This letter was sent on October 27 by International President Harry Lombardo to IAM President Thomas Buffenbarger in response to a letter received by IAM Airlines Coordinator Timothy Klima.
President Lombardo’s response sets forth why TWU believes that the October 24th letter violates our joint Association Agreements with IAM, and threatens to undermine the effective implementation of those Agreements.
This is a very serious matter. Members can expect further communications regarding it from the International shortly.
In the meantime, we thank those Local Presidents who have strongly rallied to the defense, both in speech and writing, of the International’s unique role in the Joint Associations.
October 27, 2014
Mr. R. Thomas Buffenbarger
9000 Machinist Place
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-2687
Dear President Buffenbarger:
I have read the letter of October 24, 2014 from Tim Klima, Airline Coordinator for IAM, to Garry Drummond, Air Transport Division Director for TWU. I must begin this letter by informing you that the letter filled me with disappointment, alarm, and even anger. I believe that, as I will detail below, it strikes a blow at the fundamental relationship that should exist between the IAM and TWU in the Joint Associations that have been established to represent classes and crafts of the new single carrier American Airlines employees. Mr. Klima’s appeal to TWU Local Presidents undermines the basic structure of these agreements, by appealing to local officers of TWU to undermine a decision made by the International leadership of TWU regarding meeting with IAM regarding joint activities of the two unions; in doing so, it raises the very disturbing prospect that such appeals to local officers and even members of TWU may characterize our ongoing relationship, and be applied to a range of differences of opinion between the two International unions regarding relations with AA and other matters. I strongly believe that the ability of the Joint Associations to productively represent the classes or crafts of employees involved at AA requires that action be taken as soon as humanly possible to correct the fundamentally subversive thrust of Mr. Klima’s letter: this can best be accomplished, in accord with the spirit and the letter of the Joint Association agreements, by a meeting between me and you; but our lawyers should be instructed, pending such a meeting, to set up an arbitration date as provided for by the Joint Associations Agreements, to resolve this fundamental dispute should we be unable to.
The nature of the dispute should not require a lot of explanation. Our agreements are agreements between TWU and IAM; they do not provide for any sharing of members; they do not set up any sort of new labor organization with an existence independent of that of the two International Unions; and the structure of the Associations at all points looks to joint action between the two unions as embodied entirely by their International Presidents or their designees. There is no room in the agreement for politicking by one union among the other’s officers and members; particularly when designed to undermine the wishes of the International leadership of the other union. Undeniably, everything about the structure and the relationship set up by the Agreements is entirely antithetical to the appeal that Mr. Klima has made to TWU local Presidents to take action with the IAM independent of and contrary to the expressed policy and wishes of TWU.
The violation of our Agreement by Mr. Klima’s letter is so basic that it takes precedence over all the disputes set forth in Mr. Drummond’s letter of October 10, 2014 to Mr. Pantoja. Those disputes deal with important questions regarding the Agreements; but they cannot be said to go to the heart of it the way this one does. Indeed, Mr. Drummond’s suggestion that the specified issues be dealt with by you and me prior to going to arbitration is precisely how all disputes between the unions are to be resolved under the Agreement; not, as Mr. Klima would have it, by an appeal to the officers of the local unions who are part of TWU, accompanied by a general ridiculing of TWU’s position on issues whose resolution is supposed to be the realm of an arbitrator, not that of one side or the other exercising its self-interested judgment.
As I said above, the issue raised in Mr. Klima’s letter must be tackled directly, and as soon as possible before any other issue can be properly approached, since it implicates the entire way in which relations between our unions must be handled under our Joint Association Agreements. I look forward to hearing from you promptly on setting up a meeting between us to set this right, and to make certain that the violations embodied in Mr. Klima’s letter are not repeated. Absent resolution of the issue between us, which I believe should require neither a lot of time nor a lot of difficult thought- let us have our lawyers set up an arbitration to resolve the issue. Following that, we can again clear up the other issues between us, and set up joint efforts to deal with the company in a way that maximizes our collective strength without compromising our institutional integrity.
c: Sito Pantoja
TWU Local Presidents