Friday, December 29, 2006

Thanks to USW-Goodyear Strike Supporter


TO: USW-Goodyear Striker Supporter
FR: Leo W. Gerard, International President
DATE: December 22, 2006
RE: Goodyear

On behalf of 15,000 brave workers who courageously battled to last one day longer that the company, their families and more than 30,000 Goodyear retirees and surviving spouses, allow me to thank everybody who contributed to this victory.

We thank the entire labor movement, activist communities and progressive groups from all over North America for its unprecedented solidarity and acknowledge the efforts of fair-minded representatives of the media and financial communities, who took the time to understand the critical issues in this conflict.

As we said from the beginning, this contract campaign went far beyond a labormanagement
dispute. It was a battle to make a company live up to its commitments to past and current employees, and to secure a future for manufacturing in North America.

The support we received from the communities where our plants are located was extraordinary and included efforts by church and community groups as well as public officials, ordinary citizens and local businesses.

We are happy to provide you with some of the highlights from the Tentative Agreement that our bargaining reached with their counterparts at Goodyear Tire and Rubber late today. While no settlement is ever perfect, we all deserve congratulations in successfully working together to resolve the critical issues that confronted us when the bargaining process began.

Thank you again.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tentative Agreement with Goodyear

USW, Goodyear Reach Tentative Agreement

For Immediate Release December 22, 2006

(Pittsburgh, PA) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company today reached tentative agreement on a new three year contract that the union said “secures retiree health care benefits and dramatically increases Goodyear’s investments in union facilities.”

“This agreement validates the solidarity of our members and their families, who wouldn’t allow the company to walk away from obligations earned through a lifetime of hard work and loyalty,” said USW President Leo W. Gerard.

“We owe a debt of gratitude,” he added, “to the entire labor and activist communities, which rose with unprecedented solidarity to challenge Goodyear’s assault on our members.”

“By securing solid medical and drug benefits for current members and retirees in the midst of today’s health care crisis,” said Thomas Conway, USW Vice President and the Chair of the union’s Goodyear negotiations, “our bargaining committee was able to drive the proverbial wolf away from the door for tens of thousands of retirees and thousands more workers who are nearing retirement.”

The Tentative Agreement was endorsed by the USW’s Goodyear Policy Committee, made up of local union leaders from the company’s master contract facilities throughout the U.S. Members at these locations will vote at ratification meetings in their communities on December 28.

Although details of the tentative agreement will not be released until USW members at Goodyear have voted in a ratification election scheduled for next week, the union said that the agreement addresses three crucial areas of concern by:

Establishing an innovative company-financed trust of more than $1 billion that will secure medical and prescription drug benefits for current and future retirees;
Enhancing the ability of USW-represented plants to meet the challenges of global competition by having Goodyear triple its capital investments to at least $550 million in those plants; and,
Maintaining affordable, high quality medical and prescription drug coverage for active members and retirees.
In addition, the tentative agreement requires Goodyear to rescind its demand for immediate closure of its Tyler, Texas plant, and instead provides for a one-year period of transition during which workers will have the opportunity to take advantage of sizeable retirement buyouts.

The Tyler plant came out of the 2003 negotiation as the one unprotected facility, but despite determined efforts by international and local union leaders and strong support from the community, plant security could not be won beyond the end of 2007.

“Though we’re not entirely happy with the outcome at Tyler,” Conway said, “we were able to ensure that as long as Goodyear stays in the market for the tires built at Tyler, those tires will have to be produced at USW-represented plants in the U.S. The company simply won’t be able to outsource that work or service this market segment with imports from China or anywhere other than a USW facility.”

“What we achieved would never have been possible if we hadn’t struck.” said Ron Hoover, USW Executive Vice President

Negotiations between the USW and Goodyear began in June of this year. With a contract expiration date of July 22, 2006 approaching, a day-to-day extension agreement was reached that gave both parties the option of terminating the agreement upon delivering 72-hour notice. Lack of progress in bargaining talks forced the USW to delivered notice on October 2 and 15,000 USW members in 16 plants throughout North America struck on October 5.

The ratification vote will be taken following informational meetings at each location. A majority of the majority principle applies meaning that a majority of the locals as well as a majority of the overall membership must vote to accept the Tentative Agreement as the new contract.

The USW represents more than 850,000 members in the U.S. and Canada. Some 70,000 are employed in the tire, rubber and plastics industry.

CONTACT: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Grinch of the Year

With 52% of more than 10,000 votes cast, Goodyear won the 6th annual online "Grinch of the Year" election sponsored by National Jobs with Justice. Nominated by the United Steelworkers, the company is criticized for forcing 15,000 US workers out on strike on October 5th. Despite concessions given by workers in the last round of contract negotiations that led to a billion dollar turn-around, Goodyear wants to close plants, off-shore jobs, and gut retiree health insurance.

"Goodyear truly is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas from working families this year" said Fred Azcarate, Executive Director of National Jobs with Justice. "15,000 families have been living on strike pay and their savings for almost three months, and their health benefits are set to expire on January 2nd."

Smithfield Tar Heel Division Chairman Joseph Luter III came in second place with 39% of the vote. Smithfield was nominated by the UFCW for paying workers poverty wages, failing to provide adequate medical care to injured workers, and suppressing workers' right to organize a union. The additional 9% of votes went to write in candidates. The most popular write-in candidates were Wal-Mart (winner of the 2005 and 2004 Grinch elections), the Bush administration (2003's Grinch winner), McDonalds, and Starbucks.

The 'Grinch of the Year' awards began locally with Jobs with Justice Coalitions around the country highlighting the greedy grinch in their hometowns. That tradition has remained in many areas with the Valley Park Board of Alderman winning the St. Louis Area Grinch of the Year Award for their anti-immigrant ordinance and Tacoma Macy's Vice President winning the Pierce County, WA Grinch award for promoting credit-card debt, failing to raise most workers' wages for 3 years, shifting health care costs to workers, and yelling at workers for excercising their legal right to organize a union.

Jobs with Justice is a national campaign for workers' rights. Around the country, local Jobs with Justice Coalitions unite labor, community, faith-based, and student organizations to build power for working people.

Source: JWJ

Monday, December 18, 2006

Save The Date!


FRIDAY, JAN. 19, 2007
1:30 P.M.

(specific location, transportation and other arrangements to be announced soon)

USW members on strike at
will be joined by their

to bring to Goodyear’s Corporate Headquarters
our fight for

For more information,
check the USW website at:

Friday, December 15, 2006

Goodyear Screws U.S. Troops

Production Shortage Affects Military Shipments

Goodyear rebuffs influential congressman


Although Goodyear continues to claim that it is meeting the military’s production needs, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee tells the company that with production levels reduced there is a shortage within the military.

Production Levels Reduced By 35%

Yesterday, Rep. Hunter announced a significant shortage of tires for Humvees, the workhorse vehicle in Iraq and Afghanistan. He requested the return to work of 200 skilled union workers in Topeka, Kansas to fulfill military needs that current replacement workers cannot meet.

Goodyear Has Repeatedly Refused USW Offers To Insure Military Supply

The USW has made numerous offers since the beginning of October to work with the company to ensure that the supply requirements of the military are met. Since Hunter’s call for a solution yesterday, the USW has twice offered a solution to the shortage. Not only has Goodyear rejected all USW offers, it has also called into question the veracity of the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Goodyear Risks Ruining Its Relationship With The US Government

Beyond the obvious public relations nightmare created by Goodyear’s abandonment of our service members fighting overseas, Goodyear risks losing the United States government as a future customer by denying production problems and undermining its credibility with elected officials.

