Thursday, February 23, 2006

An Independent Voice in Congress

“In this election, we will bring sweeping change to the United States Congress in our country. The time has come to end the corruption and cronyism that is rampant in Washington. It is time for our government to stand up again for the middle class and for working families.__In Congress, I will put the needs of the people in our District first and foremost. We are not just Democrats or Republicans. We are Hoosiers with a common interest in making our country a better place, and creating a brighter future for our children.__I invite you to become part of our campaign team and help make the difference in this election. Your volunteer assistance, whether a few minutes or a few days a week, can help change Indiana's future. I look forward to meeting you during the campaign. Together, we can change Washington and build a better world.__I hope to see you soon.”

Joe Donnelly

Source: Joe Donnelly Website

Note: Joe is a candidate in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Costs of War

In Money

$3.8 billion in taxes from Indiana—and counting.
For this amount of money we could have provided care for the estimated 862,000 Indiana residents (14%) without health insurance and assistance to over 600,000 Hoosiers (10+%) living in poverty. What did we get instead? $164.9 million in cuts to Indiana state and local budgets.

In Lives Lost and Disrupted

2,340 Indiana reservists are currently serving in Iraq; 55 have died and 330 have been wounded.
Last year the surgeon general of the U.S. Army reported that 30% of U.S. troops develop mental health problems within 3-4 months of returning from Iraq.

The Results

Over 30,000 Iraqi and Afghani civilians have been killed, many more wounded, and both countries are in chaos. The White House is “scaling back ambitions to rebuild” in favor of ever more money for military operations. While we pay for all this, Bush and Cheney cronies reap fat profits from no-bid contracts to companies such as Halliburton.

And what have we gained?

Our country shamed in front of the whole world for the pornographically relished torture and abuse of ‘terrorist’ suspects, many of them later declared innocent.
Security for Americans? Well Al Quaeda wasn’t in Iraq before the war, but it sure is now. Meanwhile, Our civil liberties are being eroded daily in the name of the War on Terror.

Benefits? None! Cost? Huge! Bring the troops home now!

(Sources: U.S. Census Bureau;;;; Guardian/UK)

What does war look like?
"Like the backside of a baboon. When the baboon is up in a tree, with its hind end facing us, there is the face of war exactly: scarlet, scaly, glazed, framed in a clotted, filthy wig." Hecuba

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Politicians Say "Let Workers Eat Cake" On Pensions

CNNMoney has published a great column today about how politicians regurgitating right-wing talking points about how American workers should just get used to massive pension cuts have no problem taking such a hard line because their pensions are lavish and guaranteed. As he says, "In the coming months, when you hear various elected officials bemoan the state of pensions and the need for reform [aka. cuts] keep this in mind: They got theirs and it isn't going away ... that would take an act of Congress." You may recall that legislation was offered in 2003 to force Congress to convert its pension plan to the same kind of "cash balance" pension rip-off scheme politicians and the Bush administration was trying to legalize. The result of that debate was simultaneously hilarious and sad.

New Steelworkers SOAR Podcast available.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Photos at Podcast Page

You'll notice that at the top of the Steelworkers SOAR podcast, you will see a link to a photo album. I just put it on yesterday with the intension of simply seeing what the results would look like. The photos on there now were randomly selected. I'll try to change them about once per week.

The "hit counter" at the bottom of each page is deceiving. Most of the “hits” would understandably be on the first page. Then, many people will “subscribe” and download the rest of the “casts” by the use of iTunes or whatever other suitable program they’re using. I continue to push the iTunes program which is a free program and good with your computer. After downloading iTunes, you can simply click on the Music Bookstore, then select podcasts, then search for the word, steelworkers, or soar, or steelworkers soar. The result will give you an opportunity to "subscribe". Once you subscibe, all of the "casts" will be downloaded to your itunes program

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Podcast information

Brothers and Sisters, I'm trying my hand at podcasting. I invite you to visit the introduction to it here.

If for some reason you're unable to hear it, you can download the necessary plugin by clicking on the far right arrow beneath the photo for a link to where you can get it. Here's the link.

