Coalitions, sites battle over airlines, oil

Union_Published.jpgWhy now? Out in California, where so many interesting things come from, a group calling itself has set itself up, “to encourage the public to see through the industry’s spin on the issue.” The airlines, they say, “have failed to prepare for rising oil prices by continuing to fly older, less fuel-efficient planes unlike many of their competitors in other parts of the world. And even though the airlines promoted multiple pieces of legislation that would place limits on some types of oil speculation, many of the bills supported by the industry include loopholes that allow the airlines themselves to continue speculating. At the same time, the industry has benefited from more than $8.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies since 2001.” Some indictment. But….

NYSE.jpgSo who are these guys, we wonder? Well, they answer the phone SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and say they are part of a coalition that calls itself the Reaching Higher Coalition. This (Reaching Higher) coalition recently issued a report denouncing subsidies paid to airlines and calling for higher living standards for their employees. And they are enlisting Kate Hanni’s Coalition for an Airline Passenger Bill Of Rights, says (oil spin) coalition spokeswoman Lily Wang. They seem to have designed their site to counter the airline-inspired StopOilSpeculationNow, and the airlines’ spokesman, Dave Castelveter, countered their arguments. The role of speculators in driving up the price of oil is fairly well agreed upon, he says, and more importantly, though, he says, “The carriers do have hedge positions, both short- and long-term. Some of the hedge positions that were in place post 9/11 were unwrapped through the bankruptcy court process. Given the recent drop of fuel prices, it is clear that the hedge option can have as many liabilities attached as benefits.” 

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