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Showing posts from November, 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?


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..

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 n…


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 scratc…

New Green Jobs for Indiana


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 i…

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

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 …

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…

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

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

Think Again.

It's dejavu 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 growt…

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
• 35,000 Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks.
• 192,000 key chains and 63,000 Frankenst…

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 l…

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.


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…

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 ch…

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 …

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

You are invited

To take part in the Healthcare Now Road Trip!
Yes there is an answer
To our healthcare problems! and
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

(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…

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,

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

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 gett…