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