Saturday, December 31, 2005

Union, a poem

Union

By Charlie Averill



When I fail to take a stand

for what I know is right.

When I fail to lend a hand

by joining in the fight



Then you all can fix the blame

as history has shone,

on the one who bears the shame,

on me and me alone.



But hopefully we all have learned

that victory takes us all;

and gaining that for which we've earned

means answering the call.



Give your all and nothing short,

for it is no illusion,

That winning takes your full support

cause you're the "U" in UNION.

© Charlie Averill 1992

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mouseland

As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944. Mr. Douglas was leader of the New Democratic Party in Canada for 10 years.


It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider than we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws--that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds--so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said:” The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouseholes." And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the color of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.

Moral of the story: Let’s elect representatives that will vote for us, for a change!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Best healthcare in the World??

Those who oppose a national health care system in the United States often times say, "Heck no. We have the best health care system in the world."
Well now, don't you suppose that a good measure of how good a nations health care system is, would be to take a look at infant mortality?
The C.I.A. has ranked the nations of the world as to infant mortality rates, and guess where we are on the list?
Well, we ain't number one, that's for sure.
As a matter of fact, the United States is ranked number 43. That means that 42 countries have a better infant mortality rate than the United States. Surprisingly, some of those countries doing better than the United States are: Cuba, Germany, South Korea and the Czech Republic.
To hear more on this subject by Jack Clark go to his podcast page and click on #8

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bull Market for the Poor

I think the following article by Will Durst has merit:

Brian Williams of NBC asked George Bush if the federal government’s faltering response to Hurricane Katrina was due to racial indifference and, for a half a second, you could almost hear Dubya's vertebrae fuse together as he perceptibly grew about a quarter of a millimeter. His voice trembled, and he snarled with a noticeable lack of teleprompting, “You can call me anything you want, but do not call me a racist.”
Which was not the point, but it is true. It’s not fair to call the president of the United States a racist. This is not a man who gives the tiniest whit about black or white. This is a man who only cares about green, and whether or not you have any. In this country, if you’re rich, you’ll get taken care of. If you’re not, you won’t. Pretty much as simple as that.
He is neither an ageist or a sexist or a fascist or a typist. Or a homophobe. Or a xenophobe. Or a xylophone.
Rather, he is a cashist, the first Green President, but the only whales he’s saving are the Vegas kind.
Tax cuts for the wealthy.
Economic stimuli for the wealthy.
Legislative amendments for the wealthy.
Overseas incentives for the wealthy.
Judicial appointments designed to nurture favorable decisions for the wealthy.
Secret, winking loopholes for the wealthy.
Complementary, all-you-can-eat seafood buffets with a pearl in every oyster for the wealthy.
No-bid contracts for his buddies, who happen to be, say it with me now….wealthy.
For the poor, you got your cuts.
Winter heating subsidy cuts for the poor.
Student-aid cuts for the poor.
Health cuts for the poor.
Food stamp and nutritional cuts for the poor.
Education cuts for the poor.
Outlandish dress codes at state diners to further disenfranchise the poor.
Outsourcing jobs to create more poor.
With George bush in charge, it’s a bull market for poor.
In other words, if you have money, just sit still and you will be showered with more. If you ain’t got, he and his people will throw up plexiglass, guard dogs, razor wire, enough red tape to wrap a moose - whatever it takes to keep you from getting.
I know the theory, on paper, is trickle-down. Rich people spend their money and it trickles down to the poor.
But, the theory, on paper, is bunk. Rich people hang onto their money; that’s how they got rich.
You give us poor people money and we’ll spend every damn penny we get our grubby little hands on. Why do you think we’re poor? Blowing it on superfluous stuff like food and rent and medicine and gas.
Silly profligate us. Besides, I’m tired of being trickled on.
So, let’s be straight about this. Kaye West is dead wrong about the president. George bush doesn’t hate black people. George bush doesn’t hate poor people, either. He just loves rich people –a whole lot.
Like a fellow waiter back in Milwaukee used to say, “It’s not that I like the rich more than the poor; it’s just that they tip so much better.”

