Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2006

Coretta Scott King

The United Steelworkers mourns the passing of Coretta Scott King, whose life exemplified the highest standards of human dignity, and of service to the cause of social justice.

Following her husband’s assassination, Mrs. King became the guardian of the dream, carrying the message of nonviolent social change to all corners of the earth.

“Many despair at all the evil and unrest and disorder in the world today,” she taught us, “but I see a new social order and I see the dawn of a new day.”

“A woman of her deep convictions and abiding faith in social justice will be sorely missed,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.
Source: USW website

The Real State of the Union

President George W. Bush will give his annual State of the Union address tomorrow night, Jan. 31, and likely will tell the nation that the economy is growing, more tax cuts for the wealthy will boost it even further and that individual health savings accounts will solve the nation’s health care crisis.
That rosy picture is not the state of the union.

Job creation is at its lowest point since World War II, 5 million more people are in poverty today than in 2000, 46 million Americans don’t have health care and private health savings accounts will shift more costs onto workers and undermine employer-sponsored health plans, through which two-thirds of Americans receive their health coverage.
Source: W.I.P.

Thru Thick And Thin, a poem

Thru Thick And Thin
By Charlie Averill

When the Union asks of me
to serve on this or that,
I'm tempted to say no and ask them "why not Jim or Jack?
I don't have the expertise nor the ability."
but I know what they really want is availability.

For when you really think about it, then you know it's true,
that all the Union ever is, is folks like me and you.
Men and women, from all walks who know that there's no way
we'll ever have a safe work place, fairness or decent pay.

Unless we all do our fair share and struggle for what's right,
and stick together mightily, we'll only lose the fight.
© 1993 Charlie Averill

Botched Medicare Part D

January 20, 2006
Growing Chorus of Critics Decry Botched Rollout of Part D

Drawing comparisons to the government's tragically inept response to Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration struggled with persistent problems in Medicare's floundering drug benefit. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt tried to downplay blistering criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, conceding there were "a couple small groups it's not working well for." Those "small groups" include tens of thousands of poor elderly and disabled patients who have been denied their prescription drugs, forcing more than 20 states to spend hundreds of millions to bridge gaps caused by a system-wide breakdown.

While patients, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers and lawmakers scrambled to make sense of the bureaucratic chaos, all President Bush could do was remind insurers that poor patients should not pay more than $5 for their drugs and insurers were obligated to provide a 30-da…

RIGHT TO WORK BILL WILL NOT BE HEARD THIS YEAR

TO: ALL INDIANA LABOR LEADERS

FROM: KENNETH J. ZELLER

DATE: JANUARY 24, 2006

RE: RIGHT TO WORK BILL WILL NOT BE HEARD THIS YEAR

The Speaker of the House of Representatives informed us today that the Republican caucus will not give the so-called “Right to Work” bill a hearing this session.

Thanks go to everyone in the labor community. Our unity in opposition to this bill has been an important factor in holding off this harmful legislation. Your time, your letters, your calls to legislators and your readiness to respond has been essential and is much appreciated. Thanks to all for your tireless work on this issue.

Pension Seminars

It was a real honor for me as President of SOAR Chapter 30-18 to be asked to speak at the recent pension seminars, sponsored by USW Locals 12775 and 13796.

These two local unions put on joint pension seminars each year for their members who might be interested in retiring and want a better understanding of how their pensions and benefits will work for them in retirement.

The local union leadership has done this for several years. Members learn about their pensions and benefits, hear from financial planners, Social Security and Medicare representatives and a representative from the affiliated SOAR Chapter.

I hope that all local unions will consider doing the same for their members.

Keep Out The Scabs, a poem

Keep Out The Scabs
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 else…

Attention Union Members

Attention Union Members!
If You're thinking About Retiring This Year, Then…

SOAR is for YOU!

SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) is an organization of retired United Steelworkers who are voluntarily combining their individual best interests so that they may all derive the greater benefit from group action!
Only by participating in the activities of an organization like SOAR can a retiree meet the challenge of preserving health and pension benefits and maintain that standard of living achieved through USW collective bargaining.
SOAR members uphold the highest traditions of trade unionism by banding together and assuming a responsibility for aiding each other by their collective, group activities, and subsequent group influence.
SOAR members do not bask in the autumn sunshine while crying: "Nobody wants to help me". SOAR members are only too proud to acknowledge that they are concerned about their own well-being; and more importantly, are perfectly willing…

Friday Alert, 1-20-06

Growing Chorus Decries Botched Rollout of Part D
Drawing comparisons to the government’s tragically inept response to Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration struggled with persistent problems in Medicare’s floundering drug benefit. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt tried to downplay blistering criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, conceding there were “a couple small groups it’s not working well for.” Those “small groups” include tens of thousands of poor elderly and disabled patients who have been denied their prescription drugs, forcing more than 20 states to spend hundreds of millions to bridge gaps caused by a system-wide breakdown.
“Part D is not just failing, it’s failing those who can least afford it,” said George J. Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
While patients, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers and lawmakers scrambled to make sense of the bureaucratic chaos, all President Bush could do was remind insurers that poor p…

USW Indiana Lobby Day

USW Indiana Lobby Day

February 7, 2006

Bus Trip
Seating is limited ACT NOW
Join us as we send our message to all legislators

Bus leaves McBride Hall, 1301 Texas Street, Gary at
6:00 a.m. sharp, and will return around 6:00 p.m.

To reserve your bus seat and register for Lobby Day
contact Darlene Bursac at 219-881-6217

Indiana lawmakers are at it again!

“Right to Work” legislation has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly as House Bill 1019. This Bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Employment and Labor, which is chaired by the author of 1019. The labor Committee meets every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. If this Bill gets a hearing, please be prepared to rally at the State House in Indianapolis on a very short notice. Below are a few facts.

The average worker wages in a “right to work” state are 11.9% lower.
21% more people lack health insurance in a right to work state.
Workplace deaths are 51% higher in right to work states
These are only a few effects this legislation will have on Indiana workers. Make sure this does not happen to you and get involved. February 7, 2006 in Indianapolis is the USW lobby day. Please plan to attend this very important day and let Indiana lawmakers know that the Steelworkers will not tolerate legislation like House Bill 1019.

Please contact Darlene Bursac for lobby day info. 219-886-2596

Mitch Daniels Dream for Indiana

Workers' Incomes Are Lower in States Where Workers Don't Have Union Rights

In states that have laws restricting workers' rights to form strong unions, the average pay for all workers is lower. So-called "right-to-work" laws that limit workers' rights to collectively bargain contracts (including wages and benefits) are a bad deal for all workers. In 2002, average pay in so-called "right-to-work" states was 15 percent lower than in states where workers have the freedom to form strong unions.

Percentage of Workersin Unions, 2002


Annual Average Pay, 2002



Note: Right-to-work states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Average annual wages for 2001 and 2002 for all covered workers by state. Includes workers covered by unemployment insur…

Priorities, a poem

Priorities
BY Charlie Averill

If I should want to list the things in life I hold most dear,
it would be so very easy, for to me it's very clear
that the things of which I cherish most, are those which make me free,
and although there are so many, I can boil them down to three.

First, would be my faith in God in whom I trust and pray,
will give me strength and all I need to make it through each day.
Next would be my family, who I'm happy to report,
have given me their steadfast love, encouragement, and support.

Finally, the Union through its ceaseless loyalty,
has allowed me through these many years to work with dignity.
Now, I realize each person has their own philosophy
on what's important in their life and takes priority.

I'd be naive to think they'd be as mine, although they might,
but circumstances in my life dictate that mine are right.
© 1993 Charlie Averill

Keep Out The Scabs, a poem

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 th…

Right Wing Family Values

All of us pause to honor the lives lost in the aftermath of the coal mine explosion in Sago, West Virginia, on January 3, 2006. We also must all send our thoughts to the sole survivor and his family, as they pray and work for a full recovery.

But as trade unionists, we must also stop to observe what the tragedy teaches us about our society. You decide what is wrong with the following picture.

Total fine levied against CBS for showing Janet Jackson’s breast during Superbowl
$550,000.00

Total of fines leveled against the coal mine in Sago for 276 violations in 2004 and 2005
$33,600

Individual station fine levied for showing Janet Jackson’s breast
$27,500.00

Highest individual fine leveled against the coal mine in Sago for any “significant and substantial” violation in 2005
$445.00

Total length of Janet Jackson’s breast exposure
7.5 seconds

Total length of surviving miners’ interment in Sago coal mine
44 hours 43 minutes

Number of Janet Jackson’s breasts exposed
1

Number of miners i…

Say never to Right-to-Work

House Bill 1019 introducing “Right to Work” legislation in the Indiana General Assembly got my interest up, so out of curiosity, I searched for a map of the Red and Blue states, referring to those states voting for John Kerry or George Bush.


