Monday, December 31, 2007

Photos from Dubuque, Iowa

SOAR members and Steelworkers are working in Dubuque, Iowa, volunteering with the John Edwards campaign. After long hours of door knocking, leafleting, mailing, and phone calling, they sometimes find time to relax and share the days accomplishments.

Edwards Moving up in the polls with help from Steelworkers and SOAR

Steelworkers and members of SOAR brave the Iowa cold to support John Edwards for President. This photo was taken in Dubuque, Iowa. All those pictured are from Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.


Steelworkers and members of SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) greet John Edwards in Dubuque, Iowa as he continues his travels throughout the state in his bid for President of the United States. Both organizations have endorsed John because of his positions on issues affecting working families and retirees.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Steelworkers and SOAR members in Iowa

Go to the following website to follow the USW's efforts in electing John Edwards as the Democratic nominee for the 2008 Presidential Election.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Smart And Safe Trade Policies-John Edwards

"Behind all these numbers and statistics are the faces of millions of Americans forgotten in our trade deals. Well, I can tell you that I will never forget them. I saw what happened when the mill that my dad worked in all his life, and where I worked myself when I was young, closed and the jobs went somewhere else. It wasn't just devastating to our community economically - it was devastating to the pride and dignity of the people who worked hard every day trying to make a better life for their Kids."
(Remarks on "Smart Trade that Puts Workers First," August 6, 2007)

"If we want trade policies that work for working Americans, we need John Edwards. He's the only candidate with real plans to ensure that working families get their fair share of the benefits of economic growth."
-Leo Gerard, President, United Steelworkers

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Promise of America

“I carry the promise of America in my heart, where my parents placed it. Like them, like you, I believe in people, hard work and the sacred obligation of each generation to the next."

“This is our time now. It falls to us to redeem our democracy, reclaim our government and relight the promise of America for our children.”

“We have to stop using words like ‘access to health care’ when we know those words mean something less than universal care. Who are you willing to leave behind without care? Which family? Which child? We need a truly universal solution, and we need it now.

“I donʹt believe you can sit down at a table with lobbyists for drug companies and insurance companies and negotiate your way to universal care. They are dead‐set against this. Itʹs going to take a president who can take them on and beat them. Thatʹs what Iʹve been doing my whole life."

John Edwards

Source: The Plan to Build One America by John Edwards

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What's The Most Important Meeting?

"The most important meeting.............is the meeting after the meeting"
Lynn Williams, SOAR President, Emeritus

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

John Edwards' Declaration of Independence For Older Americans


A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FOR
OLDER AMERICANS

“It’s time for a new kind of declaration of independence – a commitment to helping older Americans live independently, with choice over their health care, financial security and lifestyle. It’s not enough to congratulate ourselves on living longer, if we are not living stronger.

“Social Security is one of the most successful government programs in history, but it is also more than that – it is a promise between generations. I am committed to honoring the promise and protecting retirement benefits for working Americans.”

Summary

John Edwards’ agenda for older Americans is based on the values of security, dignity and choice to help every older American live as independently as they desire.

The Edwards Plan for Seniors
  • Ensure financial independence
  • Guarantee health security
  • Promote living with dignity
Ensure Financial Independence
  • Keep the promise of Social Security.
  • Honor pension promises and help families save with a universal, portable retirement account.
  • Fight predatory lenders.
  • Preserve older Americans’ freedom to work.
Guarantee Health Security
  • Protect the future of Medicare with cost‐effective health care reform that improves quality.
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate drug costs with drug makers, address the “doughnut hole” in the drug benefit, give beneficiaries the choice of a public plan for their prescription drugs and permit safe drug reimportation from Canada.
  • Train more doctors and nurses in geriatrics.
Promote Living With Dignity
  • Edwards will promote the choice of home‐based care, supportive living options like senior villages and accessible transportation, while improving nursing homes and cracking down on elder abuse.
For John Edwards' full plan for older Americans, visit www.johnedwards.com/seniors

Source: John Edwards08, The Plan to Build One America, Bold Solutions for Real Change

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

John Edwards Plan to Build One America

Dear Friend:
America is facing great challenges. We need bold ideas for change that are equal to the problems we face. And especially now, our country needs to hear the truth from its leaders.

The truth is that Washington is broken – rigged by the powerful special interests and lobbyists to benefit the very few at the expense of the rest of us. Because our government no longer works for most families, we risk becoming the first generation of Americans that fails to pass on a better life to our children.

This is not the America I believe in. Together, we can reclaim our government and redeem the promise of America for our children. You have a uniquely important responsibility. You are the guardians not only of what kind of president we’ll have, but what kind of future we’ll leave to our children.

You deserve real substance, not mere rhetoric. By describing my detailed plans, I hope this will allow you to make an informed decision. It includes my proposals to:

End the War in Iraq: We should immediately withdraw 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops and bring home the rest within nine to ten months. We also need a “diplomatic surge” to engage all nations in the region in reaching a political solution in Iraq.

Guarantee Universal Health Care: This is a moral issue. I will stand up to the big drug and insurance companies and guarantee health care for every American, while cutting costs and improving care. My plan costs $90 billion to $120 billion. To pay for it, I will repeal the Bush tax cuts for families above $200,000 a year.

Support Middle‐Class Families: I will raise the minimum wage, strengthen workers’ rights to organize and reject bad trade deals. I will help families save, cut taxes for middle‐class families, protect pensions and lift millions out of poverty.

Teach Our Children: We must end No Child Left Behind’s punitive approach and restore a comprehensive curriculum. I support universal early childhood education, smaller classes and better teacher pay. My College for Everyone plan will make college affordable for every student willing to work part‐time.

Achieve Energy Independence and Fight Global Warming: The crisis of global warming demands action today. I will cap and reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050, as scientists say is necessary, and invest in innovation and renewable energy to create new jobs that cannot be sent overseas.

Revitalize Rural America: My Rural Recovery Act will invest in local Main Street businesses, attract new industries like renewable energy and strengthen rural schools. I will stand up for family farms with country‐of‐origin labeling, antitrust enforcement, a ban on packer ownership and a moratorium on building or expanding concentrated animal feeding operations.

Together, we can – and will – redeem our country’s promise and our children’s future.

Source: excepts from John Edwads 08 The Plan to build One America
Bold Solutions for Real Change

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gaining Union Recognition

Q. How do we organize our workplace?
A. First, employees sign “Union Authorization” Petitions which state they want to be represented by USW.
Once 65% of the employees indicate they want a union, the USW will seek recognition with your employer, which usually means holding a secret ballot election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to verify that the majority want union representation.