For more information on this and other investor concerns, please visit:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Goodyear Screwing its Investors

Goodyear management provoked a labor dispute with the United Steelworkers by demanding tire building be done by workers making only 42 cents per hour.
Goodyear will not win this fight because the American people won't allow it.
In the meantime, investors will lose their shirts.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sweatshop Man of the Year? We'll see.

Dr. Martin C. Jischke became Purdue University's 10th president in August 2000. A Chicago native, he received his bachelor's degree in physics with honors from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and earned his master's and doctoral degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A very smart man, no doubt. An educated man at least.
I wonder if he's smart enough to know what's best for his country.

As I understand it, Purdue University students are on a hunger strike while this guy says he needs more time to figure out whether or not to continue to purchase Purdue apparel items which are produced in sweatshop factories.

I hope he makes the right dicision. If not, I hope everyone boycotts Purdue.

Goodyear Investor Alert #6

Yes, We Have No Tires

Strike Impact on Goodyear Customers Grows

  • Overview

Since the beginning of the strike Goodyear has been telling its customers and shareholders that it will be able to continue to serve its customers. The Union has cautioned investors that Goodyear’s pre-strike reserves would soon run out and that the Company would lose business and important customers. Public comments by tire dealers can settle this debate.

  • Tight Market Even Tighter
According to an article in Modern Tire Dealer this week, in order to get tires, dealers have to “say some prayers and pull some teeth,” and the tires that they are getting are ones that were sitting in the warehouse from before the strike. Goodyear’s largest OTR customer, Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. has not received a shipment from Goodyear since the strike began. Another customer has had to substitute Goodyear tires with another brand.

  • Market Share Will Slip
Dealers selling consumer replacement tires have not fared much better. Reports of shortages started almost immediately after the strike began.

On November 22, Kevin Tynan of Argus Research Group told the Fort Wayne Journal that it is unlikely that Goodyear will be able to get to the production level they need to meet demand. “In the near term, if the supply is not there, people will not wait.”

Les Garland, owner of Garland Brothers Tire & Alignment, said in late November that the word “shortage” would be a drastic understatement. “I’m having to bring in other lines just to sell tires. You can not sell from an empty wagon, and the Goodyear-Kelly wagon is empty.”

November was not a great month for Mark White of Discount Tire either, but he anticipates the real problems will start in January and February, when inventories will become depleted. White said that he will recommend other brands when Goodyear tires run out.

  • A “Little Bit Of A Shortage”
In November Ed Markey, Goodyear’s spokesman, admitted “In certain sizes and types of tires, there is a little bit of a shortage…” We could quibble about the meaning of the word little, but it is the first shred of truth we have heard from the company about the issue. Some of the states that have contracts with Goodyear got a little bit of truth from the company in October, when Goodyear notified them that as a result of the strike it was invoking the “force majeure” clause of its contracts to supply them with tires. Goodyear did not offer details as to when curtailment would begin, but the letter tells a different story than the one the company tells publicly.

  • Word From The Street
Two days ago, Analyst Rod Lache from Deutsche Bank upgraded Cooper Tire & Rubber stock from Hold to Buy. According to Lache: “The Goodyear strike, now entering its 8th week, has also begun to translate into a near term boost to volume.” We take this to mean that Cooper is selling to Goodyear’s customers, and investors seem to agree – Cooper stock has climbed
almost 50% since the strike began.

All of this confirms what reports from the picket line and good common sense tells us must be true: you can not build tires when your tire-builders are standing at the front gate of the plant.
Goodyear may have tires that we do not know about, but unfortunately for Goodyear, their dealers do not seem to know about them either. For more information on this and other investor concerns, please visit:

Thursday, November 30, 2006

USW Blasts J.P. Morgan Analyst

USW Blasts J.P. Morgan Analyst Patel's Misinformation about Goodyear Strike
Union condemns analyst's "shoddy research"

For Immediate Release November 29, 2006

(Pittsburgh, PA) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today sharply criticized the latest analysis of the USW-Goodyear strike by Himanshu Patel of J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. as a "deliberate attempt to hype the company's stock through promoting Goodyear's campaign to break the union by creating unfounded fears amongst the membership, families and communities."

Yesterday Patel wrote that "a key date for the strike could be January 3, when health care coverage for striking workers is cut off, which could spur increased pressure from union members to reach an agreement."

"Another projection that's dead wrong by a guy who just doesn't do his homework," said USW International vice president Tom Conway. "We want Goodyear to stop stone-walling and return to meaningful negotiations. But the facts are that the real cut-off date is in mid-April. COBRA legislation gives you 60 days to make a decision to continue coverage and another 45 days before you have to make payment."

"The real problem is how consistently inaccurate his forecasts are. They seriously cloud any possibility of a clear-headed analysis of the strike, and how it might be resolved," said Conway.

In October, Patel wrote that inventory and reduced production should provide supply for around four months. Three weeks ago, the Washington Times and others were already reporting shortages. In the same report, he stated that the USW had only one response -- a strike, and that it had already utilized it, completely ignoring the USW's vast repertoire of strategies to pressure the company in other ways.

"What's most disturbing is that this supposed independent analyst talks exclusively to the company and does nothing but parrot their lines," said Conway. "Other more sophisticated analysts take the time to hear the USW point of view. "Patel's willful ignorance causes him to grossly underestimate our resolve and our ability to impact the company, added Conway. "He needs to either do his research or admit that he is nothing but a shill."

CONTACTS: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Consumer Safety Alert

Will Goodyear tires be safe for your family?

The experienced workforce at Goodyear has been forced out on strike due to the company’s demands to gut their healthcare, close factories and bring in tires made in China and other low-wage countries.

For now, Goodyear is using replacement workers to make tires to be sold here in America.
Why is this important to you?
An independent Princeton University study has linked labor strife, including the use of replacement workers, with the production of defective tires.

The Princeton study examines the causes of the Firestone and Ford recall of 14.4 million tires in 2000. You may remember the rollover accident that caused so many deaths and horrific injuries on our nation’s highways.

These tires were linked by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration to complaints involving 271 fatalities and more than 800 injuries.

So ask yourself:

Can you afford to trust Goodyear?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodyear Action Call


We will be protesting Goodyear's assault on the economic security and
basic rights of working families and Union members, as well as current and
future retirees.

When: Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Where: Goodyear "JUST TIRE" store located at 6154 S.
Kedzie, Chicago, IL

We will handbill customers and pedestrians, and hold a brief rally.
This will be the first of many days of action.

There will be a bus leaving McBride Hall, 1301 Texas Street, Gary,
Indiana at 9:00 a.m. Saturday. For additional information and/or to reserve
your seat on the bus call the District 7 office at 219-886-2596 or

Wear a union or SOAR hat if you have one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Goodyear Condemned

AFL-CIO Executive Council Statement
November 14, 2006
Washington, D.C.


