“CONTRACT NOW!” Union Solidarity Actions Around the Nation As Talks Stall

“CONTRACT NOW!” Union Solidarity Actions Around the Nation As Talks Stall

CONTRACT NOW!: Machinists Union Members at Sister San Francisco Local Lodges 1781 and 1782 Member Appreciation Solidarity Day pose with Contract Now! signs. Talks with United Airlines have stalled over the issue of job security, according to union negotiators. In response, union members are renewing commitments to each other – and building a rock-solid front from which to face whatever challenges management tries to throw into the fray. Photos: Brian Vega, IAMAW 141 Communications Coordinator

“CONTRACT NOW” Wave of Union Solidarity Actions Around the Country as Contract Talks Stall

Organizing
25 July 2022

Brandishing signs reading “CONTRACT NOW,” thousands of Machinists Union members at United Airlines are storming break rooms, social media, and rallies to demand that United Airlines does not gain the ability to outsource their work to low-wage vendors in the next contract.

Workers along the West Coast gathered this week in San Francisco for a series of solidarity actions, including a member appreciation event that drew hundreds of union members. The gathering concluded a week that included rallies at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) that featured speeches by union leaders, including many directly involved in contract talks with the airline. 

“Cost of living is going up, health care is going up, everything is getting more expensive,” said Troy Rivera, an Assistant General Chairman with the Machinists, to the assembled United Airlines agents. “United thinks there are no big issues here,” he said. “And, that’s just not the case. We do have issues. Our job security is an issue – in fact, it was the number one concern that our members have asked for leading up to these negotiations.” 

“They are basically offering job security that is worse than what we have now,” said Assistant General Chairman Joe Bartz, a member of the panel of union members currently negotiating with the company. “And, that is absolutely ridiculous after what we’ve gone through over the last few years, with the pandemic.”

Bartz also took issue with the often disrespectful tone adopted by company negotiators, who, behind closed doors, seem to devalue the critical role front-line workers play at the airline. “In negotiations, members of the negotiating team told us that United Airlines Store Keepers (at United) were nothing more than Walmart stock clerks, and why should we pay them any more?” The comment drew loud boos from union members and prompted several to take to social media to point out that Walmart stock clerks are underpaid and regularly exploited. “If United wants to start acting like Walmart or Dollar General, we might be (expletive removed),” a poster on Facebook said in a comment that has since been deleted.

The rally at SFO Airport was only one of several such demonstrations. On Saturday, San Francisco-based union members launched a “Member Appreciation Day” event that drew several hundred airline workers. According to event organizers, the day was intended to strengthen the bonds between union members and their community. Organizers stressed that relationship-building exercises like membership appreciation events and community outreach could only help union members during contract negotiations. 

“This took a lot of work,” said event organizer Noelle Sakamoto. “There was a whole team of us that brought this together,” she said. The group involved Local Lodge Presidents from two Local Lodges, Tony Parker from 1781 and Wendy Goodell from Local 1782, both helped lead the work. The twice-a-month meetings began in January of 2022 and included help from Assistant General Chairs Olu Ajetomobi and Troy Rivera, both of whom represent airline workers along the West Coast. Chris Lusk, a District Vice-President and Local 1781 Committeeman also offered help and advice.

“They want us to trust them when they say they won’t outsource our work, and that’s just not good enough. We want it in black and white, in writing, in a legally-binding contract.”

-IAMAW District President, Mike Klemm

Area businesses invited to the event lined the parking lot of Locals 1781 and 1782 with a colorful assortment of booths, face painting, music, souvenirs, and food and drink options… all of which combined with the cool San Franciscan summer weather to create a festive atmosphere for attendees. 

But, behind the warm hugs and smiling joviality was a persistent undercurrent of steely determination, focused on the behavior of United Airlines at the negotiating table. 

In a July 18 letter to the membership, Machinists District President Mike Klemm, who is leading the negotiations, pointedly told members that talks had stalled over job security. 

“Unfortunately, United management decided to propose a job security package that is not competitive with United’s industry peers and does not provide the job security and scope of work protections IAM members deserve,” Klemm said in the statement. Of the solidarity events springing up at airports around the nation, Klemm said, “We need to take every opportunity to remind each other that we are all in this together and that we have each other’s backs.”

“They want us to trust them when they say that they will not outsource our work, and that’s just not good enough. We want it in black and white, in writing, in a legally-binding contract.”

 

The head of the Machinists Union Airline Transportation Division, Richard Johnsen, underscored the sentiments to West Coast union members over the weekend. “I want to thank everyone who put in so much hard work to create this solidarity event,” said Johnsen. “We need to do this. We need to be together and rock-solid if we’re going to take on this company and win,” he said. Johnsen called on United to, “return to the bargaining table and give Machinist Union Members a fair contract that protects our jobs and shows the respect that we deserve,” to loud cheers and chants of “Contract Now!”

