Klemm made the statements in a wide-ranging interview that aired Wednesday on the My Labor Radio Podcast with host Mark Gevaart.
Stressing the importance of member participation in contract negotiations, Klemm asked union workers to keep sending in their thoughts. “It’s actually crucial to the success of the negotiations process,” he said. “A lot of people are under the false premise that Mike Klemm or ‘The Union’ negotiates whatever they want… but that’s not the case.”
“What we do is, we canvass our members, broken down by contract,” he explained, adding that union negotiators will get a clearer picture of the most critical priorities in the workplace if front-line participation is high. While pointing out a few obvious goals, such as better pay and key benefit improvements, which will always be part of contract negotiations, Klemm said he is particularly interested in more personal items, such as work rules.
“It’s the work rules I really want to hear about,” he told show host Mark Gevaart.
Thousands of IAMAW members at United Airlines recently participated in a three-week survey period where they were asked to submit contract proposals and describe their workplace priorities. The results have been tabulated and used to create a set of opening proposals during upcoming contract talks at the airline. At a recent Union Conference, Klemm said that expedited negotiations could be possible, but this would depend on how many aspects of the current agreements will need to be amended. The expedited negotiation process could produce an updated contract much sooner than a complete contractual overhaul.
Klemm urged members to keep sending their thoughts, even after the survey and canvassing process has completed. “I love it when people write in and explain why they want this or that change to the contract,” he said. “That’s a true service to other members, and provides much needed context and background.” Union Members can send in messages at IAM141.org/Contact. Each email will be seen by Klemm personally.
Union Negotiators come from all over the nation, Klemm said, to produce a representative sample of the entire membership. “Obviously, you can’t have a 50-person Negotiating Committee,” he said. “But we’ve enlisted leaders from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Newark… and so we have people from all over.”
Along with the United talks, Klemm is also completing an updated agreement at Hawaiian Airlines. Those talks are happening with help from District 142, which like District 141, also represents workers at the airline.
While making significant progress at Hawaiian, a few outstanding issues remain, items that Klemm is optimistic can be reconciled at a joint meeting scheduled to take place on December 10.
Under the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline unions, contracts with workers never expire. Instead, they become “amendable” after a specific date.
The award-winning, Indiana-based ‘My Labor Radio’ Podcast’ is the only broadcast promoting labor voices in the state. It is also part of the Labor Radio Network, which can be found at www.LaborRadioNetwork.org. The full interview with Mike Klemm originally aired on www.WELTFM.org, and will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, December 8th, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST.
A link to the full interview can be found here.