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United Aerospace Workers Local 848 includes aircraft workers at Lockheed, Raytheon, and Vought. Our offices are at 2218 E. Main Street, Grand Prairie, Texas 75050

UAW Retirees Hold Seminar

Region 5 of the UAW sponsored a retiree seminar at Local 276 on the morning of April 11, 2006. Among those attending from Local 848 were Paul and Janet Conroy, Jay Dunn, WA and Cora Harrod, Gene Lantz, and Jack and Lily Patterson.

Some of the good news included plans for a new UAW Area Retiree Council in Houston and the fact that Region 5 continues to lead the union in political fund raising. Among the bad news was continued pressure from corporations to move jobs and cut benefits.

A great deal of the program consisted of benefit information for retirees from the Big 3 auto companies. General Motors and the union changed their contract last year, and Ford followed quickly behind. The changes are approximately the same for both groups. The terms for their health care are more complicated than before. Thousands of employees and retirees from the Delphi Corporation are still waiting anxiously for a resolution of their contract battle.

Aerospace Rep Rudy Gomez visited with Local 848's W.A. Harrod

Rudy Gomez, one of the three UAW servicing representatives in the aerospace industry, gave a detailed analysis of the industry. Aerospace companies have been hiring new workers. One of every three new manufacturing jobs in the country is in aerospace, Gomez said, and those new jobs pay 50% more than other start up jobs.

Aerospace companies had $170 billion in sales during 2005, up from $106 in 2004. Boeing's 1,002 net orders last year surpassed their previous record of 877 orders in 1978. The civil helicopter industry sold $750 million last year. The upward trend is expected to continue in 2006 with record sales.

UAW Locals 148 in California and 848 in Texas are both hoping to get Congress and the military to authorize production of more C-17 aircraft. The entire UAW has joined in this important lobbying campaign, Gomez said. A nationwide letter writing campaign is underway. Gomez said, "This is the best aircraft in the world. We want it. We should just come out and say it."

Rudy Gomez said that aerospace corporations, like employers all over America, are tending to want to do away with traditional "defined benefit" pensions. They want to go to 401K plans or some other form of "defined contribution" plan. He said, "We're sticking pretty tough with the defined benefit. So far we've been successful in keeping the traditional pension plans in place."

Gomez went on to say that aerospace companies are trying to move work to non-union sites. Vought aircraft just got a certificate of occupancy at a new facility in South Carolina. They will build parts of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Gomez gave his opinion: "They probably should have put work here in Dallas, but they have moved it to South Carolina. Last week they announced 600 layoffs. The affected employees were not union people, but is an ill omen for Local 848.

Brother Jay Dunn of Local 848 asked if "defined contribution" plans tended to create opportunities for corruption, and Gomez agreed. Dunn said, "So there's a chance of that Enron-type of thing?"

Rudy Gomez responded, "Very well put."

Rudy Gomez talked about the importance of organizing non-union aerospace shops. He said that a very large facility will be built in San Antonio to refurbish aircraft. San Antonio is also the site of a new Toyota plant.

Region 5 Retiree Rep Dave Minnis went over the voting records of both Texas Senators. Of 14 votes considered very important by the union, Senators Cornyn and Hutchinson voted with the union only once, for a 7% record. That one vote had to do with controversial pollution and fuel economy standards. The senators voted against the union position on wage and hour violations, corporate bankruptcies, minimum wage, card check recognition, CAFTA, Thai pickup trucks, Medicaid cuts, tax cuts, GOP Budget, Domestic Cuts, Social Security, consumer bankruptcies, and judicial nominations.

Brother Minnis urged all UAW members to subscribe to UAW Wire, a union news service. About 40% of our retirees are hooked up on E-mail. They can subscribe from www.uaw.org. Recent news from the service says that President Bush and others are trying to take away the $255 Social Security death benefit. "People, this is nothing more than greed up there!" Minnis said.

The United Auto Workers will be working hard to make sure that all our actve and retired members are registered to vote in time for the November elections. All volunteers are needed.

JD Gray of the Region 5 Education Department gave the retirees a rundown on the coming election challenge. All Representatives and some of the Senators, including Kay Bailey Hutchinson, have to run in the election this year. In the next presidential race, the winner will need 270 Electoral College votes. The 17 states in Region 5 have 191. "Is it important for us to raise more money than in any other UAW region?" Gray asked, "Of course it is!"

Gray talked about saving Social Security from those who would privatize or otherwise cut it. Gray called it "The safest program ever proposed in this country. It has the least administrative costs (2% or less)." Retirees were urged to participate in fund-raising activities.

More informatoin at www.txsenior.org/retsem.htm

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