to escape paying $30 million in taxes by moving the company’s headquarters to Bermuda drew a firestorm of criticism for irresponsible, even unpatriotic corporate behavior.
The new three-year agreement for IAM members of Local 1249 and 1433 provided raises, increased pensions, curbed subcontracting for maintenance work and cut prescription drug costs.
Members Ratify First Pact
Strong local support and coordinated action by Central Labor Councils were key to winning the first accord for the 112 newly-organized Magic Mountain workers. “The support of the community was overwhelming,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson, who credited a letter writing campaign by union members and State Legislators calling for better wages and working conditions for families in the community. “This shows what we can accomplish when we stand together,” said Pearson.
Threatens to Expand
Despite waves of recent media mergers, the FCC is considering rule changes that could lead to further consolidation, increasing the threat of monopoly control over the news, entertainment and other information the public receives.
Public resentment is growing over the manner in which FCC officials are attempting to ram the new rules into effect without sufficient opportunity for public comment. In unofficial forums across the country, hundreds of consumers are speaking out against the changes.
For employees in the news and entertainment industry, consolidation means an increase in job insecurity. Since June 2000, nearly 70,000 media workers have been laid off.
Workers and consumers across the country are contacting Sen. John McCain, chairman of the committee that oversees media corporations, and urging him to allow public comment before any new rules are adopted. Visit afl-cio.org to make your voice heard on this important issue.
GE Union Endorses
“Our talks begin June 9,” said GVP Bob Thayer, who heads the IAM negotiating team. “We will be negotiating separately this time,” he said. The IAM-GE talks will be held in Waukesha, WI. Key issues include job security, pension benefits and health care. The IAM represents about 3,000 members at GE.
Senate Leans on CEO
Despite trillions in lost stock values, record unemployment and the highest corporate bankruptcy rate in years, “we continue to see many examples of enormous pay packages awarded by boards to top executives,” said Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), who expressed anger that no top executives accepted the committee’s invitation to testify at the hearings.
Among the no-show CEOs were: Leo Mullin of Delta Airlines, Edward Breen of Tyco International, Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., Michael Eisner of Walt Disney Co., and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.