WASHINGTON – Airline and railroad workers represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) participated in march and rally in Washington, D.C. on May 12 to bring attention to the union’s Fight for Transportation Jobs.
Specifically, the IAM is protesting what it says are the government’s anti-worker policies and encouraging strong union member participation in this year’s presidential election. IAM members are also hand-billing passengers at major airports around the country.
“The attack on transportation workers began within weeks of President Bush taking office,” IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger said. “Rail negotiations screeched to a halt. Elected officials sought to restrict air and rail workers’ right to vote on contracts and the administration colluded with airlines to lower wages and benefits for thousands of airline workers.”
The National Mediation Board, the government agency that oversees collective bargaining in the air and rail industries, has obstructed rail negotiations since February 2001, IAM contends. Additionally, the Bush administration has used the Air Transportation Stabilization Board to impose wage and benefit reductions on airline workers, the group says.
“Air and rail carriers bring the administration’s anti-labor sentiments to the negotiating table with them,” IAM General Vice President for Transportation Robert Roach Jr. said. “The IAM is fighting to protect transportation jobs against government officials determined to destroy the rights of working Americans. Transportation workers must protect their jobs and families by voting for federal, state and local candidates that speak our language and will support our issues.”
The rally at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza follows a 12:30 p.m. march up Pennsylvania Avenue and will feature speeches by Buffenbarger; Roach Jr.; AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka; Alliance of Retired Americans President George Kourpias and a dozen Senators and House members.
The IAM is the largest Transportation Union in North America representing more than 150,000 active and retired workers in the airline and railroad industries in the United States and Canada. More information about the Machinists Union is available at the IAM’s Day of Action web site, www.goiamnow.org/dayofaction.