Tuesday, January 31, 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

Monday, January 30, 2006

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.

Friday, January 27, 2006

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

Thursday, January 26, 2006

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-day transitional supply of any drug a patient was taking. The administration's plans to address transition problems for 6.4 million dual eligibles, the poor and elderly who lost their Medicaid drug coverage for Medicare, have largely failed because no one-not Medicare's toll-free helpline staff, insurance companies or pharmacists-knew about them.

To make matters worse, Medicare officials have told states to seek reimbursement from insurance plans for the unexpected millions spent to bail out the federal government's botched rollout. Part D insurers, already heavily subsidized by Medicare to administer the drug benefit, are crying foul claiming that states should not expect full reimbursement because plans do not pay as much as states pay for drugs. A bi-partisan group of Senators plan to introduce legislation that would require Medicare to pay states back and recoup overpayments from Part D providers.
Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

This Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan is an absolute abomination. America should be ashamed. I just cannot believe that President Bush and Congressman Chis Chocola spent taxpayers money to tell us what a wonderful program it was and to top it off, take pride in it, touting that they were taking credit for all they've done for seniors. Brothers and Sisters, the quicker we can dump these two characters the better off we'll all be.
Source: Charlie Averill

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

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.

Monday, January 23, 2006

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

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 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
Table of Contents

Saturday, January 21, 2006

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 to take time out from their retirement to help similar people do something about it!
SOAR members are United Steelworker retirees who are willing to put a little effort into helping themselves and others like them.
Find an application and how to join here.
It's important to place a chapter number on your application. I can help you with that if you will call me at 574-772-3332.

Friday, January 20, 2006

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 patients should not pay more than $5 for their drugs and insurers were obligated to provide a 30-day transitional supply of any drug a patient was taking. The administration’s plans to address transition problems for 6.4 million dual eligibles, the poor and elderly who lost their Medicaid drug coverage for Medicare, have largely failed because no one—not Medicare's toll-free helpline staff, insurance companies or pharmacists—knew about them.
To make matters worse, Medicare officials have told states to seek reimbursement from insurance plans for the unexpected millions spent to bail out the federal government’s botched rollout. Part D insurers, already heavily subsidized by Medicare to administer the drug benefit, are crying foul claiming that states should not expect full reimbursement because plans do not pay as much as states pay for drugs. A bi-partisan group of Senators plan to introduce legislation that would require Medicare to pay states back and recoup overpayments from Part D providers.

Part D: Corrupt Policy, Corrupt Politics
Take a look at the contentious battle to enact the Medicare Part D drug benefit and you’ll find all the hallmarks of the corrupt lobbying culture Congress is now so eager to reform. For years, the Alliance for Retired Americans and seniors across the country had been demanding a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. But efforts to enact a universal benefit under Medicare were blocked by healthcare lobbies fearing a benefit designed for seniors would allow Medicare to bargain for lower drug costs and squeeze out potential profits.
After sweeping into power, Republicans saw a chance to co-opt the senior vote by delivering the long-awaited expansion of Medicare, but were also beholden to special interests, which had poured record levels of cash into Republican coffers in exchange for industry-friendly provisions. For the drug and insurance industries it was money well spent. Medicare is estimated to spend $1 trillion on prescription drugs over the next 10 years, with the healthcare industry poised to make billions in profits while seniors are left with paltry drug coverage.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly broke rules to achieve their goals drafting legislation in exclusive GOP closed-door sessions and withholding cost estimates from Congress. An exodus of lawmakers and aides who worked on the bill joined lobbying firms and trade groups—including one of the principal authors, former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), who negotiated a $2 million deal to head PhRMA, the drug industry's trade group, while working on the law. House leaders held the middle-of-the-night vote open for an unprecedented three hours resorting to bribes and backroom deals to pass the bill by the narrowest of margins.
“Republicans orchestrated the Part D disaster by abusing their power and undermining the rules of government,” said Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance. “It’s no surprise that the result was a phony drug benefit, which is why the Alliance opposed it from the beginning. If we want to see the Medicare law overhauled so it actually benefits seniors, we'll need to overhaul Congress in the 2006 mid-terms,” concluded Coyle.

Part D May Cut Off More Poor Patients from Medicine
Low-income seniors and disabled patients who received their drugs free of charge or discounted through drug company programs will need to look elsewhere as companies eliminate the programs, The Wall Street Journal reported. GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly are among the companies that will end drug assistance programs that cover hundreds of thousands of seniors. An unintended consequence of the Medicare drug law, many poor seniors will find it more expensive or find themselves unable to get their drugs. An estimated 1 million people who qualify for drug company assistance plans do not qualify for extra help with Part D. Drug companies claim the law prohibits their free or discounted drug programs while the government counters the programs are not illegal and drug companies are doing away with the programs on their own.