Will Durst is a political comedian.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My favorite Podcaster

The following article was adapted from a segment of the Blast the Right podcast. http://www.therationalradical.com/podcast.html Jack Clark is a retired attorney now working full-time to advance progressive causes.

Bill O'Reilly's War Against Christmas

by Jack Clark


I don’t know how many of you are familiar with John Gibson. He’s one of the on-air personalities at Fox News. He’s the one that looks like Beavis or Butthead. I’m actually not sure which one is which so I can’t tell you which one I think he looks like. He actually may look like a cross between the two. In any case, did you know that he’s written a book worthy of that lovely cartoon duo? Gibson’s book is entitled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.

No, I’m not kidding you. John Gibson and Bill O’Reilly have become the head cheerleaders in this latest right-wing propaganda-of-distraction effort.

I’m going to analyze some excerpts from a Bill O’Reilly talking points memo. That’s the little spiel he opens his program with. If you are anyplace where laughter would be inappropriate, get ready to stifle your laughter, because you will laugh.

O’Reilly starts off by boasting, “Some big wins for Christmas.” What? Did peace on Earth break out? Was world hunger ended? Did any of Jesus’ other teachings achieve full fruition?

Then a little later he says, “The anti-Christmas forces are retreating.” I ask you, who are the anti-Christmas forces, the anti-Christian forces. Aren't they the greedy people? The warmongers? The haters? Yes. That’s Bill O’Reilly and the rest of his right-wing cohorts, but they don’t realize it.

To them, however, anti-Christian forces are those who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

O’Reilly then goes on to talk about the "pro-Christmas" movement. The pro-Christmas movement? You may be part of a self-fashioned pro-Christmas movement, Bill, but in reality, you’re one of the head cheerleaders for the anti-teachings of Jesus assault on the world.

Bill ends his little talk by reminding his audience that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Liberty? Eternal vigilance? How over the top can O’Reilly get? Apparently, into the stratosphere.

O’Reilly, Gibson, and the rest of them are supposedly all upset because some people are calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree, some stores aren’t mentioning the word Christmas in their advertising, and some people are saying, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

So apparently, the essence of Christmas is, one, making sure a Christmas tree is called a Christmas tree instead of a holiday tree; two, saying Merry Christmas to people as opposed to Happy Holidays; and three, ensuring that advertisements use the word “Christmas.” These are the things worth fighting for in connection with the Christmas holiday, according to Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson, and these others.

Isn’t it interesting that if people protest about, for example, racial prejudice or economic injustice, they’re labeled by the right as whiners and complainers, but a store not mentioning Christmas in its advertising, now that’s worthy of a protest!

Wouldn’t it be fair to say that never on behalf of so large and all-powerful a majority has such a frivolous complaint been raised? I think it would definitely be fair to say that.

Now, just for the record, as with virtually everything right-wingers do, even the surface level of this propaganda campaign is composed of a pack of lies. In a recent editorial in The New York Times, Adam Cohen pointed out two salient facts:

First, the present way Christmas is celebrated isn’t the traditional way, stretching back to the founding of the country. No, the current commercialized way Christmas is celebrated only started around the 1920s.

Second, the entire movement to use more inclusive nomenclature stretches back decades. It’s not a new phenomenon, a new "liberal plot," as Gibson calls it. When I was in high school over thirty years ago, they changed the name from "Christmas break" to "winter break."

The facts, of course, are irrelevant to Gibson, O’Reilly, and their cohorts. They don’t really care about this issue. This is just part of their campaign of distraction—another of their wedge issues. Obviously, every second that they spend screaming about it, that I spend replying to them, and that you spend talking about it, it’s a second we're not going to talk about --because the second is gone – important issues like social justice, like economic justice, like the war in Iraq, like a million other things that desperately need our attention.

