Freight workers say yes to union

A majority of 150 workers at the UPS Freight (formerly Overnite Transportation) terminals in Cleveland and Toledo, in Ohio and in Bowling Green, Kentucky have signed authorization cards to become Teamsters, bringing the total number of drivers and dockworkers seeking to join the union to 5,600 since Jan. 16, the Teamsters announced Feb. 19.

“The International Union’s Organizing Department helped us reach out to workers in Cleveland,” said Frank Burdell, president of local 407 in that city. “This victory was a long time coming, and we look forward to helping the workers reach their goals.”

“This is the second group of workers in our jurisdiction to sign and submit cards – the Louisville group was first,” said Fred Zuckerman, president of Local 89 in Kentucky. “We will provide all the UPS workers with top-notch representation so that they will have the tools to make their lives better on the job.”

“In just over a month, the majority of nearly 5,600 UPS freight workers have signed cards,” said Ken Hall, director of the Teamsters Package Division. “We have sustained the strong momentum, and workers are excited to join the victory train.”

In addition to the Cleveland, Toledo and Bowling Green workers, a majority of UPS freight workers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Indiana, California, Florida, Arizona, New York, Kentucky and New England, including the cities of Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, St. Louis, Orlando, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Oakland, Seattle, Memphis and Detroit, have submitted cards to become Teamsters.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million men and women in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

Airline merger talks fuel anxiety

Unions representing workers at Minnesota based Northwest Airlines are trying to get more information so they can prepare members for a possible merger with Delta Airlines that would create the world’s largest carrier.

Northwest has 31,000 workers and Delta has 47,000. Nearly every Northwest worker is represented by a union. But the pilots are the only major group of workers unionized at Delta.

A Northwest-Delta merger would control 18 percent of U.S. air traffic, making it the largest carrier in the world. The Washington Post has reported that Delta has hired a high-powered lobbying firm headed by former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and GOP leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to guide the merger through federal agencies before the pro-big business Bush administration leaves office. Meanwhile, other lobbyists are reportedly lining up to try to get business from two other airlines reportedly talking merger: United and Continental.

Unions can be expected to be opposed to any merger that compromises jobs, wages, pensions or the welfare of their members.

Firefighters helped boot Giuliani

The Fire Fighters, who showed their political effectiveness in Iowa in 2004 by providing troops for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry’s key caucus win there, may have helped do it again – only this time by getting someone out of the race. IAFF President Harold Schaitberger says campaign teams and a critical video helped push former GOP New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani out of this year’s GOP presidential race.

The video featured New York Fire Fighters, including retired Deputy Chief Jim Riches, telling viewers how Giuliani pumped up his role, did not provide working radios – which could have saved lives – and denied the IAFF more time to search for remains of the dead in the Trade Center ruins. He even arrested 15 protesting Fire Fighter leaders.

During the last two weeks before the Florida voting, New York Fire Fighters, led by retired Deputy Chiefs Riches and Al Santora, went to the Sunshine State to tell voters there about the mayor. They showed the video and distributed 128,000 pieces of literature.

Union women fight cervical cancer

A new video, featuring testimony from cervical cancer survivors and healthcare providers knowledgeable about cervical cancer, highlights a push by the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and the National Council of Womens’ Organizations to raise awareness about cervical cancer, the need for testing and the vaccine that can help prevent it.

The video, unveiled at a Holywood event sponsored by NCWO and the American Federation of Teachers, makes the point that ordinary pap smears are not enough to detect the human papilloma virus (HPV), which at least 80 percent of women will have acquired by the time they reach the age of 50.

A woman’s immune system often fights off HPV, which can be detected by an HPV test, panelists said. But women who do not clear the virus – who have a persistent infection with HPV – are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer. By testing women 30 and older for HPV at the same time as their pap test, healthcare providers can determine which women are at risk and monitor them for precancerous cell changes. Regular screening and appropriate follow up can prevent cancer from occurring.