WHEREAS the Steelworkers Union, on behalf of its more than 15,000 members and 30,000
retirees and their families, reached an innovative collective bargaining agreement with the
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 2003, in which they made significant sacrifices to bring
the company back from the brink of bankruptcy; and,

WHEREAS these sacrifices included closure of the Huntsville, Alabama, plant; wage and benefit reductions; massive changes to improve productivity and efficiency; as well as increased retiree contributions to health care benefits; and,

WHEREAS these sacrifices have restored Goodyear’s profitability to $228 million after taxes
last year alone, which the company’s executives have used to grant themselves
multi-million dollar bonuses; and,

WHEREAS Goodyear has ignored the sacrifices made by Steelworker members and retirees
during the current negotiations, driving Steelworkers out on strike at 16 North American
locations by rapaciously demanding more plant closings and more wage cuts while radically
increasing investments in low-wage countries where workers are brutally oppressed; and

WHEREAS Goodyear has announced that it will double the volume of tires it imports into the
U.S. and is committing to a tenfold increase in tires imported from Communist China, where
workers’ fundamental human rights are violated; and

WHEREAS Goodyear’s top executives have nonetheless engaged in shameless hypocrisy by
publicly proclaiming that they are “trying to save American manufacturing” and “fighting to
preserve American jobs;” and,

WHEREAS Goodyear has unconscionably proposed to abandon totally its moral and legal
obligations for retiree health care coverage while rejecting innovative Steelworker proposals for sufficient contributions to a benefit trust to ensure continuing health care security for retirees; and,

WHEREAS Goodyear’s abandonment of health security for retirees exacerbates America’s
health care crisis; and

WHEREAS Goodyear has publicly misrepresented the specifics of its bargaining proposals in a
blatant attempt to break the solidarity of Steelworker members; and,

WHEREAS Goodyear has revealed the depth of its commitment to the global race to the bottom by opposing even the Chinese Communist government’s recent move toward labor law reform; and

WHEREAS Goodyear has poisoned the atmosphere for a reasonable and equitable settlement
with the Steelworkers by hiring scabs at its North American facilities; and

WHEREAS an independent study has cited the use of scab workers during tire industry labor
strife as a factor in the production of defective tires that the federal government has linked to 271 deaths and 800 injuries in automotive accidents; and

WHEREAS the Steelworkers have launched an information campaign throughout North America to expose the risks that Goodyear’s hiring of scabs poses to consumers and to reveal the company’s unconscionable demands, its abandonment of workers, retirees and their

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AFL-CIO and USW launch a nationwide Day of
Action with all participating AFL-CIO affiliates to protest Goodyear’s assault on the
economic security and basic rights of working families and Steelworker members, as well
as current and future retirees; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO will, whenever and
wherever possible:

• Discredit Goodyear’s abandonment of American manufacturing, workers, retirees and
their communities;

• Join with Steelworker members on informational pickets at stores selling Goodyear

• Condemn Goodyear’s assault on the health security of its workers and retirees as
destructive to organized labor’s ongoing efforts to win accessible and affordable health
care for all;

• Encourage employers with whom affiliates have contracts, both private and public, to
abandon the use of Goodyear tires as original or fleet equipment, until such time as
Goodyear relents in its unconscionable demands and shameless hypocrisy and reaches a
reasonable and equitable agreement with the United Steelworkers.
# # #

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Goodyear Update

Nationwide Protest Will Target Goodyear for ‘Abandoning America’s Workers, Retirees and Communities’
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PITTSBURGH — The AFL-CIO will join the United Steelworkers (USW) in launching a nationwide Day of Action against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:GT) “to protest Goodyear’s assault on the economic security and basic rights of working families and Steelworker members, as well as current and future retirees,” the USW and AFL-CIO announced today.
In a meeting in Washington today, the Federation’s Executive Council voted unanimously to:
  • Discredit Goodyear’s abandonment of American manufacturing, workers, retirees and their communities;
  • Join with Steelworker members on informational actions at stores selling Goodyear products;
  • Condemn Goodyear’s assault on the health security of its workers and retirees as destructive to organized labor’s ongoing efforts to win accessible and affordable health care for all; and
  • Encourage employers with whom affiliates have contracts, both private and public, to abandon the use of Goodyear tires as original or fleet equipment, until such time as Goodyear relents in its unconscionable demands and shameless hypocrisy and reaches a reasonable and equitable agreement with the United Steelworkers.

“Together, the Steelworkers and the AFL-CIO will make sure the tire-buying public understands the real facts about Goodyear’s demands to abandon America’s workers, retirees and communities,” added USW President Leo W. Gerard.

Goodyear forced 15,000 USW members in 16 plants in North America out on strike October 5. Despite innovations delivered by the union and concessions taken by its members and retirees in the 2003 contract that contributed to a billion-dollar turnaround in the company’s bottom line since 2002, Goodyear continued to insist on additional plant closings and more concessions in this round of bargaining.

The AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest umbrella organization of unions, representing 10 million working men and women nationwide. The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing more than 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada. Some 70,000 are employed in the tire, rubber and plastics industry.
United Steelworkers AFL-CIO.CLC

Friday, November 10, 2006

Free Traders Sent Packing

At least 15 House of Representatives free-trade incumbents were beaten by fair trade challengers with another 10 races too close too call.

6 Senate free-trade incumbents were beaten by fair trade challengers.

Every single co-sponsor of the anti-sweatshop legislation (HR 5635) who was seeking re-election in the House of Representatives WON!

Every co-sponsor of the anti-sweatshop legislation in the Senate (S 3485) who was up for election also won as did Bernie Sanders (VT) and Ben Cardin (MD) who were co-sponsoring House members vying for Senate seats. The only co-sponsor to lose was House co-sponsor Harold Ford (TN) who lost his bid for the Senate.

Rapid Response expects the free-trade leadership of the Congress to quickly bring at least one NAFTA-like trade bill up for a vote in the next couple of weeks before the new Congress can be sworn in. We expect this to be the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

source: November 8, 2006 Rapid Response INFOALERT

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thanks from Joe Donnelly

Joe and Jill Donnelly

Thank You!

Thanks to all the phone callers, canvassers, volunteers, supporters and voters who made this victory possible. Together with my staff, these volunteers worked for months to spread the word about my campaign and get out the vote.

I will work tirelessly in Congress to make all your hard work meaningful and to represent all the people of the second district.

Thank you for your support.


The 2006 Election is Over

Mission Accomplished!!

A big thanks to working families and retirees!

We have taken our country back.

Sunday, November 05, 2006



Websters New World Dictionary:

“designating, of, or characteristic of a government or state in which one political party or group maintains complete control and illegalizes all others.”

Brothers and Sisters, Ladies and Gentleman,

Our wonderful country has been trending in this direction for some time. You can help save our country.

Vote on November 7th!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Great News for USW Retirees and Spouses

Innovative Trust Fund Makes Payment to 40,000 USW Retirees and Spouses

For Immediate Release October 31, 2006

(Pittsburgh, PA) More than 40,000 United Steelworker retirees and spouses who lost health care coverage in the bankruptcies of four steel companies are getting financial help with their Medicare Part B premiums from an innovative trust fund bargained by the USW to assist them.

Checks will be mailed during the first week of December to 40,476 USW-represented retirees and spouses of Bethlehem Steel, LTV, Acme Metals and Georgetown Steel, said Thomas Duzak, director of pension and benefits for the USW.

The checks will reimburse eligible individuals for up to six months of Medicare Part B premiums paid during the first half of 2006. A single retiree will receive $531 and couples $1,062. Premiums were typically $88.50 a month for Medicare beneficiaries.