Also, you can subscribe to future "episodes". iTunes is a great program for this. If you don't have iTunes, you can download it free with this link.

This is relatively new technology, and I'm not good at it, but after I get the hang of it, it could turn out to be a pretty good resource for you who love your union.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Steelworkers SOAR Podcast

I've decided to try my hand at podcasting. You can check out the introduction to the new Steelworkers SOAR Podcast here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Harry Lester Announces Retirement

Harry E. Lester, District 2 Director
Announces his Retirement

Harry Lester has announced that he will retire on March 1, 2006. He has dedicated his entire working life to the Labor Movement. Brother Lester has been a dynamic and motivating force in the American Labor Movement and within the Michigan Down River Community for over fifty-three years.
Harry was elected to the position of shop steward, three terms as President of Local 2659, twelve years as a USWA Staff Representative and twenty-four years as District Director. Harry has touched countless lives and helped improve the standard of living for our members everywhere. His hard work and dedication had set a standard that helped working people across North America.
We congratulate Harry on the eve of his retirement and thank him for his years of dedicated service to our Union.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Steelworkers Converge

Yesterday afternoon, over 500 members of the United Steelworkers Union and the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees converged on the State House in Indianapolis to meet with their Representatives and Senators, discuss bills important to Indiana’s workers and to thank those representatives who have placed the people of Indiana above the profits of corporations.

Mobilizing seems to come naturally to Steelworkers but just as sailors practice man overboard drills, the union continues to fine tune this important function for when an emergency needs immediate action.
Photo by Joe Woessner

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Regime Change Needed

The following post was originally posted a couple of days ago, but it was removed and has not reappeared so I am reposting it.

Today has been a sad, frustrating one for me. Working with retirees who are frustrated, worried, and confused with the pressure being placed on them to choose a prescription drug plan through the new Medicare Part D.

Let me tell you what I’m thinking, Brothers and Sisters. What the Bush administration has done to our retirees is nothing short of cruel. The Medicare Prescription Drug Program being forced onto seniors has them scared and frustrated. The plans are so complicated, misleading and hard to understand and there are so many variables to consider that seniors are being forced to make decisions that many aren’t capable of making.

Do people become so educated and powerful that they lose all sense of empathy? Do our legislators really believe that they’ve done a good thing for seniors? While they try so hard to portray themselves as being the party with “family values”, they have forgotten the commandment, “honor your Father and your Mother”?

Medicare has been such a wonderful, reliable program for seniors. Everyone liked it, and it had such low overhead. If the prescription drug program was simply made a part of Medicare, with all seniors paying the same premium and having the same coverage, all would have accepted it and all would be fine. But no, the administration had to privatize it. Just like they tried to do with Social Security. They just had to give billions to their Corporate buddies in the pharmaceutical industry and screw the retirees. Plus, this darned Part D won’t do anything to keep the cost of drugs down. What Bush and his cronies are trying to do is take a government program that they have never liked, run it into the ground and make it so costly that they will eventually, finally get rid of it.

U.S. Senators have an opportunity to at least give seniors a little more time to make their decision without being penalized by passing the Medicare Informed Choice Ammendment to the tax reconciliation bill. This would extend the initial enrollment period for Medicare Part D from May 15, 2006 to the end of 2006. This would delay the late enrollment penalty and give beneficiaries more time to make the best possible decision. The amendment would also give beneficiaries the opportunity to make a one-time change in plan enrollment to correct initial mistakes choosing a plan during the first year of implementation.

We need to forget about changing regimes in other parts of the world and concentrate on regime change right here in our own country.

Everyone Benefits When Unions Are Stonger

Source: USW Rapid Response, 2-2-06

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Keep Out The Scabs, a poem

By Charlie Averill

Look around and see the scabs do what you used to do;
and then count up the number who've been taken off your crew.
Do you see what they've been doin? Don't think it's just a fluke!
They're gettin rid of all of us, it makes me want to puke.
You'd think after so many years of loyalty and devotion,
They'd try to operate the place without stirring up emotions.
Cutting costs can come about, no need to double-cross us.
Just start eliminating all those clipboard totin excess bosses.