Q. Can we be disciplined or demoted for supporting a union or USW?
A. NO. It is illegal for your employer to treat you any different than other employees because you support organizing at your workplace. But there is strength in numbers so everyone has to actively support forming a USW union.

UW International Union…

Building Power

For Quality Jobs

For Fair Wages & Benefits

For Worker Safety

For a Real Voice And Vote on the Job!

For more information contact:

United Steelworkers District 7 Office
Jim Robinson, Director
1301 Texas St., Room 200
Gary, IN 46402
1 (800) 932-8007

Who Will Run Our Local Union?

YOU WLL!

In the USW, the members make the decisions!

YOU Elect your own Local Officers.
YOU Run your own Local Union affairs.
YOU Elect your own Negotiating Committee.
YOU Make the decisions on your own union contract.
YOU Choose your own shop stewards.
YOU Decide important policies and actions of your Local union by majority vote.
YOU Elect your own delegates to the international union conventions.
YOU Elect your International Union Offices.
YOU The membership—is the final voice of authority on decisions in your USW Local Union.
YOU Are the UNION!

America Works Best
When We Say..
UNION YES!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 11: Globalization

What do they Really Mean?
This week our defining of “Corporate Agenda” terms wraps up.

Corporate Agenda Term #4: Globalization

What they say:

"Globalization is a way of life and the way of the future.
Outsourcing is what we need. We have obligations to our stockholders."

What they mean:

  • We want to take advantage of cheap wages, non-existent safety standards, and minimal environmental laws around the globe to make more profit.
  • Money is more important than any commitments to U.S. workers, even though they built and made our company successful – and they’re the ones we have to rely on to buy the stuff we make offshore.
  • We need every U.S. business to run like the “Wal-Mart Model” where we can pay low wages, not worry about health care costs, be able to drive out all competition with our presence, and keep costs cheap by searching the globe for the most exploitable people to make our products.
  • We aren’t worried about finding U.S. workers who will work for next to nothing (they’ll have no other option), but we need to take care of our corporate executives with seven-figure salaries to stay competitive.
  • It is critical that logos and trademarks be protected and backed up with sanctions and serious penalties for theft of property rights. Worker protections, however, are a barrier to trade.
  • Sure, some workers – even children – are forced to work in sweatshops, but just think how bad they would have it if we didnt have those jobs there. If it wasn’t for us they would probably starve. They should just appreciate having any job.
Source: USW Rapid Response

YOUR CONTRACT

Q. Who will negotiate our contract?
A. After the employees successfully organize, you and your co-workers will nominate and elect a bargaining committee representing all shifts. A USW representative with the assistance of your committee will negotiate a contract with your employer. Once a contract is successfully negotiated the members vote by secret ballot to approve it before the contract goes into effect.

Q. Does the USW support Team Concepts?
A. Yes. The USW actively educates the membership how to get the most from employee involvement programs and assists in negotiating competitive Gain Sharing Programs which protect both employee and employer interests.

Q. Can our employer close or move if we vote for union representation?
A. It is illegal for your employer to close or even threaten to close your workplace because the employees organize with the USW. If your employer makes this kind of threat, let us know as soon as possible.

Q. Our employer told us that “bargaining starts from scratch” if we form a union?
A. Wrong. Once organized, management must bargain from current wages and benefits. It is illegal for your employer to threaten that “bargaining starts from scratch”. Ask management to put their illegal words in writing and to sign it.
The fact is, millions of union workers negotiate and approve fair contracts every day.

Q. Does our employer have to negotiate if we organize our workplace?
A. Yes. Federal law requires the company to “bargain in good faith” with the committee which you elect.

Q. How often do strikes occur?
A. 98% of all labor contracts are settled peacefully at the bargaining table. Only a two-thirds majority vote by secret ballot, can ever call a strike.

Q. Who decides what will be in our contract?
A. YOU DO. Once organized, the employees will hold meetings, elect your bargaining committee and determine what bargaining issues will be negotiated. Once your proposals are set, a USW Representative will assist you in negotiating your first contract.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Green Jobs for Indiana


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Report: Clean Energy Manufacturing Could Bring
39,000 New Green Jobs, Stronger Economy to Indiana
Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, Environment America Call for
National Renewable Electricity Standard to be Included in Energy Legislation

Mishawaka, IN - The Blue-Green Action Alliance, the public policy partnership of the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, and Environment America released a new report, “Indiana’a Road to Energy Independence,” detailing the thousands of new green jobs that could be created by manufacturing the components for wind turbines, solar panels, and other renewable energy equipment. The study, prepared by the Renewable Energy Policy Project, found that 1,321 firms in Indiana could benefit from 39,221 new jobs—including 25,180 from wind turbine manufacturing and 7,485 in solar manufacturing.

“Why order wind turbines from Denmark to put up in South Bend when we know that Indiana has the workers and the factories to make them right here in the state?” said LuCinda Hohmann, Field Organizer with Environment America. “Turbines from Plymouth and solar panels from St John make sense for both the environment and Indiana’s economy. Indiana’s been blessed with the natural resources to help America fight global warming, now it’s time for us to take advantage of Indiana’s human resources to help put these smart energy solutions—and our citizens—to work.”

At a time when the U.S. is rapidly losing manufacturing jobs, renewable energy manufacturing can revitalize communities across Indiana that have lost jobs, as well creating a whole new generation of good-paying manufacturing jobs. States across the country, such as Iowa, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, have already seen thousands of new jobs created in the clean energy manufacturing sector.

“By pushing more renewable energy—something that will fight global warming and protect the environment—Indiana can enjoy the same benefits that other states are already seeing,” said Hohmann.

“We are absolutely committed to making the world a safer place for our children while revitalizing American manufacturing,” said USW District 7 Director Jim Robinson. “The amazing potential for job creation held by clean energy component manufacturing and maintenance should make this an important part of Indiana’s power agenda immediately.”

Strong State and National Renewable Energy Standards Needed

The groups also called on Congress to include a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)—a requirement that 15 percent of our energy come from renewable sources like wind, solar, and biomass—in the final energy bill it is due to take up soon. After Republicans, led by Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, filibustered such a standard in the Senate, it was passed by the House of Representatives in its version of the energy bill. It is essential that this provision be included in the final bill.

In addition to creating thousands of new jobs, analyses have demonstrated that enacting a national RES could save hardworking American families up to $18 billion by 2020 on their energy bills by lowering the cost of natural gas, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Representatives Visclosky and Donnelly both voted in favor of clean renewable energy when Congress was working on its energy bills this summer,” said Hohmann. “We thank them for their vote and hope they will continue to work hard to ensure that the final energy bill includes the national Renewable Energy Standard passed by the House. This is something that will benefit each and every one of us by saving us money on our energy bills, protecting our environment, and strengthening our state’s economy.”

