Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Captain David Bourne
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure’s
Subcommittee on Aviation
“The Proposed United-Continental Merger:
Possible Effects for Consumers and Industry”
June 16, 2010
Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith:
I am honored to answer your invitation to provide written testimony to your Committees pursuant to the hearings you held on June 16, 2010 with respect to the proposed merger between United Airlines and Continental.
We recognize that many experts and pundits have offered their considered opinions regarding the legal, economic and consumer issues involved in a merger of the size and scope as the proposed United-Continental merger.
We are carefully studying those opinions and are sure that many more will be forthcoming. We will continue to review and analyze the proposed merger; at this time, however, we prefer to remain neutral with respect to the proposed transaction. In neither applauding nor opposing the merger, I wish to state for the record that our neutrality is only limited to the transaction itself.
As with all other matters affecting the airline industry, our standard on the merits of this or any merger is the long term job security of our membership. Job security continues to be an increasingly rare commodity in the airline industry. Once a strong and proud component of our nation’s economic engine, our members are now barraged with WARN Act and COBRA notices as managements seek to put American workers on the street, compromising the safety of the traveling public and flight crews as they seek ways to cut costs and increase their bottom line.
Our members’ tools lay rusting and formerly state of the art maintenance facilities lie dormant as their jobs continue to be outsourced to companies that are not required to maintain the same standards as U.S. airlines. Tragically, we are not talking about the distant past; we are talking about something occurring today.
Your committees must ask tough questions and demand honest answers. Why are U.S. certificated airlines sending aircraft to South America to have critical safety checks done that can and should be done by highly experienced, fully qualified employees who work for the airline in the U.S.? How can passengers or a flight crew feel safe on an aircraft sent to India for repair of a stress fracture of an aircraft component that were based upon a digital photograph sent to the repair shop in India? These facilities are not held to the same strict FAA for maintenance compliance and TSA standards employee security, background and drug screening for the people who work on these aircraft. Proper, manufacturer-required specific tooling may not be available. Language barriers may create situations where understanding of the work to be accomplished may not be fully understood. Sadly, these practices are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
As your hearings continue, we are living the nightmare of what appears to be safety related shortcuts on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. We each must ask if allowing this practice to continue is worth the potential of losing even one aircraft, its crew and passengers. What affect would it have on the industry and our economy were this to happen? How long would it take to discern the cause? Is it a problem related to a specific type of aircraft or was it an improper repair? In short, would we be able to afford a Gulf like disaster in the airline industry, just to improve the bottom line?
We believe the answer is no. These bad for business and bad for safety practices must be stopped for the safety of the traveling public and our members.
There are other job security issues we believe must also be considered by the committees. Like most airline members, our United members’ pensions were terminated through bankruptcy and replaced with 401(k) plans. While these plans were touted at the time, these so-called retirement plan substitutes and replacements have also been compromised and their values destroyed as a result of the nation’s economic meltdown. These plans are yet further examples of cruel Wall Street hoaxes imposed on our members who were promised real retirement security, not the entrepreneurial equivalent of gambling accounts that are subject to the uncertain and destabilizing whims and caprices of Wall Street’s well-heeled, glorified bookmakers.
In terms of our members’ health care costs; they continue to escalate as employers demand workers pay more in premiums, while receiving less care. While members of management and their families continue to receive gold plated care, our members and their families continue to get less, with no relief in sight.
In the workplace, for too long we have witnessed our members numerous attempts to introduce innovative and cost saving work processes to the airline, only to be rebuffed by risk-averse managers intent only on shifting work to cost centers or companies other than their own, and as noted previously, to more and more off shore locations with substandard oversight.
Honorable Chairmen, Ranking members and committee members, these anxieties and frustrations of our airline members are not unique. They are industry-wide and are shared by all crafts and classes, regardless of their representative status and affiliation.
It is a terribly bitter irony that even worker-friendly experts and advocates who extol the consumer benefits of airline deregulation do so without recognizing that the industry’s frontline employees have disproportionately suffered the negative social and economic consequences of a generation of nearly unbridled regulatory polices. – Indeed, although their suffering remains largely invisible to the public, the industry’s frontline employees continue to shoulder the burdens of bad business decisions and practices. This is a harsh and unhealthy reality that must change if the industry is to remain stable. And it is for these reasons that, at this time, we remain neutral regarding the proposed merger of these carriers.
We have been encouraged that United and Continental both seem willing and capable of fostering change for the better.
We believe this as we are currently involved in contract negotiations with both carriers for all three of the crafts and classes that we represent (mechanics and related at United; mechanics and related and fleet service at Continental).
We are working hard and productively with both carriers to restore and maintain job security for our members, while ensuring good and safe service for the American traveling public. Our task though, is far from complete.