Doesn’t Christmas celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Are O’Reilly and Gibson really telling us that Jesus would be more concerned about some superficial acknowledgment of a holiday celebrating his birth, than he would be with our implementing his teachings?

Did Jesus come to Earth to have his birthday celebrated or to teach mankind something and expect mankind to follow what he said?

If Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and Jesus came here to teach us and to lead us into better behavior towards our fellow men and women, then wouldn’t the way to acknowledge his birthday and to celebrate it, be to implement his teachings?

If a right-winger brings up this issue, I would just ask him or her, “If you’re so concerned about celebrating Christmas and acknowledging it, why don’t we acknowledge it and celebrate it in a meaningful manner? How about we all agree, those of us who already have more than enough, no gift-giving? We’ll give all our gifts to those who have nothing.

"How about we’ll celebrate Christmas by pressuring our representatives in Congress to increase the minimum wage? To fully fund the AIDS program that Bush is so severely underfunding? To fully fund the No Child Left Behind program?"

This whole "attack on Christmas" propaganda campaign would be funny if it weren't so tragic. Every year under George W. Bush, poverty has gone up. Under his tenure, the number of Americans without health care insurance has gone up. Hunger has gone up. All this is from the government’s own statistics.

Now what is Jesus’ prime teaching to us about how we’re supposed to interact with our fellow human beings? It’s that we have to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, minister to the sick, be kind to the stranger. That’s what Jesus wants us to do. So how better to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to do these things?

After all, Jesus said how you treat the least of these is how you treat Him. On his birthday, shouldn’t we strive to treat Him -- in the guise of the poor, the "least of these" -- especially kindly?

How much more so is this appropriate to right-wing Christians who spend all year doing the opposite, trying to make sure that our society does not use its collective resources – the power of government -- to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, minister to the sick, greet the stranger?

And now, at the very time of the year when they should most be doing these things, right-wingers raise another one of their phony wedge issues.

“Oh, we have to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree. Stores must put Christmas in their advertising. Don’t tell anyone “Happy Holidays,” tell them “Merry Christmas.”

That’s what right-wingers would have you believe that Christmas is all about -- that Jesus is all about. What a perversion of the holiday, what a perversion of the teachings of Jesus, what a dishonoring of Jesus Christ!

The anti-Christmas forces that Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson, and the others are ranting and raving about are no one other than themselves. They’re waging the war on Christmas. They’re waging the war on Jesus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Senator Bayh helps Steelworkers

Senator says China's predatory pricing hurts domestic steel workers


Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Evan Bayh today urged President Bush to apply existing U.S. trade laws to provide much-needed relief to U.S. steel workers struggling against a flood of imported steel from China. Over the past three years, Chinese companies have been releasing an overwhelming amount of standard pipe into the market, driving the cost of imported steel below the cost of the raw materials that domestic manufacturers use to make the same product. As a result, several steel plants have been forced to close, in spite of existing trade laws passed specifically to counterbalance the unfair advantage China enjoys because of the unfair trade policies it continues to practice.
"Chinese companies are using currency manipulation, illegal subsidies, and a host of other unfair trade practices to gain an unfair advantage over U.S. workers," Senator Bayh said. "It's time for the Administration to take a stand against the cheating."

The U.S. and all member countries are allowed to take action against import surges under trade laws agreed to when China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). The new trade laws were included in part to acknowledge the unfair advantage China enjoys because of its unfair trade practices, so countries could provide some relief to domestic industries threatened by such practices. The trade law, known as Section 421, allows countries to enforce quotas on products from foreign countries that have been proven to be flooding the domestic market to the detriment of domestic companies. However, no American industry has yet received relief under the law.

In a letter to President Bush, Senator Bayh, along with a bipartisan group of 20 other senators, outlined the impact that surging steel imports are having already on U.S. companies and urged the Administration to use the law to stem further job losses at domestic steel plants. Since 2002, steel imports from China have increased from 10,000 to more than 270,000 tons, flooding the market and dramatically reducing the ability of domestic manufacturers to compete. Already, 20 percent of the steel workforce for producing standard pipe has been laid off and plants in three states have been forced to close.