“This benefit payout reflects our continuing commitment to represent the interests of retirees who were abandoned by their former employers and betrayed by the bankruptcy courts,” USW President Leo W. Gerard said.

The one-time benefit is being paid for from a benefit trust fund, known as the Mittal Steel USW Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA).

The VEBA trust was established in 2002 through negotiations between the United Steelworkers and International Steel Group (ISG), which has since been acquired by Mittal Steel USA.

The VEBA is funded by contributions from Mittal, based on company profits and steel tonnage. Benefits are jointly determined by the USW and Mittal, depending on funds available in the trust and the needs of eligible retirees.

The VEBA also provides prescription drug coverage for approximately 24,000 retirees and spouses.

Columbus – David McCall, (USW District 1), 614-888-6052
Pittsburgh – Tom Duzak, (International headquarters), 412-562-2296
Cleveland – Mike Mormile, (USW Local 979), 216-441-3124
Northwest Indiana – Pete Trinidad, (USW Local 6787), 219-762-6787

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National ARA Endorses Tom Hayhurst

On Monday, November 1st, 2006, the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Alliance For Retired Americans, Ruben Burks, announced the ARA endorsement of Tom Hayhurst, for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District, because of his stand on strengthening Social Security rather than privatize it, and his determination to get a decent Medicare Prescription Drug Program, absent any so called “Donut Hole”.
Additional photos can be seen by going to the Indiana ARA website.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Time Zone Fiasco, Toll Road Sale and now the South Shore R.R.?

Dave Niezgodski

On August 3rd, NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District),
(South Shore), Staff met with INDOT Commissioner Tom Sharp. NICTD’s ridership has been on a steady upward stream that has not been seen since the early 1960’s.
Due to this steady increase in ridership it has become necessary to seek state and local funding in order to purchase 14 new cars amounting to a sum of close to 45 million dollars.

NICTD’s request to Commissioner Sharp & others present at the meeting dealt with winning approval for a multi - year funding mechanism utilizing CMAQ (congestion, mitigation, air quality) and Northwest RDA funds.

During a portion of this meeting Commissioner Sharp informed NICTD Staff that CMAQ funds would not be sufficient to address the timeline that NICTD required in order to promptly order the 14 new cars. Commissioner Sharp also recommended that NICTD explore all possible means including a P3, lease or sale of the railroad in a plan similar to the one that was used on the toll road. (Major Moves)

Since that meeting and the recent media storm that has developed due to this conversation, INDOT and the Governor’s Office have completely denied that any such conversation had taken place.

On Oct. 20, 2006 a special meeting of the NICTD Board of Trustees was held in order to further address this conversation which took place between INDOT and NICTD Staff. Commuters had every right to a firm answer as to the future of the commuter railroad. General Manager, Jerry Hanas, once again confirmed that such a conversation did in fact take place and that NICTD Staff had explored a lease/sale option and determined that this would not be a viable option due to the South Shore being subsidized to the extent that it is.

To this date there has yet to be a response from INDOT Commissioner Tom Sharp, the originator of the P3 suggestion.

INDOT spokespersons and the Governors Office have responded, but only in complete denial. How can this current administration be trusted when the public, at the very least, cannot expect an honest answer directly from Commissioner Sharp?

Dave Niezgodski
Dave is Chairman of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

senior voter guide

National ARA Endorses Joe Donnelly and Julia Carson

On Wednesday, October 25th, 2006, the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Alliance For Retired Americans, Ruben Burks, announced the ARA endorsement of Joe Donnelly, for Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, because of his stand on strengthening Social Security rather than privatize it, and his determination to get a decent Medicare Prescription Drug Program, absent any so called “Donut Hole”.


On Friday, October 27th, 2006, National Board Member of the National Alliance For Retired Americans, Charlie Averill, announced the ARA endorsement of Julia Carson, for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District, because of her stand on strengthening Social Security rather than privatize it, and her determination to get a decent Medicare Prescription Drug Program, absent any so called “Donut Hole”.

Additional photos can be seen by going to the Indiana ARA website.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Alliance for Retired Americans Comment on President Bush Touting Social Security Privatization on CNBC

For Immediate Release:

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

President Bush's statement yesterday that Social Security will be high on his agenda in 2007 should be of grave concern to both current and future retirees.

This is yet another reminder that seniors cannot trust President Bush and a Republican Congress with their retirement security.

Change is long overdue in Washington, as shown by how this Social Security debate can still linger even in the face of such widespread opposition by the American people. Apparently they must not have heard the national outcry over the President and Republican leaders wanting to gamble away Social Security on the whims of the stock market.

Social Security privatization is as failed and outdated as those who are trying to sell it to the American people.

For more information on the Alliance, visit

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of America’s retirees and their families.

Chocola Voted to Eliminate our Rights

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Strike Ends at Bunny Bakery

The members of USW Local 1191-05 reached an agreement with Lewis Baking/Bunny Bread in LaPorte last nite.
The workers are now back to work.
Thanks for your support.
What a great union we have!
Buy all the Bunny bread you want.
Experienced Bakers are back on the job.

The Magnificent Eight

Listening closely to the Donnelly-Chocola debate last night and learning from some of the statements made, has given me one more reason to vote for Joe Donnelly for Congress, and here it is:

A vote for Chocola would mean that Dennis Hastart would once again be the Speaker of the House. He’s the one accused of, and under investigation for, protecting the republican party, rather than protecting the congressional pages from sexual harassment and molestation from the likes of Mark Foley.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bunny Bread Sucks

LaPorte IN:

The 150 members of USW Local Union 1191-
05 were forced to strike Lewis Baking/Bunny Bread in LaPorte
when the company refused to offer a fair and equitable
The bakers who went the extra mile, worked a week past the
expiration date of the previous agreement in an attempt to
get a settlement without a work stoppage.
The experienced bakers at Lewis Bakeries make Bread,
Brown and Serve Rolls, as well as Hot Dog and Hamburger
Buns under the brand name of Bunny Bread IGA, Jewels,
Nickels, and Aldi’s.
You should be aware that these products are not being
produced by the experienced bakers who normally make
Please help your neighbors, the bakers at Bunny Bread
make a fair wage and a decent standard of living.
Bakery Workers are Tired of Crumbs
They're fighting for a Slice

The pickets are located at 800 Boyd Avenue in LaPorte, IN
If you drive or live near there, please stop by and lend your support.

Click here if you're unsure of what time it is in LaPorte, Indiana, they're on heim time.

Charlie Averill

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Losing Track of Time

Indiana is the laughing stock of the country thanks to our Governor, Mitch Daniels, and his Lapdog, State Representative Steve Heim, who chose to spit in the faces of the majority of Hoosiers by instituting the nuttiest, craziest time zone mess ever.
When our representatives fail to follow up on their promises, and instead, just follow the leader, it's time for them to be fired.
We can make sure that at least one of these guys hit the road next month.

