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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekly report 8-30-08

General Items

This part of the report is not intended to scare anyone but it is best to remain informed when something potentially this large could affect our working conditions. I am referring of course to the potential of an H1N1 pandemic. It has been widely reported that deaths from this strain could reach 90,000. While that is triple the normal mortality of the basic influenza this is nowhere close to the 1918 influenza pandemic. I call this to your attention because if you remember when SARS broke out it decimated the demand for air travel. SARS had a mortality rate of about ten percent which is high for a virus but only about 900 people died worldwide. It was the panic that did in air travel at that time. This could be a repeat. The Company has already begun the cleaning the aircraft with chemicals in preparation for the possibility of an outbreak. I would suggest you get your finances in order in case this does become as big as everyone thinks it will. There are no plans for layoffs that I am aware of, but that is what happened in 2003 so I am thinking it is better to be prepared.

This next item ties right into the above paragraph. Health care for those that can't afford it is essential for combating this type of disease. It is well known that disease spreads quickly amongst those that have no care and this potential pandemic will be no different. It is sad that we have a class of citizens in this country that are treated no better than those living in third world countries. Here is an overview of how the US stacks up to the rest of the industrialized world in Health Care for its citizens. Here is a very interesting study by the University of Maine on the issue. What you will see in both of these pieces is we have the most expensive coverage in the world but according to the WHO we stand thirty seventh in quality of care behind countries such as Morocco, Costa Rica, and Saudi Arabia. In addition if an H1N1 pandemic does force layoffs or consolidations in the industry it will affect many of us and our need for access to health care.

For those contemplating hand tool purchases I ask that you not consider SK Hand tools. Local 743 is striking this manufacturer over the discontinuance of their health insurance. What is particularly heinous is the employer never informed the workers they no longer had coverage. Here is a YouTube link where the strikers speak out about the issues.


This week the Cabin Crew Subcommittee met with all the L1 managers in Chicago. We showed the Company how they could accomplish this work utilizing the ten hour schedule.

For the rest of the crew management has threatened to take away the ten hour schedule. There were many questions about this. Many members were under the impression that once established the Company cannot unilaterally eliminate it. Under Letter of Agreement 95-1M, and the subsequent 02-03M on page 180 of the old Agreement that was true, however under the second bankruptcy that letter was modified and this provision was eliminated. In reading the new LOA it is clear that AMFA wanted to give the Company a greater flexibility so that the Company would institute this schedule in more instances. Unfortunately the modifications while well intentioned did very little to expand or protect this schedule. Long story short, the Company will continue to attempt to hold this over the membership as long as this schedule is in effect.


I was informed that there would be upcoming training for the shop on various pieces of equipment.


Unfortunately the Labor/Management meeting had to be rescheduled due to a scheduling conflict. I will talk to Steve on Monday to determine when we can meet.

That's all for now,


Monday, August 24, 2009

We were, and continue to be misled

Here is some more on the Healthcare debate. While watching CNBC this morning I caught an interview with Wendell Potter. Mr. Potter was a Vice President of corporate communications for Cigna until 2008. Here is a link to the interview. It lasts just a little over 8 minutes and is a real eye opener. It's not a huge shock to realize we continue to be duped by the insurance industry, but it was interesting to see a perspective from a twenty year industry insider.

Reading Yahoo! Finance today I came across an interesting piece on 401k plans. Here is a link to the article. This was an interesting quote from the article "What gets lost in all of this is that 401(k)'s were never intended to be a primary retirement vehicle. So what now?" Great question, and while the article talks about an overhaul or reworking of the current 401k system; I think a return to defined benefit pension plans would be a great start. This would get us back to the three legged stool model for retirement where you would have savings, pension and social security.

I have another question. When will we cease to be misled? That answer is more difficult and requires a great deal of work on your part. The reason this is difficult is because there are some big money forces at work that have great sales pitches. These forces want to keep their money and make much more. So a big piece of the answer is to stay informed and seek out knowledge on issues when there are doubts. When you have truthful answers share them. Following the masses over the cliff helps no-one.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekly report 8-22-09

General Items

The big news this week was in regards to the negotiation session held in Chicago. The official update can be found by following the link at the top of the page. It was good to get that first Article TA'd. Much work went into it by both sides and hopefully real progress will continue.

A three hour tour of the northwest Chicago suburbs was provided after Monday's session. I now understand why that area doesn't have a huge tourist draw ;). Many thanks are due to Paul Stripling for his hospitality and good nature.