Senator Bayh voted for a federal Renewable Energy Standard in 2005 and also signed a letter this year calling for a strong RES in Congress. Environment America thanked Senator Bayh for his efforts and also encouraged him to work hard to ensure that the final energy bill includes the national RES, creating jobs for thousands of Hoosiers statewide.
--------

The Blue Green Action Alliance is a public policy partnership of the United Steelworkers, North America’s largest manufacturing union, and the 1.3 million members and supporters of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest grassroots’ environmental organization. BGA is headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.

The Renewable Energy Policy Project is a Washington, DC-based think tank that concentrates on analysis of the renewable energy industry. For the past three years REPP has focused attention on the need for state and federal policies that support the growth of the renewable energy industry. George Sterzinger is Executive Director of REPP. He can be reached at gsterzinger@repp.org and 202-293-2898, ext. 203.

ADDITIONAL QUOTES
“The states that moved earliest and most aggressively to establish renewable electricity standards have seen thousands of new jobs created already,” said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. “By enacting a national standard, Congress could make sure that all states can benefit from the green energy manufacturing boom. All the pieces are there, Congress just needs to pass a final bill to flip the switch on America’s clean energy future.”

David Foster, Executive Director of the Blue Green Action Alliance, said, “We believe environmental challenges like global warming represent the most important economic opportunities of our generation. This study confirms that view.”

# # #

Environment America is the new home for US PIRG’s environmental work and is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization

Monday, November 26, 2007

Union Dues

UNION DUES

Q. How much are Union Dues
A. USW dues are 1.3% of your gross wages per month or 2.5 hours maximum. About half of your dues stays in your own Local union treasury to be used upon members approval.

Q. When do I start paying Union dues?
A. It is the policy of the USW that “No Contract, No Dues!”

Q. Will we have to pay an initiation fee?
A. NO. Employees working at the facility at the time it is organized do not pay any initiation fee.

Q. How are Union Dues spent?
A. Union Dues are divided between the International union and the members’ own local union. Dues pay for the many services offered to the members of USW International Union.

These services include:
Contract negotiation Research & education
Pension & Insurance
Health & Safety
Legal Services

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 10: Small Government and Economic Stability

What do they Really Mean?
Our defining of "Corporate Agenda" terms continues.

Corporate Agenda Term #2: Small Government

What they say:

"Get government off our backs! What we need is small government."

What they mean:
  • We don't want to deal with government regulation and rules; we should be able to do what we want, when we want.
  • We don't want to worry about resources for anyone that becomes disabled or can't work, the poor, their children, the elderly, or anyone without health care - they should have to fend for themselves.
  • Rules tie the hands of corporations. We should just trust them to do the right things.
  • In the words of Grover Norquist, we need to cut government "to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." (Norquist is a right-wing extremist who advocated for abolishing government departments such as the FDA and the Department of Education.)
Corporate Agenda Term #3: Economic Stability

What they say:

"We need to focus on keeping inflation down."
(Note: Inflation has to do with rising prices of wages and goods)

What they mean:
  • It's better if more people (at least 5%) are unemployed so companies don't have to raise wages to attract workers.
  • We need to keep flooding our market with cheap goods from foreign producers so there's never a shortage for people to buy - and us to make money on!
  • Everything - high unemployment, strong and rapid economic growth, etc. - should take a back seat to policies that prevent inflation.
  • We don't want to deal with unions that want higher wages to keep up with rising costs.
Source: USW Rapid Response

Friday, November 23, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 9 What Do They Really Mean?

We already know that Corporate America and their allies in govenment are setting the rules these days. When we watch the news or maybe even sit down at the bargaining table, we hear terms like “labor market flexibility,” “globalization,” “small government,” and “economic stability.” When these issues come up, they’re usually code for something that will benefit corporate interests and leave workers and America’s middle class behind. The next few weeks we’ll take a look at these terms and what they really mean, starting with labor market flexibility today.
What they say:

"We need labor market flexibility to run a profitable business."

What they really mean:

  • We want to use temporary employees instead of permanent employees; we want to contract the work out to other companies.
  • We don't want to pay overtime.
  • We want to schedule employees at the last minute and on irregular shifts. And, we want to mandate overtime.
  • We don't want to pay health care or provide defined benefit pension plans.
  • In short, we don't want any binding commitments to our employees. We want to use them as we want, when we want, and pay them what we want.
  • And, most importantly, we don't want a union or the government interfering with our doing so.
Source: USW Rapid Response


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 7: The "Rules" and What They Mean for Us

The Rich Get Richer While the Poor Get Poorer

We left off talking about how those in power make the rules. Where workers and their allies once made laws and enacted standards that grew the middle class, we're now on a course that is dangerously shrinking the middle class. We've heard that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer, and it's true.


Source: USW Rapid Response

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 6: Think Lead Isn't Serious?

Think Again.

It's deja vu all over again: Former USW President George Becker led the successful fight in the 1970's to force OSHA to act on reducing workplace exposure to lead. Now, 30 years later, courtesy of our global economy, lead is back. It's in Boy Scout merit badges. It's in lipstick. It's even in kids' cups. But, what does it really mean for lead to be back in such a big way? What does it mean for the child that chews on a toy coated in lead paint? What does it mean for the overseas worker who made that toy?

While adults and kids are both impacted, children are particularly susceptible to lead. They are more likely to put their hands or other objects with lead on them in their mouths. Their bodies absorb more of the lead, and their nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects.

High levels of lead in children that go undetected result in:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system,
  • Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity),
  • Slowed growth,
  • Hearing problems,
  • Headaches, and
  • Even death.
The impact of lead on adults include:

  • Difficulties during pregnancy,
  • Other reproductive problems (such as decreased capacity and birth defects),
  • High blood pressure,
  • Digestive problems,
  • Nerve disorders,
  • Memory and concentration problems, and
  • Muscle and joint pain
Source: Environmental Protection Agency's National Lead Information Center

To find out what you can do right now on this issue, please visit: www.usw.org

Source: USW Rapid Response

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 5: Poison Toys, Anti-freeze Toothpaste, Deadly Pet Food...

What’s Next?

The Taking Back Our Economy Series is highlighting how a corporate, anti-worker agenda is now the norm in our country. Through the Anti-Sweatshop bill action we dealt with one of the results: A global economy that de-values human beings and disregards human rights in favor of fattening corporate bottom lines. Now we’re seeing another related result: Toxic products entering our markets and homes.