Tell Your Rep to Stop Passage of $40 Billion in Budget Cuts
On February 1, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote to slash $40 billion in programs aimed at the elderly, students, children and the poor. The bill will make it harder for seniors to qualify for Medicaid's long-term care assistance, cutting $11 billion from Medicare and Medicaid while shielding pharmaceutical and insurance companies from any cuts.
Starting January 23, you can call your U.S. Representative toll-free at 800-426-8073 to tell them to vote “NO.” GOP lawmakers claim the cuts will rein in a federal deficit that has ballooned under the Bush administration's excessive tax cuts. But after cutting $40 billion in vital programs, House and Senate Republicans intend to make permanent $100 billion in tax cuts aimed mostly at millionaires.
What You Can Do:
1. Call your Representative by calling 1-800-426-8073 (generously provided by American Friends Service Committee). Tell them to stop cutting taxes for millionaires at the expense of seniors, children, students and the poor.
2. Participate in a town hall or vigil organized by the Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities (ECAP) by visiting www.actnow.org.

Aloha State Becomes Latest Alliance Charter
The Alliance welcomes Hawaii as the 24th state to charter with the Alliance. Eighty-four delegates attended the Founding Convention held on January 14th in Honolulu at the ILWU Hall. Al Hamai is President, Yoshito Takamine is Vice President, Elmer Yuen is Secretary, Paul Matsuo is Treasurer. The delegates adopted four resolutions to frame their legislative agenda.
Source: Alliance for Retired Americans

Thursday, January 19, 2006

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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

Monday, January 16, 2006

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 Workers in 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 insurance and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.
Prepared by the AFL-CIO.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

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

Saturday, January 14, 2006

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 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

Friday, January 13, 2006

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 interred in Sago mine explosion
13

Source: Indiana State AFL-CIO website

Thursday, January 12, 2006

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!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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 right straight to hell."

So the members starting picketing to stop the corporate greed
and to show the public NIPSCO was a hog.
And it wasn't long fore NIPSCO learned a lesson centuries old
"It's not the dog that's in the fight but it's the fight that's in the dog."

Our goal was clear to everyone, we knew what must be done ;
to show this company that we were here to stay.
So by the thousands workers marched to show their solidarity ;
and got a contract, God bless the USWA!

© Charlie Averill 1997

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

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 show of assistance the moment this issue is scheduled for hearing.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of Hoosier workers every day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

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 from the President of a Steelworker represented foundry in Warsaw, Indiana. He told me that the Kimble Glass Company is moving to Mexico, where labor costs including benefits will be $2.93 per hour, and to China, where labor costs including benefits will be seventy one cents per hour (.71). This foundry was the first industry organized in the Flint Glass Workers Union in 1949.

It does make a person wonder how much more the American people will tolerate.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

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 running down his back;
He doesn’t have to stool - he'll always make a good living
On what he takes out of blind men’s cups.

You got a union now; you’re sitting pretty;
Put some of the boys on the steering committee.
The boss won’t listen when one man squawks.
But he’s got to listen when the union talks.
He better -
He’ll be mighty lonely one of these days.

Suppose they’re working you so hard it’s just outrageous,
They’re paying you all starvation wages;
You go to the boss, and the boss would yell,
"Before I'd raise your pay I’d see you all in Hell."
Well, he’s puffing a big see-gar and feeling mighty slick,
He thinks he’s got your union licked.
He looks out the window, and what does he see
But a thousand pickets, and they all agree
He’s a bastard - unfair - slave driver -
Bet he beats his own wife.

Now, boy, you’ve come to the hardest time;
The boss will try to bust your picket line.
He’ll call out the police, the National Guard;
They’ll tell you it’s a crime to have a union card.
They’ll raid your meeting, hit you on the head.
Call every one of you a goddamn Red -
Unpatriotic - Moscow agents -
Bomb throwers, even the kids.

But out in Detroit here’s what they found,
And out in Frisco here’s what they found,
And out in Pittsburgh here’s what they found,
And down in Bethlehem here’s what they found,
That if you don’t let Red-baiting break you up,
If you don’t let stool pigeons break you up,
If you don’t let vigilantes break you up,
And if you don’t let race hatred break you up -
You’ll win. What I mean,
Take it easy - but take it!