One factor making United’s efforts so frustrating to employees is the fact that the airline has, as of July, returned to profitability. According to the Union’s District President, a large factor in bringing the carrier back into the black is the hard work of front-line union members. 

“United Airlines has announced record revenue and a return to profitability,” Klemm said in a joint statement signed by union negotiators.  “The very reason this is possible is because of United Airlines employees. Not management. It’s the workers who make this airline fly. It was us who made tens of thousands of calls to elected officials to ensure our airline received the needed aid to survive through the worst downturn in airline industry. It wasn’t because of CEO Kirby and the other airline industry executives. How did CEO Kirby reward our loyalty? He devised a scheme to violate our contracts and force all IAM-represented workers to part-time status. And, now this.” 

United’s announcement that it has returned to profitability owes its existence to the pandemic relief funding, which was awarded following a massive show of support from union members.

Another factor helping to inflate profits, according to industry analysts, is the fact that United is increasingly willing to raise ticket prices. This tactic mirrors the company ethic of bleeding its workers dry and seems to apply to passengers, too. Airfares at United have spiked a staggering 20% since 2019. At the same time, United has slashed seat capacity and used pandemic aid funding to encourage mass employee retirements, leading to crowded planes and chronic staffing shortages.

United earned more than $430 million in the Second Quarter but is struggling to keep pace with profits at competitor airlines, such as American. 

 

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Legislative Goals
25 July 2022

Since late 2021, the economy has suffered debilitating setbacks primarily due to wrinkles in the global supply chain. As a result, President Biden hosted a supply chain summit with 14 other countries that same year to begin tackling the immediate supply chain issues. 

Fact Sheet: Global Supply Chain Summit

Machinists Union was invited to participate in the Labor and Workforce Development breakout of the two-day 2022 Ministerial Forum on Global Supply Chain Resilience, scheduled for July 19 and 20. 

The event hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, focuses on ways to tackle the supply chain issues championed by President Biden. 

Included in these discussions were geographic diversity of advanced manufacturing centers, fostering stakeholders in labor, small businesses, transportation, and logistics to improve supply chains. All while expanding global training to enhance readiness in workforce participation for all workers, including women and other underutilized minority groups.

 2022 Supply Chain Ministerial 

“The IAM made it clear that to improve supply chain issues, the next generation of workers must receive the skills they need to fill good middle-class jobs,” said Peter Greenberg, IAM Strategic Resources Assistant Director. “We need improved and consistent funding for apprenticeship programs and the continuation of Trade Adjustment Assistance programs for displaced workers.”

The overall goal for this global partnership is to reduce and end near-term supply chain disruptions. The Departments of State and Commerce are committed to building long-term solutions while easing future troubles in the global supply chain. Advocacy and education are needed at every level, from workers, city leaders, state, federal, and international leaders. In addition, the Biden Administration aims to secure custom supply chain solutions for businesses and workers in each locality – securing jobs for all workers.

 Watch: The Modern World Doesn’t Work Without the Global Supply Chain.

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Message from JetBlue Organizers: Personal Time Has Value

Organizing
21 July 2022

(Message from the JetBlue Organizing Committee. Find out how you can support the effort to bring union rights, wages, and benefits to JetBlue Ground Ops: Contact an organizer HERE>>)

One of the great things about working for a major airline is the ability to travel the world, visit family in different parts of the world and live a life that most people envy. However, to fully enjoy these great benefits, we need to have the ability to use our vacation time.

All IAM major airline contracts have both a vacation and a sick bank (a comparison is on the reverse side of this flyer). This way, if you become ill, you can use your sick time, not the time you have accrued for vacation.

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IAM contracts outline how much block vacation must be posted and granted for each week of the year and how many day at a time vacation days can be granted each day on each shift. Union representatives meet with airline management continually to ensure union members have the right to use their hard-earned vacation time.

Union contracts protect workers’ ability to live a fully human life. And part of being fully human is to be able to spend time away from work with loved ones and live life to the fullest. When we have to depend on the charity of management to approve our paid time off, it’s dehumanizing. That’s what union contracts seek to prevent. 

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United Airlines Negotiations Update: Contract Negotiations Break Down

United Airlines Negotiations Update: Contract Negotiations Break Down

IAM141, United Airlines Contract Negotiations Break Down

18 July 2022

IAM District 141 and United Airlines management met briefly last week in Chicago, IL, to review United management’s “comprehensive” job security proposal. According to the Company, its proposal was designed to “quickly close negotiations.” Unfortunately, United management decided to propose a job security package that is NOT competitive with United’s industry peers and DOES NOT provide the job security and scope of work protections IAM members deserve.

United management’s job security and scope of work proposals would provide fewer protections than we have today, leaving tens of thousands of IAM-represented workers with no job protection at all and increase company outsourcing opportunities. Management’s wage and economic proposals also fall far short of what IAM-represented United employees deserve. United’s competitors, big and small, have surpassed United in the key areas of job security and wages/economics. In fact, United management’s wage proposal would provide a significant real wage cut, considering the current economic climate. Simply put, IAM-represented employees at United deserve much better.