Is it any surprise that a global economy that allows a 12-year-old girl to work
16-hour days in a dangerous factory making products for the U.S. marketplace ALSO gives us products laced with lead for our kids?

Just in the last few weeks, 544,000 items have been recalled. All were due to excessive lead in the products, and all were made in China. The following is included in that list:

• 150,000 bookmarks and journals, as well as bracelets that are sold with them from Antioch
Publishing.
• 35,000 Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks.
• 192,000 key chains and 63,000 Frankenstein head-
shaped tumblers sold by Dollar General.
• 15,000 Totally Me! Room Decor Sets sold at Toys R Us.
• 10,000 Wooden Pull-Along Alphabet & Math Blocks
Wagons, Wooden Pull-Along Learning Blocks Wagons;
10-in-1 Activity Learning Carts; and Flip-Flop Alphabet
Blocks from KB Toys.
• "Pirates of the Caribbean" themed medallion squeeze
flash lights from Eveready Battery.

Where does it end?
Stay tuned for more information on toxic imports in the coming weeks AND
find out

how you can protect your family.

Source: USW Rapid Response

Monday, November 19, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 4: Whose Rules Are We Playing By?

Reviewing Where We’ve Come So Far

When Steelworkers ask why we keep enacting more job-killing free trade agreements, why we aren’t doing more to ensure a decent environment, or why wages aren’t keeping up, the answer all has to do with economics.

Economics is about the decisions on three questions: How do we allocate resources? How do
we produce things? And, who benefits?

Over time, the answers have changed.

In the 1930s, workers won great battles, establishing Social Security, unemployment and
other pro-worker reforms. We were taking control of the economy and making it work for us.
Post World War II, workers and employers shared power, and we saw productivity and worker
wages rise and the start of programs that benefit workers such as OSHA and the
establishment of the minimum wage. At that time people realized that some rules for an
imperfect free market were a good thing to ensure all benefited. Since the 1970s, that power
has flipped in favor of a different way of thinking that wants to loosen the rules for business
and allow the “market” to operate with as few rules as possible. Workers are being left
behind, and anti-worker policies are taking over.

What is specifically happening to workers? The next post will deal with the growing gaps between the wealthy and everyone else.

Until then, here are a few facts to consider:

  • Over 1⁄2 of all female workers still earn less than $8.70 an hour ($18,000 a year).
  • 25% of all U.S. workers still work in jobs paying $8.70 or less an hour.
  • More than 1 in 5 children still live in poverty, the highest among 17 industrialized nations.
  • We are still the only industrialized country in the world without some system of universal health care.
  • Our health care system is leaving 47 million Americans a year without care.
Source: USW Rapid Response

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 3: We Make it; They Take It

In the last post, we shared information on different periods of time where labor – workers – had more power. In the timeframe of 1947 to 1973, productivity doubled along with average
wages. Then, when the balance of power changed in the early 1970s, productivity continued
to grow, but wages have stagnated.

Today, average wages are only 15 percent higher than average wages in 1980, despite a 67
percent increase in productivity. And, consider the facts that U.S. workers:

  • Are the most productive workers in the world,
  • Work longer hours than workers in any other developed country, and
  • Live in a country whose economy generates over $13 trillion a year in income.

The productivity-wage relationship was the foundation of an understanding between workers
and employers after World War II, when there was a rough balance of power between the
two. Workers were sharing in the benefits of economic growth. Today, that power balance is
gone, and the understanding has fallen apart, leaving workers behind.


Source: USW Rapid Response

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Let's Finish Taki'n My Country Back

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 2: Who is Deciding for Us?

Economics are the choices on how we allocate resources, how we produce things, and who benefits in the process.

Those in power make economic decisions, whether that’s tax breaks for the rich, trade legislation that kills jobs, or some other policy.

We have to understand that politics and the economy are not separate things. The economy doesn’t just happen. Government and those that can successfully influence government make the rules for the economy. Those rules once served our interests, but not any more:

1930s Workers were rising up, staging general strikes, and winning battles. We won Social
Security, unemployment benefits and overtime pay. The conversation was about how to make the economy work for workers, not just how we can work for the economy.

1940s - Late 1960s
Organized labor was powerful enough to negotiate the first health care benefits and pension plans. People generally thought that the market was imperfect and could use some government intervention to make it work, including things like a minimum wage, rules on overtime pay, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Early 1970s - Now
The dominant view in Washington is that the “market” should be left alone, with free
trade and minimal regulation on corporations. We are seeing the results, and we know
this isn’t working.
The Results:

How many times more money does a Corporate Executive earn versus the average worker?
Source: Business Week
  • In 1960, it was 41 times more
  • In 1970, it was 79 times more
  • In 1980, it was 42 times more
  • In 1990, it was 107 times more
  • In 2005, it was 411 times more
Source: USW Rapid Response

Friday, November 16, 2007

Taking Back Our Economy-Part 1: It's All Tied to Economics

  • “Every time we’re at the bargaining table, the company tries to take away more and more of our healthcare benefits.”
  • “All around my state, factories and plants are shutting down and moving out of the country. I’m worried for my job."
  • “There are frightening warnings everywhere about global warming, but I don’t see any action being taken.”
  • “Last week I found out that my daughter’s toys are filled with lead paint. I’m angry, and I’m worried for her. If a Chinese company thinks this is acceptable, how does that same company treat their workers?”
  • “Prices for everything seem to keep rising and rising, but why isn’t my paycheck keeping up?”
  • “I’m doing better than my parents did, but I doubt that my children will be better off than me.”

Why? It’s all tied to economics..

Economics is simply about the choices that are made:
How do we allocate resources? How do we produce things?
And, very importantly, who benefits? It matters who makes those decisions. As the
statements above suggest, the current choices are not benefiting workers.

Source: USW Rapid Response

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Supporting Mexican Drug War Bad for U.S. Policy



By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard

November 13th, 2007

Last summer, while Americans worried about whether President Bush was going to attack Iran, he was secretly planning to get them involved in another war, this one closer to home.

It’s Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s drug war. Bush announced last month that he wants to give Calderon $500 million worth of military equipment and training – Bell 412 helicopters and CASA CN 235-300 surveillance aircraft and the like. This would be to help Calderon win the war he started with the country’s drug cartels by dispatching more than 20,000 soldiers to wage battle shortly after his hotly-contested election.

