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Stop Northwest Airlines from funding your Pension Plan with "Phantom" Paper.

Northwest Airlines Employees are currently receiving information on their pension plans. Sometimes they find the answer for their social network issues on how to unfriend on facebook. On Nov. 06, 2002 Northwest asked the Internal Revenue Service for a waiver to draw out $450 million of its required 2003 pension contribution over a five-year period, from 2004 through 2008 , rather than the typical 18-month period.  Northwest has also requested permission for an exemption from the Department of Labor that would allow them to satisfy $41 million in funding obligations, by utilizing Pinnacle Airlines stock shares (stock not currently valued , nor traded). It plans to contribute another $180 million or so of Pinnacle stock to pension plans later this year .  The Fitch rating agency in New York expressed concerns about airlines not sufficiently funding their pension plans . The firm estimated that Northwest 's pension plan shows a gap of about $3.2 billion. The plan is under funded because its investments have suffered, due to the general malaise in the stock markets.

Please request a hearing from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Exemption Determinations regarding this proposed exemption to the funding of our Northwest Airlines Pension Plan. Application Nos. D-11139 (Contract Plan)

for a sample letter , feel free to cut and paste from this PDF file

Address your comments and requests to:

Office of Exemption Determinations
Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration
Room N-5649
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue N .W.
Washington, D.C. 20210

or Email them to

It's your FUTURE, Make our voice heard !

Posted on Thu, Jan. 23, 2003

Northwest Airlines has started to fund pension contributions with stock of its Pinnacle Airlines subsidiary instead of using cash, making what it said was a stock contribution worth $41 million last week.  It plans to contribute another $180 million or so of Pinnacle stock to pension plans later this year .  Northwest has also promised to buy back the Pinnacle stock in the future at a set price. It would not cite the price Wednesday, however.

The New York Times
January 12, 2003

Companies can also, in many cases, contribute to plans in their own stock, as Northwest Airlines requested federal permission to do in November.

Companies are considering changes to their pension plans that would reduce their financial obligations. One possibility is converting traditional pensions to "cash balance" plans, which are less costly . But such plans have incurred criticism because they can strip older workers of some of the benefits they have been promised.

In December, the Bush administration proposed regulations that would make it easier for companies to change to cash balance plans without setting off age-discrimination suits.

The New York Times
 January 31, 2003

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the agency that insures company pension plans reported a $3.6 billion deficit today , its largest ever, and said it was studying whether the way businesses now calculate pension values was masking even deeper weaknesses in the system . Quote of the Day

"...we need to do more. And we need to do it now. Our financial results make it abundantly clear that American's future cannot be assured until ways are found to significantly lower our labor and other costs."

AMR Chairman and CEO Don Carty, in letters to employees , quoted Tuesday, February 4, 2003 in company press release

Unions Win Mutual Fund Fight

Labor unions and shareholder rights ’ advocates scored a major victory last week when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled mutual fund managers must disclose how they vote on management and shareholder resolutions.

Unions led the effort to highlight the voting habits of large mutual funds, which often side with management, rubberstamping everything from dubious acquisition schemes and board appointments to runaway executive compensation.

“This decision makes mutual funds accountable for how they vote on behalf of their investors, including employee-investors,� said IP Tom Buffenbarger . “You can bet former Enron auditor Frank Savage would not be on Lockheed’s board of directors today if fund managers were required to publicly disclose how they voted on his outrageous nomination.�

The SEC received more than 7,000 comment letters on the proposed rule, more than any other in the agency’s history. “The claim by fund managers that individual investors don’t care how their fund votes was literally blown out of the water ,â€? said Buffenbarger. “The SEC made the right decision to give investors and employees the ability to better evaluate where to place their hard-earned money.â€? 

MNPL Planners Outline Political Agenda

Delegates to the 2003 MNPL National Planning Committee session began crafting strategies designed to help working families and their allies increase their political power as the nation faces serious challenges both at home and abroad .