"Our steelworkers have proved their willingness to work hard by restructuring their industry over the last few years and they shouldn't see the fruits of their labor lost because no one would stand up for what is right," Senator Bayh said.

Bayh has been a strong supporter of the U.S. steel industry and the more than 20,000 Hoosiers who have worked to help their industry compete in the global economy. Bayh actively petitioned both the Clinton and Bush Administrations to open an International Trade Commission investigation into unfair trade practices, which led to the temporary tariffs that gave the steel companies time to restructure their operation.

If you would like to do your part, to help save these jobs, you can call 866-311-1889 toll free and ask the President to enforce our trade laws and to grant quota relief under Section 421 to the Pipe and Tube Industries, their workers, and their families.
Don't let these Steelworker Jobs go Down the Tubes!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Steelworkers re-elected

In a show of unity, the Indiana State AFL-CIO re-elected its statewide leadership team by acclamation during its 24 th Biennial Constitutional Convention, held in Indianapolis from December 5 to December 7, 2005. President Ken Zeller, a member of the United Steelworkers (USW) was elected to his third term without opposition.

Other Steelworkers re-elected without opposition to the Executive Council were Vice Presidents:
Jim Robinson
Gigi Baker
Charlie Wyatt
Garland Stovall

OOOOPS......Got to go......Bush's FBI is tapping my phone line.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Why I'm boycotting Colgate

The Colgate-Palmolive Co. factory in Clarksville, Indiana wants to have operations in a so-called “right-to-work” state.

Colgate has announced that it will close the 475-employee factory by January 2008 to “increase efficiency and competitiveness.”

“Gov. Mitch Daniels blames state’s lack of ‘right to work’ law for departure.” That is the headline of an article that appeared in the Gary Post Tribune this morning.

Right to work, my foot! Colgate-Palmolive Co. wants cheapy labor…….plain and simple, and this quote by anti-union Governor, Mitch Daniels, is nothing less than his way of saying that he wishes Indiana would become a Right to work (for less) state.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Vote Now for Grinch of the Year

Vote now for the greedy grinch who has done the most harm to working families this year! For several years, Jobs With Justice coalitions across the country have held local 'Grinch of the Year' elections to determine the most deserving greedy Grinch in their hometowns. This year, national Jobs with Justice will sponsor the fifth annual online Grinch of the Year election to determine the national figure who does the most harm to working families.

The contest seems to be between Verizon Wireless, Donald Rumsfeld, and Wal-Mart.

Verizon Wireless
For more than a decade, Verizon Wireless has shown total disregard for labor law and the rights of workers to a voice in the workplace and to a fair contract. Workers at Verizon Wireless who want a union voice have been fired and laid off, harassed and intimidated by supervisors, required to attend “captive audience” meetings and mandatory anti-union training. Call centers that had a growing number of union supporters were shut down between 2000 and 2004, putting 2,000 people out of work in MA, NY, and NJ. Verizon Wireless has refused to abide by the agreement it made with CWA to remain neutral in union organizing efforts in the Northeast and is instead using endless litigation to prevent employees from making use of the agreement. There are numerous complaints of labor law violations pending against Verizon Wireless.

The contrast between Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless, which supports full employer neutrality and card check, couldn’t be clearer. At Cingular, where there is true neutrality, more than 13,000 workers have joined CWA just since July 2005, when those agreements went into effect at what was AT&T Wireless. It’s clear that when fear and intimidation are removed from the workplace, workers choose a union voice. That’s what is happening at Cingular and that’s exactly what would happen at Verizon Wireless. Nominated by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Donald Rumsfeld
You know him best as the Secretary of Defense but Donald Rumsfeld is also the “Union Buster of the Millenium”. Rumsfeld is proposing to strip over 600,000 federal employees of their collective bargaining rights and voice at work. If he succeeds, it will be the largest denial of union rights in U.S. history.

