Contract at Boeing

SEATTLE (PAI) — Members of the Machinists union marched back into Boeing plants Sept. 29 after ratifying a new three-year pact with the airplane maker by a 4-1 margin. They had been on strike since Sept. 2.

The pact, covering 18,500 workers, does not include a general pay raise. But each worker gets a signing bonus equal to 8 percent of pay in the last 12 months, plus $3,000 payouts in the second and third years. And it increases pensions to $70 monthly for each year of service.

The contract has no changes in health care and continues medical benefits for retirees. Boeing had wanted to do away with health care for new retirees and demanded huge increases in workers’ share of health care costs at a cost of $4,000 each annually.

Boeing was also forced to back off its demand for a separate contract with worse pay and benefits for workers in its Wichita, Kan., facility.

Exhausted truck drivers

WASHINGTON (PAI) — Thousands of local delivery drivers will be forced into working 14 consecutive hours on the road as a result of new rules implemented Oct. 1 by the federal Transportation Department. Overly tired truck drivers increase the risk of accidents, the Teamsters say.

Wal-Mart pushed the GOP-run Congress to insert similar onerous hours for truck drivers into the highway bill lawmakers approved earlier this year, but Teamsters lobbying beat back the anti-worker retailer’s effort.

“Corporate trucking interests have gotten” from the federal agency “what they’ve been unable to get from Congress,” Teamsters President James Hoffa said. “The agency turned a blind eye to protecting health of truck drivers and safety of the public.”

Living wage victory at Cintas

“It feels good to finally get what we deserve,” said Francisca Amaral, one of 219 industrial laundry workers who will share in a $1.1 million court-ordered payment from the Cintas Corp. The nation’s largest industrial laundry violated the Living Wage Ordinance of the Northern California community of Hayward when they paid Amaral and her co-workers less than the $10.71 an hour required by the local law. Amaral, a 14-year employee, was paid only $8.20.

Over 100 municipalities across the nation currently have living wage ordinances, according to Unite Here researcher Jason Oringer. Such ordinances set a minimum pay level for employers who do business with the city. Unite Here is campaigning to organize the 10,000 Cintas laundry workers who make and clean work uniforms and other industrial materials in 170 locations nationwide. The Teamsters union has a coordinated campaign to organize the company’s 7,000 drivers.

The victory should give a boost to the laundry workers’ organizing campaign, said Oringer. “The company keeps telling the workers they will never win anything,” he said, but here they worked together and, even without formal union recognition, were able to win the back wages they deserved.

Labor Update is compiled by Roberta Wood (