For every three who labor in the dust and dirt and grime;
there's one just doin nothin more than takin care of time.
Securing one another's job makes sense to you and me,
but keepin all those bosses will result, I guarantee;
that down the road our company will all be up for grabs,
and all because instead of us they thought they'd have the scabs
do all the work we used to do when management was fair,
and strove to keep the workers from wanting work elsewhere.

When will they realize that they can't pay us to be loyal,
and more than money is required to prompt us all to toil.
It don't make sense to think the answers payin half the price,
when gettin the job done means that you'll have to do it twice.
We don't expect Utopia, but for all that we have given,
you'd think that we could count on makin just a decent livin.
We don't expect the company to be our benefactor,
just reduce the blatant use of those damn outside contractors.
© 1993 Charlie Averill

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Alice in Wonderland View"

USW Assails Bush Administration’s

“Alice in Wonderland View” of U.S. Economy

Calls Bush’s refusal to punish China’s trade violations a betrayal of U.S. workers

Pittsburgh – The United Steelworkers (USW) today assailed President Bush’s State of the Union speech as “an exercise in Alice in Wonderland rhetoric.”

“If everything’s going so great, why are millions of Americans feeling so bad?” asked USW President Leo W. Gerard.

“The reason people are so stressed,” he said, “is that health care costs are totally out of control, the cost of gas and heating fuels is going through the roof, and millions of family-supportive jobs – especially in manufacturing – are being wiped out because of rotten trade policy and a president who’s more willing to cater to Wall Street and the Chinese than enforce the trade laws or protect American workers.”

Gerard said his members are particularly outraged by President Bush siding with the Chinese at the expense of American workers by refusing to impose tariffs on pipe imports, despite a ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the Chinese are dumping pipe in the U.S. at below market prices.

“To satisfy the Wall Street crowd that’s making a killing on outsourcing, the President blatantly betrayed American workers whose jobs are being wiped out.”

One in six (16.5 percent) manufacturing jobs were lost in the past five years – more than three million in all – the worst losses since the demobilization in the wake of World War II.

“Every industry that has lost jobs – some of them well over 40 percent of their workers – is being devastated by massive outsourcing to countries, such as China, where workers’ rights are non existent and dirt cheap wages are commonplace.”

“Yet this administration shamelessly champions outsourcing as ‘good for America’ while it refuses to enforce the nation’s trade laws.’” When you add to these woes “exploding health care and energy costs being incurred by most industries,” Gerard added, “you get a clear picture of why this speech is a product of an Alice in Wonderland view of the U.S. economy.”

The USW said that the administration has added insult to injury with its drive to privatize Social Security and push for a pension bill that “will destroy defined benefit pensions and turn workers’ retirement security to a risky bet in a game of Wall Street craps.”

“Anybody who thinks that gambling workers’ retirement security on 401(k)s is the way to go should remember that six months before Enron wiped out thousands of workers’ life savings, Wall Street was telling people Enron was a great bet.”

Gerard said the President’s call for new initiatives on alternative energy is long over due, but that Bush’s rhetoric is mocked by the actions of his Administration, which spent several years getting an energy bill passed in Congress that was “nothing short of corporate welfare” for the oil industry.

“This is political opportunism at its worst,” Gerard said. “To believe that the president from the Oil Patch will seriously lead us toward energy independence when the energy bill he sent to Congress was literally crafted by oil industry lobbyists in the White House requires more than a leap of political faith, it requires people to believe in the Tooth Fairy.”

Energy industry lobbyists had the inside track on crafting the energy bill in White House meetings with Vice President Cheney early in the Bush Administration, which went to court to prevent records of that meeting from being made public.

“The administration knew,” he said, “that if the records of that meeting had become public, they’d never be able to conduct the kind of rhetorical charade on energy independence that was pulled off today.”

The USW is now North America’s largest industrial union, with 850,000 members. It represents workers in the steel, rubber and tire, paper, mining, and the oil and chemical industries, as well as tens of thousands of health care and service workers.