Here is a song that tells it like it is:

George Schricker: Lead Vocal & Rhythm Guitar
Steve DeFord: Keyboards & Backup Vocals
Bruce Bartlett: Bass & Tamborine
Produced by Bruce Bartlett
West Wind Studios
Elkhart, Indiana

Spending the Social Security Surplus

Social Security is the most popular government program in history, providing monthly benefits to 43 million Americans. Forty percent of seniors would fall below the poverty line without their Social Security check. In 2001, there were an estimated 3.4 workers paying Social Security payroll taxes for the benefit of each retiree; by 2030, the ratio will fall to an estimated 2.1 workers per retiree. Last year, Congress approved a budget agreement that would spend the Social Security surplus. According to an analysis by Congressional Quarterly, “the agreement projects declining deficits over the succeeding four years, reaching $210.9 billion in FY 2010. However, all of these deficits count Social Security surpluses. If Social Security surpluses are not counted, the FY 2010 deficit would be $470.8 billion.” Both the House and Senate approved the measure.
"NO" was the pro-middle class vote.
Chris Chocola voted YES
It's Time for a Change!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Message to Union Retirees

by George J. Kourpias

I joined a union – the Machinists union – in 1952. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I’ve been fortunate to serve in a number of different positions in labor and government over the years, but there is no title that has ever meant more to me than being called “brother.”

The labor movement built the middle class in this country. We have made great strides toward justice on the job and in our communities. We have so much to be proud of.

But unfortunately, the story hasn’t been that good lately.

Union retirees are seeing what we built begin to crumble. Good jobs sent overseas.
Pensions and health care vanish in the blink of an eye. Big corporations walk away from their commitments to workers and retirees – knowing that the government won’t stand in their way.

As retirees, we worry about what we are leaving behind for our children and grandchildren.

On November 7, we can begin to change this. The entire U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the United States Senate, and 36 of our governors must go before the voters.

November 7 shouldn’t be just Election Day. It should be Judgment Day.

It was the politicians who got us into a lot of these messes, and now we need some new ones to get us out of them.

Here are two reasons why each and every union retiree should vote on November 7:

First, we need to save Social Security. President Bush and Republicans in Congress say they want to “reform” Social Security next year.

But here’s the problem: their privatization scheme would gamble your Social Security on the whims of the stock market. For you, it would be big risk. For those on Wall Street, it would be big profit.

And second, we need to fix Medicare. Seven million seniors are falling into what is known as the “donut hole” – where they pay full price for their prescriptions, at the same time they pay full monthly premiums. And meanwhile, the big drug companies and insurers keep making record profits from this new Medicare law.

Congress created this Medicare mess, but they refuse to fix it. We need leaders in Washington who will fill in the “donut hole” and force Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts with the drug companies so your prescriptions cost less and we save taxpayer dollars.

I realize I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture of where we are today. But why do I have hope? What do I think we should do?

The answer, my brothers and sisters, is a four-letter word.


On November 7, a retiree’s place is in the voting booth.

George J. Kourpias, a former International President of the International Association of Machinists, is currently serving his second term as President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, an advocacy organization representing over three million retirees from labor and community groups. For more information, visit or call 1-888-633-4435.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

USW Announces Intent to Terminate Goodyear Contract

Notice Delivered; Extension Agreement ends in 72 Hours; Likelihood of a Strike Increases

For Immediate Release October 2, 2006

(Pittsburgh, PA) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that it delivered the required notice to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and that unless a tentative agreement is reached; the contract will terminate on October 5, 2006 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

As a three-year master contract approached its July 22, 2006 termination date, both sides entered into a day-to-day extension agreement that provided both the company and the USW the option of terminating the agreement upon delivering a 72-hour notice.

"We've been telling the company that we would stay at the bargaining table as long as progress was being made," said USW executive vice president Ron Hoover. "There's no sense continuing these talks if Goodyear is intent on gutting our contract and closing our plants."

"It's a sad situation and a poor reflection on this company that we are forced to take this action after all we have done for them," Hoover added.

In 2003, the union agreed to a contract that provided the company with much needed financial flexibility by agreeing to wage, pension and health care concessions. In addition, each local union worked closely with local plant management to increase productivity and enhance efficiencies.

The master contract between the USW and Goodyear covers 14,000 workers at 12 U.S. plants in Akron, Ohio; Gadsden, Ala.; Buffalo, N.Y., St. Marys, Ohio; Lincoln, Neb.; Topeka, Kan.; Tyler, Texas; Danville, Va.; Marysville, Ohio; Union City, Tenn.; Sun Prairie, Wis.; and Fayetteville, N. C.

The USW represents more than 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada. Some 70,000 are employed in the tire and rubber industry.

Listen to the Goodyear workers radio spot here.

Contact: Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More States Losing Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) August jobs data for the 50 states and Washington, D.C. shows that the recent slowdown in job growth is spreading through more states even as growth remains strong in others.

Fourteen states lost jobs in August and nine states lost jobs over the two months of July and August. States losing jobs over the past two months include Nebraska, Michigan, Oklahoma, Kansas, Rhode Island, Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin. Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina and Connecticut also faced near stagnation in their jobs market as a total of 20 states had less than 0.15% job growth over the two-month period.

At the same time, several Mountain and Southwest states – and a rebuilding Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi – enjoy strong job growth.

Louisiana and Michigan continue to have fewer jobs yr/yr and a total of 20 states – from Kansas and Rhode Island to Oklahoma and Illinois have added less that 1.1% to their job market over the past 12 months. (Despite losing –9.0% of its jobs over the past year, the “un-employment” rate in Louisiana is only 3.4% -- one of the lowest in the country – illustrating just how misleading is the overemphasis on “un-employment” rates.)

Job losses in Information Technology services and in Manufacturing have slowed job growth in many states for the past six years and continue to do so. Job growth in Construction, Finance/Real Estate and other services that have benefited from the recent, exuberant housing boom is weakening but continued in most states through August.

A recent Census report on median household incomes in all 50 states and DC also shows that the purchasing power of median household incomes in 29 states and D.C. fell over the five years 2000 to 2005. Some of the declines are severe. For the US as a whole, real median household incomes fell –2.7% during the period.

This long period of declining household incomes explains much of the current weakness in the jobs market in many states.
Source: USW Alert

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Truth About Right to Work

by David Chlebek, Vice President USW Local 12775

To most people, right to work sounds like something that we should all be in support of. In a perfect world everyone should have a right to a job. However, right to work is far from that. Simply put, right to work legislation are laws at the state level that legally ban workers who by a majority vote decided to form a union in their workplace. The truth is that no one has the inherent right to work for a living or the right to a job. By Federal law unions must represent all workers-members and nonmembers-in contract negotiations and other workplace issues. This means that your dues dollars pay for helping nonmembers get the same contract benefits that you have.

Currently there are 22 states that have right to work laws. Oklahoma is the most recent. A right to work law would allow nonmember workers to get all of the benefits of a union membership and pay nothing while forcing unions and their members to foot the bill for those not willing to pay their fair share. Non-union workers in right to work states are only required to pay a "fair share" for union representation. How would you like to wait in line behind a non-union worker, waiting to have your grievance heard, while your griever is off representing a nonmember?

Right to Work-For-Less

Union contract negotiations are extremely difficult in right to work states. Non-union workers in right to work states earn on average about $5,333 less than a union member. This statistic comes from the Bureau of Labor. In 1986, Idaho became the 21st state to pass right to work. After it was passed, the average annual wage of carpenters dropped from $33,000 to $22,000. Hispanic union members earn 45 percent more per week than a non-union Hispanic. Women and African-Americans earn 30 percent more if they belong to a union. The rate of on the job fatalities in right to work states is a staggering 51 percent higher, according to the Bureau of Labor.

