iMail Tuesday, November 9, 2004


Bush Election Great For Outsourcing

Outsourcing companies in India are jubilant that the elections in the United States returned President Bush to office, reports the New York Times. “This is great news for the offshoring industry,” said Nandan Nilekani, chief executive of Infosys Technologies, a software services company. “The trend toward outsourcing will now become even more inexorable.”

Offshore outsourcing, or the moving of work to low-cost regions like India, was an issue in the U.S. presidential election, with Kerry, the Democratic candidate, blaming Bush and the practice of offshoring for the loss of thousands of American jobs.

Kerry once referred to “Benedict Arnold companies” and chief executives that sent jobs overseas and promised that as president he would end tax deferrals for companies that send work abroad.

While President Bush was largely silent on the issue, his administration was not. N. Gregory Mankiw, the president’s chief economic adviser, and Treasury Secretary John Snow both defended offshoring as a form of free trade.

Some executives are saying that offshoring will grow even more with Bush's victory. “It will be easier for American corporations to step out with their outsourcing plans,” said Vivek Paul, the vice chairman of Wipro, in Mountain View, California. Wilpro is based in Bangalore, India.

NLRB Weighs Card Check Case

Calling a pending case involving neutrality agreements “one of the most contentious issues of our time,” National Labor Relations Board Chairman Robert Battista told a law conference in San Francisco that he did not expect a decision on the closely watched case before the spring of 2005.

The case concerns a de-certification petition filed by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation following card check certifications at two companies under neutrality agreements with the United Auto Workers. Following a dismissal of the Right to Work petition by NLRB Regional Directors, the full board voted 3-2 to reconsider the de-certification petition.

Neutrality agreements and card check certifications allow for representation rights to be determined quickly without costly and divisive battles between unions and companies. Anti-union lawmakers and business groups who are lining up against the use of card checks hope to use a favorable NLRB decision to limit future organizing opportunities for employees.

NLRB Chairman Battista indicated he wanted the case to be decided by a board that included yet unnamed Bush appointees to take the place of retiring board members Ronald Meisburg, a Republican and Dennis Walsh, a Democrat.

Update on Pratt & Whitney Negotiations

As negotiations for a new contract for 4,000 IAM members at Pratt & Whitney draw closer to a Dec. 5 deadline, union leaders met recently with company executives, who boasted, “It’s a good time to be Pratt & Whitney.”

The comment was part of a “business overview” by the company that showed revenues at Pratt & Whitney up 13 percent and profits up by 21 percent. Third quarter profits at Pratt & Whitney’s parent company United Technologies Corp. (UTC) are also up 12 percent.

Despite the rosy financial picture and an equally upbeat prospect for future profits, the company’s contract proposals remain far short in key areas of healthcare, pensions, job security or wages, according to union negotiators. Earlier in the week, IAM members voted to authorize a strike at P&W if a satisfactory agreement is not reached.

The contract at Pratt & Whitney is the last of three agreements between the IAM and UTC subsidiaries to be negotiated this year. IAM members at UTC Fuel Cells ratified a new contract in December 2003 and Hamilton Sundstrand workers approved a new contract five months later in May.

Seniors Gird for Bush Agenda

Older Americans are preparing for an all out assault on current Social Security benefits as the Bush administration begins its second four-year term in office. Within days of the election, the President declared his intention to “privatize” the Social Security program by allowing workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in private security accounts. Analysts fear the move, long sought after by the investment community, could cost taxpayers up to $2 trillion and permanently harm the federal retirement security program.

“There are difficult days ahead,” observed George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, who vowed to oppose any “reforms” that would compromise the integrity and longevity of Social Security. “We will continue to lead the fight to protect a Social Security system that provides guaranteed benefits and protects families for life; and for comprehensive healthcare (that) seniors can depend on through Medicare, including affordable and accessible prescription drugs.”

Minnesota Member Wins State House Seat

Union members in Minnesota are celebrating the Election Day victory of Leon Lillie, a Northwest Airlines Equipment Serviceman (ESE) and seven-year member of IAM Local 1833.

On November 2, Lillie won the District 55A seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives by defeating his Republican rival by a 55 to 39 percent margin. The Maplewood, MN resident credited the support of fellow union members and working families for his win.

During his campaign, Lillie emphasized the importance of keeping good jobs in the community. “I have seen friends who work two jobs and do not have the time or energy to give to the community by getting involved in coaching, kids’ school events or other community activities,” said Lillie. “People who are willing to work hard should have a decent standard of living.”

The airline worker turned legislator is no stranger to public affairs and community service. Growing up in the community he was elected to serve, Leon and his family could always be counted on to volunteer and fully understood the importance of giving back to the community.

Two Documentaries to Dissect Wal-Mart

A pair of documentaries, airing less than a week apart, will take a critical look at retail giant Wal-Mart and how their policies have forced many American companies to shift their manufacturing jobs to China.

“The Age of Wal-Mart: Inside America’s Most Powerful Company,” will air Wednesday, November 10 at 7:00 P.M. and then again at 10:00 P.M. on CNBC.

“Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America?” will air Tuesday, November 16 at 9 p.m. on PBS.

In 2003, Wal-Mart purchased $15 billion worth of goods from China – accounting for one-eighth of all Chinese exports to the United States, according to a report by the minority staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee. The report estimates that 50 to 60 percent of Wal-Mart’s products come from overseas.

Spring 2005 Communications Courses Set

The Communications Department will be holding Basic Editors and Basic Web Development classes this coming Spring. Basic Editors will be held March 13 - 18 and May 22-27, 2005. This class teaches the fundamentals of publishing a local or district lodge newsletter. For enrollment information, contact Pam Kinney at the Winpisinger Center at 301-373-3300. Lodges should enroll now for the March class.

There will also be two Basic Web Development classes April 10-15 and June 12-17. The official call and enrollment information for the Web classes has been mailed. Contact the Communications Department at 301-967-4520 for more information.