I then searched for a map showing which states were “Right to Work” states and which ones weren’t. Then I compared the two maps.

Surprise, surprise.

I think the results are pretty interesting. With few exceptions, most of the states that supported anti-union George Bush are “Right to Work” states and most of the states that supported pro-union candidate John Kerry are not.
Now it becomes more clear to me why the most greedy companies (like Colgate) head south. Workers are more easily exploited and taken advantage of, making lower wages and benefits in so called Right-to-work states.

So called Right- to -Work for Indiana?? Hoosier workers.............Don’t ever let it happen!

1997, a poem

The folks in Indiana at the end of 80's May,
were enjoying labor efforts in the North.
Then a company called NIPSCO picked a fight with workers there
and the great Steelworkers took the battle forth.

A strike was called and workers fought a long and bitter war;
and they sacrificed to keep their dignity.
Eight months later, this great union through its solidarity
won the longest utility strike in history.

Although we won the battle and benefits were saved,
we just couldn't give the company our trust.
But by 1997, after 17 long years
it was thought in our best interest that we must.

So we sought a transformation which might meet the company's needs
with deregulation barking at our heels;
but also help our members who have sacrificed so much,
just to bail out the company's bad deals.

So the workers took a chance by letting all by gones go by;
and NIPSCO said they'd change their ways as well.
We began to work together all the way to contract time
when the company said, ------ "go ri…

Right to Work (for less) ??

The following message is from our Indiana State AFL-CIO President, Ken Zeller.

Please take notice that so-called “Right to Work” legislation has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly as House Bill 1019. As you all know, this legislation is extremely detrimental to Indiana’s workers, our economy and our social fabric. This bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Employment and Labor, which is chaired by the bill’s author. Therefore, the bill could begin to move at any time.

Obviously, any movement of this bill must be met with determined and united resistance on behalf of all Indiana’s workers. I am asking each of you to keep your calendars open for Wednesday afternoons for the next four weeks. The House Employment and Labor Committee meets every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Please plan to respond to our call (possibly on short notice) with trips to the Indiana Statehouse and be prepared to summon a response from your members as well. We will call on you for a convincing sho…

I am not a crook!

Would it surprise you if someday you hear President Bush make the same announcement that Nixon did? If he does, I think it’s going to fall on a lot of deaf ears.

We now know that he lied about the reasons to go to war in Iraq, and we’re now finding out that he had much more information than congress did when he asked for their approval.

Now we hear that the President has approved unwarranted wiretaps on U.S. citizens. At first he claimed that it was just a select few. Now, we’re hearing that it’s been in the millions, and it’s been going on for years.

The FISA courts (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) can give permission to wire tap even if the president did it for three days before asking their permission. But he broke the law and kept doing it without the necessary warrants.

Is it be possible that he was spying on the AFL-CIO? Our Union? The Democrats? Or You?

At a rally in Chicago on January 6, there were dozens of signs calling for the president’s impeachment.

Today, I got a call …

Talking Union

If you want higher wages, let me tell you what to do;
You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you;
You got to build you a union, got to make it strong,
But if you all stick together, now, ‘twont be long.
You'll get shorter hours,
Better working conditions.
Vacations with pay,
Take your kids to the seashore.

It ain’t quite this simple, so I better explain
Just why you got to ride on the union train;
‘Cause if you wait for the boss to raise your pay,
We’ll all be waiting till Judgment Day;
We’ll all he buried - gone to Heaven -
Saint Peter’ll be the straw boss then.

Now, you know you’re underpaid, but the boss says you ain’t;
He speeds up the work till you’re ‘bout to faint,
You may be down and out, but you ain’t beaten,
Pass out a leaflet and call a meetin’
Talk it over - speak your mind -
Decide to do something about it.

‘Course, the boss may persuade some poor damn fool
To go to your meeting and act like a stool;
But you can always tell a stool, though - that’s a fact;
He’s got a yellow streak …

Chicago Rally

On January 6, SOAR members and Steelworkers joined forces with hundreds of allies to rally across the street from the Chicago Hilton Hotel against President Bush’s stand on the war in Iraq and his failure to take a firm stand on steel pipe imports from China by imposing an annual quota.

The president was there to declare that “the American economy heads into 2006 with a full head of steam.” However, his failing to place imports on imported steel pipe from China will likely result in the loss of hundreds of Steelworkers jobs.