At the same time, due to pushback from United pilots who have halted voting on their recently announced tentative agreement, United management has decided to run back to the negotiating table with them because American Airlines announced larger wage increases for their pilots. However, when we propose contractual terms that already exist in other industry agreements, all we hear is, “that’s bad business, and we have no interest in doing that.”

The concept of expedited negotiations is for both parties to focus on their priorities and to make justified, reasonable proposals that are in line with the industry to EXPEDITE an agreement. We have lived up to this. United management has not.

United Airlines will soon announce record revenue and a return to profitability. The very reason this is possible is because of United Airlines employees. Not management. It’s the workers who make this airline fly. It was us who made TENS OF THOUSANDS of calls to elected officials to ensure our airline received the needed aid to survive through the worst downturn in airline industry. It wasn’t because of CEO Kirby and the other airline industry executives. How did CEO Kirby reward our loyalty? He devised a scheme to violate our contracts and force all IAM-represented workers to part-time status. And, now this.

Unless United management changes course, reworks its current proposals, and offers IAM members at United a fair contract that recognizes our value to our airline, it is highly unlikely that we can reach an agreement in the expedited process. As a result, we have informed the Company that we will not meet face to face and will use the week of July 25th to meet internally.

We will inform the membership of the next steps when they are finalized.

Your Negotiating Committee

Olu Ajetomobi
Joe Bartz
Victor Hernandez
Barb Martin
Andrea’ Myers
Terry Stansbury
Faysal Silwany
Erik Stenberg
Sue Weisner

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all Union Bulletin Boards.

United CSRs in California: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

United CSRs in California: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

ATTENTION All California CSR’s: Important Information Re: MAP Devices

District Lodge 141, along with Local Lodge 1782, addressed the MAP Device Protection Program. United attempted to implement a policy that seems to require that United Airlines’ workers who have been provided iPhones have to buy insurance with respect to the devices.

Six years ago, we corresponded with United and advised them that any requirement that employees buy insurance with respect to company-issued equipment is unlawful.

Apparently United heeded that letter at that time and the Union was successful in getting affected employees refunded.

Under California law, employers must bear all costs of doing business and can’t impose it on employees. See Labor Code Section 2802 which, specifically prohibits any employer from forcing employees to pay for any expenses including insurance on those phones.

The statute also provides for attorney’s fees should the employees have to bring an action to remedy an unlawful requirement that employees bear any costs such as insurance. You also may want to take a look at Cochran vs. Schwan’s Home Service, 228 NLRB Cal.App 4th 1137 (2014) dealing with this issue. The Court was relying upon a California Supreme Court decision which is now 25 years old. Gattuso v. Harte-Hanks Shoppers, Inc. 42 Cal.App.4th 554 (2007). The Union asked United to rescind the policy.

After the Union met with United & HR, United has now agreed once again to reimburse all members in California in the following locations: SFO, SMF, SJC, LAX, SNA, SAN for a total of 539 employees at the total cost of $16,170.

Troy Rivera

Assistant General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Olu Ajetomobi

Assistant General Chair,

IAMAW District 141

Terry Stansbury

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Mike Klemm

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Letter from JetBlue Crewmembers: JetBlue Outsourcing at LGA and BOS – What’s Next?

Letter from JetBlue Crewmembers: JetBlue Outsourcing at LGA and BOS – What’s Next?

Primeflight supervisor working in LGA bagroom, June 11 2022. JetBlue is moving it’s assets in LGA to Terminal B in preparation for it’s ‘de-facto merger’ with American Airlines. JetBlue is also seeking to merge with Spirit Airlines in a hostile takeover. JetBlue, as an airline, will be undergoing big changes very soon. What will this mean for the company’s non-union workforces?

JetBlue to Outsource LGA Bagroom and BOS International Gates. What’s Next?

Organizing
12 July 2022
Written by Ground Operations Crewmembers Organizers

JetBlue GO Crewmembers from LGA and BOS have reported that JetBlue management is currently planning to outsource GO Crewmembers’ work in the LGA bagroom and the BOS International gates.

The natural question is: What’s next?

Without a legally binding union contract, JetBlue management can outsource GO Crewmembers’ work whenever and wherever it wants. This is work that provides GO Crewmembers with overtime opportunities or work areas to bid that are preferred by JetBlue GO Crewmembers. And, nothing prevents JetBlue management from outsourcing entire stations, or significant portions of work areas, if they so choose.
This is especially troubling as JetBlue management is pushing very hard for a merger with Spirit Airlines. The reality is that if/when a merger occurs, JetBlue GO Crewmembers have no idea who will run the combined carrier and what their commitment to GO Crewmembers will be.

Airline executives have a long history of saying one thing to get a merger approved and then doing the exact opposite after the merger is finalized.

The only way WE can protect ourselves and our careers is to form a union and negotiate a legally binding contract that protects and respects the work we do.

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