Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

UAW Reaches Tentative Agreement In Volvo Truck Strike- Democratic Underground Labor Blog


By Doug Cunningham

Striking UAW workers at Volvo have reached a tentative agreement to end the walkout The UAW says the agreement was reached Tuesday evening. The strike at Volvo Truck North America began February 1st. Twenty-six hundred workers were on strike.

UAW Vice-President general Holiefield says the solidarity and discipline of members of UAW Local 2069 are what made this agreement possible. Details are being shared first with the striking workers before being made public. The workers must approve the agreement in a ratification vote to end the strike and return to work at the Volvo truck plant in Dublin, Virginia.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I walked the picket line with my UAW brothers and sisters in Dublin, Va. along with some other UAW members from Allentown, PA and Hagerstown, Md. I am in the process of writing about how organized labor rallied to the strikers in Dublin, Va. from all over the region and from many diverse parts of the labor movement. This strike could be a model for regional cooperation among all aspects of the labor movement to support high profile strikes.

McCain Stiffs U.S. Workers, Helps Europeans Win Air Tanker Deal


McCain Stiffs U.S. Workers, Helps Europeans Win Air Tanker Deal

by James Parks, Mar 12, 2008

AFL-CIO Blog link

At a time when American jobs are disappearing and our manufacturing base is being decimated, working people are outraged that Republican presidential nominee John McCain played a key role in the Bush Defense Department’s decision to award one of our largest military contracts to a foreign company.

Had Boeing been awarded the air tanker deal, it would have supported at least 44,000 new and existing jobs in the United States, many of them good union jobs, and more than 300 suppliers in 40 states. But now only a few thousand lower-paying nonunion jobs will be created. (Click here to send a message to your representatives in Congress, urging them to overturn this decision .)

The DOD announced Feb. 29 the awarding of a $40 billion to $100 billion contract for the construction of Air Force refueling tankers to Northrop Grumann and the European firm EADS, which makes the Airbus. Defense expenditures are supposed to comply with federal Buy American Law provisions, which require purchasing certain products from American companies when possible. But this administration has granted more waivers of the Buy American provisions than any administration in history.

Time magazine reports that McCain has been a “key figure” in the Pentagon’s attempt to complete the tanker deal. According to the news magazine, McCain wrote letters and pushed the Pentagon to change the bidding process so that Airbus’s government subsidies could not be considered when deciding to whom to award the contract. This placed Boeing, which receives no subsidies, at a clear disadvantage and conflicted with U.S. trade policy. In fact, the U.S. currently has a complaint before the World Trade Organization (WTO) charging unfair trade practices resulting from Airbus’s illegal subsidies.

Time also reveals that two current advisers to McCain worked on the deal for Northrop and EADS as lobbyists. They gave up their lobbying jobs when they came to work for McCain’s campaign, but a third lobbyist, former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas), lobbied for EADS while serving as McCain’s national finance chairman. Click here to read the Time article.

To top it off, reports that McCain received $28,000 in contributions from EADS’s American employees, including CEO Ralph Crosby, Senior VP Sam Adcock and lobbyists representing EADS.

This is the third time in three weeks it has been reported that McCain was involved in highly questionable conduct that belies his claim to be a crusader for integrity. Newsweek and The Washington Post reported that McCain pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to vote on an application to buy a TV station submitted by Paxson Communications at the same time McCain was flying on Paxson’s corporate jet and accepting tens of thousands in campaign contributions.

The media also pointed out that McCain weighed in on behalf of Glencairn Ltd, a client of one of his lobbyist friends, to urge the FCC to abandon efforts to close a loophole that was “vitally important” to Glencairn business. Click here to read the Newsweek article and here for the Washington Post story.

Machinists (IAM) District 751 President Tom Wroblewski says U.S. taxpayers deserve a better deal.

Now with this decision, America has to rely on a foreign country to defend our nation. This is wrong! And we will not stand silent on this issue. This is an unjustified gamble, which puts our armed services at risk. U.S. taxpayers shouldn’t be lining the pockets of Europeans.

Tom Buffenbarger, president of IAM, says working people will fight “tooth and nail and get this decision overturned.”