The targets of Rumsfeld’s union busting plan are hard working union members -- men and women dedicated to serving their country and to the principle that every worker has a democratic right to a job with justice. Many are veterans themselves who know the horror of war, but also realize that it’s their job to make sure that our troops have the support they need to return home safely. In Rummy’s world when you work hard and support your country, your reward is losing the very freedoms you have sworn to protect. As the front man for the Bush Administration’s assault on workers rights, Donald Rumsfeld is indeed the Grinch of the year. Nominated by the American Federation of Government Employees.

Wal-Mart

The largest retailer in the world is also the greediest. Despite its $10 billion in profits, Wal-Mart is leading a global race to the bottom. Wal-Mart is the single biggest threat to the middle class in America, not only driving wages down but jeopardizing the health care of millions of workers. Wal-Mart admits its poverty-level wages can’t support a family, and over 600,000 Wal-Mart workers have no company health care forcing nearly 1 out of every 2 children of Wal-Mart workers to be uninsured or rely on a public program. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott's compensation is 871 times the average salary of a U.S. Wal-Mart worker and 50,000 times the average salary of a Chinese worker in a Wal-Mart supplier factory. Just this year, Wal-Mart broke child labor laws, exploited undocumented immigrants, forced workers to work in an unsafe environment, and is currently facing the largest gender discrimination lawsuit in history. Wal-Mart is the Grinch of the Century! Nominated by Wake Up Wal-Mart.

You can cast your vote here.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

SOAR Chapter Vice President in Prison




Yesterday afternoon at our SOAR Chapter meeting in Plymouth, Indiana, we received the very unfortunate news that our Chapter Vice President has gone to prison.

Harry Faust from Peru, Indiana, served our chapter well as Vice President and we will miss him. Two of the many times that Harry answered the union’s call to action come to my mind.

The first occasion was when retirees were asked to help distribute literature to workers at a foundry in Rochester, Indiana. Harry eagerly agreed to help. He set himself up in front of the entrance gate. When a big, tough looking stupidvisor told him that he was on company property and that he would have to move or get arrested, Harry, having helped lay the natural gas main at that location years before, knew that it was not the companies property, and that is was public property and simply told the stupidvisor that he wasn’t going to move……..and he didn’t.

Another time, Harry was one of several retirees from USW District 7 who made the trip to Miami to rally against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). He was one of hundreds of volunteers that served as Rally Marshall, and he did a great job.

We’re not sure how long Harry will be at the prison, but we do hope that he enjoys his new job in the Maintenance department.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Save our American Pipe and Tube Industry Jobs

President Bush, Enforce our Trade Laws

Please Help Support Us

Section 421 case on standard pipe was filed on August 2, 2005 by 7 U.S. producers and the United Steelworkers (USW) at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC held an injury hearing on September 16, 2005. The ITC issued an affirmative (4-2) injury vote on October 3, 2005 and found that imports of standard pipe from China caused market disruption to the industry.

Products covered in the 421 case are welded circular non-alloy standard and structural pipe used for plumbing, sprinkler systems, fencing and construction.

The ITC found that in 2005 the average selling price of Chinese pipe was 3.7% below U.S. producers’ average cost of raw materials. Imports from China of circular welded non-alloy steel pipe, or “standard pipe,” have surged from 10,000 tons in 2002 to 270,000 tons in 2004 and are on track to exceed 380,000 tons in 2005. No U.S. manufacturer or farmer can compete with imports sold at prices below their costs of acquiring raw materials.

The USW represents most of the 2,500 pipe workers employed at the affected companies who filed the petition: Allied Tube & Conduit Corp.; IPSCO Tubulars Inc.; Maruichi American Corp.; Maverick Tube Corp.; Sharon Tube Co.; Western Tube & Conduit Corp.; and Wheatland Tube Co. These companies operate plants in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Under Section 421 of the U.S. trade law passed by Congress in 2000, the U.S. trade representative reviews injury findings of the International Trade Commission and forwards its recommendation by Dec. 15 to the president, who is due to make a decision by Dec. 30.