Right to work laws don't just affect our workplace, they devastate our communities as well. In right to work states, 21 percent more people are without health insurance compared with workers in free-bargaining states. Right to work states spend $1,699 less per elementary and secondary pupils than other states. The infant mortality rate in right to work states is an alarming 17 percent higher than in other states, and the poverty rate is 12.5 percent of the population compared to 10.2 percent in other states. This information comes from the Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau.

When the poverty level is higher, a state has to pay more in welfare benefits to support these families. The same goes for people that don't have any health insurance coverage. This means that less tax money is available for other things like roads and public development projects (infrastructure).

When workers make less money ($5,333 less), they pay less in state income taxes. Workers can't afford to buy better homes, which mean that they pay less in property taxes that go to fund public education.

Where Does Indiana Stand?

Currently, House Bill 1050-Employees Right to Work, which was authored by Rep. Gerald Torr R-Carmel, has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures. There are not enough votes in favor of right to work to bring it out of committee. However, that could change in the future. There is a Indiana Committee For The Right to Work based in Speedway, IN that is soliciting support for the bill.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Seeking a political candidate who will do something about the 44,900 manufacturing jobs American workers are losing every month. A candidate who will get our government to start enforcing the trade laws it refuses to enforce now, so we can stop countries like China, India and Brazil from stealing American jobs.

Send resume to: the voters

Friday, September 01, 2006

Chocola no friend of Seniors

Trial Lawyers Get the Word Out on High Prescription Drug Costs…

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) on Tuesday launched a $500,000 television and radio ad campaign in five congressional districts blaming GOP lawmakers for not seeking lower prices for Medicare’s prescription drug program. The ads accuse the lawmakers of blocking provisions that would have required Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for the best prescription cost. Members of Congress singled out by the ads are Reps. Heather Wilson of New Mexico, Deborah Pryce of Ohio, Chris Chocola of Indiana, Charles Taylor of North Carolina and Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania. “An ATLA spokeswoman has accused these lawmakers of ‘voting repeatedly to restrict access to justice,’ and she is absolutely correct,” said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance. The trial lawyers' ads will run through Sept. 7, and air as the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows 49 percent of seniors favoring the Democrat in their congressional district, with 41 percent favoring the Republican.

Source: Friday Alert, September 1, 2006 Alliance for Retired Americans

Monday, August 28, 2006

Toll Road pact a mistake

by Nancy Dembowski

The failures associated with decisions made in the Indiana General Assembly affect each of us dramatically. We have learned this the hard way in the past two years, when the majority in the legislature, including my opponent, stopped listening to us. This was very evident in the passage of daylight-saving time, a plan that has caused confusion, frustration and disruption across the state.

Our Toll Road was sold as the only way that Indiana would be able to pay for 10 years worth of road construction. The meager $3 billion payoff we received does not match the $130 billion foreign investors will receive during the remaining 65 years of the lease. Our Toll Road, once promised to be free by Gov. Harold W. Handley, has now been pledged for 75 more years of tolling taxation. Further, investors may raise tolls by 6.2 percent each year of the plan.

This so-called lease will not see its end in most of our lifetimes, or for that matter, the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren who will inherit this mistake. Even worse, much of this funding from the terrible deal is promised to build I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville as an additional toll road with increasing tolls. For this reason, not all projects in northern Indiana will be funded.

The elected leaders of Harris County, Texas, unanimously rejected a nearly $20 billion privatization bid of their own last June. What was their reasoning? County officials had implemented an independent study that demonstrated they would be able to match any profit the private firm generated. The Texans knew that there was nothing a private firm could do that they could not do just as well.

It is amazing how quickly certain Republican legislators, such as my opponent, were ready to endorse this plan. With little time for debate, they said we had to embrace bold action and move ahead with a sense of urgency. They were quick to adopt a risky scheme, and they have been short on compelling justifications for their behavior. To be sure, we have heard lots of excuses and numerous statistics that seem to fly fast and loose.

My opponent says there is no rational reason to accept the projected profit that the foreign investors told their own board they would make. He does indicate, however, that we should trust the governor's projected figures of the revenues generated by the lease because we can trust those numbers.

It should be noted that there were a few Republicans who stood their ground here in northern Indiana. State Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, who was the lone Republican dissenter in the Indiana House of Representatives, was joined by state Sens. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, Joseph Zakas, R-Granger, and Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, all of whom recognized that this was a bad move for our state. They chose to represent the sentiment of their constituents, something my opponent publicly discounted.

Now we are told that there will be benefits and improvements in our community such as those proposed on U.S. 30. However, U.S. 30 was not slated as a part of Major Moves. There is no money in place for this improvement and some folks believe that there may not even be enough money in the Major Moves proceeds to cover the cost of the projects that have been committed to date.

Leadership does need to be bold, but it must first be wise. To sell a state asset to foreign interests for a quick one-time payoff was not wise. To choose to ignore the views and opinions of your constituents, especially when they have demonstrated serious concern, is simply foolish.

There is no doubt that some House Republicans will make countless pledges in the coming months in anticipation of the November election. They have a record of saying and doing whatever it takes to win. In response, all I can say is: voter beware! In the meantime, state Rep. Steve Heim, R-Culver, would do well to remember that he was elected to represent the people of District 17 on matters before the state.

Nancy Dembowski is a former state senator who is the Democratic candidate for Indiana House District 17. She lives in Knox.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

When Republicans Were People

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."
- - General of the Army D.D. Eisenhower

From the address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower "The Chance for Peace" delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16,1953.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

What a great guy!
Another way of looking at it would go something like this.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chocola Manure

Three and 1/2 inches of rain, plus the addition of a soil amendment consisting of the latest mailings from Chris Chocola has produced this gigantic corn stalk over 15 feet tall.
Surely, some entrepreneur could sell Chocola Manure. I have a hunch that shredding this stuff might be the best way to go for a quick boost to plants, but keep in mind that it does rot pretty quickly.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chocola Corn

My wife Elaine planted and cared for this corn which today measures 13 feet 3 inches tall. I’ve been trying to find out how she did it but she won’t tell me.
Today, she went out of town and I thought I would cook myself some beets, but having never done it before, started looking for a recipe when I came across the following stuck between pages of one of her cook books:

To Grow Chocola Corn:

  1. Plant corn seeds one inch deep and two feet apart.
  2. When plant is three feet tall, take all of the mail received from Congressman Chris Chocola telling us how great Medicare Part D is and cut into three inch squares.
  3. Gently bury these squares three inches deep encircling the plant, being careful not to let them touch the roots, and cover lightly.
  4. When plant is six feet tall, bury the Chocola mail that deals with how he is “saving the nation more than $100 million annually” at the same depth, but about 1 1/2 feet from the stalk, once again encircling the plant. Surplus mailings can be placed in the compost pile.

So there you have it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chocola gets another "F"

If you will go to the AFL-CIO web site

Then, under "HOT FEATURES", click on "How Did Your Members of Congress Vote?"

Then, click on "2006 Interim House Voting Record"

I believe that you will discover that Chris Chocola had the worst voting record for workers than any other member of the U.S. House of Representatives. At least, that's how it appears to me.

He would have had a 100% record against labor, but he was absent for the vote on Mine Safety and so wasn't able to vote against it.

I may be all wrong about this but my eyes got blurry going over the W's and R's.