How we could turn over the crown jewel of support for our nation’s Air Force to foreign manufacturers is beyond me. We’re going to see that America gets what it deserves in the form of economic justice and fairness for American workers.

Gregory Junemann, president of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), says:

By turning our backs on American workers, we have certainly missed a prime opportunity to reinvest American taxpayer dollars in our own workforce. Our tax dollars are still at work, but in this circumstance, they are working to the benefit of foreign workers, not U.S. workers.

IAM and IFPTE combined represent 55,000 workers at Boeing.

The stakes in the bidding were high. Boeing would have performed much of the tanker work in Everett, Wash., and Wichita, Kan., and used Pratt & Whitney engines built in Connecticut. The company said the contract would have supported at least 44,000 new and existing family-supporting union jobs at Boeing.

The Northrop-Airbus proposal calls for converting new Airbus passenger jets, currently built in Toulouse, France, into tankers. Northrop said the planes will be constructed of European components that will be shipped to this country and assembled in a yet-to-be-built plant in Alabama, a so-called right-to-work state, resulting in far fewer U.S. jobs. In states with such laws, the average pay for workers is 15 percent less than in states where workers have rights to bargain contracts (including wages and benefits).

Richard Spevak, a member of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE Local 2001 (SPEEA) in Wichita, speaks for many working people when he says:

I’m so mad I could spit. As an American taxpayer and worker, this is the most blatantly stupid thing our government has done.. Most of the jobs in this will be in a foreign country when it could be done here by Americans. I feel truly betrayed by the U.S. government. Also consider this: How safe are we when major military equipment has to come from outside the country clear across the ocean?

SPEEA members played a big role in designing the Boeing tanker.

Workers in Washington state and Wichita weren’t the only losers. Dominic DiFrancesco, former national commander of the American Legion, wrote in the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot:

For Pennsylvania, the stakes couldn’t be greater. The federal Base Realignment and Closing Commission’s decision to close a number of military facilities here will eliminate nearly 2,000 military and civilian jobs. On the other hand, we have a number of respected aeronautics companies in the state that would become subcontractors to Boeing if it wins the bid. We’re talking about preserving and growing hundreds of jobs.

The Downwithtyranny blog says the extent to which workers reject the policies of McCain were highlighted in yesterday’s strong worker support for the Democratic winner in the special congressional election in Indiana on Tuesday over a McCain-backed Republican. André Carson’s victory was a referendum on “McBush.”

Shipping American jobs overseas may be someone’s idea of “free trade,” but it doesn’t go over outside of the board rooms. When McCain bragged about having been instrumental in denying an immense new contract to Boeing for refueling planes and helping the European Aeronautics Defense and Space Co. (EADS) get it instead, there was outrage from union halls to the halls of Congress over the impact on U.S. jobs, prestige and national security.

On Monday, Boeing said it will formally challenge the decision. The company said it will ask the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to review the contract award.

SPEEA President Cynthia Cole says:

I am very disappointed for our members and all employees at Boeing. I’m surprised the Air Force chose an unproven technology and an inferior product for this important program that supports the men and women in our armed forces.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says his union supports Boeing’s decision to challenge the award:

Instead of buying a tested refueling tanker, made in America by American workers, the Air Force is proposing to spend billions of our tax dollars on an untested plane, to be built by a government-subsidized European consortium.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union’s Aerospace Department, notes that neither EADS nor Northrop Grumman has ever built a tanker with a refueling boom. Boeing, on the other hand, has been building refueling tankers for the U.S. military for more than 75 years.

New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech called the decision “unexplainable and reckless.”

I am shocked by the Air Force’s intent to move the manufacturing of military aircraft to foreign soil, giving other countries the ability to slow down our military capacity, especially during a time of war and the necessity of heightened security.

In a statement issued during its March 4–6 meeting in San Diego, the AFL-CIO Executive Council called for Congress to “do its job and exercise closer oversight of the relations between the Defense Department and foreign contractors.” In particular, the council said Congress should “defund” the contract, as well as conduct a full investigation into the circumstances under which the contract was awarded to a foreign contractor.

The Executive Council also urged all the presidential candidates to condemn the contract and call for it to be overturned. Click here to read the council statement, “Offshoring America’s Economic And National Security.”

