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