TWU-IAM Members Urged to Vote on Tentative Agreements with American Airlines.
Committee members and leadership from IAM Districts 141 and 142 met in Chicago this week to review the Tentative Agreements reached by the TWU-IAM Association for over 30,000 members at American Airlines. The highly anticipated agreements were achieved after four years of negotiations that sometimes became contentious. If ratified, these will be the first joint collective bargaining agreements for five workgroups represented by the Association since American Airlines and US Airways merged in 2015.
Together, the agreements focus on protecting health care, retirement benefits, and provide historic levels of job security for union members at the airline. “Pensions like yours are unheard of,” said Machinists and Aerospace Union negotiator Tom Regan to a packed room of union members. “Your wages, your job security, your health care… will be second to none.”
“This is a historic agreement,” he said. “Truly historic.”
The agreements would improve benefits such as sick time, vacation, and holidays. Retirement accruals will become some of the very best ever to exist for commercial aviation fleet service workers. New job security language will add to existing, iron-clad outsourcing and layoff protections, preventing both airline workers and the work they do from being eliminated.
Wages, overtime rules, holiday pay, and profit-sharing will lead the industry.
Additionally, workers represented by the TWU-IAMAW Association will get “Delta” profit-sharing with one crucial caveat: the unionized workers at American will own their profit sharing, guaranteed in the new contract. “That’s why I don’t like naming our profit-sharing plan after the one at Delta,” Regan explained. “Delta workers can have theirs taken away.”
Mike Klemm, President and Directing General Chair of District 141 and Dave Supplee, his counterpart at District 142, opened the meeting thanking members for their steadfast support and solidarity. “You are part of this negotiating committee,” said Supplee. “Without your support, we would not be where we are today.” Klemm praised the work of the negotiating committee that delivered “the best contracts in the industry” and explained the process that will lead to the membership ratification vote in late March.
John Coveny, General Chair of District 142, and Mark Baskett, Assistant General Chair at District 141, led a detailed review of the agreements, highlighting changes and important details. In addition to improvements in wages, Profit Sharing, and strong job security protections, the contracts would protect the superior health care coverage that IAM members value.
American Airlines negotiators included a provision that would allow the company to “immediately” eliminate many of the medical plans for any workgroup that loses union membership with the Association.
Members will receive the full text of the agreements via email and a printed copy via US Mail in the next ten days. Polling hours and locations for the ratification vote will be announced once the voting date is confirmed.
The agreement for Fleet Service members specifically focuses on scope, guaranteeing 45 cities system-wide where members will work, adding BNA, DTW, IAH, MSY, and SNA. Cargo, de-icing, lavatory service, catering, and regional bag transfer work is protected in locations where it currently exists. The agreement also includes station job protections and specific language on station closings, staffing ratios for Crew Chiefs and agents, provisions to ensure the effective handling of grievances, and language that prevents new technology from replacing workers. There are also clear tables listing qualifications for a variety of positions, facilitating the career advancement and mobility of members.
Tim Klima, the Airline Coordinator of the IAMAW Transportation Territory, praised the work of negotiators and delivered thanks and words of support from General Vice President Sito Pantoja. Klima stated the agreements “left nothing on the table” and were achieved because of the hard work of negotiators and support and solidarity of members.
Summarizing what’s ahead, PDGC Mike Klemm encouraged members to read the agreements, reach out to committee members and leadership if there are questions, and most importantly: “Go Vote!”
The TWU-IAM Association was formed after the merger of American Airlines and US Airways in 2012. As Labor Partners made up of members from the Transport Workers Union and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, they represent approximately 33,000 employees at the new American Airlines and is the largest union at the carrier. The Association is vested with all powers and authority necessary to carry out its objectives.
The largest union in the commercial aviation industry is the Machinists Union. The largest single division of the IAM is District 141, home to more than 42 thousand active and retired members.
Machinists at District 141, who work at major airlines like American and United, as well as smaller airlines like Spirit, function as an industry-wide negotiating body. Machinists contracts negotiated at District 141 have made $30 an hour a new industry standard pay rate for all airlines. They’ve also created agreements that make the outsourcing of work nearly impossible for their airlines to do legally. These landmark contracts are forcing all airlines to keep up with Machinists to attract and retain good employees.
It’s no surprise then, that the Machinists at District 141 are creating a fertile breeding ground for new activism. Young and energetic, these newly engaged members are forming the vanguard of an emerging new kind of unionist.
The potency of this surge of union activists was on clear display at the Machinists biannual District 141 Convention, held this month in Orlando, Florida. This convention saw a record-breaking level of participation from airline workers, setting records in the overall number of delegates representing local union lodges, and also a record number of delegates attending their first union convention.
To find out what might be driving the increase in new union activism, we asked first-time delegates why they got involved, and what they hoped to achieve over the next year.