IBEW Local 163 members donate their labor for area projects


March 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, Pennsylvania edition of The Union News

IBEW Local 163 members donate their labor for area projects


REGION, March 2nd- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 163, Sans Souci Parkway in Wilkes-Barre, recently announced their members were involved in several community projects in Luzerne County.

According to Mike Kwashnik, Business Manager and Principal Officer of Local 163, which represent workers employed within the electrical construction industry, the union is proud to be involved with their community in the Wyoming Valley.

Local 163 has around 360 active members throughout Luzerne, Sullivan, Bradford and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kwashnik told the newspaper the majority of the volunteer work performed on community projects by his members are done by union apprentices that must donate the labor as part of their training. He said the apprentices must perform at least ten hours of community services work a year.

According to John Nadolny, Local 163 Training Director, there are two community service projects just completed by his members.

On January 12th, 19th, 26th and February 2nd, a total of 53 man-hours were donated for a project to help the Luzerne County Historical Society. The project consisted of a lighting retrofit for the new anthracite exhibit in the basement at 49 South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre. “We installed new conduit and branch circuits as well as dimmer switches for new track lighting that will illuminate the display cases and walls,” said Mr. Nadolny. He said the project provided a great insight for the apprentices to see how the older buildings in Wilkes-Barre are wired and constructed.

Mr. Kwashnik thanked Joseph Cavanaugh of Cavanaugh Electrical Construction of Wilkes-Barre, which is a unionized electrical contractor, for donating all materials and equipment to complete the project. “He took time out of his busy schedule to tour the jobsite before work began and gave valuable input,” said Mr. Nadolny of Mr. Cavanaugh.

Apprentices that donated their labor are: Bill Drake, Craig Stawasz, Brian Finneran, Austin Peoples, Rob Brodie and Brian Cornia.

The second community project recently completed by the union was for the Habitat for Humanity of the Wyoming Valley. The project involved help with the wiring of the branch circuits for the lighting, receptacles and smoke detector circuits in all room of the dwelling located on Plymouth Street in Edwardsville.

Apprentices involved in the project are: David Kaskel, Jo
sh Macosky, Joe DeAngelo, Mike Grourke, Victoria Evstafieva, Chris Kruk, Brian Charneski, Shawn Wright, and Bradley Charneski.

Pennsylvania State Representative wants end of Mexican truck program


March 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, Pennsylvania edition of The Union News

State Representative wants end of Mexican truck program


REGION, March 3rd- On February 21st State Representative Dan Surra, 75th Legislative District (Democrat-Clearfield), announced he is preparing to introduce in the Pennsylvania House a resolution urging President George W. Bush and the Federal Transportation Department to abide by a federal law passed in December, 2007 that calls for an end to a pilot program that allows potentially unsafe Mexican trucks to travel on United States highways.

The pilot project was put in place by the Bush administration in September of last year and allowed long-haul rigs from eleven Mexican trucking companies to cross the border and operate anywhere in the United States. The program does not require these trucks to meet United States safety standards.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents thousands of truckers across North America, was against Mr. Bush’s pilot Mexican truck project and for to allow the program to expire.
“The continuation of this program is wrong on a number of levels, not the least of which it is in direct violation of legislation that Congress has passed calling for an end to the program. But beyond that, allowing Mexican truckers and long-haul rigs on highways throughout the United States, absent the rigorous inspections and safety and training standards for United States and truck drivers, is dangerous to the public,” said Mr. Surra.

When the project was first announced last year, many federal lawmakers and states complained. Congress eventually passed legislation in December that prohibited the use of federal funding for the program, but the United States Department of Transportation and the Bush administration have argued that since the program was already in place, it should continue.

“Keeping these Mexican trucks on United States highways is a direct violation of federal law, a law that the President himself signed. It also puts many safe United States trucking companies and truck drivers at a competitive disadvantage in their own country,” added Mr. Surra.

Scranton Catholic teachers continuing their protest


March 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, Pennsylvania edition of The Union News

Scranton Catholic teachers continuing their protest


REGION, February 26th- Teachers of the Scranton Diocese wanting to be represented by the Scranton Diocese Association of Catholic Teachers (SDACT), Wilkes-Barre, are conducting “rolling sickouts” to bring attention to their efforts to reverse Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino’s decision to eliminate their union.

