Jim Little & The Afl-cio

Bob Owens

Sep 9, 2002
Jim Little and the AFL-CIO.

TWU pundits are now championing the AFL-CIO as the reason why we should not go to AMFA. That’s strange because Jim Little has rarely said anything positive about the AFL-CIO in any of our written exchanges.

The following is a conversation between Jim Little and myself. In it you will see Jim lie about Local 100. (Sonny Hall betrayed Local 100 in the middle of negotiations.) You will also see him ultimately blame the AFL-CIO for his lack of action. That is Jims specialty, blaming someone else for his inaction. This is not the only time Jim blames the AFL-CIO for his lack of action. Jim wants the top title but he does not the responsibility.

AFL-CIO affiliation is a good idea but affiliation will not guarantee that your union will perform. For Jim Little its just another entity to blame, another way to serve the companies interests while subtly turning workers against unionism.

As you can see most of the Local Presidents were copied in on this, but most just sat quietly on the sidelines lest they jeopardize their chance at that prized International spot.

I will add comments in blue Italics.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Little
To: Alex Garcia ; Bobby Gless ; Chuck Schalk ; Cindy Winslow ; Curtis Gentry ; Don Videtich ; Duke Hingley ; Garry Drummond ; Gary G. Peterson ; Jack Maddish ; James C. Little ; Jeff Ortegren ; Jim Brinker ; Joe Gordon ; John Conley ; John Orlando ; John Plowman ; Keno Carr ; Mark Rasco ; Mike Chiafolo ; Pat Noonan ; Paul Cassidy ; Paul McCormick ; Randy McDonald ; Rick Rodriquez ; Russ Bataglia ; Tim Gillespie ; Todd Woodward
Cc: James C. Little
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 9:02 AM
Subject: Overview of bankruptcy procedings.

Thought this would be of some assistance in explaining the process to the members.
Director's Update

Directors Update: 02-23-03

In answer to a number of members questions regarding Bankruptcy and the impact on a CBA... OVERVIEW

All current provisions can be opened, by either mutual agreement or by virtue of Sections II or VI of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) for negotiations or renegotiation of any section or issue with the company Deal with Judge, whose primary role is to protect the creditors and the corporate entity
In the hands of the stockholders and the management who have a vested interest in the company and a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders Initially in the hands of the Debtor in possession (current management), with the permission of the creditors and the Judge. After a period of exclusivity (180 days) anyone can propose an alternative plan of reorganization, which could be adopted with the support of the creditors committee. The group(s) or individual(s) providing Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing typically extract enormous control in return for the high-risk financing they are providing. This is the natural habitat for "corporate raiders"
All avenues to assure contractual compliance or adherence are available, including grievances and, if necessary for egregious behavior, injunctions or restraining orders. All grievances and litigation is "stayed" or frozen by the Judge. There is no litigation or grievance process except before the Bankruptcy Judge.
Continue to have the potential value of the instrument or plan Basically become worthless as common stock and linked equity instruments such as options or warrants have value only after or behind; Priority claims, Secured creditors, Unsecured creditors and then any residual monies would be distributed to common stockholders in a liquidation. More likely is a full restructuring and replacement of all equity instruments.
Vacations and similarly earned and accrued benefits remain a financial obligation to the company All accrued employee liabilities, including wages earned to date and accrued vacations, furlough pay, etc. are considered unsecured liabilities or claims and pooled with all other unsecured creditors, with the exception that the first $2,000 of employees claims are considered priority claims and take precedence over all other claims
An obligation that is required and protected by various State and Federal laws Employee claims are secured only to the limits of "Employee priority claims" of a maximum of $2,000 dollars. This would include wages, accrued vacation pay, grievance awards and any other monies due from the corporations. Company must receive permission from the Court to resume paying wages.
Funding compliance required by various Federal laws and would include both payments for Defined Benefit Plans and Defined Contribution Plans Contributions would cease and resumption subject to the plan of reorganization. The PBGC gets a seat on the creditor's committee by virtue of the funding obligations and has the power to "Distress Terminate" the Plan(s) if their evaluation would show funding insufficient to cover accrued obligations to the level of the PBGC minimums.
Completely negotiable and would become part of the CBA. If in the form of equity, would become part of the capital structure of the company None

James C. Little
Director Air Transport Division
International Administrative Vice President.