This engagement between the army and the cartels has left more than 2,000 dead this year and has been described by some as Calderon’s civil war. Most victims are members of competing trafficking cartels, but they also include many soldiers and police officers and some innocent bystanders like a 25-year-old school teacher and her three young children gunned down by Mexican military officers June 2 when troops opened fire on a vehicle they claimed failed to stop at a military checkpoint.

Human rights activists fear the massive military presence in civilian society and the use of the military for domestic law enforcement.

The Bush administration grant, dubbed “Plan Mexico” after a similar costly militaristic drug interdiction program begun seven years ago called “Plan Colombia,” would provide more gun power for Calderon’s war. Bush attached his appeal for “Plan Mexico” funding, appropriately, to his $46 billion supplemental budget request for Iraq war funding. One war piggybacking – or is that piggybanking – another.

Congress should be wary of this request. Plan Colombia, for all it has cost American taxpayers, has provided questionable results. Engaging this country in yet another war, even if it’s “just” a war on drugs, may not be wise. And instead of waging a “war on drugs” which hasn’t progressed since former President Nixon declared it, Congress might do both its constituents and Mexico a favor by using the $500 million to find ways to eliminate the market for illegal drugs in the United States and help stimulate legitimate business in Mexico.

Since 2000, the U.S. has given Colombia more than $4 billion in military aid, making it the largest recipient outside Afghanistan and the Middle East. Still, cocaine from its plantations flows into the United States. While the number of hectares planted in Colombia is down, it’s not clear that the growers haven’t simply moved to adjacent countries. Similarly, while the violence in Colombia is down, it’s hardly a civilized nation.

Paramilitaries, funded in large part by cocaine trade, continue to control large territories and terrorize the populace. While President Alvaro Uribe boasts that the number of murders of trade unionists is down, the paramilitaries still kill more labor activists in Colombia than in all other countries in the world combined. Still, Uribe does not find a way to prosecute these murders – or thousands of other murders that occur, some by the paramilitaries and others, called extra-judicial murders, committed by his own police and military forces.

The U.S. State Department has concluded that the Colombian military has even supported the paramilitaries with weapons, ammunition, intelligence, logistical aid, and, on occasion, troops. Now, this is the military to which the U.S. is sending hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

This is what $4 billion over seven years has bought the United States. This is not the plan to replicate in Mexico.

To human rights and labor activists in the United States, Plan Mexico is particularly frightening because of the similar history in Colombia and Mexico of egregious disregard for civil and labor rights. Human Rights Watch recently reported that Mexican soldiers have engaged in outrageous abuses while supposedly enforcing drug laws, including raping and beating detainees. And the government has long repressed labor unions, which would explain its failure to find any official responsible for the deaths of 65 miners in the explosion at the Pasta de Conchos mine in February 2006.

Before Congress gets the United States entangled in another “plan” to eradicate drugs with weapons of war, it would be wise to pause and examine the success of the conflicts for which we’re already paying. It should ask experts how to best plug that bottomless American market for Mexican and Colombian drugs. And it should seek advice on how to legally employ those drawn to employment in the lucrative illegal Mexican drug trade because the violence that spills over the border affects us all.

Why Join a Union?

Dignity: The presence of a union means employees must be treated fairly by their employer, and that you have a voice and vote in important decisions that effect you.

Power: An employee has little power and almost no way to improve wages, benefits, or working conditions. Collective Bargaining balances the power that an employer has over its employees even in a “Team” or high performance work environment.

Protection: Without a union there is no due process at work. Unions provide a grievance & arbitration procedure which ensures fairness for all employees.

For more information contact:
United Steelworkers District 7 Office
Jim Robinson, Director
1301 Texas St., Room 200
Gary, IN 46402
800-932-8007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You are invited


To take part in the Healthcare Now Road Trip!
Yes there is an answer
To our healthcare problems! and
YOU,
Can be part of the solution.

Free showing of SiCKO, Michael Moore’s telling documentary about the failure of our healthcare system.

Following the movie, there will be a discussion with the HealthCare-NOW team members on your problems and what we have to do to fix our broken healthcare system.

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007

TIME: 6:30 P.M.

PLACE: United Steelworkers McBride Hall
1301 TEXAS STREET
GARY, INDIANA.

(From 80/94 go north on I-65 and exit on to 15th Ave.
Take a right (west) to Texas Street
Turn right (north) on Texas Street and go to the end of the road to McBride Hall.)

All who are concerned about what’s happening to our failing health care system and what to do about it are encouraged to attend.

Sponsored by the HealthCare-NOW coalition of activists and union supporters to fix our broken healthcare system by supporting an improved Medicare for all system as proposed by Rep. Conyers in HR 676, The National Insurance Act

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Go See SiCKO


This Might Hurt a Little in Indiana

Hoosiers lead the nation in medical bankruptcies.

800,000 Hoosiers have no health insurance.

Watch the movie. And Act!

7PM, Friday, Nov 9
Earth House Coffee+Books
237 N. East Street,
downtown Indy

corner of New York and East.
Inside Lockerbie church,

Free
Donations accepted for Hoosiers for a Common Sense Healthcare Plan.
call 317-354-3207 for more info.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lousy Safety Program at NIPSCO

The safety manual for the employees of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company used to say something about it being the responsibility of every employee to read the darned safety manual once in a while and become familiar with it.

Having retired about ten years ago, I don’t have a copy of the safety manual any more, but my guess is that it still says the same thing.

Well, It’s time for NIPSCO management to require each and every member of their management team to do just that before they end up murdering another worker or a member of the public.

Reports going around my neck of the woods are indicating that NIPSCO is playing the “blame game” rather than providing a good safety program and I am expecting that to change. Get it NIPSCO?

Who’s in charge of that outfit these days, any way? Start doing your job!

And more importantly, who's in charge of the Safety Department? Who is insisting that workers work unsafely? Who is doing the lying to OSHA?

We don't need any more workers getting electrocuted and we don't need any more explosions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Please buy Union made candy this Halloween

This info came from the UFCW, AFT and BCTGM web sites.