If, through our negotiations we are able to restore our members’ lost jobs and pensions, retool the facilities, and restore the confidence, pride and loyalty to these carriers and the industry, then we – both labor and management – will have helped create a new legacy of industry stability, cooperation and, ultimately success. In the process, the travelling public will benefit from the bargain and management and labor will have forged a new chapter that will hopefully lead to good public policy.
If the proposed United-Continental merger helps foster this much-needed change, then we expect history will favor the merger that your respective committees appear poised to approve.
Thank you again for allowing us the opportunity to comment on this important matter.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Last week I was in San Francisco for negotiations. As stated in the update we are using the CAL agreement as a template moving forward as we work towards a new agreement. If you would like to study the CAL agreement it can be found here. The CAL agreement is superior in many ways including both language and money items. There are however a few things that we have in our agreement that are better and will need to be kept.
The archived CSPAN video of the House hearing held on the 16th regarding the merger can be found here. This video is about 2 hours long and includes the testimony of both CEO’s. At close to 1:28:15 on the video there is questioning about future outsourcing in San Francisco. In addition, I posted the link on the blog to the full hearing video and written testimony here. This is a four hour video and I haven’t watched it all yet. I have read the testimony of the witnesses, and it is about what you would expect. The pilots are generally for it and calling for reparations, the IAM is against it, and the AFA is concerned. As the IAM stands the most to lose in this merger (26000 members) their position is understandable.
Along the lines of the situation the IAM is in, someone from San Francisco emailed this letter lampooning a member of the IAM-CDU. The author of the missive rips into Jim Seitz about his record, as well as his motivation to organize the IAM back on to the property. The letter also talks about a point I’d like to expound upon somewhat, and that is the timing of the card drive. The author correctly points out that we are in contract talks, and that in the recent past this was used as a vehicle to organize. The sad truth is this is the time we are most vulnerable to these drives because this is a long and uncertain process. It is rare to see a drive start after negotiations conclude because that is generally when most members are satisfied and it is harder to motivate a person to sign a card. With that said, I’m past the middle of my career and the way I see it, this is the time to make up the ground we lost in past agreements so that we are someday able to retire. Keeping that in mind, the folks running these drives for various unions are doing both you and I a great disservice by giving the impression that we are a divided group and that therefore weakens our position at the table. How can this possibly help us gain what we so desperately need? Short answer, it can’t, doesn’t, and won’t. Just something to think about when you’re handed that card.
There were several questions from the last report about the JBA. This is the new third step of the grievance procedure and the MOU can be found here. The settlement referred to in the last update is close to completion and should be done this week. There are still four cases waiting to be presented at the JBA for Dulles.
There is nothing to report this week for the GQ shop
I am still waiting for written answers to the second steps presented a while back. The answers may be waiting for me in the office upon return as I’ve not been there for two weeks. I update the Stewards when I receive the answers.
That’s all for now,
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Here is the press release from Division Director David Bourne regarding Congressman Gutierrez's Monday press conference. The Congressman, a Democrat of the Fourth District of Illinois, will hold a press conference to bring forth several concerns he has regarding the proposed merger of United and Continental Airlines and its potential effect on the employees. If I find a live feed, I'll post it here.
EDIT: I was unable to find a live feed for this press conference. There is no mention yet on the Congressman's website, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. When taped coverage of this event is located it'll be added here.
Still no video but here is a short piece on the event
Further EDIT: Jock Creach from Seattle posted BA Rich Petrovsky's remarks here. As Jock says in his editorial, it's good to have Rich on our side and advocating for us.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Thank you to all the Veterans that served to protect our freedoms. I hope you all had a good Memorial Day.
Last week was very busy. Here is a report on the Senate Subcommittee meeting that I attended on Thursday.
Tom Reid sent me a report of a TIMCO mechanic fatality in GSO. The preliminary report seems to point to an equipment failure of the tail stand possibly having no safety stops on an extension. When the mechanic pulled out the extension it went all the way out, and he went with it. Please be careful out there and check your equipment.
We are still waiting for the Company to fulfill its promise of a local JBA settlement. The Company gave partial settlement but has yet to provide back pay.
I was asked about Inspectors on EFS last week. Without having my CBA available I gave an incorrect answer. I gave the answer as I remembered it from our former local OT rules. However, absent a local rule, and using the plain English translation of LOA 69-1, Inspectors will be asked by the low overtime hours amongst all qualified employees. For Dulles, this is also borne out by the fact that we don't have separate OT lists for the premium classifications. I apologize to those of you affected by my incorrect interpretation.
There is nothing to report this week for the GQ shop
Several first step complaints are in the process of being paid according to Supervisor Dave Hunter.
There was a Labor Management meeting on Wednesday and I was given a verbal that the outsourcing grievances for the shop will be denied. I was told verbally that a grievance for someone out of the craft doing our work has been sustained. Brandon and I also discussed the ongoing OT and vacation issues in the shop.
That's all for now,