If you're a worker, or a retiree, you cannot afford to vote for this guy.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chocola's True Colors

Dembowski Endorsed by Retirees

News Release

The Executive Board of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) Chapter 30-18, had no difficulty recently in unanimously endorsing Nancy Dembowski, candidate for Indiana House District 17. This chapter of SOAR is composed of former employees of NIPSCO.

Mrs. Dembowski, the former Mayor of Knox, Indiana, and former State Senator, assured the organization that she would be responsive to the local needs of working families and retirees before downstate politics. Also, she said that doing the right thing by our children and grandchildren is more important to her than short-term political gain and quick cash.

She also said she would fight to relieve the burden of rising property taxes, and ensure that the Legislature actually consider the impact of how every law they debate effects working families and retirees.

The chapter was impressed with the fact that Nancy Dembowski’s late husband, Ed, was a former Steelworker and an active member of SOAR. Nancy has been an active member of SOAR for several years.

The chapter was pleased by the fact that Nancy found the time to speak to the retirees on their first request. Chapter President, Charlie Averill noted, “We’ve been trying to get our current State Representative to come to one of our meetings for two years now, but he’s just been unresponsive.”

Charlie went on to say, “Both our state representative, Steve Heim, and our U. S. Congressman, Chris Chocola, do not vote with the best interest of Indiana citizens at the forefront.”

“Even though the majority of people opposed the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road, Representative Heim voted against the wishes of his constituents, and voted the way Governor Daniels wanted him to vote. On the national level, Congressman Chocola has a miserable voting record with regards to issues which would help the average Indiana citizen, particularly on those issues affecting working families and retirees.”

“It is pretty sad and downright maddening how our government is not “of and for the people” anymore. We need to make a change and I think that supporting Nancy is the first step in regaining a fair and equal playing field for all Indiana citizens.”

Source: Elaine Averill, SOAR Chapter 30-18 Recording Secretary

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tentative Agreement At BFGoodrich

July 25, 2006

(Knoxville, Tenn.) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) announced this evening that a tentative agreement has been reached at BFGoodrich. The master agreement covers 4,000 members at three plants in Fort Wayne, In., Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Opelika Ala. BFGoodrich was designated last month as the target company in establishing an agreement in the tire industry. Master contracts are also being negotiated at Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone.

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until membership at the three locals conduct informational meeting on the proposed contract. Ratification votes will then take place at the three locations. A "majority of the majority" will be required for contract ratification. This means that 50% plus one vote overall and two-of-the three locals must vote to accept the tentative agreement for it to become contract.

"We believe we achieved our industry goals when it comes to protecting retiree health care benefits and securing additional job protection measures for our active members," said USW executive vice president Ron Hoover.

Typically, informational meetings and ratification votes take place within two weeks of announced tentative agreement.

The USW represents some 70,000 members in the tire, rubber and plastics industry, and 850,000 overall in the U.S. and Canada.
Source: Steelworkers website

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bush's NLRB

Report Points to Unfair and Inconsistent Rulings in Favor of Employers

The Democratic staff led by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, have produced a 25-page report detailing how the rulings of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have either taken away or "severely restricted" the rights of millions of workers to organize into unions over the past five years.

"President Bush has filled the NLRB with anti-union members who have made it more difficult for workers to organize a labor union," Miller said in a statement releasing the report, Workers' Rights Under Attack by Bush Administration: President Bush's National Labor Relations Board Rolls Back Labor Protections. The NLRB has "used double standards, rationales, and unfair, inconsistent rulings to give employers more power over workers," he said.

The report lists several large groups of workers who have been excluded from the protection of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by ruling that they are not employees.

Examples of hypocrisy and unfairness are highlighted as the NLRB applies double standards to supervisors' anti-union and pro-union conduct. In one such case, when a supervisor campaigned against a union, the NLRB deemed it free speech. When a supervisor campaigned for a union, however, the Bush Board overturned the entire union election.

The Bush Administration continues to undermine an already weak federal labor law, as Democrats fight to "strengthen workers' protections" through the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1696, S. 842). The legislation, which would require employers to recognize a union through a "card-check" process that does not include a formal election, has 216 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and 43 in the Senate, but the Republican leadership has refused to give the bill a hearing or a vote.

The summary concludes that "millions of workers have lost their right to organize into unions, their basic rights have been trampled, and businesses have essentially been given free rein to make it as difficult as possible for their employees to organize."
Source: USW website

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oman Free Trade Agreement

Our National Security is at Risk!

This week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives discovered alarming provisions
in the text of the Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that could have major
implications for our national security interests.

• Under the agreement, companies such as Dubai Ports World – the same
operation that set off a political firestorm earlier this year when they tried to
purchase the right to operate our ports – could set up in Oman and then attempt
to acquire a U.S. port operation.

• Even if Congress opposes this, the Oman FTA would allow the company to drag
the U.S. in front of UN or World Bank tribunals to demand our country
compensate them for any lost profits!

• This could happen with our ports or other national security assets.

Is this really the time for Congress to consider an agreement that not only puts workers
at risk, but also our national security? How much more can we bow down to corporate

Supporters of the Oman FTA are working overtime to play down this news. Don’t let
that happen! The vote in the House is scheduled for TODAY.
Please make sure to call your Representative and pressure him or her to vote against the Oman Free Trade Agreement. As a reminder, the toll-free number for the Capitol Switchboard is 866-340-9279.

Source: USW Rapid Response

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Peabody Miners: Fed Up and Fired Up

Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts often says: “When you get fed up and fired up, you got to get ready to stand up.” Coal miners are standing up in the coalfields across the country, demanding to be treated with respect and to have a voice to make sure their jobs are well paid and safe.

In recent years, the UMWA has responded to the requests of hundreds of nonunion miners at Peabody Energy’s facilities across the country for assistance in getting a voice at work. In December 2005, workers at 19 Peabody mines in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia launched the Justice at Peabody campaign.

Says John Cox, a miner at Peabody’s Farmersburg (Ind.) mine:
I pay anywhere between $300 to $500 a month in prescription drug costs because of Peabody’s sub-par health benefit package. Only with a union contract will we have better pay and benefits because it’s obvious Peabody is not going to give it to us.

Peabody, the world’s largest private coal company, provides 10 percent of the nation’s electricity and 3 percent of the world’s power and employs some 8,300 miners at 33 mines in nine states. Peabody systematically closed its union mines and replaced production with nonunion mines over the past 15 years, says Bob Gaydos, UMWA’s_assistant organizing director.

Another Peabody miner, Greg Arnold of Indiana, took part in a December rally at Peabody headquarters in St. Louis, where he said his mine shift involves “eleven-hour shifts Monday through Friday, then another eight hours on Saturday—without a lunch break.” Despite this grueling 63-hours-a-week schedule, he receives no sick days. “I’d like a voice about my job—a seat at the table,” Arnold said.

A union contract also goes a long way toward improving safety conditions—with the danger of mines illustrated this year by the deaths of 33 miners, five in Harlan County, Ky., and 12 who were killed Jan. 2 in the Sago Mine explosion in West Virginia. More miners have died on the job this year than in any full year since 2001, when 42 were killed. More than 90 percent of the miners killed this year worked in nonunion mines.

Late last month, more than 1,500 miners and their supporters rallied in Wharton, W.Va., to call for the freedom of Peabody mine workers to join a union.

Roberts says the Peabody miners work in a climate of fear:
Workers have a basic human right to form a union where they work. And they have a right to do that without being subjected to intimidation from the company, without being fearful of losing their jobs, without having to go through a campaign of half-truths and outright lies from the company’s union-busting consultants.