If you plan to distribute candy to trick-or-treaters this Halloween, show support for union –made products by choosing union-made candy. Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) as well as USW members make the sweets to line the candy bags of our children. Union candy suppliers include:

Annabelle Candy Co. makers of Rocky Road, Big Hunk, U-No, and Abba-Zabba

Ghirardelli Chocolate

Herman Goelitz maker of Jelly Bellies, Chocolate Dutch Mints, Candy Corn, Chocolate Temptations, Dimples, Goelitz Confections, Goelitz Gummi, Pet Rat, Pet Tarantula and Sweet Temptations and other confections

Hershey Chocolate USA makers of Hershey Kisses, Special Dark, Mr. Goodbar, Krackle, Nuggets, Swoops and Zagnut, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, York Peppermint Patties, Jolly Rancher and 5th Avenue. Nestle Treasures, Laffy Taffy, Flips Pretzels and Kathryn Beich specialty candy, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, BB's and Pearson's Nips, Hershey's Pot of Gold, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolates, Ovation mint sticks and numerous seasonal specialty boxed and wrap,

Just Born maker of Peanut Chews, Marshmallow Peeps, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ike, Zours and Teenee Beanee

NECCO -maker of NECCO wafers, Mary Jane Chews, Candy House Buttons, Sky Bar, Thin Mints, Candy Sticks, Bolster Bar, Canada Mints, Candy Cupboard, CyberSpeak, Clark Bar; and Masterpieces.

Premier Candy Co. maker of box chocolates

Russell Stover maker of box chocolates include Whitman and Pangburn brands

See’s Candies – “Famous Old Time Candies”
Tootsie Roll Industries maker of Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Flavor Roll, Frooties, Child’s Play, Dots, Andes Caramel Apple Pops, Charms, Blow Pop, Sugar Daddy, Sugar Babies, Charleston Chew, Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy, Junior Mints and Cella chocolate covered cherries.

Kraft – Trolli brand candy.

Remember that Kraft, Keebler and Frito Lay snacks and Orville Redenbacher popcorn are also union made.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

SCHIP Update, by Ken Kovack, Legislative Director for the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)

Authorized funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance program ends in mid November. After this important legislation was vetoed by President George W. Bush, the legislation was adjusted to address the objections of the president.

The compromised legislation enjoys bipartisan Congressional support, support of the Governors Association and public opinion polls showing support has reached as much as 80%. The President has suggested a compromise proposal requiring, for example, a family of four with an income of $32,000 to pay 39% of their income for private health insurance and a family of four with earnings of $54,000 to pay 20% of their income for private health insurance. (Source: Bureau of National Affairs, Health Care Policy Report, 10/22/07). Bush also opposes funding the bipartisan compromised bill by a 6% increase on the tobacco tax. Instead, the President would opt for a tax deduction plan to offset the cost of insurance premiums. Another major problem is the Presidents opinion that the legislation moves the nation closer to socialized medicine.

It is well known that the Republicans raise the issue and fear of something being “socialized.” However, the President makes such a statement without considering that he uses socialized health care at tax supported military hospitals staffed with the best tax supported military doctors, nurses, medical research staff, administrative support staff, rehabilitation facilities and equipment, prosthetic devices, medical supplies, prescriptions, the best and latest surgical equipment plus office supplies, building maintenance and grounds keeping. Let’s not forget that the President is transported to the hospital in a tax supported government owned and staffed air or ground vehicle and most often with a federal and/or city police escort. How much more feeble can his socialized medicine argument be? And, if he chooses, he could be buried in a federally supported and maintained (socialized) cemetery.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fires, Floods and the “Vicissitudes of Life”


''We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life''...Franklin Delano Roosevelt

It was true 73 years ago and as this week’s devastating fires in Southern California remind us, it’s still true today. But whether it’s destructive flames on the West coast or devastating floods in the Gulf coast, we’ve seen just how quickly life’s circumstances can take a turn. One of the great untold stories during these times of national crisis is the Social Security success story.

8,700 Social Security checks have already been sent to residents in Southern California. Unfortunately, some of those checks will arrive even though residents have evacuated and their homes have been destroyed. But staff at the local Social Security offices will coordinate efforts to get those checks to California seniors, the disabled and their families who will need them. In its seven-decade history, Social Security has never missed a payment and it won’t this month either.

National tragedies like the California fires also remind us what a critical link SSA offices provide to a vulnerable population. But these offices have faced limited budgets forcing closures, low staffing and huge disability hearing backlogs. We’ve written to Congress urging support of increased funding for SSA administration.

In the wake of this disaster, the Social Security Administration is reminding beneficiaries to use direct deposit. It’s a simple process to enroll either directly with SSA or through the Treasury Department’s GoDirect campaign. As disaster victims in the Gulf coast and now those in Southern California have found, direct deposit allows Social Security beneficiaries access to their funds immediately without worrying if they even have a mailbox left or not.
Source: NCPSSM

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Future of Social Security and Those Who Depend on It

Private Accounts and Benefit Cuts
For decades, opponents of Social Security have attempted to privatize the program. They propose diverting some of the funds that normally go into the Social Security trust funds into private investment accounts. Some would also cut benefits by changing the formula to calculate initial benefits from a wage-indexed system to a price indexed one, and raising both early and normal retirement ages above the current law.

The Inheritance Myth
The Bush administration asserts that private accounts would allow investors to pass on their accounts to their heirs when they die. What they do not say is that the Social Security survivorship benefit paid to the minor children and spouses of the deceased worker would e substantially cut. If a worker dies at a young age, no amount of inheritance would offset the loss of benefits resulting from the deep cuts in benefits and the potential offsets for diverting funds to a private account.

In recent years, the Alliance for Retired Americans has fought to beat back attempts by the Bush administration and others to establish private accounts and institute the price indexing of initial benefits. Despite our successful efforts, privatization proponents can be expected to return and press their agenda again at the first opportunity.

The Position of the Alliance for Retired Americans
The Alliance for Retired Americans rejects privatization of Social Security. Privatization alters the fundamental structure of the program and does nothing to address the issue of long-term solvency.

The Alliance for Retired Americans rejects all changes jeopardizing the benefits of participants or undermining the Social Security system, including:
  • Any increase in the early retirement age or any further raising of the normal retirement age beyond current law;
  • Any change in the Social Security benefit formula increasing the number of years of earnings counted or indexing benefits to price instead of wage growth; and
  • Any alteration to the Social Security disability insurance program that restricts eligibility and/or undermines due process through claims and appeals.
Source: ARA Issue Brief
The Future of Social Security and Those Who Depend on It-May 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Understanding the Social Security Trust Funds

Each year, the U.S. government reports the amount of money in the Social Security trust funds, the amount added or redeemed in a given year and the interest earned.

By the end of 2007, the trust fund reserves are estimated to be $2,237 billion. The Social Security trustees project that these resources will be sufficient to pay full benefits until 2041 - one year later than last year's estimate of 2040. After 2040, revenue from taxes at the current rates will be enough to pay 75% of scheduled benefits in 2041 and 70% of scheduled benefits in 2081.

