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December 28, 2013

News Briefs December 28, 2013

Nader says Boeing pressure on union ‘unseemly’

Consumer activist and failed presidential candidate Ralph Nader has some words for Boeing.

In an open letter to Boeing CEO Jim McNerney Dec. 26, Nader said the company’s effort to squeeze worker pensions and pay is “unseemly.” He cited McNerney’s salary as one reason and the tax advantages the company is receiving as another.

Boeing is seeking a new contract with Machinists in the Puget Sound area that would move workers away from traditional pension plans. Machinists rejected an initial contract offer last month, but national leaders in the union are scheduling a Jan. 3 vote on a revised contract offer.

Boeing has vowed to build the company’s new 777X airplane in the Puget Sound if the Machinists agree to the new contract. AP

 

Machinist seeks delay in Boeing contract vote

A Boeing machinist worker is seeking to delay a vote on a proposed contract with the company.

Union member Robley Evans filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, saying the union is not providing members a reasonable opportunity to vote because some will still be on vacation when the Jan. 3 vote occurs, The Seattle Times reported.

An official with the board says an investigation likely wouldn’t be completed before the vote. Brian Sweeney, deputy regional attorney for the NLRB in Seattle, said the complaint was received Monday and will be assigned to an agent who will investigate the matter.

“Typically, on a charge of this nature an investigation wouldn’t be done until mid-February,” Sweeney said.

National leaders at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers recently announced the Jan. 3 vote would take place despite the objections of local union leaders who had rejected the contract offer. Local union leaders said they are developing an absentee voting process for those who might not be back from vacation when the vote occurs.

Local officials in the Machinists union have opposed sending the contract to a vote, arguing it is too similar to a proposal that workers rejected in November.

The latest Boeing offer would still move workers away from a traditional pension plan. However, the company has backed away from a proposal that would have slowed the rate at which employees rise up the pay scale.

The contract would secure work for Machinists in Puget Sound on the new 777X airplane at a time when 22 states are vying for those jobs. AP

 

Iraqi officials: U.S. sending Hellfire missiles

Iraqi officials say the U.S. has sent missiles to the country’s air forces to help in their battle against al Qaeda.

Two intelligence officers and a military officer said Dec. 26 that 75 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles arrived on Dec. 19 and more will be shipped in the future. They said the missiles are being used now by four Iraqi King Air propeller planes during a massive military operation in the western desert near the borders with Syria.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Iraq is facing resurgence in violence by insurgents emboldened by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The U.S. State Department referred inquiries to the Defense Department but reiterated its condemnation of recent attacks by Iraq’s branch of al Qaeda. AP

 

Bid dispute may delay Air Force museum expansion

A protest over the awarding of a construction bid may delay a long-awaited expansion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

Museum spokesman Rob Bardua tells the Dayton Daily News that it’s not known how the protest will affect construction of a new $35.4 million hangar, which was expected to be open in late 2015.

But Bardua says construction won’t begin until the protest process is resolved.

Five companies bid on the project, which was awarded this month to Turner Construction Co. in Washington.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which evaluated and awarded the bid, did not release the name of the company that protested the contract. Lawyers are reviewing the protest, and expect to come to a conclusion in less than 30 days. AP

 

Navy decides to move forward with sonar training

The U.S. Navy is moving forward with a plan that will intensify its sonar use off Southern California and Hawaii.

The Navy announced its final action Dec. 22, which comes after the National Marine Fisheries Service granted the Navy permits for its plans that will intensify sonar use in the Pacific Ocean over the next five years.

The military estimates the training and testing program could inadvertently kill 155 whales or dolphins off Hawaii and Southern California, mostly from explosives.

Environmentalists are suing NMFS to demand the Navy consider alternatives.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin says the groups were hopeful, but not optimistic, the lawsuit would lead the Navy to look at a range of alternatives.

Navy officials estimate its activities would have a negligible impact on marine mammal populations. AP




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Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

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