Health care reform continues to dominate the news. In a previous blog post I discussed my thoughts on the issue. Since that time I have begun to read the bill posted on the House of Representatives website. I have been approached and told page 5 or page 20 of the bill would require that if you lost your current policy you would be forced into the public option and never allowed to return to private insurance. After reading both pages I found what I originally assumed and that is no such requirement exists. It is surprising to me that "we the people" can be so easily misled. The very same groups that have led us to the brink of a great depression through poor policy decisions, denied us real health care reform in the early 90's, and were summarily removed from public office, continue to control the debate. How can that be? I think the short answer is fear and greed. There surely is more to this but these two emotions seem to drive this country's politics and policies to a large degree. The person responsible in large part for the propagation of the "death panel" argument was recently interviewed on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Her name is Betsy McCaughey and even though Jon is a comedian this is worth watching. For those that remember Betsy from the early 90's she wrote "No Exit" criticizing the Clinton health care plan. Andrew Sullivan then editor of "The New Republic" stated after this highly acclaimed piece was used widely by conservatives in framing the debate "I was aware of the piece's flaws but nonetheless was comfortable running it as a provocation to debate." The source for this is Wikipedia. As you know reform was defeated and here we are 16 years later trying to repair what should have been repaired at that time. Instead we are listening to the same jackasses that misled us before. They say a lie can travel around the world before the truth has a chance to get out of bed. I believe that and here is a video of the National Health Care Forum discussing the issues in a common sense manner. It is over an hour long but worth watching.

In a follow-up to a report on a discharge from the New York point, Larry Calhoun submitted the case for arbitration. Larry did a great job on the submission and I still feel certain this member will be returned to work. Speaking of arbitration submissions BA Paul Molenberg posted a submittal for discipline regarding sick time usage. It is well written and worth the read.


The Cabin Crew Subcommittee is scheduled to meet with the Company this coming Thursday the 27th to discuss the ten hour day for this group. This meeting will be attended by all L1 managers as well as our committee, several BA's and Intl Airline Rep Clacy Griswold. I'm looking forward to this presentation as I feel we have a good argument for this schedule.

A question arose regarding overtime payment while on field service. The answer to the question can be found in Article IX A, of the agreement. When on field service away from your home station hours worked during your normal shift will be paid at the straight time rate, and hours outside of your normal shift will be paid at the applicable overtime rate.

The Company is bringing in an Inspector from San Francisco in early September to test the senior bidders for the second afternoon shift slot.


The Outsourcing Committee held a conference call today led by Greg Sullivan from San Francisco. The obvious goal of this committee is to preserve jobs. There was a good discussion from every hub station representative and I will report more on this as it develops.

That's all for now,


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hooray for Me, Screw You!

Coming through one of the shops on the way to negotiations I was confronted about health care reform. This member told me he had read the entire 1018 page bill and wondered why in the world the IBT would be supporting this. First I applaud his effort to dedicate the time to read the bill. It can be found here. While I can't speak for the IBT, and as I've said before I really haven't followed this as closely as I should, I am for real reform.

He had questions that followed the lines of traditional Fox News right wing talking heads. He said 80% of Americans had health care plans and were satisfied with their care so why should we care about the 20% minority? His answer for health care reform was tort reform. This sounds like a great idea to reduce some costs until you are the one who has the "honest mistake" done to you or your loved ones.

Here is a fact check article on the issue worth reading. And here is an article from Politifact discussing 120,000,000 losing their employer based health care plan. Both the article and the sight are worth viewing.

The part of his debate that really disappointed me was that we have not just members on the street, but friends. Are we really that selfish that we would deny our friends, which we worked with for many years, the opportunity to have access to health care they can afford? Truly the attitude of "Hooray for me, Screw You!" is continuing to be used against us to our great detriment.

The increased use of emergency room visits for basic health care, the spread of disease (MRSA, TB, H1N1) and the poorer overall health of the population will escalate and continue to weigh on this country. If the status quo remains we will pay the cost for these uninsured people through higher taxes, higher mortality rates, and sky high insurance premiums.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back from vacation

I'm back from vacation. Since I wasn't at work there will be no department specific reports for this past week.

Negotiations will resume tomorrow 8-17 in Chicago. The official update, when released, can be found at the link on the top of the page.

The Cabin Crew subcommittee is still scheduled to meet on the 27th in Chicago, and a report will be out after that. As I said before I believe this committee has a decent proposal and I look forward to discussing it with the Company.

That's all for now,


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tough times to be Union

Dave Sulewski retired from United several years ago and he has been keeping in touch with me via e-mail for a while. For those that remember Dave he is doing well. Dave has been letting me know what has been happening with a strike on a small office furniture manufacturer where he lives in upper Michigan. Dave has been supportive of these strikers and felt their story needed to be told. Here is a recent article on the attempts by the Union to prevail in a decertification that happened during the eleven month strike. I ask that you pay attention to the comments following the article. It's hard to accept the fact that one readers only concern was the hut the strikers erected as protection from the elements. Her thought was the hut was an eyesore in this tourist town. She had no regard for the fact that her neighbors lost their livelihood.