The projected actuarial deficit over the next 75 years is 1.95% of taxable payroll, a slight improvement over the 2006 estimate of 2.02%. The projected shortfall may be met in a variety of ways as described below.
  • Raising or eliminating the cap on taxable earnings. Raising the current cap of $97,500 to cover 90 percent of earnings would cut the 75-year shortfall by about 45 percent.
  • Dedicating estate tax revenues above a certain limit to the Social Security trust funds. Current law gradually reduces the estate tax so that by 2009, only estates valued above $3.5 million ($7 million for a couple) will be assessed. Dedicating the tax revenues to Social Security would reduce the shortfall by 30 percent.
  • Together, raising the cap on taxable earnings and freezing the estate tax at the 2009 level while dedicating the proceeds to the Social Security trust funds will meet three-fourths of the future shortfall.
Source: ARA Issue Brief, May 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Social Security, A Valuable Investment

Social Security is worth a ...


  • Retirement policy of $250,000
  • Disability policy of $353,000
  • Life insurance policy of $403,000
Source: National Academy of Social Insurance

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Social Security and the President's Proposed Budget

Social Security pays monthly cash benefits to retired and disabled workers and their dependents and to survivors of deceased workers. Benefits are financed by payroll taxes paid by employees, employers and the self-employed.

The Administration's 2008 budget for Social Security includes private accounts which would divert money out of Social Security and into private investment accounts.

The result would be:

  • Worsen Social Security's long term financing
  • Reduce Social Security benefits for future retirees
  • Trade Social Security guarantees for the risks of the stock market
  • Add trillions of dollars to the federal debt

Message:
Privatization would dismantle Social Security.

Close the back door budget approach to privatize Social Security!
Source: NCPSSM

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Social Security-What a Great Program!

Social Security 2007

1. Social Security is more than just a retirement program. It provides life insurance to the spouse and young children of workers who die and it protects workers who become disabled and are unable to support their families.

2. Social Security does exactly what it was designed to do. It gives people a secure, basic income protected against inflation for as long as they live.

3. Social Security contributes to the well being of Americans by providing a foundation for retirement income that permits seniors to live in dignity.

4. Social Security is the largest single source of income for America’s retirees. Two-thirds of Social Security beneficiaries rely on Social Security for most of their income.

5. Without Social Security, nearly half of all retirees would fall into poverty.

6. Social Security is portable when you are working – you can take it from job to job.

7. Social Security is universal – 96 percent of Americans are covered by its protections.

8. It is progressive; its benefit formula provides a proportionally higher benefit to low and middle income Americans than to high income individuals.

9. The value of the life insurance provided to survivors through Social Security is over $400,000.

10. The Social Security Trust Funds are secure for at least another 35 years. After that with no changes, the Trust Fund would still continue to pay over 74% of the promised benefits. Social Security is not in a crisis.

11. Social Security is a well run government program. The administrative cost is less than 1% of the outlay of funds.

A Guarantee Not A Gamble

Source: National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Thursday, October 11, 2007

U.S. Health Care System is Broken!

The U.S. Health Care System is fundamentally broken and self-destructing.

We can’t just “tinker around the edges”, we must do a major overhaul.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stop Toxic Imports


The recently launched United Steelworkers’ Protect Our Kids – Stop Toxic Imports campaign will combat the massive influx of toxic imports endangering North American families.

We’ve been flooded with everything from toxic toys to lead-laced baby bibs, poisoned pet food and tainted tooth paste. It’s time to tell politicians and corporations that a cheaper price tag is not worth endangering our families’ health!

Go to www.protect-our-kids.org or www.stoptoxicimports.org to find valuable resources, including how to request a lead screening kit and information about USW Safe Home events across the United States and Canada.

Please sign our online petition calling on government to fix this problem and peruse the Web sites to find out how else you can help.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pitiless George Says No to Children

Sorry folks. No signing ceremony today. Afterall, it wouldn't be good policy for me to deny healthcare for children in the light of day. So, I decided to do it behind closed doors.

Having government paid healthcare is good for me and congress, but surely you don't think it's good for children too. Afterall, they can always go to the emergency room.

Some of you just didn't ever understand what compassionate conservatism was. Well, this is it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Elect John Edwards for President


Sisters and Brothers,

When was the last time you heard a President of the United States say the word union?

When was the last time we had a President that fought to strengthen labor laws, to put an end to unfair trade policies and protect the worker's right to organize? In 2008 we have the opportunity to elect a candidate that has vowed to do all of this and more.

John Edwards has based his campaign for the Presidency upon the promise to make healthcare a human right, and not something that our unions must negotiate. He has vowed to end the global ‘race to the bottom’, and will demand strong labor laws that:

  • benefit working families.
  • will not allow trade with countries that exploit workers, and the environment.
  • will eliminate tax incentives for companies that move offshore, and
  • put an end to currency manipulation by countries like China and Japan
In the past six years the Bush Administration has put the privilege of corporations before the rights of working Americans. Isn't it time we had a President that will fight for us and not against us?

Contribute to the campaign to elect John Edwards for President in 2008.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Edwards, Obama Promise To Walk Union Picket Lines

Edwards, Obama Promise To Walk Union Picket Lines Even After Taking White House
By Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer

CHICAGO (PAI)--In rousing pro-worker speeches to a packed hall of 1,000 unionists, two of the top three Democratic presidential hopefuls--Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)--promised to walk with union picket lines even after they are elected to the White House.

Edwards and Obama were greeted with roars and ovations by the delegates to the Change to Win convention, meeting in downtown Chicago. The third top contender, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), also gave a strong pro-union speech--not including that particular pledge--but was forced to talk via speakerphone after her plane, along with hundreds of others, was grounded on the tarmac at the Little Rock, Ark., airport.

The three hopefuls are among seven vying for support from the 7-union 6-million-member federation, while also campaigning for support from the rest of the labor. CTW Chair Anna Burger said no decision was likely from the entire federation until after the February 5 round of primaries. The other four Democrats were not invited.

One CTW union, the Carpenters, has already endorsed Edwards. The Carpenters, including President Doug McCarron, were notable for their small presence--verging on invisibility--at the CTW conclave. They were neutral in the 2004 election.

Edwards, sounding more like a preacher than a trial lawyer, turned on the crowd repeatedly by reminding them of his strong support for union workers and their causes, even in daunting circumstances, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers’ struggle to unionize the 5,000 workers at the Smithfield pork-processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C. All three also opposed free trade pacts without worker protections.

Edwards noted he walked 240 picket lines for 23 unions--and his wife Elizabeth was even then walking with United Auto Worker pickets in Grand Rapids, Mich. GM forced UAW to strike, from Sept. 24-26, over several issues, including health care.

