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

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.