2010 Local Labor News

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Boeing's Manufacturing Pilots and Field Service Reps Organizing to Join SPEEA

SEATTLE – The pilots who deliver, ferry and train others to fly aircraft built by The Boeing Company are on a path to become the newest bargaining unit of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001.

The union’s governing council voted Thursday, Nov. 11, to begin formal discussions with the Airline Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA) to bring the independent bargaining unit into SPEEA. At the same meeting, the SPEEA Council approved a motion to organize Boeing’s Field Service Representatives (FSRs) in the United States.

“We’re proud the pilots and the FSRs want to join our union,” said SPEEA President Tom McCarty. “This widens SPEEA’s reach and puts our union on an upward trajectory of representing more professionals at Boeing and in aerospace.”

AMPA pilots recently voted to begin discussions with SPEEA. The two unions are scheduling a meeting to work out details of the transition.

The FSRs, who work with customers around the U.S., are collecting union authorization cards in preparation for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation election.

As an existing union with a collective bargaining agreement in place, AMPA’s contract will transfer to SPEEA as a new bargaining unit. The 32 pilots have watched their ranks shrink as some pilots moved to other Boeing jobs or retired, but instead of hiring new full-time Boeing pilots, the company is currently hiring temporary (contract) pilots and training them at an undisclosed location. AMPA President David Whitacre said the pilots recognize, and need, the growing influence of SPEEA.

“It’s time we become part of a larger, more powerful, organization,” Whitacre said. “As pilots delivering Boeing aircraft and providing instruction to customer pilots in their new multi-million dollar airplane, we are the last Boeing person customer pilots see after taking delivery. If we don’t do our job right, future Boeing orders could be put in jeopardy. Outsourcing has proved to be a risky strategy, so it’s surprising the company is willing to risk its reputation to hire contract pilots. It’s contrary to Boeing’s stated goal of providing world-class training to our customers.”

About 100 Field Service Representatives are at various locations around the United States. As Boeing representatives with customers, they provide expert advice and assistance for fleet service, maintenance and repairs.

“We have fallen too far behind,” said Rich Kozel, Field Service Rep in Tulsa, Okla. “I love my job and I believe that FSRs need to join SPEEA, because we deserve the same respect and guaranteed long-term benefits that union members have.”

SPEEA is regularly approached by employees throughout the aerospace industry who are looking for union representation, said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director.

“After completing our vetting process, it was clear to everyone that both the AMPA pilots and FSRs are a natural fit for SPEEA,” Goforth said.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents more than 24,400 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Kansas, Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teamsters Thank Community for Strong Support During Strike

500 Western Washington Coke employees who went on strike last Monday will return to work unconditionally in a gesture that demonstrates their willingness to bargain a fair and equitable contract in good faith. Negotiations between the Washington Teamsters United and Coke are set to resume this Wednesday and Thursday, September 1 and 2.

"Over the last week, we have demonstrated to Coke the value of our professionalism and our labor," said Blaine Parks, a 32-year driver for Coke’s production and distribution facility in Bellevue. "We have also sent a strong message to Coke that its employees expect the company to take the collective bargaining process seriously."

Union representatives expect the 500 area Coke employees will resume normal operations Tuesday morning to catch up with the backlog created by last week’s work stoppage.

"We are optimistic that Coke will return to negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith," said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117 and chief negotiator for Washington Teamsters United. "Issues like the health care for Coke employees and retirees are too important to our members and their families not to be addressed in a straightforward and forthright manner."

The Union says it will continue to pursue the Unfair Labor Practice charges it brought against Coke before the National Labor Relations Board as well as the class-action ERISA lawsuit on behalf of Coke employees who had their health care benefits revoked by the company shortly after the work stoppage began last week.

Approximately 500 Coke employees in Western Washington went on strike on Monday, August 23, over charges of employee surveillance, intimidation and bad faith bargaining. Contract negotiations between the Union and Coke have been underway since April. The employees’ contract expired on May 15, 2010.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

CCE's Behavior Undermines Coke's Plans, Will CCE Hurt Coke?

The company's board of directors has repeatedly predicted that its takeover of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises' (CCE) North American operations, will occur in the fourth quarter. Coke executive management and its shareholders must adapt to a business model that goes from a high-margin, lower-capital cost venture to a low-margin, labor-intense business in North America. And now CCE [NYSE:CCE] is adding potential risks by sparking a labor dispute that threatens Coke sales in Washington state and may have ramifications throughout the important West Coast market and beyond.

CCE – Hostile Workplace in Washington Leads to Strike

About 500 CCE distribution and production Teamsters across western Washington went on strike on Aug. 23 in response to the company’s intimidation and surveillance of its employees and its refusal to bargain a contract in good faith. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is investigating the company for serious and repeated violations of federal labor law, including "surface bargaining," employee surveillance and threatening to retaliate against workers for engaging in protected activities.

"The last thing we wanted is a strike, but Coke has left us no alternative," said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117 in Tukwila and lead negotiator for the Teamster local unions in Washington. "The company’s refusal to bargain in good faith a contract has resulted in hardship for 500 Coke employees and their families and the disruption of its own operations." Read full article

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Published in the Everett Herald, Sunday, August 1, 2010

Herald Endorsement for 38th District Senate: Put Harper's Talents To Work

Effective legislating is about more than listening to various stakeholders, making decisions and taking votes. The most effective lawmakers also lead. They come up with new approaches to old problems, and inspire others to support new solutions they never knew were possible.

The Legislature is in desperate need of elected officials with such qualities.

In the 38th District, which includes most of Everett and Marysville and the Tulalip Reservation, this year's Senate race includes a first-time candidate, Democrat Nick Harper, with the potential to be that kind of legislator. We endorse him over the incumbent, fellow Democrat Jean Berkey, and conservative Rod Rieger.

Harper is just 31 years old, but has made a name for himself as Snohomish County conservation director of the Cascade Land Conservancy, one of the most innovative environmental nonprofits around. He earned a law degree from Seattle University, and previously served as legislative director for the Snohomish County-Camano Island Association of Realtors. Read full article

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Posted on the AFL/CIO blog on April 6, 2010

5 Refinery Workers Killed, Industry Group Lauds It's Safety Record

By Mike Hall

After an explosion at a Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash., killed five United Steelworkers ([1] USW) members and severely injured two other workers, the petroleum industry claimed its safety record is exemplary. Says USW President Leo W. Gerard:

It’s incredible this industry brags about its safety record just after five people were killed in a refinery explosion.

After the April 2 explosion, officials of the American Petroleum Institute told reporters that the industry was not getting enough credit for its health and safety record, citing drops in injury and illnesses rates during the past several years.

Also, says the USW, National Petrochemical & Refiners Association officials bragged that the industry has a lower injury rate than the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole.

Says Gerard, "The problem is the injury and illness rates the trade associations cite are misleading and do not give the full picture of health and safety within the refining sector. The recordable injury rates that [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] OSHA collects measure items like slips, falls, sprains and fractures, not poor safety practices that lead to incidents like explosions and fires. There’s a difference between a sprained ankle and an explosion that kills five people." Read full article

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