Michelle, Local 811 Houston
“I came here to educate myself, so I can do a better job for my fellow co-workers in Houston. I want to bring back something useful from this convention that will help people understand how their union works, and how they can help out.”[/gdlr_column]
Rosario, Local 1487 Chicago
“We need to protect our jobs, that’s the number one priority for me. The more of us that are fighting to protect our jobs, the better. I’m here to be a better defender of our job security and rights.”
Carletta, Local 2198 Houston
“I’m really interested in doing more. A lot of new members don’t understand what the purpose of the union is, what the union is for. So, I’d like to be a part of getting that education out into the field.”[/gdlr_column]
[gdlr_column size=”2/3″]Rayshawn, Local 1445 Newark
“I was sworn in as a Shop Steward in February of this year. For me, personally, it comes down to education. We need to educate ourselves to a level that will empower us to protect our jobs, our bodies, and the overall welfare of our jobs.”[/gdlr_column]
Sam, Local 1487 Chicago
“I was inspired to get involved by our Local President, Tony Licciardi. He demands a high level of member involvement, and wants us to be included any time that decisions that will impact our work area are being made.”[/gdlr_column]
Tevita, Local 1781 San Francisco
“The most important thing for me is job security, and to prevent management from bullying the men and women that make our airline successful. Some of them want to step on our necks, and we need to confront that. To do that, I need to learn more about our union, and grow as a Shop Steward.”[/gdlr_column]
Daniel, Local 1781 San Francisco
“I’m here to educate myself on how to become a stronger Shop Steward, and how to defend the dignity of my coworkers. I feel like I learned a lot by getting to hear directly from District 141 President Mike Klemm, and the historic work that he’s done for this industry.”
Some of the best people work in unions.
Nestled about five minutes from Charlotte Douglas International Airport lies Renaissance West STEAM Academy. (“Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math”) An unlikely addition to the low-income section of Charlotte where it’s located, Renaissance West Academy seeks to reach some of the most at-risk students in the area – right in the neighborhoods they call home.
For many of the K-6 students, the meals they get at school are the only meals they get all day. Every student at Renaissance West STEAM Academy qualifies for the school’s free lunch program. Plastic food bins donated by IAM Victory Lodge 1725 in Charlotte are filled throughout the week with donations for families who take them home over the weekend.
Despite the many challenges they face, however, the students at Renaissance Academy are thriving. Much of this success is due to the toughness and resilience of the kids, but the whole community has joined to support the school’s goals. Faith-based networks, city agencies, and community groups all play a role, with union activists leading the way.
When students at Renaissance West STEAM Academy head to class this week, they will be sporting brand new book bags, each one emblazoned with the IAM emblem and stuffed with school supplies. The bright red drawstring bags and supplies were gifted to the kids thanks to an ambitious donation drive spearheaded by Community Activist and Charlotte’s Victory Lodge 1725 Recording Secretary Helena Thornton.
A long-time supporter of the students at Renaissance West, Helena knew first-hand how great the need for school supplies was. She first got involved at Renaissance West when the President of Victory Lodge 1725 Mike Jones encouraged her and others to volunteer. The young students nicknamed her “Miss Lady.”
Helena Thornton. Photo courtesy of Louis Gilmore, Photographer for Victory Lodge Local 1725 CLT
Helena teamed up with Renae Miller, the Chairwoman of the Women’s and Human Rights Committee at Victory Lodge 1725. The two of them came up with a plan to make sure that the students would start off the school year well-prepared, with the confidence and dignity that comes with having everything they need for class.
But, which students would get the bags and supplies? It didn’t seem fair to set up some kids with new bags and leave others out, since every student at Renaissance West faces hardships.
For Helena, the answer was clear: Everyone would get a bag. And while it didn’t seem possible for her small local lodge to buy the more than 500 book bags they would need, she upped the ante and also planned to stuff them with enough supplies to get each student outfitted for the classroom.
Helena has been employed at American Airlines for 12 years, and for 9 of those years she has been a union activist. After becoming a Shop Steward, and later Women’s Committee Chair, she became Local 1725 Recording Secretary back in May 2015 and was elected to her first full term this year. She knows how to take on a project, even one as big as this one.
The first calls Helena and Renae made were to District 141. After that, things began falling into place. Donations from the District combined with contributions from the Obie O’Brien Local Lodge 1776 in Philadelphia, and even more donations from members covered the cost of having the bags made.
Getting the school supplies, however, was proving to be tougher than expected. It was at that point that Helena got a phone call from IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja.
“That was a surprise!” Helena said, laughing. “My phone rings out of the blue, and suddenly I’m talking to Sito Pantoja.”
“But, he was very thoughtful, and he asked me what we needed, and he told me that he would help. And, he sure did!” A few days after his phone call, Helena got six heavy boxes full of supplies, many of them displaying the IAM emblem just as the bags were. “We got pencils, rulers… more than 400 packs of index cards…” Helena struggled to recall everything that the students reaped from that single donation. “It was a huge help. Without his donations, I’m not sure how we would have reached our goal.”
