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Pension Issue Looms as Teamsters Target US Airways

Bill Wise, president of IAM Local 1725, which represents Charlotte mechanics, said three reasons exist why some IAM members signed cards, offered by Teamster backers, calling for a union election: 1) They support the Teamsters; 2) they want to get the IAM's attention; 3) "They signed the cards to shut the guy up."

Wise also said Teamster unionization effort harms members because it slows ongoing talks aimed at securing a new contract.

But the IAM's case to remain the mechanics' bargaining agent is based largely on its pension plan. Although Blanton said that assets currently in the IAM plan could be transferred to a Teamster pension plan, IAM spokesman Joe Tiberi said that is impossible. First, he said, the IAM would have to agree to a transfer, which would not happen. Also, the airline would have to agree to the transfer, which Tiberi said is unlikely because the Teamster pension fund is considered to be underfunded, while the IAM plan is fully funded.

"It's ridiculous to think that after a decade of airline employees fighting to preserve their pensions, a group would want to self-terminate a fully funded plan," Tiberi said. "But the Teamsters want members to leave a fully funded secure pension plan and throw it down on the craps table."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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