- Feb 18, 2013If you have questions about the tentative agreement plz readIt's lengthy but worth reading and so on point.A worthy passionate post from the IAM Stakeholders Group
Orlando Galvez If I remember correctly, the last time we found ourselves in similar circumstances UAL had just furnished its fleet with the notorious 777.Today, just a yesterday we find ourselves once again in negotiations and with the newest aircraft in the market. Same product, different sales pitch. It is not difficult to understand how their latest addition of its costliest aircraft ever purchased-Dreamliner was somehow made reality considering our economic climate.
I am beginning to see a pattern.
The items this contract has to offer, are items that if you remember, had already been negotiated by our union representatives once before. Vacation (5th week added), holidays, base pay at a rate of $24, and sick pay to name a few, all had been negotiated as a result of post ESOP concessions.
What this contract is in essence doing is creating an imaginary impression of a "new" contract. The question I'm asking is, whats new about it, other than its date and a few more takeaways?
All of the items that have a "catchy bite" to them, such as "vacation 5th-week added", or "100% sick pay", and "holiday" are parts of a list that we painfully sacrificed in 2002/3 as a result of a collective effort to save our jobs as a consequence of our airlines bankruptcy hearings. Retirements for those who honorably dedicated a lifetime of good health to keep this airline operating efficiently where sacrificed then, and similarly today, we find ourselves yet again, sticking it to our retiree's with the elimination of their essential health insurance at a time when they will be needing it most. Two self inflicting wounds that sooner or later, we are all destined to feel, if we allow. Again, I'm beginning to see a pattern.
If you look closely at all the costs of living variables such as that of gasoline, groceries, rents, gas and electricity, unlike our base pay, all have risen steadily in the last decade. This is where the devil is hidden, in the details. Almost everything that we gave up in hourly wages, vacation, sick pay, holidays, etc, one decade ago is being wrapped up in a nice package and being passed as the "new agreement." So, again, to put it differently, how can something that we already once had be new again? The answer is-it's not new. It's not better. And it's far from being reasonable for our families and ourselves especially considering our current economic climate.
There is nothing new to this contract. Many, if not all, of these items should be returned right back to us unhampered and with the addition of real "NEW' increases added for losses lost over time. If not, then it will be as if this contract simply got extended by remaining unchanged from as far back as 2002 (see a pattern?) when we had all of these already familiar items negotiated once before. Problem is, none of our costs have remained the same. And if none of our living costs have remained the same, then why should we accept our pay to remain the same? Heck, even UAL's aircraft have not remained the same.
Andy, you mentioned that you are kinda surprised that this is so generous an offer because we need consider our economic climate. Really? I wonder, will UAL consider raising our pay and family benefits should the economic climate suddenly become bullish (as it has shown it can be)? Did UAL consider the economic climate recently with its insensitive and arrogant purchase of the most costly state of the art aircraft in its history of operations while simultaneously using its merger as cover to buy time to operate under expired terms stalling our wage and benefit increases saving them millions in operating costs? Do you not think that this doesn't favor its interest and incentive to generate generous returns for its shareholders and come up with undeserving, overinflated end of the year bonuses for it's executives and CEO (pattern?). With this in mind, I am not convinced that our airline is not capable of giving us what we want and need (not a pattern).
Andy, you are correct when you say that life was different for our parents. Our parents, unlike so many of us today, sacrificed and fought stubbornly in solidarity to get what they well deserved. Our parents did not stand for this ideology of "well I moved, you can too." Greg is correct in his plea for the needs of those at the line stations and we as one brotherhood have an obligation, "not a choice", to back his cry for support. Greg is absolutely correct when he says that they at the lines perform to the standards as the hub stations, and in doing so, deserve just the same as those at the hubs.
The point is, it is this very same lack of support that Greg has to plea for ( a plea that as a union brother he should not have to make, a plea that our fathers would translate to as a result of someone being disloyal) that has over the years weaken our nations unions as a whole. It is this selfish mentality of "I got mine, I don't care if you don't get yours" that has crippled the American unions and in turn, strengthen managements position to outsource jobs without a unions consent inside those ivory towers you spoke of.
This is how the end begins for American unions and over time erodes our middle class (i.e. our standard of living). For generations, this has been a long term strategy for management. Convince just enough folks to get a mediocre contract passed, then, once it does, let the disagreements amongst members continue to simmer while in the meantime, just as Greg warns, as a result of lack of solidarity, which in turn increases managements leverage facilitating their strategic positions that aid them in contracting out jobs. "Our" jobs, not their jobs.
As a case in point, take Greg's example of Eastern. Eastern strategically began contracting out their lines and eventually, very cleverly lead to the contracting out of the jobs at its hubs over the long haul. And where is Eastern today? This is not a consequence of our economic climate, but rather a strategy that has worked successfully in managements favor for generations while weakening unions over time. The only way to avoid such tragic losses and in turn preserve us as a middle class is to remain constantly vigilant while keeping one step ahead. This means taking risks. Risks like perhaps not accepting the companies first and only offer. Does this mean sacrificing? If need so-yes. Am I willing to make such a sacrifice for a better tomorrow that will not only benefit my family and I, but also benefit my union brothers at vulnerable line stations ? Absolutely!
This is not a good deal for us. I am not going to consider our present economic climate because I am confident that as always, it "will" change. By voting no, one is saying to them, you can do better (they can, don't kid yourself). I gave when management asked me to give. And just as they always have found a way to give generously to shareholders and CEO's, regardless of the economic climate, it is now managements turn to give back to those who have worked diligently to make this airline what it is today. These are not gifts, they are well deserved "earned" wages and benefits that will in the long run pay off as a direct result of investing in its number one strength-its laborers. By doing so, it will in turn produce an even better, more profitable service/product as an airline than ever before. Thus, keeping its workers from slipping out of America's already endangered middle class status without sacrificing compensation for investors. We don't have to be the first Walmart of U.S. airlines. And make no mistake, this is where we're heading if we accept this offer.
When the economic climate changes and UAL finds itself posting record profits once again (and it will), I will say, "you see, I told you so." One cannot make any progress by consistently taking two steps back and one forward. This is stagnation. This is not how our parents did it and it's not how we should do it either-specially in today's competitive economic climate.
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