Words by Millard Lampell, Lee Hays and Pete Seeger (1941)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

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.

Friday, January 06, 2006

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, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
Chuck Robb: Vietnam
Howell Heflin: Silver Star
George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and AirMedal with 18 Clusters.
Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

Republicans -- and these are the guys sending people to war:

Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
Tom Delay: did not serve.
Roy Blunt: did not serve.
Bill Frist: did not serve.
Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
Rick Santorum: did not serve.
Trent Lott: did not serve.
John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
Jeb Bush: did not serve.
Karl Rove: did not serve.
Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
Vin Weber: did not serve.
Richard Perle: did not serve.
Douglas Feith: did not serve.
Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
Richard Shelby: did not serve.
Jon! Kyl: did not serve.
Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
Christopher Cox: did not serve.
Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non- combat role making movies.
B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over
in Korea.
Phil Gramm: did not serve.
John McCain: Vietnam POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
John M. McHugh: did not serve.
JC Watts: did not serve.
Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem, " although continued in NFL for 8 years as quarterback.
Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
George Pataki: did not serve.
Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
John Engler: did not serve.
Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Pundits & Preachers

Sean Hannity: did not serve.
Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
Michael Savage: did not serve.
George Will: did not serve.
Chris Matthews: did not serve.
Paul Gigot: did not serve.
Bill Bennett: did not serve.
Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
John Wayne: did not serve.
Bill Kristol: did not serve.
Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
Ralph Reed: did not serve.
Michael Medved: did not serve.
Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
Ted Nugent: did not serve. (He only shoots at things that don't shoot back.)

--Illinois State Sen. Howard W. Carroll

Thursday, January 05, 2006

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 should go to those in need and also added their own funds to feed over 100 needy families throughout Northern Indiana.

With the plan in place, Construction Department Union Representative, Terry Matzat, approached Dave Wyatt—a ragains disciple—and explained that the linemen are giving the hams away. Terry asked if he could pick up all the hams at a central location so he could take them to the food bank for distribution along with the additional donations from the lineman.

Terry also explained to Wyatt that he would do this on his own time and it would save the company the expense of having supervision hand deliver the hams to employees from the Illinois border and across Indiana to the Ohio state line.

Wyatt’s response to this request was, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” It was obvious by Wyatt’s short and nasty response that the company had no intention to make this act of charity easy.

Several lineman volunteered to collect the individual hams from fellow employees throughout the state, and subsequently delivered several trucks of food to the food bank.

As a symbol of the true meaning of charity, the linemen are discouraging any publicizing of their goodwill. That says plenty about their character, but this story should be told.
Source: USW Local 12775 bulletin board

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

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 is life to me at least, I'm anything but bored.
Oh yes, one more I must confess to you lest I be cheating
is lacking from the list above, there's one thing more it's needing.

Now I can flex from time to time from football games to reading,
but reserve the last Friday of the month for that's my union meeting!
© 1992 Charlie Averill

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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 Department Head.

In December 2000, Jim returned to the Safety and Health Department and served as an International Representative. Six months later, he was appointed SOAR Director by USWA President Leo Gerard.

Monday, January 02, 2006

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's currency manipulation and the record trade deficit.

USW members are not going to accept this presidential determination. We will be raising our voices in the 2006 election to send the message that America's fair trade laws must be enforced. We cannot afford the loss of family-supportive jobs to unfair trade by China."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

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 more out of pocket for Rx drugs than they do today without any drug coverage. Forty percent of Part D enrollees will fall into the coverage gap or doughnut hole where they are responsible for 100% of their drug costs.
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

Part D Plan Costs Will Rise Over Time

Part D’s estimated average monthly premium will increase from $32 to $64 in eight years. In addition, the annual deductible is estimated to increase from $250 in 2006 to $437 in 2014 and the coverage gap will increase from $2,850 to $4,984 in the same period.
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

Huge Cost to Taxpayers

Part D will cost taxpayers $720 billion over its first 10 years, with costs reaching $100 billion a year by the middle of the next decade.
(Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

Billion-Dollar Windfall for Drug and Insurance Companies

Drug companies are expected to gain $139 billion in profits from Part D. Medicare has already begun to pay insurance companies subsidies totaling at least $46 billion over 10 years.
(Sources: Alan Sagar, Ph.D. and Deborah Sagar, M.P.H., Health Reform Program at Boston University School of Public Health, October 31, 2003. Available at www.healthreformprogram.org; Office of Management and Budget)