The climate of fear that permeates non-union mines throughout America’s coalfields must end, and end now. Non-union miners are afraid that if they speak up about safety, they’ll get fired. They’re afraid that if they speak up about getting decent pensions and better health care for their families, they’ll get fired.

Cox recently took the fight for a union at Peabody to Dugger, Ind., where the town council was considering a resolution supporting the miners’ quest for a voice at work.
We work long hours and most weekends. When we retire, we have no pension and no health insurance.

After Cox spoke, the council unanimously adopted the resolution supporting the rights of the area’s Peabody miners to organize a union free from employer interference. The resolution, passed July 6, calls on Peabody to allow its employees to choose freely whether to join a union. The resolution requests Peabody remain neutral and not resort to the use of pressure tactics, such as threats to close the mine, if the workers choose a union.

Says June Rostan, lead community organizer for the Peabody campaign:
I think the miners should have the right to decide whether they want to be union. Peabody workers like Cox are using their community ties and political strength to garner strong support from residents and leaders in towns where the mines are located. The Peabody miners are asking elected leaders in every town in which they work and live to pass a resolution similar to the one in Dugger.

The people in these towns support unions because they know the effect a union can have on their communities. Lots of folks in these towns receive Mine Workers health care benefits when they retire [from union mines] and they know firsthand how a union can be good for the town.

Other local councils that have passed resolutions include Kentucky’s Union County Fiscal Court (the equivalent of the county council) and city councils in Morton’s Gap, Ky., Boonville, Ind., Danville Township, Ill., and Nortonville, Ky.

The AFL-CIO and the local religious community is backing the miners’ struggle, and last month, the United Methodist West Virginia Area Conference adopted a resolution urging Peabody “to be truly neutral with respect to employees’ rights to form or join a union and to voluntarily recognize a union when a majority of their employees sign authorizations.”

To level the playing field for workers trying to form unions, AFL-CIO unions, including the UMWA, are supporting the Employee Free Choice Act. The legislation, which has 259 co-sponsors in the House and Senate, would strengthen workers’ freedom to choose union representation through a majority sign-up process. It also would provide for binding arbitration of first-contract disputes and authorize stronger penalties for violations of labor law when workers seek to form a union.

by James Parks
Source: AFL-CIO Blog

Friday, July 14, 2006

Social Security Under Attack

The Bush Administration released its mid-session budget review on Tuesday, and it included a proposal to spend $721 billion over the next ten years to privatize Social Security - $9 billion more than originally proposed. In a speech on the budget, President Bush specifically alluded to the cuts to Social Security benefits which would be required as part of his plan, saying, "We need to cut entitlement spending." Americans United, a coalition that includes the Alliance and was crucial to beating back privatization efforts last year, is mounting a renewed campaign to call attention to individual politicians' positions on the issue. The group is drafting scripts for a national media campaign against candidates and incumbents, including Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL). Americans United plans to begin the advertising blitz no later than the first week in August, kicking off in as many as five of its nearly 20 targeted states.

Previously, on a June 20 party-line vote, the Senate Budget Committee approved in a bill, S. 3521, a separate assault on Social Security that uses the line-item veto to make major changes in Federal budget laws. While described as a measure to restore fiscal discipline, the legislation actually represents a sneak attack on Social Security and Medicare. If enacted, S. 3521 would establish two commissions, either of which could be used to privatize Social Security and make deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits. The “entitlements commission” would study Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and propose changes to these programs. The “sunset commission” is designed to evaluate Federal programs and then eliminate or modify them as the commission sees fit. The recommendations of both commissions would be considered under fast track procedures, allowing little public notice or debate, and few, if any, opportunities for senators to offer amendments. “The line item veto is often described as a tool to eliminate wasteful, ‘pork barrel spending,’ but this line item veto goes much further,” said Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. “This could be used to eliminate improvements to Medicare and Social Security.”

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans Friday Alert July 14, 2006

Monday, July 03, 2006

CEO-Minimum Wage Ratio Soars

In 2005, an average Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was paid 821 times as much as a minimum wage earner, who earns just $5.15 per hour. An average CEO earns more before lunchtime on the very first day of work in the year than a minimum wage worker earns all year.

This extreme compensation ratio reflects both the extraordinary growth of CEO pay and also the diminishing value of the federal minimum wage that has not been raised since 1997: adjusting for inflation, the purchasing power of the minimum wage is now at its lowest since 1955.

The ratio wasn't always so extreme. As recently as 1978, CEOs were paid only 78 times as much as minimum wage earners.

Written by Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sweatshop Goods? Ship Elsewhere!

Finally, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that attacks the sweatshop exploitation of workers across the globe. The “Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act” has been introduced in the senate by Sen. Byron Dorgan and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sherrod Brown. This is the bill we have been waiting on!

S 3485 and H.R. 5635 will:

• Ban the import or sale of sweatshop goods in the U.S.
• Establish strong rules for government purchasing – stops sweatshop products from being purchased with our tax $$
• Allow competitors or shareholders to sue company if it is found to be importing sweatshop goods.
• Outlaw goods made by children
• Define sweatshops as workplaces that do not meet the basic ILO standards for: minimum wages, rights to form a union and to collectively bargain and no slave labor.

There are many in Congress who have long hoped for this type of legislation and just as many or more who hoped this day would never come. They know this bill puts candidates who want our support on the spot in an election year. It’s time we demand support for workers in the global economy and this bill would do just that.

Watch for an Action Call coming soon that will ask you to contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor this bill.

USW Rapid Response (412) 562-2291

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tax cut for the top .27%??

Republicans in Congress are trying to abolish the estate tax. Last week they were 3 votes short of the 60 votes they needed to prevent a Democratic filibuster on the issue.
Since the estate tax repeal was pushed by Republicans, you know darned well that lies are being made to try to get support for it. Just like WMD’s in Iraq. You also know that repealing the estate tax, like all other legislation put forth by this administration will only benefit the richest among us.
They named it the “death tax”. Boy, isn’t that a scary name? Well, we all will die, won’t we? Now just stop to think about that. Who do you know that ever paid an estate tax? The only people subject to the estate tax are those single people with estates worth over two million dollars and couples with estates of four million. That’s 1% of the population. To call it a “death tax” is nothing more than a lie!
Another lie is that it’s double taxation. Well sorry, but that’s how the system works. A person pays taxes on wages, and then pays taxes when he purchases something. Nothing new here.
Here’s another lie. They say that families lose the family farm and small businesses. Please try to think of anyone that you have ever heard of that lost their family farm because of having to pay estate taxes. I’ll bet you can’t.
Getting rid of the estate tax is nothing short of immoral. The top 1% in the United States owns 33% of the wealth. How much more do they want? 40%? 50%? More? It’s nothing but greed.
Repealing the estate tax will cost 1 trillion dollars over the next decade at the same time that we have millions in poverty, millions have lost good paying jobs, 47 million without health insurance, cut backs on Medicare and Medicaid, cuts in nutrition programs for seniors and veterans benefits and student loans.
At a time of war, only 5% of cargo ship containers are inspected which would only cost 648 Million dollars to correct. And congress says we can’t afford it? Did you know that the estate tax was instituted in 1916 to pay for war preparedness?
Why does congress cater to this tiny constituency?
This bunch has got to go!