iMail Thursday, June 17, 2004

IAM Blasts Space Exploration Commission Report

The Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy released its final report yesterday. The Commission’s report implements President Bush’s decision to change the direction of America’s space program from the current Space Shuttle and International Space Station to the exploration of Mars. The new policy fails to articulate a coherent strategy for maintaining a vibrant and growing space industry and puts IAM aerospace jobs in jeopardy.

“The continued failure of this Administration to focus on providing jobs, creating new technologies and growing the U.S. economy comes through clearly in this report,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, who served on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry.

“Not once does the Space Exploration Commission cite the worsening jobs situation in aerospace that has now reached its lowest level in over fifty years. Not once does the Space Exploration Commission cite the coming demographic cliff with massive retirements of aerospace engineers and production workers within the next six years,” he added.

Congress should reject President Bush’s flawed plan and secure America’s leadership in space exploration with a commitment to American aerospace workers that their skills will be used in the future.

“Space is indeed the final frontier,” said Buffenbarger. “We must ensure that we use American workers and their technical expertise to get us there.”

Contract Talks Open at New Piper Aircraft

District Lodge 166 and the Aerospace Department opened negotiations at New Piper Aircraft Inc., in Vero Beach, FL on June 15. About 600 workers at New Piper voted last year to join the IAM.

Opening day was cordial and optimistic. Headquarters General Vice President Bob Thayer and Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez attended and sent a strong message to the company negotiators. “We have the full resources of the IAM available to bring to bear and make these negotiations successful for the workers at New Piper,” said Thayer.

“New Piper employees want a voice on the job and fair treatment. New Piper employees feel they have little input, and have much knowledge they can share to improve the work processes,” added Martinez.

New Piper employees have long suffered unilateral takeaways, including pay cuts, health care cuts, and removing chairs from the workplace and personal photos from toolboxes. Workers voted for three members to be the negotiating committee. Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge and District Lodge 166 Directing Business Representative Jerry McGahee will assist them in negotiations.

Shoppers Miss American-Made Products

Despite American job losses and recent heat over outsourcing, young Americans, in particular, are still not seeking out American-made products.

Campaigns to “Buy American” took off after blue-collar jobs began to disappear, but only about one-third of Americans pay notice to tags today, according to a survey conducted for the Ipsos-Public Affairs by the Associated Press.

About half of Americans surveyed did say they were willing to pay more for American-made products, but nearly two-thirds of young people, classified as under 30, admitted they never even bother to look at labels.

“That's not a big deal to me, where it was made,” said Serena Evans, a 24-year-old machine operator from Hurt, VA, in a series by the Associated Press. “I look for the cheapest product, because I barely have the money to buy it.”

Americans over 60 disagree. Older Americans are twice as likely to consciously buy American and pay more for American products over foreign products by a 2-to-1 margin.

“I'll pay more for an American product,” said 81 year-old Sam Rucker, a retiree from Brady, Texas. “We should look out for ourselves. I've always felt that way.”

Millions are Uninsured

A study by Families USA reported that nearly 82 million people, one third of the U.S. population younger than 65, lacked health insurance at some point over the past two years.

In Texas, 43.3 percent of the non-elderly population does not have health insurance, the highest rate in the country. New Mexico, California, Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma all have over 35 percent of their population uninsured.

The executive director of Families USA, Ron Pollack, said “fast-rising health care costs, a soft labor market in which employers are passing more health care costs to workers and reductions in state safety net programs are resulting in substantial increases in the number of uninsured.” Lack of health insurance is associated with poorer health, earlier death and delayed and inadequate medical care.

The numbers are higher for minorities. Sixty percent of Hispanics and 43 percent of blacks were uninsured, compared to 23.5 percent among whites. Read the article.

Aerospace Jobs In Decline

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report indicates a continued decline in Aerospace employment, a trend that began in mid-2001. The BLS figures for aerospace employment in March 2004 totaled 569,000 down from 574,000 in December and 590,500 in March of 2003.

Commercial aerospace industry workers typically earn substantially higher on average wages than in most other manufacturing industries. Unfortunately, these good-paying jobs are being lost at a rapid rate. In the past 15 years, 700,000 American aerospace or aerospace supported jobs have been lost. The BLS projects this decline to continue by 17.6 percent through 2012.

The loss of these high skill high wage jobs is attributed in part to a drastic reduction in commercial transport aircraft orders, and relatively little increase in orders is expected over the projection period. In addition, the industry continues to experience strong foreign competition in the commercial transport market.