The union represented ten of the fourty-two Diocesean grade schools and nine of the ten high schools before Bishop Martino restructured the system, eliminating the small school boards and creating four regional boards. SDACT previously had contracts with each Board of Pastors that represented each school. Bishop Martino will not recognized the union as the employees bargaining representative.

According to Michael Milz, President of SDACT, the teachers have been represented by the union since 1978 when then Bishop of Scranton James McCormick recognized SDACT as the bargaining representative of the employees.

Mr. Milz disputes Bishop Martino’s comment that many teachers employed by the Catholic church in other Dioceses are nonunion. There are eight Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania and the teachers of five of them are union represented.

Mr. Milz told the newspaper the union will conduct informational picketing at selected schools throughout the jurisdiction of the Scranton Diocese. The Diocese covers eleven counties of Pennsylvania including both Luzerne and Lackawanna. The reason for the picketing is to bring attention to their situation and inform parents and the public about why the recently implemented “Employee Relations Program” is unsatisfactory to his membership.

The union believes the program will not give fair representation to the employees of the Diocese and without having it in writing Bishop Martino can change the employees working conditions at any time. “This is nothing but a company union,” said Mr. Milz.

Mr. Milz stated Bishop Martino is unavailable to him or any other union official to discuss labor issues. But, former Scranton Bishop James Timlin was always available and often called Mr. Milz for input regarding employment issues.

Machinist Union Local Lodge 2905 files labor charge


March 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, Pennsylvania edition of The Union News

Machinist Union Local Lodge 2905 files labor charge


MOUNTAIN TOP, February 11th- The International Association of Machinists (IAM) Union Local Lodge 2905 filed a complaint against PepsiCo/Quaker Oats Company alleging they violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

On January 28th, the IAM filed a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia against the company which produces, warehouses and distributes Gatorade and other beverages from a facility in the Crestwood Industrial Park in Mountaintop, Luzerne County.

According to the complaint, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, Local Lodge 2905 is the exclusive bargaining representative for around 190 hourly paid production, maintenance, shipping and receiving employees at the PepsiCo facility.

The current three-year bargaining agreement between the two parties expires on November 2nd, 2008.

The complaint states on or about January 4th, 2008, the employer began additional warehousing, shipping and receiving operations at its newly constructed warehouse at 545 Oak Hill Road located adjacent to their facility at 750 Oak Hill Road in Mountaintop.

The Gatorade and other beverage products manufactured by the employer is now shipped to and warehoused at PepsiCo’s new facility at 550 Oak Hill Road for ultimate distribution to their customers.

The union contends the employer is violating Section 7 (a)(3) and (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to apply its Collective Bargaining Agreement with Local Lodge 2905 to its warehousing and shipping/receiving operations and employees engaged therein at its newly opened warehouse at 550 Oak Hill Road.

The IAM in Northeastern Pennsylvania have members employed at Diamond Manfacturing, Air Products, the Scranton Department of Public Works, the Scranton Clerical Workers, Metso Paper, the Scranton Singel Tax Office and the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant.

UMWA officer files charge against Jeddo Coal Company


March 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton, Pennsylvania edition of The Union News

UMWA officer files charge against Jeddo Coal Company


HAZLETON, February 25th- A member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia, alleging his employer discriminated against him for union activity, violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the charge, filed on January 22nd, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, Jeddo Coal Company employee Albert Hrabovecky of Hazleton, charges the coal company with discrimination alleging his schedule and other working condition changes were made as part of retaliation for his protected union activity.

“During the past six-month period, the above-named Employer has discriminated against me in retaliation for my Union activity by denying me work assignments and overtime, changing my parking location, and yelling and cursing at me,” states the Unfair Labor Practice charge.

The UMWA represents around sixty Jeddo Coal Company employees. The company operates a surface coal mine in the Hazleton area.

Mr. Hrabovecky, the Financial Secretary of the United Mine Workers of America Union Local 803, which represents the Jeddo Coal Company employees, filed the charge on his own behalf. Local 803 is affiliated with the UMWA District 2 in Grindstone, Pennsylvania.