Notice, all doom and gloom, no fight or plan to fight.

----- Original Message -----
From: Bob Owens
To: Jim Little ; Alex Garcia ; Bobby Gless ; Chuck Schalk ; Curtis Gentry ; Don Videtich ; Duke Hingley ; Garry Drummond ; Gary G. Peterson ; Jack Maddish ; Jeff Ortegren ; Jim Brinker ; Joe Gordon ; John Conley ; John Orlando ; John Plowman ; Keno Carr ; Mark Rasco ; Mike Chiafolo ; Pat Noonan ; Paul Cassidy ; Paul McCormick ; Randy McDonald ; Rick Rodriquez ; Russ Bataglia ; Tim Gillespie ; Todd Woodward
Cc: James C. Little
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 12:25 PM
Subject: Re: Overview of bankruptcy procedings.

You left out that once the contract is abrogated we are free to use self help. This is a powerful deterrent for both the Judge and the company to keep them from going too far. If the Union movement had a pair like they do in Europe then perhaps Union workers would not find themselves continually going backwards like we do. If we play by their rules we are destined to lose. But then again people earning six figures usually don't feel an urgency to revolt against injustices that are not perpetrated against them directly. If the union movement was this lethargic since its inception we would still be working 16 hrs a day, with no benefits, along side our children and parents. You are our leaders, the question is where are you leading us? The safe way to submission and slavery or the risky way to financial liberty and justice? We don't want to see the company go bankrupt but by opening our agreements we are saying that management is right, that we are the cause of the state of the industry. Spreading doom and gloom such as this without falling back on the founding principles of unionism such as the withholding of labor, is a tactic that the members should expect from the company not their union. The union should look to improve worker living standards not preserve a good business arrangement between a corporation and a representational organization. To all the Presidents out there, you can take this in and recommend that we cower before the company's threats of bankruptcy, but in two years when the industry has recovered, and your members followed your leadership and gave concessions, all they will remember is that you failed to lead.

Nester Rodriguez was recently voted out of office at RDU. He was in office 12 years. He is the first of what will be many turnovers.

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Little
To: Bob Owens ; Alex Garcia ; Bobby Gless ; Chuck Schalk ; Curtis Gentry ; Don Videtich ; Duke Hingley ; Garry Drummond ; Gary G. Peterson ; Jack Maddish ; Jeff Ortegren ; Jim Brinker ; Joe Gordon ; John Conley ; John Orlando ; John Plowman ; Keno Carr ; Mark Rasco ; Mike Chiafolo ; Pat Noonan ; Paul Cassidy ; Paul McCormick ; Randy McDonald ; Rick Rodriquez ; Russ Bataglia ; Tim Gillespie ; Todd Woodward
Cc: Robert Gless ; John Conley ; Gary Yingst
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 2:39 PM
Subject: Re: Overview of bankruptcy procedings.

I do not disagree in principle, and you raise a good point of adding the self help. Then on the opposite side we need to add PEB. Especially, under this darn administration. Growing up in the UK in a Union household you already know my position on AFL-CIO action or lack of. Bob, where I disagree is that we are playing by our rules. The APA is negotiating and the APFA may be negotiating, but we are NOT. I am also not spreading doom and gloom as you put it. I believe we need to prepare and educate our members. It is not a matter of if the company will file it is when and the timeline is rather short. What I can assure you is that this ATD administration does not take the task at hand lightly, and preservation of our members working rights is our Goal.I cannot speak for all of the Presidents. I will also not agree to any permanent changes, as you know we have been there and done that. I remember when I took over as AA System Coordinator and meeting with the Company to discuss a wage reopener during the time when AA was at the prime earnings. I was told sorry we have an agreement in place! I have no disagreement that we can just say No that is easy, but it is not leading. When we feel strongly about something, we will lead, we will act, even if others are not prepared to join us.
As Always,

