November 14, 2002
Homeland Security on Fast Track
A Homeland Security measure sailed through the House and is on its way to the Senate where it is expected to meet with similar success. Critics contend the so-called “compromise” version still gives managers the right to ride rough-shod over workers assigned to the new federal department.
The proposal gives the administration the ability “to waive virtually all civil service rules and eliminate decades-long collective bargaining rights” for workers who will be transferred into the new Department, according to William Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s legislative director.
“The AFL-CIO has stood with the Administration in its war on terrorism, and the firefighters, emergency personnel and construction workers who put all else aside during the tragic events of 9/11 showed that being a union member does not serve as an obstacle to doing one’s job or performing feats of bravery and patriotism,” Samuels noted in a letter to Congress.
“Our nation’s government workforce deserves better treatment than they are about to receive from the new Republican majority,” he added.
OSHA Ergonomics Standard Misses Mark
The guidelines “pale in comparison to the scope of the massive ergonomics problems in the industry,” according to a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents thousands of nursing home workers.
Workplace safety experts support a mandatory, all-industry ergonomics standard rather than the voluntary guidelines OSHA proposes to issue for specific industries.
UPS Negotiations to Resume
Both sides will pick up where they left off last month in Ft. Lauderdale, when negotiations came close to an economic accord for IAM-UPS workers nationwide.
“We’re well prepared for the upcoming week of talks with UPS,” said Boysen Anderson, IAM Automotive Coordinator and lead negotiator. “I fully expect these negotiations to establish the benefits of coordinated bargaining.”
Starting Dec. 3, regular updates regarding the progress of negotiations will be posted on a special section of the IAM website.
Trade Adjustment Assistance
The new program, to be administered by the Labor Department, was spawned by the parliamentary wrangling that produced last August’s fast track trade legislation.
Workers certified as having lost jobs due to trade and who participate in job training programs will also be eligible for 104 weeks of cash assistance, up from 78 weeks under previous rules.
The law also extends TAA benefits to so-called “secondary workers” who lost jobs at “downstream” companies adversely affected by trade deals. Cash allowances for worker relocation and out of area job searches was increased from $800 to $1,250 under the new program.
Post Workers Ratify New Agreement
The contract calls for annual wage increases of $10.50 per week, a 50 percent increase in the night shift differential and a signing bonus of $1,350 for full time employees and $1,000 for part time employees.
The contract dispute gained national attention when Post management sought to eliminate union security language and allow bargaining unit employees to drop out of the union while continuing to benefit fully from negotiated terms and conditions.
“I applaud the union members at the Post for standing strong and protecting this important contract language,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The paper that symbolizes free speech and constitutional rights for so many had no business trying to deny such basic rights for its own employees.”