Thursday,  November 13,  2003

Passenger Rage Survey Deadline Nears
The opportunity to take part in a unique survey designed to measure the levels of passenger hostility faced by airport employees is drawing to a close. Airline employees, including Customer Service, Reservations, Fleet and Ramp Service workers have until Nov. 15 to access the survey at and compete the brief questionnaire. Participation is completely confidential and results will be used to highlight airport conditions that range from verbal abuse to physical assault.

In addition to the online survey, a copy of the questions can also downloaded and printed from

Democrats Pick Union Carriers for Convention
The Democratic National Convention Committee selected United Airlines and US Airways, two highly unionized carriers, as the official airlines of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The decision is a major victory for the airlines, since thousands of delegates, their families, guests and distinguished visitors are expected to travel to the event, which will be held July 26-29 in Boston.

“We applaud the DNCC for this decision,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The past few years have been difficult for workers in the airline industry. Our IAM members, and all union brothers and sisters at these two airlines set standards of excellence in safety, service and security for the traveling public.

“The DNCC sent a strong message to the public by selecting these two carriers where a majority of workers fight for better jobs and benefits through their unions,” Buffenbarger said.

Flight Attendants Alerted to Body Clock Disruptions
Female flight attendants who frequently travel across time zones are more likely to experience disruptions in circadian rhythm – the body clock – than women who do not frequently fly, according to a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The study, which measured variations in the sleep regulating hormone melatonin, compared 45 flight attendants with 26 teachers who were similar in age, lifestyle and reproductive history. Overall, the flight attendants were found to have much greater day-to-day variations in melatonin production than the teachers. The greatest variation in melatonin production was found in flight attendants with schedules that took them across multiple time zones.

“As a rule, disruptions in the body clock can affect the balance of hormones in the body, and this may have implications for reproductive health,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Given the complexity of those processes, we do not yet know whether the disruptions seen in this study would affect the body in ways that would inhibit or impair reproductive health.”

The full text of the study was published in the October 2003 issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health. Additional information is available on the NIOSH website at

Wal-Mart Faces Racketeering, Conspiracy Charges
Former employees of Wal-Mart, Inc., are accusing the giant retailer of operating a criminal enterprise and conspiring with contractors to ignore basic labor law protections for the store’s custodians.

The workers’ lawsuit also charges Wal-Mart conspired with contractors to deny workers’ civil rights and seeks class action status for thousands of immigrants hired by contractors around the world and transported to the U.S. to clean the retail outlets.

According to the lawsuit, Wal-Mart violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a statute normally reserved for prosecuting organized crime, by systematically defrauding workers of minimum wage, workers' compensation and social security protection. Additionally, the suit charges Wal-Mart with wire fraud, mail fraud, failure to withhold federal payroll taxes and allegedly engaging in a “pattern of racketeering activity” to prevent officials from enforcing wage and immigration laws. “This really is the big fish eating the little fish,” said James Linsey, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “It’s the most powerful and richest company in the world taking advantage of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.” Linsey described working conditions at Wal-Mart as “one step away from slavery.”

Fight Brewing Over Radical Judges
Senate Republicans are engaged in a 30-hour, continuous debate to protest what they call “unfair” tactics by Democrats to block President Bush’s judicial nominations. The debate is the latest effort by Republican lawmakers and conservative activists seeking to force a vote on the controversial nominees.  

To date, only four of Bush’s 171 nominees have been blocked; including Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Texas judge Priscilla Owen, Mississippi judge Charles Pickering and lawyer Miguel Estrada. Senate Democrats say their ‘advise and consent’ role under the U.S. Constitution requires close scrutiny of judicial nominees and Bush’s picks are part of a political agenda designed to roll back long-standing social programs.

Joining Democrats in opposition to the nominees are the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, women’s rights groups, environmental organizations and numerous labor unions.

Senate Democrats said they plan to use their time during the debate to call attention to the failure of the administration’s economic policies. “The Republicans are consumed by those four jobs and ignore the 3 million jobs that we’ve lost over the course of the last three years under this administration’s economic policies,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

Seniors set Strategies for Looming Election
A parade of speakers headed by IP Tom Buffenbarger told delegates to the Third IAM Retirees Conference that seniors hold the balance of power in the crucial 2004 presidential election cycle. Older voters cast 37 percent of the total votes in 2000. President Bush narrowly carried the senior vote, but recent polls show his support has eroded badly over the past three years.

Buffenbarger stunned his audience, and a pair of talk radio hosts, when he declared: “I love President Bush’s economic program. He supports universal health care: he wants to rebuild roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals. He wants a new power grid so that power blackouts never happen again. It’s a wonderful plan.

Of course, he wants all of this for Iraq!” he added wryly.

The punch line drew laughter, applause and a collective sigh of relief from the delegation. Buffenbarger and other speakers applauded the delegates for their commitment to working family issues and the grassroots action plan they hammered out during the conference.

The Bush administration’s prescription drug plan came under blistering attack with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, picking up on the Buffenbarger lead. “Are you ready for regime change here at home,” she asked. The blunt-spoken Democrat complained that under the Bush plan, which is locked in a House-Senate conference committee debate, “4 million seniors would lose employer-provided drug benefits, 12 million would pay more for drugs, 33 million face higher doctor bills and 1.7 million would pay more for home care.”

Schakowsky urged delegates to contact their senators and tell them to vote “NO” on the measure, or to mount a filibuster against it should the GOP try to force a vote. “No bill is better than a bad bill,” she warned, “and failure is not an option.”

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Two candidates came to Cincinnati to vie for the IAM's endorsement for President in 2004. Only one came away with the prize.  Read all about it in the online version of The IAM Journal.

 . . . and it's time to order your copy. This years calendar is filled with the winners of the annual IAM photograohy contest. Plus, for every calendar sold, the IAM will donate one dollar to the Guide Dogs of America. Last year, calendar sales earned $25, 000 for the GDA. Click here to download a calendar order form. Print it our on your home computer and mail it back to the IAM.

Once each year an independent panel of judges decide which locals and districts publish the best newsletters and best websites. Check out the winners.

FlatRateTech is an organization “created for and by Ford and Lincoln Mercury service technicians solely to speak as one loud voice rather than 50,000 smaller voices,” according to their website The fast-growing site offers forums for Ford customers, technicians and dealers to exchange information.


See who works for you, how the IAM is structured, and what services the IAM offers. Go to: IAM profiles for 2003.

The 108th Congressional Directory . . .
get your copy. Send $5 to the MNPL Education Fund, c/o IAMAW, 9000 Machinists Place, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772.

The official site for the 36th Grand Lodge Convention to be held in 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio is now online. Check it our for convention news, sponsorship offers, and convention gear.