As you can see he is plotting his exit strategy, notice the bold AFL-CIO reference, Bold was added by me, not in original message.-----

Original Message -----
From: Bob Owens
To: Jim Little ; Alex Garcia ; Bobby Gless ; Chuck Schalk ; Curtis Gentry ; Don Videtich ; Duke Hingley ; Garry Drummond ; Gary G. Peterson ; Jack Maddish ; Jeff Ortegren ; Jim Brinker ; Joe Gordon ; John Conley ; John Orlando ; John Plowman ; Keno Carr ; Mark Rasco ; Mike Chiafolo ; Pat Noonan ; Paul Cassidy ; Paul McCormick ; Randy McDonald ; Rick Rodriquez ; Russ Bataglia ; Tim Gillespie ; Todd Woodward
Cc: Robert Gless ; John Conley ; Gary Yingst
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 8:42 PM
Subject: Re: Overview of bankruptcy procedings.

With leadership comes with the responsibility of informing those you lead with all the possible outcomes, but it also comes with the responsibility of finding a way to win, leaders should give hope and direction.
If the President tried to impose a PEB, then we have to be returned to the conditions prior to the dispute, or status quo. If the status quo is not restored I would expect the Union to disregard the PEB upon moral principle since the PEB is based upon the RLA and all of the restrictions on self help are centered around the maintenance of the status quo. If the Bankruptcy Judge imposed changes-upon the companies request, then the judge by his ruling would have brought us straight to the self help step of the process. A PEB should be ignored if the self help is in response to court ordered concessions. Clearly a PEB issued in conjunction with court imposed concessions violates the intent of the RLA and to tolerate such a flagrant injustice by obedient submission just invites more abuse from the industry and the corporate controlled government.
Our members need to be lead. They need to be informed of what faces us and they need to be told to prepare to resist. We know that the government is clearly on the side of the corporations, this is not a new development. The government has been under such control for a long time however we have one thing in our favor, the corporate/government alliance hates disruptions. In fact, historically government reforms have only come when the threat of disruption becomes obvious and imminent.The old men in D.C. and 1700 Broadway will never lead any disruption. They are too old and have been beaten for so long that to them a stalemate is considered a great victory. Technically you work for 1700 Broadway and your ability or authority to lead us is limited. You will need a mandate from the locals that they will not recognize any replacement that the old men should send should you lead us to resist PEBs or injunctions. After the spectacle I saw this last December where Local 100 was fighting for such basic rights such as disciplinary hearings done on company time and the way Sonny failed to put political differences aside and abandoned these members I am convinced that no matter how bad things get the old men will never lead us in battle. We will be told to "live to fight another day, when in reality it is "live to surrender another day". In closing I will quote from a memorial to a man who I'm sure you are familiar with " The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!

Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie-
Dust unto dust-
The calm, sweet earth that mothers all who die
As all men must...
But rather mourn the apathetic throng-
The cowed and the meek-
Who see the world's great anguish and its wrong
And dare not speak!
Ralph Chaplin

I do agree we should take a stand and I am not shy in that arena.Where I am disappointed is the lack of involvement by the AFL on an industry impact.You are so wrong about Local 100. We TWU International offered assistance a number of times, We have correspondence to that fact. It was under the Locals request that Sonny did not intervene. I believe we should have! We can debate the perception, but the facts are there. One cannot believe everything that is written in the newspapers. I believe they try to sensationalize.

Cheer up! The worst is yet to come!"
~ Mark Twain


There he goes! It’s the AFLs fault why he will not even use strong words or even contemplate resistance.
With the first concessionary talks at USAIR I started urging Little to contact the USAIR Unions and offer our full support. We all knew that the airlines were going to pick us off one at a time. This would have been the perfect opportunity for affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO to pool their resources and fight for its members like unions do in Europe. Unfortunately our unions are nothing like the unions of Europe. The European Unions fight, they strike, they improve their members lives, our unions "cooperate", they talk, they collect millions in dues and they have us submit.

