Thursday, September 18,  2003

McCain Takes Aim at North American Jobs
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is back flying combat missions. This time, however, he seeks to shoot down the proposed lease of Boeing 767 tankers by the US Air Force. And he is using every weapon at his disposal to chalk up another kill.

As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, McCain’s requests for information from the Boeing Company are the political equivalent of a subpoena. They must be answered. What is done with the information, however, is an open question.

Boeing’s internal documents have a dual use. They can be used as ammunition during Senate hearings to kill the tanker program. Or, placed in the public domain, they can give Boeing’s competitors data they might only learn through industrial espionage. Either way, the impact is the same: IAM jobs are lost.

Click on the link below to support North American jobs:


AFL-CIO Ads Target Overtime Pay
The AFL-CIO began airing TV ads opposing President Bush’s attempts to slash overtime for American workers. The ads urge working families to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to oppose this misguided effort to impose a pay cut on as many as eight million American workers.

The Senate passed an amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill that bars the president from stripping overtime protections away from workers. The House is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The Bush plan would eliminate overtime pay for firefighters, police officers, secretaries, cooks, paralegals, administrative workers, journalists, dental hygienists and others, according to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

Since the 40-hour work week became law in 1938, many American workers have come to depend on overtime pay. Overtime pay accounts for as much 25% of the income for workers who worked overtime in 2000.

If the overtime rule change is implemented, many employers will force their employees to work longer hours, rather than hire new employees, a practice that will further weaken the nation’s already anemic job market.

IAM Members at Orpack-Stone Win New Pact
A four-month long strike by the 84 members of IAM Local 554 at Orpack-Stone Corporation in Herrin, IL ended on September 14, 2003 with a new, two and one-half year collective bargaining agreement. Members returned to work on Wednesday, September 17.

According to District 111 Directing Business Representative Steve Jones, the main issues in the strike were the high cost of health insurance to the employees, seniority rights and the desire for a closed shop.

”Our members were solid on the line and never lost their commitment to seek the wages, benefits and working conditions they deserve,” Jones said. "With this contract, which includes the union security clause we sought, we have laid the foundation for improved future agreements."

Housing Costs Outpace Inflation, Wages
Workers must now earn $15.21 an hour, or $31,637 a year, to afford a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent while still being able to afford other necessities of life according to a report just released report from a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group for low-income housing. The average American worker earns little more than $15 hourly according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition, which calculates the housing wage for every state, region and county in the U.S., found in its report, Out of Reach 2003, that this year housing costs have risen faster than wages and the cost of other goods. The national Housing Wage increased by 3.7 percent between 2002 and 2003, while inflation was 2.1 percent, and the Housing Wage has increased 37 percent since 1999, when a person had to earn $11.08 an hour to afford fair market rent on a national basis.

The report also highlights the inadequacy of the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 an hour since 1997. Renter households in 40 states — home to almost 90 percent of all renter households in the nation — face a housing wage of more than twice the prevailing minimum wage. Eleven states have housing wages more than three times the minimum wage.

For more information:
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/
The National Low Income Housing Coalition:  http://www.nlihc.org/


TWA Machinists Honored
GVP Robert Roach, Jr. recently honored 19 former TWA employees in a ceremony marking 50 years of membership in the Machinists Union.

“These members helped TWA usher in the jet age,” said Roach. “The wealth of knowledge they acquired about the industry and their Union served as a priceless resource for newer IAM members.”

The former TWA employees were members of Local 1650 until it was dissolved following American Airlines’ purchase of TWA. The 19 remained active members through the local’s retiree club. The members received a special 50-year membership pin and a lifetime gold membership card.

“TWA survived for as long as it did only because of people such as these men,” said Roach. “Their dedication to their Union and their profession is the true legacy of TWA.”