After finally collecting everything needed, Helena rounded up volunteers, friends and family to help pack the bags. “We started bagging, bag after bag. We had entire families packing bags for three straight days. After the first day, we packed about 250 bags. We had 700 notebooks, plus pencils, crayons, wipes, napkins, hand sanitizers. We made sure that the little kids had the sanitizers. For the older kids we focused more on the notebooks, the pencils, the markers.”
“After I finished, I was exhausted. I had never seen so many pencils. We had 4000 pencils!”
When it was all done, all 550 students at Renaissance West STEAM Academy had the supplies they needed to start the school year, all packed into a brand-new, bright red book bag proudly emblazoned with the IAM logo. Not only that, but all of the school’s 27 teachers had book bags as well, stuffed with extra supplies for the kids.
It was then that the magnitude of the job became apparent. “I didn’t realize what we had done until I saw kid after kid with the red bags. I was in tears,” Helena said.
“These kids need somebody to show them that they are important. They need to be able to say ‘somebody’s there for me.'”
If you are a member of Victory Lodge 1725 in Charlotte and would like to volunteer for the next big project, contact Helena Thornton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IAM141 was in the spotlight on Tuesday, as IAMAW International President Robert Martinez spoke before a full house of Machinists and Union Activists in New Orleans.
In his speech, delivered at the 2018 IAM141 Committee Conference, Martinez praised the hard work and dogged fighting spirit of IAM141 members. “I want to thank you for everything that you do, day in, day out, for our membership, on a wide range of fronts in this great district.”
Robert Martinez, Jr. The 14th International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International President Robert Martinez holds the highest elected position in the Machinists Union, an organization with more than 600,000 workers throughout North America. Since the beginning of his tenure in 2016, he has dedicated himself to growing and modernizing the IAMAW.
Martinez described the many accomplishments of IAM141 in recent years, focusing on the solidarity demonstrated by district members in their support of the IAM Disaster Relief Fund. In the wake of devastating storms in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, IAM141 made a record-setting contribution to the fund and facilitated the transport of relief workers and supplies to the affected areas. This solidarity is playing a critical role again as IAM members in Hawaii are threatened by persistent volcanic eruptions.
(From Left to Right) IAM141 President & Directing General Chairperson Michael Klemm, IAMAW International President Robert Martinez, Jr., IAM141 Secretary Treasurer Alex Gerulis
Martinez also noted the remarkable work IAM141 is doing to grow the union with organizing campaigns at Jetblue and Delta, and praised the work of IAM141 Educators, Safety Teams and EAP Representatives. “You are the reason that our members have a good, safe and secure job that allows our kids the opportunity to shoot for the stars. You are the men and women that dare to say that all working people expect dignity, justice and respect on the job.”
The IAM141 Committee Conference brings together Committeepersons, Chairmen and other union activists and experts to discuss the most significant issues that impact airline workers.
IAM Grievance Committee Chairpersons representing more than 40 thousand airline workers from every major airline in North America will be gathering in New Orleans, Louisiana this week for the 2018 IAM141 Chairperson’s Conference.
Each year, IAM141 brings together elected union leadership to discuss the most pressing issues facing workers at the nation’s top airlines.
Tony Colina Delivering the Opening Remarks at the 2018 IAM141 Committee Conference
2198 Committeeman Tony Colina gave the opening remarks, and Rev. Derrick Monk from Philidelphia’s Local 1776 delivered the benediction. Featured speakers include IAM International President Robert Martinez and Transportation VP Sito Pantoja, as well as a variety of IAM141 experts and leaders.
“I myself was very excited to hear that we were going to hold the Conference here in 2018,” said Colina in the opening ceremony. “This is a city that’s incredibly vibrant, filled with joy and resilience.”
Colina is a Committeeman from Houston, Texas, which is about 300 miles away from the Conference location near the New Orleans French Quarter. Local 2198 expands across a vast area and includes much of Houston and New Orleans. Colina acknowledged the challenges that come with representing such a large region but said that the two cities share a common commitment, and a shared history thanks to the twin disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey.
“Last year, Houston suffered a great test with Hurricane Harvey,” said Colina. “And, it was the city of New Orleans that showed us how to be Houston Strong.”
Colina also expressed how important the annual Conference is to the members of IAM141. “This is by far my favorite Conference,” Colina told the assembled union activists at the opening ceremony. “I love this Conference. In order to help each other, we have to talk to each other. We have to share our experiences, network and learn from each other. Because of that, this is one of the most important gatherings that IAM141 is responsible for each year.”
The Conference runs from May 21 – 24 and is held this year at Hanna’s in New Orleans, LA.