A bipartisan group of 20 Senators and 61 House Members has written President Bush urging that an annual quota of 90,000 tons be imposed on imports of steel pipe from China.

Under the Section 421 process, the Trade Policy Staff Committee will recommend what steps the president should take by Dec. 15. Bush has the final say on what trade restrictions, if any, will be imposed, and is due to decide by Dec. 30.

Call the White House @ 202-456-1111, Ask the President to enforce our trade laws and to grant quota relief under Section 421 to the Pipe and Tube Industries, their workers, and their families.

Don’t let our Jobs go Down the Tubes!

Please do it today.
Thanks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Compassionate Conservatives??

I don’t know if any of you heard President Bush’s speech the other night, but after the speech he was asked a question which I remember this way.

“Mr. President, how many Iraqi’s including civilians have died so far in this war?”
His response went something like this, “Oh, 30,000 more or less, and we’ve lost 2,100 or so soldiers.”

Then he tried to be a commedian by interrupting the next questioner with something like this, “if I don’t like your question, I’ll just make up an answer.”

And this is a Christian and a so called “right to life” president?

You know what? I think Bush values the lives of those not yet born, and those who are on their death beds wanting to die, and his millionaire buddies, but I don’t think he gives a rip for the lives of anyone else.

Now, I suppose I can look for the FBI to break down my door tonight thanks to Bush’s Patriot Act, but you know what? I don’t care.

Albert Einstein once said, “What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Good and the Bad

The AFL-CIO has just published their Interim House Scorecard, a document which is a running record of votes that are of interest to the AFL-CIO but is not the official AFL-CIO 2005 voting record.
The vote descriptions are as follows, left to right:

CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS
JOB TRAINING REAUTHORIZATION
JOB SAFETY
JOB SAFETY/OSHA CUTS
PENSION PROTECTION/UNITED AIRLINES PENSIONS
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS/TRIBAL CASINOS
WAL-MART
AMTRK
CONTRACTING OUT FEDERAL AVIATION SERVICES
WORKPLACE SAFETY/ENFORCEMENT RULINGS
WORKPLACE SAFETY/FEES
HEALTHCARE
TRADE/CAFTA
LABOR HHS APPROPRIATIONS
BUDGET RECONCILIATION
TAX RECONCILIATION

the votes are scored this way:
R=the Representative voted for workers
W=the Representative voted against workers


Please note that Congressman Pete Visclosky has the distinction of having voted for workers on every issue and Congressman Chris Chocola has the distinction of having voted against workers on every issue.

Monday, December 12, 2005

More tax breaks for the wealthy

Democrats in the House of Representatives had an alternative proposal to the Tax Reconciliation Act which would have increased taxes on those earning more than $500,000 per year. Chris Chocola, the Representative in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District voted to go ahead and give this big tax break to the wealthy which will most certainly raise the federal deficit. This is just one more vote against the working people of our country.

Chocola also voted to lift tariffs on most goods traded between the United States and Bahrain. The bill did not include any environmental and worker protection clauses.

Chris Chocola is not helping American workers when he votes this way. Maybe the Senate will display more sense.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

40th Wedding Anniversary


It was 40 years ago today that I married Elaine Adams. We got hitched at the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana on December 11th, 1965 with a dinner afterwards at the Hotel Gary.

When I think of how long I’ve known Elaine I really do have to think about it. Let’s see…I met her in 7th grade. We were in the same home-room together. Home-rooms were the first period of the class day and were made up of students according to alphabetical last names.

I remember so well how pretty I thought she was. Although I had my eye on her, she wouldn’t give me the time of day. As a matter of fact, she teased me. She sat a few seats in front of me and I do remember our eyes meeting once and she just batted them at me.