Smithfield workers, Edwards said, toil in 100-degree temperatures “with drinking water that is so tainted they have to put in Gatorade to kill the smell. But most people in America have no idea of what working conditions are like” at Tar Heel and elsewhere.

“So here’s what I have to say to all of you who are trying to earn a decent wage and have good working conditions: You are not alone. I’ll be with you every step of the way and I’ll be with you on the picket line when I’m elected president of the United States,” he declared.

All three also touted their pro-worker credentials in other ways, with Edwards repeating his pledge to “go out on the White House lawn” to tell Americans about the importance of unions to creating and preserving the middle class. He also reminded the crowd that he told the same thing “to 4,000-5,000 people at the Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento, not exactly your friendly audience.”

And when it came to passing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would help level the playing field between workers and bosses in organizing drives and in bargaining, Edwards said he would “use my political capital” for the bill. “And if we’re having trouble in particular Senate races and congressional races getting it passed, I’ll go to every one of those places and campaign for EFCA,” he declared.
Obama, a Chicagoan, reminded the crowd he started work 20 years ago as a community organizer, helping Steel Workers who lost their jobs when mills on the city’s South Side closed. “I’m not a newcomer. I didn’t discover working folks on the campaign trail,” he commented--without saying which of his foes did.

Obama blasted the GOP Bush regime as “the most anti-union administration in history.” He then stated that “if a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union,” referring to a key EFCA provision: Enshrining card-check majority recognition of unions in labor law, rather than at the employer’s discretion.

And after taking a swing at Wal-Mart, and mentioning the bill he co-sponsored in September to end companies’ “independent contractor” dodges, Obama returned to workers’ rights by declaring: “If your rights are being denied, I don’t care if I’m in the U.S. Senate or the White House, I will walk with you.” He got a standing ovation.

Clinton also strongly backed EFCA, saying she would “use the bully pulpit” of the presidency to push the bill. “I’ll travel the country, hold events, and explain the importance of unions even for those who are not unionized,” in order to push EFCA through, she said through the speakerphone.

All three hopefuls also touted their health care legislation and tried to draw differences between the plans. Edwards noted his bill was the only one where there’s a way to pay for its $90 billion-$120 billion cost, by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Obama said his bill guarantees coverage for all kids but not adults, because kids don’t have choices, but parents do.

Clinton said her plan is not government-run and would guarantee coverage--for those who do not want to keep their own health care plans--equivalent to the coverage Congress has. Congressional coverage gives lawmakers and staffers reasonable premiums and a choice of doctors. Clinton and Edwards would order individuals to buy insurance, with Edwards subsidizing the purchases by the poor.

###

Press Associates, Inc. (PAI)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Alliance Member on The Oprah Winfrey Show


Steve Skvara talks about losing his pension and health insurance,
asking “What’s Wrong with America?”


This Thursday, September 27, 2007, Steve Skvara, a retired steelworker serving on the Board of the Indiana Alliance of Retired Americans, will talk to Oprah Winfrey about losing his pension and health insurance, and asking his now famous question, “What’s Wrong with America?”

The Oprah Winfrey Show, “Sick in America: It Can Happen to You,” will be broadcast nationally Thursday, September 27, at 4:00 pm local time (airtime in most areas) on ABC-TV affiliate stations (check local TV program schedules for details).

“I am extremely proud of Steve for sharing his experience with the world,” said George Kourpias, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “This is only one example of how retirees will make their voices heard in the health care debate, and it is an important illustration of how powerful each of our stories can be.”

The broadcast will include a replay of Skvara's previously televised question, which he posed to the Democratic Presidential Candidates at the AFL-CIO’s presidential forum in Chicago, Illinois, August 7. Over one million people at home that night heard how Skvara retired from LTV Steel after he and his wife, Sandy, suffered life-altering injuries in an automobile accident. Two years after retiring, LTV filed for bankruptcy, costing him one third of his pension and all of his health care, and leaving Skvara unable to afford health insurance for his wife.

“Steve lost nearly everything when his steel mill closed. He has the spotlight, but unfortunately there are millions and millions of Steves who have lost their pensions and health care in retirement and now struggle to pay for medical care and other day-to-day expenses,” said Kourpias. “They cannot all be heard on Oprah, but they will be heard at the ballot boxes next November.”

Also on the show, guest Michael Moore will discuss his film Sicko with a health insurance lobbyist. The Oprah Winfrey Show airs daily for one hour. It’s U.S. audience averages more than eight million, and the program is broadcast in 134 countries around the world.

###

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of 3 million retirees and their families.

Pass the SCHIP Bill

President Bush and his compassionate conservative pals are wanting another 200 billion dollars for their “war” in Iraq, but when it comes to providing an additional 4 million children some health insurance at a cost of 5 billion dollars, they squeal like a herd of pigs.

The SCHIP Bill (State Children's Health Insurance Program) is now out of committee and will be voted soon in both houses of congress. Bush says he will veto it. So much for his compassion.

Surely, making health insurance available to children whose parents can’t afford private insurance is the right thing to do.

After all, without medical insurance, these children are taken to emergency rooms all over the country which only increases insurance payments for the rest of us.

Opponents are wrong if they think this is “socialized medicine”. That’s what England has. The doctors and hospitals work for the government.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a single payer plan like the Canadians, where you can go to any doctor you want and the government pays the bill?

When will these Republicans and the president begin to help the American people for a change?

Friday, September 21, 2007

We need healthcare for all--NOW!

Enough of this fooling around.

While we spend billions of dollars policing the civil war in Iraq, people in our own country are going bankrupt because of their medical bills.

So much wonderful legislation has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives only to hit a brick wall by Senate Republicans and the threat of Bush's veto.

There's only one way to bring sense to our government and that is to elect Congressman and Senators who care about the American people.

Healthcare for all Americans must be our number one mission. The phony crooks and liars in Washington need to get the boot. Their steering our wonderful country into oblivion.

Let's wake up and take our country back. The whole country this time, and make it once again a nation that we can all be proud of. One that cares about its own people for a change, and one that cares about our image to the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Floor Speech Against the War in Iraq, 2002

Former U.S. Senator, Paul Wellstone


3,791 dead American troops
27,848 wounded soldiers
1,000,000 dead Iraqi civilians
2,000,000 made homeless

When will the U.S. Senate come to their senses?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Get the LEAD Out


Protect Our Kids – Stop Toxic Imports

We need your help in getting the lead and other dangerous products out of our homes while drawing attention to a broken regulatory system and unfair trade policies that perpetuate corporate greed. Please pass the word about our upcoming campaign so we can all work together to stop unfair trade that is threatening our jobs and our families.

Source: USW Website