What does this have to do with us and why should we care? Labor has been getting kicked around for some time now, at least since the PATCO strike under Regan. We need legislative help. The Teamsters are asking we support the Employee Free Choice Act, and I believe this is a step we must take to restore the rights of the working person in this country. Or we could continue the status quo and slowly be reduced to taking whatever the corporate world deems we are worth. That's not very appealing to me.

Weekly report 8-7-09

General Items

I feel it is important that I apologize for a couple of seniority mistakes I made recently. I try to research major issues prior to interpreting the Agreement. I utilize all the tools available including reading the Agreement and any relevant supporting documentation, as well as conferring with both previous Union's representatives. After I did all of this I could find no supporting documentation to prove a local practice in Washington was valid. However this week, after previously making a couple of seniority application decisions, I found supporting documentation showing that I was wrong. I was able to correct most of the errors this week and continue to work on a couple more. With that said I will continue to exhaust all avenues prior to making these interpretations and I would ask for your help in the process. As you know there are some holes in our history, so if you have saved any relevant files or information that you think would be useful in the interpretation of the Agreement, please share them with me so I can make the most informed decisions possible.

The Airline Division website is up and running and it contains very useful information. The dashboard is a great place to get current and constantly updated news on our industry. The forums provide an avenue to discuss or debate all things involving the mechanic and related class and craft. I encourage you to check it out and participate in the forum. The best way for the Union to represent you is for you to voice your opinions.

The Twitter poll is finished and it seems mechanics don't use this service. I am like most of you in that I never used it prior to doing this poll. There is a lot of information on Twitter, but to me it seems like more work than it's worth. Thanks to those of you that participated in the poll.

I am on vacation for the upcoming week returning for negotiations on the 17th in Chicago. There will be no updates during that time. Because I'm going to Latrobe, Tony Urso asked that I post pictures of his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, at training camp but I don't think that will be possible. Sorry Tony.


This week several first steps were resolved. The Inspector openings have been reposted. The fixed days for the Cabin Crew lead have been removed.

The Cabin Crew subcommittee will be meeting with the Company on the 27th of this month in Chicago. As I've told many of you, I feel the committee has a compelling proposal and I am hopeful we can succeed in changing the Company's position on this. I know the Company continues to pull members off this crew to do line work. I ask that on those nights you are pulled off you provide me with documentation in the form of your work assignments to help with our presentation to the Company.


I wish I could report there was nothing new in the shop this week. Unfortunately the Company rescinded the two recall notices this week. What made this particularly heinous was the timing. Both mechanics were to report this coming Monday, but received notice on Wednesday their jobs were unavailable. We work in a crappy industry and have become used to layoffs but this was a new low.


The Labor/Management meeting was held on Wednesday but it was only the Manager and the Committee that met. We had several discussions on what was happening with the shop. I asked and Steve agreed that Grievance timelines would follow the monthly schedule of the meetings. The next regular meeting will be held on the 26th at 2:15pm.

That's all for now,


Thursday, August 6, 2009

More merger speculation

Robert Mann talking about airline troubles as well as potential consolidation in the industry can be found here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A few items

The Airline Division forum is up and running. The site requires a free registration to post. I tried it out and it works well.

The full 20% outsourcing decision can be found here. I know this is old news but it's there in case you missed it.

The Cabin Crew Committee is scheduled to meet with the Company on August 27th in Chicago. When there is any more information on this it will be posted here.

The PV Labor/Management meeting has been rescheduled for August 5th and I will report the results in the "Weekly report".

That's all for now,


Saturday, August 1, 2009

1400 A&P's to be retested

Kevin Giegoldt from Chicago sent this article regarding the mechanics going to Tobias training facility in Texas. Apparently 1400 mechanics are to be retested.

Weekly report 8-1-09

General Items

There are no department specific items this week.

Negotiations resumed in Denver on Wednesday and the official update can be found here. All I can say from this last session is that this is a difficult process requiring a ton of work. With that said I am very pleased with our Leadership team from the IBT. The two qualities displayed by our Leaders that stood out to me this week were experience and fortitude. Negotiations will resume in Chicago in two weeks.

Jock Creach from Seattle, like always, added a couple of interesting items to the SEA Blog this week. Both of them were in regards to aircraft orders.

It looks like the Airline Division is still setting up the forum section of the new website.

Please take some time to take the Twitter poll. It is only three questions and I would appreciate your input.

Since I've been out of town there really is not much else to report, and I've been working on the car so I have to go wash my hands…..

That's all for now,