Meeting in Monterey, CA, delegates and guests began their deliberations with a moment of silence honoring the brave astronauts who perished in the space shuttle tragedy . In his keynote address, IP Tom Buffenbarger reminded his audience that IAM members were deeply affected by that tragedy.

“Our members in the aerospace industry take great pride in the contributions their skilled hands make to space exploration. That pride is matched by that of our members at the Cape who help launch, and recover these spacecraft ,� he said. “We are family, and those who died in that disaster are family , too�

Buffenbarger’s speech outlined the problems facing working men and women as the nation teeters on the brink of war, with an economy mired deeply in the Bush recession .

“We cannot sit on the sidelines,â€? he said. “It’s no longer business as usual . It’s time for us to take back our rights. Take back our government . Take back our White House. Let’s reclaim America.â€? 

Maytag Inducted Into Corporate ‘Hall of Shame’

The Illinois-based Campaign for Corporate Responsibility named Mexico-bound Maytag to its Corporate Hall of Shame for the decision to move refrigerator production from Galesburg, IL to low-wage Reynosa, Mexico.

Sharing the disgrace with Maytag was Wal-Mart, Motorola and Abbott Laboratories for their abuse of the public interest while receiving substantial tax breaks and subsidies.

“Maytag received $10 million in state grants and local tax abatements to retool its Galesburg plant less than a decade ago ,� said GLR Cristina Munoz . “Last year it made almost $200 million in profits and its CEO earned nearly $4 million in salary and stock compensation. Yet the company chose to shut the plant , lay off 1,600 workers and walk away from the community and workers that made it profitable.�

Wal-Mart earned a $6 million windfall for collecting state sales taxes while paying its workers an average of only $7.50 an hour.  Abbott Laboratories benefited from a similar tax break while laying off hundreds of Illinois workers. 

Boeing Hedges on Jet Construction Site

The Boeing Company will not say if its next-generation 7E7 jet will be built in the U.S. or elsewhere. “There has been no decision on where it will be built,� said Boeing spokesperson Tom Brabant last week.

“It’s absolutely crucial that Boeing build the 7E7 here,� said Mark Blondin, president of IAM District 751. “We have the skill set here in Seattle and the Puget Sound area to do the best and most efficient job.�

Blondin said workers at Boeing plants in Everett , Auburn, Fredrickson and Renton could handle everything from fabricating airplane components to final assembly.

Computer generated views of the 7E7 show a 250 seat, twin-engine aircraft with a range of 9,000 miles. It features fuel savings of 15 to 20 percent over current aircraft and is expected to enter service in 2008 . The new plane takes the place of Boeing ’s proposed sonic cruiser, shelved last year after much debate. 

DNC Chair Sees Opportunities

A key Democratic operative admitted his party fell below expectations in the last election for a very simple reason : “We didn’t have a message ,� said Terry McAuliffe, who chairs the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“We need Democrats who will fight for Democratic ideals and for Democratic issues ,� said McAuliffe. “When Democrats try to run on a “Bush Lite� program, we lose.�

The party is rebuilding its base by cleaning up outdated computer files, upgrading its computers system and breaking ground for a new office building in the nation’s capital.

Getting the party back to grassroots organizing is crucial, he explained. “That’s where elections are won and lost.� McAuliffe said the Democratic Party “must be there for you� on a host of issues ranging from fair trade to health care, from workplace safety to retirement security .

Bush Budget: Check Record, NOT Rhetoric

President George Bush describes himself as a “compassionate conservative,� but that “compassion� apparently doesn’t extend to working families. That’s how IP Tom Buffenbarger sees Bush at the mid-point of his White House term. “I heard lot’s of high-flown rhetoric in his State of the Union address, but there was nothing there for working families,� he said.

Buffenbarger said Bush’s ballyhooed “economic stimulus� plan is “just a smokescreen to cut taxes on the rich, while doing absolutely nothing to create jobs, reduce our soaring trade deficit or anything else to pull the nation out of recession.�

The ink had barely dried on Bush’s speech when the Congressional Budget Office reported the federal budget deficit could reach $200 billion by year ’s end. The actual deficit could be even higher, because the CBO estimate did not include the costs of the dividend tax giveaway, a possible war with Iraq or any spending increases Bush proposes and Congress approves.