The Brave, and the not so brave

Democrats:

Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam. Paraplegic from war injuries. Served in Congress.
Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars,and Soldier's Medal.
Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Si…

The NIPSCO Scrooge

The NIPSCO Scrooge vs the True Christmas Spirit

The perverse behavior by management in the NIPSCO Construction Department continued throughout the Christmas season. As many employees already know, NIPSCO Construction Manager ron ragains—the same guy who tried to steal thousands of dollars in earnings from his employees--- decided to give out holiday hams to the employees. What was ragains motive to give out hams when he refuses to even give employees their promised earnings and benefits?

Many agreed that ragains intentions were dubious at best. The initial reaction from the 100 NIPSCO linemen in the department was to reject the hams as a symbol of their revulsion for ragains, and ragains disciple, Dave Wyatt.

The linemen had further discussion over this matter, and the outcome defined the character of these men. They decided to turn a truly uneasy situation into the true meaning of Christmas by following the true teachings of Christ. The lineman overwhelmingly agreed that the hams sho…

That Day is Mine, a poem

That Day Is Mine
by Charlie Averill

Life has been so good to me I surely must confess;
when skies are gray and some folks say "it really is a mess".
Because I have so much to do which keeps me occupied;
like gardening and making wine and other things I've tried.

Making soap I've often done with bacon fat and lard.
Although it's kinda fun I guess it's also kinda hard.
Making home made root beer with the kids is such a blast,
but when it's put in beer bottles, never will it last.

Dressing up like Santa Claus is something all should do,
cause with a little effort it brings joy to all the crew.
Growing gourds and broom corn, luffa sponge and berries,
turnips, beets, salsify, kiwi and ground cherries

gets me thru the summers with not much time to spare,
then along comes autumn with squash and all to share.
Fall means getting ready for winters icy blast,
by greasing up the snowblower, stacking wood to last.

Now all this seems to many a folk as nothing more than chores,
but that i…

SOAR Director

The Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (S.O.A.R.) is an affiliate organization of the United Steelworkers Union (USW). The liaison between our two organizations is our SOAR Director, Jim Centner. Below is a profile of Jim Centner.


In 1977, Jim Centner began his work career with the Steelworker's as a mill hand at the Al-Tech Specialty Steel Corporation at Dunkirk, New York. He served in various positions with Local Union 2693, District 4 including Grievance person, Treasurer, Safety and Health Chairman and Vice-President. He began his career with the International Union as a Grant employee representing the International Union at the Center for Worker Health and Safety Education in Cincinnati, Ohio.

When USWA President Lynn Williams appointed Jim to the staff as a Safety and Health Technician in 1991, he moved to Pittsburgh.

In 1996, Jim was assigned as a Technician in the Membership Development Department and in 1998, USWA President, George Becker, appointed him Assistant D…

Bush not on our side

On December 30th, USW President, Leo W. Gerard, issued the following statement on President Bush's decision to not implement the requested quota on surging imports of China standard pipe
"Our pipe workers and their families were delivered a stunning blow by President Bush in his refusal to enforce America's trade laws following our government's own investigation that showed China imports are unfairly surging into the U.S. market. It's clear that President Bush has told American workers that he's not on their side when it comes to advocating a message of fair trade with China. Congress passed the Section 421 provision of our trade law in 2000 in direct response to the accession of China to the World Trade Organization as a message that America expects all member countries to play by the rules. Today's refusal to implement a reasonable quota on a tidal wave of standard pipe imports from China reinforces the Administration's lack of response to China'…

The Part D Disaster

What’s Truly Alarming about the Medicare Part D Disaster

Privatizes Medicare

For the first time in its 40 year old history, Medicare will pay billions to private insurance companies and force beneficiaries into HMO’s and private health plans for drug coverage.
(Source: Medicare Prescription Drug improvement and Modernization Act)

Forbids Medicare from Negotiating Drug Discounts

Medicare is prohibited from using the buying power of 42 million beneficiaries to negotiate drug price discounts. Allowing price negotiation could potentially save the same amount needed to close the Part D coverage gap or doughnut hole.
(Sources: Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act; “Doughnut Holes and Price Controls,” Gerard F. Anderson, Ph.D, Dennis G. Shea, Ph.D., Peter Hussey et al. Health Affairs Web Exclusive (July 21, 2004): W4-396-404)

Seniors Will Pay More for Less

With Part D’s monthly premiums, $250 deductible, co-insurance and co-payments, the average senior on Medicare will pay mo…