With each struggle, whether it was Flight Attendants at AA, or mechanics at UAL I'd urged Jim Little to take a strong position supporting other airline workers. With the AA flight attendants he maintained that "thats not our fight" because they were not affiliated. We disagreed and walked pickets with our coworkers.

Below is a letter that Little claims to have submitted to the AFL-CIO during the UAL mechanics dispute. I was critical of the fact that when the President hit NWA mechanics with a PEB that other unions did nothing. Again Little claimed "thats not our fight", because they were with AMFA. When a year later the President hit UAL with a PEB I questioned Little again, he sent this reply. Whether or not he did actually bring it forward I dont know, its very weakly worded anyway, it really does not call for any real action.

Saturday, December 15, 2001 7:23 AM
I attended the AFL-CIO convention and the IAM asked for the adoption of the
following resolution. President Buffenberger (IAM) advised us on the status
at United, and he would keep the affiliates advised when he wanted our

AFL-CIO Resolution in Support of Machinists
at United Airlines

WHEREAS, The AFL-CIO and its affiliated
unions are deeply concerned by United
Airlines intransigence in its negotiations
with its employee/owners who are members of
the International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers and the possibility of presidential
intervention in these negotiations.
WHEREAS, In twenty-four months of negotiations,
United has failed to recognize and reward the
sacrifices made by IAM members to rescue this
airline and return it to profitability. United overlooks
the simple fact that these employee/owners
are working for 1994 wages and have watched
the value of their ownership share decline precipitously
due to management incompetence.
WHEREAS, United is intent on demanding concessions,
not only from its machinists but its
pilots and flight attendants as well, in order to
secure the government loans made available to
airlines in the days following the terrorist attacks
of September 11th.
WHEREAS, a thirty-day cooling off period has
been instituted by the National Mediation Board
and United has now withdrawn all tentative
agreements in order to preserve its options in
presenting its case to a Presidential Emergency
WHEREAS, President George Bush has signaled his
intent to convene such a Presidential Emergency
Board and actively intervene in these negotiations,
BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO and its
affiliated unions will support the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
in its fight with United Airlines.
AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions will oppose
any and all government interference in these
negotiations including the convening of a
Presidential Emergency Board and the enactment
of any legislation that would delay or prohibit a
strike by members of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
or impose the terms of any contract on them.

A lot of "Whereases" but not much else. What do you want for two hours pay per month?
Below is an other exchange between Jim Little, who stayed quiet, an AFL-CIO organizer who contacted me after I wrote a letter to Sweeney urging the merging of the ATDS of the TWU,IAM and IBT, and myself.

Whats interesting is the AFL-CIOs description of itself and his subtle criticism of the TTDs lack of action. This conversation supports my statement that affiliation will not guarantee better performance from your union, especially if you have people like Sonny Hall in charge of the TTD and Jim Little in charge of the ATD.

If AMFA is succesful at organizing all the mechanics they too would likely be accepted by the AFL-CIO if they sought affiliation. We must remember that there are many craft unions in the AFL-CIO and some from our own industry AFA, ALPA.

> > >>> Bob Owens 03/25/03 19:09 PM >>>
> > Jim;
> > With 20,000 unemployed airline workers out there why dont the unions
> > get together and rent buses and hotel rooms and have these guys picket
> > the capitol? When the weather gets warm maybe we can set up a tent
> city
> > of airline workers in front of the White House.
> > Bob

I Copied in the AFL-CIO

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bill Ragen" <To: <JCLittle>;E-mail addresses edited out.