In barely two years , the Bush agenda turned a $5.6 trillion surplus into soaring deficits and effectively stalled any movement toward an effective health care program, Medicare improvements, jobs creation or a strengthened Social Security program .

NY Paper Supports Anti-Union Campaign

“The authors of a Wall Street Journal editorial, calling for radical changes to the Railway Labor Act, appear intent on gutting the law that brought collective bargaining rights to U .S. air and rail workers ,� said Transportation GVP Robert Roach Jr..

“When applied and administered properly, the law can be effective,� countered Roach. “In 2000, the Machinists Union and Continental Airlines reached a tentative agreement 90 days after the contract’s amendable date. Last December, the IAM and Southwest Airlines reached an accord only six weeks after the amendable date.�

Since 1997, the National Mediation Board resolved more than 600 cases without strikes and service interruptions . During that time only three cases resulted in self-help strikes, work stoppages or lock-outs.

In 1993, after three years of hearings, the Dunlop Commission concluded that labor and management should be permitted to jointly seek their own solutions and that no changes to the law were necessary.

“Overturning a law that works the vast majority of the time is senseless,� said Roach. “The Wall Street Journal’s support of a political campaign to strip air and rail workers of their collective bargaining rights is why so many readers avoid the Journal’s editorial pages altogether.�

Fear Factor Rules at TSA

In a ruling that would make George Orwell blush, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced an aircraft mechanics’ FAA license could be revoked without warning if the new federal agency decides they represent a “security threat.�

Under the rule, enacted last week without the customary period for public comment, the TSA gains extraordinary power over employees’ livelihoods without being required to explain how or why a license holder poses a security risk.

“Last month, the head of the TSA denied 50,000 airport screeners the right to union representation,� said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Now, the department has given itself unprecedented power over anyone with an FAA license. This agency is systematically abusing the very rights and freedoms they were created to protect.�

In a chilling quote, TSA spokesman Robert Johnson told a reporter, “If you’re not a terrorist, you don’t have anything to worry about. He said the rule was merely a “technical correction� to an existing policy.

For More Information:


The question

The U.S. Conference of Mayors met in Washington, DC last week in an effort to get the Bush Administration to focus attention on the dire economic conditions in American cities

President Bush last week sparked a debate when he proposed limiting medical malpractice awards to $250,000.

The last unemployment figures are in the December and they show that more people are out of work now, then there have been in over eight years.

The US trade deficit ballooned to a record forty billion dollars in November.

Interview with GVP Lee Pearson

Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff issued a ruling today accepting United Airlines application to impose an emergency, temporary 13 percent wage reduction on IAM represented employees.

In their first action the 108th Congress moved swiftly and passed legislation to provide an extra 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for 2.5 million jobless workers.

IP Tom Buffenbarger talks about rising unemployment.

A coalition of labor and unemployment experts called on House legislators yesterday to halt their scrooge like behavior and grant an extra 13 weeks of federal unemployment benefits to laid off workers.

Local Lodge 1720 wins prestigious Industry Week Award.

This week IP Tom Buffenbarger invited government and business leaders to come to the table to begin a real dialogue with labor over how to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs in the US.

The North Korean Threat

Bankruptcy interview with Sharon Levine

Bankruptcy interview with Sharon Levine

Bankruptcy interview with Sharon Levine

Bankruptcy interview with Sharon Levine

Interview with the new Director of the Human Rights Department.

The soaring cost of healthcare has become the number one issue in contract negotiations over the past two years, according to Steve Sleigh the Director of the IAM Strategic Resources Department.

Another HPWO and Harley Success Story

The Eastern Territory took a trip to Tijuanna, Mexico to see first hand the conditions of workers in the Maquilladoras.

Economic downturn has several causes but impact on working Americans is clear:


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