I couldn’t let anyone know I was interested in her because I was on the football team, and we weren’t really supposed to be very interested in girls. Most of the gals dated Freshman boys anyway.

It wasn’t until we were Juniors that we began dating. It was in August at the beginning of football season. After practice one day, she and a friend of mine who lived across the street from me and his girlfriend stopped in front of the house and honked their horn. I went out to see who it was and we ended up going to Lo-Jacks drive-in for a rum coke which were very popular in those days. The very next evening, they stopped by again honking their horn. We did the rum coke thing again and then parked in his drive way. I remember Elaine planted a kiss on me so hard it hurt my lip.

Well, a few more similar evenings put me madly in love. I recall soon after telling her that I was going to marry her some day.

We dated off and on our senior year, and after graduation in 1961, I went into the Navy and Elaine became a hair dresser. I was stationed in Pearl Harbor and came home two times for a month at a time.

I got out of the Navy in August 1965 and we set the wedding date for December 11.

So, I think we’ve known each other since about 1956 which would make it about 49 years.

Today will be very special for us both.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Trip to Michigan


I promised to take Elaine on a short vacation, so about a month ago, we decided to go to northern Michigan and take a look at the changing colors of Fall.
We were on our way to Petosky, having booked a room at the Perry hotel, when I remembered that we had a couple of Chapter members living in Baldwin, Michigan. We decided to pay a visit to Norm and Jeannette Theil. Since I had just had our chapter newsletter printed the day before and still had them in the trunk of the car, we would also hand deliver it to them.
Well, a few miles out of Ludington and heading east towards Baldwin, Elaine gave them a call on her cell phone. Jeannette gave us directions, but Elaine failed to write them down, so we did our best to recollect the roads and landmarks, but after half an hour or so, decided we’d better make another call. However, we were so far into the sticks, communications weren’t possible, so we continued to play it by ear with no luck. After twenty or so more minutes we tried the cell phone again. Jeanette did her best to give us new directions and after several minutes finally saw a little tiny “Theil” sign hanging on a pine tree and knew we were close.
Several years before, while working at the Bailey Generating Station, I was talked into bow hunting by Warner Kraft, (we were both Ash & Auxiliary Operators) so we headed for Baldwin for two or three years in a row. We both loved Baldwin for it’s wilderness setting, fishing and many acres of hunting. That’s where I shot my first deer with a bow. I remember very well that the arrow hit the bulls eye. So perfect was the shot that when Warner and I finally found the two year old buck, we couldn’t even find the wound. It was that experience which, after retelling the story, that John Reddick, Gary Serviceman, began referring to me as “Ass Shot Averill”. Very embarrassing.
Anyway, we finally did locate Norm and Jeannette. Two Frontier people living in the 21st century if there ever were two. Although I had never met either of them before, they welcomed us into their Norm built cabin as if we had. It was a brisk day, and a blazing fire was going in the wood stove. Jennette fixed us a cup of coffee and we all had a good chat for half an hour.
I was really impressed with the cabin. It was out away from town and surrounded by enough cut, dried and ready to go fire wood to keep them warm for several years. There were two indications that they hadn’t entirely got away from it all. There were two EMT trucks parked close by used by them both to handle emergencies in the county. Also, in the house was every electric communication device known to man, from C.B. radios to computers.
Norm is the President of the Snowmobile Club in the area, and Jeanette puts together the newsletter.
After saying Good by to these unique and wonderful SOAR Chapter members, we headed for our hotel arrangement. Our room was overlooking a Lake Michigan harbor and even had a balcony. That evening, we went north on Michigan Highway 119 to pass through the famous “tunnel of trees” which was spectacular. After a good night sleep, we looked around the city of Petosky, and then in the evening, went to Cross Village to eat at the famous Legs Inn where Polish food is the specialty. What a memorable meal! Pierogi, bigos, kabanosy, golabki, kielbasa and sauerkraut. I tried a brand of beer that was new to me. A Polish beer called Ococim Porter. A meal in itself. Anyone know where I can buy some?