> Tuesday, March 25, 2003 8:31 PM
> Subject: Re: Picket Capitol Hill (Or is it Capital)
> > Will any of your unions sponsor it?
> >
> > Bill Ragen
> > Assistant Director
> > Organizing Department

> >>> Bob Owens 03/26/03 15:20 PM >>>
> Well the members and the locals are getting the circle jerk here. When
> our
> local President brings this up to our International he blames the TTD
> and
> the AFL-CIO for not leading, then you guys blame the unions. Meanwhile
> we,
> the members are taking it in the shorts. Our local will sponsor a
> walkout if
> you like but what kind of support can we count on from the AFL-CIO, or
> should I just ask Robert Poli (PATCO)?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Ragen" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 7:43 PM
Subject: Re: Picket Capitol Hill (Or is it Capital)

> Well, I'm sorry you're getting a circle jerk. I'm pretty low on the
> totem pole here, but I can tell you that in a case like this, the AFL
> expects its member unions to set the agenda - otherwise those unions
> will rightly get pissed off. It is up to the transportation unions to
> figure out how to work together and start to move an agenda.
> example, take the manufacturing unions. They are angry about how free
> trade is destroying jobs, so they formed a Industrial Union Council
> within the AFL, and had a lobby day and conference, where hundreds
> (maybe a couple thousand, I'm not sure)( for details, go to
> http://www.aflcio.org/issuespolitics/manufacturing/) came to DC to plot
> strategy and lobby their congresspeople. We were very involved in
> making it happen, and put a lot of time and money into it. But the
> agenda came from, and had to come from, the industrial unions. The AFL
> is not a corporation with Sweeney at the top giving orders. It is a
> loose collection of unions that are themselves pretty decentralized
> sometimes - but that is the nature of grass roots organizations. Which
> means if the airline unions don't want to work together on this, there
> is very little we can do.
> Bill Ragen
> Assistant Director
> Organizing Department

Well the word we are getting from our leaders is that they are waiting for
direction from the TTD, which is a part of the AFL-CIO. I realize that
Sweeney is not a CEO, however he is a central figure and as such he has a
lot of power. If he were calling for the TTD members to come together and
take more aggressive action, such as a possible nationwide strike to bring
an end to this corporate government scheme to lower wages then the member
unions would be embarrassed not to something. The impression of the members
in general is that the AFL-CIO is more than it is in reality, but that does
not matter because when dealing with people, unfortunately, impression is
more important than substance. I've spent my entire working life watching
the labor movement in constant retreat, other than the Carey led strike at
UPS there have been few memorable victories due to the fact that the
movement actually believes that the legal system is fair, or at least that
it should be obeyed. The average member is not going to write letters, they
would rather walk a picket line than write a letter but for some odd reason,
the leadership hates to call for pickets out of fear that not enough guys
will show up.
As I discussed with you before our system in the airlines is fatally flawed
in that for the most part ground workers do not have airline unions. They
are appendages to other unions. I realize that there are a lot of politics
and Sweeney's hold onto office could be lost by engaging in controversy, but
lets face it, he aint exactly a kid and is approaching the age where he
should be enjoying the fruits of his labor anyway. The question is, does he
want to be remembered (or forgotten) like Lane Kirkland, the man who sat
there while the movement got slaughtered by Reagan or someone like John L
Lewis, a media hound but a real fighter that the members had confidence in?
90% of union members, even those who were in unions when Kirkland was in
would not recognize his name, more, even those who were not born when Lewis
was alive or were in his union would recognize his name.
We need a little more fight and less talk, but if we are just going to talk
lets at least use fighting words. I recently attended the TWU COPE
Conference, not once, through all the fiery rhetoric was the word STRIKE
mentioned once. There is still a hopeless dependancy upon the Democratic
Party even though they owned by the same people that own the Republicans. We
need a Labor Party, and we need to show the money people that even though
Union labor only has 13% of the workforce we control the Sea Ports, the
Airports, Rail Yards, Mass Transit, Trucking and Communication. We can still
stop the economy cold if we wanted to.
I read an interesting Socialist book by an Irishman by the name of Robert
Tressell, it was called The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. The setting
was England in the early 1900s. You should read it, its as relevant now as
it was then.
Bob Owens

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