Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“A Tribute to the Original, Traditional, One-Hundred-Percent, Red-Blooded, Two-Fisted, All-American Christmas...”

It’s Christmas Eve and like most everyone I suppose, the day has me remembering the good things from childhood around this time of year.

One of my favorite movies is the 1983 release of “A Christmas Story” which is a novel by Jean Shepherd and takes place in Highland, Indiana (I think) or maybe Hammond, and how he finagles his father into getting him a Red Rider BB gun.

Well, I also have that Christmas memory of hoping for the same BB gun. That was what Santa brought me that year and one my best gifts ever.

It’s a wonder some kid in the neighborhood didn’t lose an eye because we often had regular old shoot em up gun fights in the woods behind our house on Kelly Street in Hobart. Gosh those darned BB’s really hurt.

If you’ve never seen the movie, it is a must see, that’s for sure.

I wish you all a very peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Organizations that have endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act:

The following organizations have endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act:

  • ACORN
  • Alliance for Justice
  • Alliance for Retired Americans
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • American Library Association – Allied Professional Association
  • American Public Health Association (resolution)
  • American Rights at Work
  • Americans for Democratic Action
  • Americans United for Change
  • A. Philip Randolph Institute
  • Apollo Alliance
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
  • Black Leadership Forum
  • Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS (BRTA/LRTA)
  • California Church Impact
  • Center for American Progress
  • Center for America’s Future
  • Center for Community Change
  • Center for Corporate Policy
  • Change America Now
  • Church Women United
  • Clergy and Laity Network United for Justice
  • Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
  • Coalition of Contingent Academics Labor
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women (resolution—PDF)
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
  • Cornell University LGBT Center
  • Demos
  • Democratic National Committee
  • Democratic Socialists of America
  • Earth Action Network
  • Empire State Pride in New York State
  • Equality South Carolina
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Gamaliel Foundation – Transportation Equity Group
  • Grassroots Policy Project
  • Gray Panthers
  • Gray Panthers – Austin, Texas
  • Gray Panthers of California
  • Gray Panthers of Berkeley, Calif.
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Human Rights Watch (resolution)
  • Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Japanese-American Citizens League
  • Jewish Labor Committee
  • Jobs with Justice
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
  • Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (report)
  • League of Rural Voters
  • League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Michigan ACLU
  • NAACP
  • National Association of Consumer Advocates
  • National Baptist Convention of America
  • National Center for Trangender Equality
  • National Consumers League
  • National Council of Women’s Organizations
  • National Employment Law Project
  • National Federation of Filipino American Associations
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National Latino Congreso (resolution)
  • National Employment Lawyers Association
  • National Partnership for Women and Families
  • National Puerto Rican Coalition
  • National Resources Defense Council
  • National Stonewall Democrats
  • National Women's Political Caucus
  • National Workrights Institute (resolution)
  • NDN
  • NOW California
  • Operation BIG VOTE
  • Pax Christi USA (resolution)
  • People for the American Way
  • Presbyterian Church USA – Washington, D.C., office
  • Press Associates Union News Service
  • Pride at Work
  • Progressive Jewish Alliance
  • Progressive Maryland
  • Progressive States Network
  • Queer Organizing Coalition
  • San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Sierra Club
  • Sojourners/Call to Renewal
  • Tikkun/The Network of Spiritual Progressives
  • United Church of Christ - Justice and Witness Ministries
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society (resolution—PDF)
  • United Nations Association of the National Capital Area
  • United for Peace and Justice
  • United States Student Association
  • United Students Against Sweatshops
  • United University Professors
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • USAction
  • U.S. Labor Against the War
Source: AFL-CIO

Monday, December 22, 2008

Give Workers a Chance to Unionize

William M. George
President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

For the last 25 years, good jobs have disappeared and real wages have dropped, even though workers' productivity has soared. People have struggled to maintain their living standards through credit.

But you can't rebuild or maintain a middle class on credit. You have to do it the old-fashioned way: Workers need to be able to bargain for decent wages and benefits for our nation to have a true, sustainable recovery.

The Employee Free Choice Act would restore workers' freedom to improve their living standards - and our economy - by forming unions, free from employer interference. It would restore balance, giving working people the tools they need to win fair wages and treatment in corporate America.

Workers who belong to a union make 30 percent more than those who don't. In Pennsylvania, the union difference is $8,555 in yearly wages. And union workers are also much more likely to have health insurance and other benefits.

So it's no wonder that when nonunion American workers are asked if they would like to organize, more than half say yes. Unfortunately, though, most will never get the chance.

Every day, corporations deny workers the right to form unions by forcing them to participate in company-controlled elections. And they routinely coerce, harass and fire workers for supporting unions.

A quarter of companies fire union supporters during organizing campaigns, often in the days leading up to an election. Three-quarters force workers to listen to the case against organizing in one-on-one meetings with supervisors, according to a study by Cornell. Meanwhile, union representatives aren't allowed on the premises. Does that sound like a free and fair election?

In 2005, more than 31,000 cases filed under the National Labor Relations Act found evidence of employers harassing, intimidating and firing workers for supporting a union.

Why? The dirty little secret is the reason corporations have put down big money to stop the Employee Free Choice Act: They don't want to give workers the power to bargain for fair wages and benefits that they don't feel like paying.

There are currently two ways workers can indicate they want to form a union: they can petition for an election, or they can be recognized when a majority signs cards in favor of organization.

The problem is that companies get to decide which method is used. The Employee Free Choice Act would put that choice in workers' hands.

Thousands of workers - including employees of such companies as AT&T and Kaiser Permanente - already form unions through the so-called card-check method each year. All employees should have that option.

Our current labor laws do not respect workers' choices. They promote wage inequality and depress our middle class. In today's economy, it is more important than ever that we fix them.

Let's level the playing field and give working people a chance.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Toyota Republicans should cut their own pay

By Leo W. Gerard
USW International President
Dec 21, 2008

President Bush took to the TV Friday to announce that he wouldn’t walk past the financial crash of America’s Big Three automakers and do nothing to save their lives.
Refusing resuscitation, Bush said, would be irresponsible during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
A week earlier, 31 GOP Senators, mostly from Southern states, voted to avert their eyes and allow American auto companies to die. They opposed $14 billion in federal loans for GM and Chrysler, revealing that their loyalty lies not with America, not even with their own states, but with South Korea and Germany and Japan.
They are Toyota Republicans.
Toyota has non-union manufacturing plants in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas – states whose senators led the GOP quest to slay the Big Three American auto manufacturers – Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, and John Cornyn, R-Tx. Here’s the Republican from Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran, explaining why he’d vote against the loans, “Things have changed. It’s not just the Big Three anymore,” he said, pointing out that Nissan and Toyota employ more Mississippians than General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. But, he said, the foreign companies would not share “in the benefits of that automobile bailout program.”
No. But Mississippi did give Nissan and Toyota more than $650 million to entice them to locate in the state. GM, Ford and Chrysler didn’t share in those benefits, Sen. Cochran.
The Toyota Republicans are all for helping the rich with tax breaks and shelters, and they’re all for aiding foreign auto manufacturers with billions worth of tax forgiveness and government-paid infrastructure improvements.
But their disdain for the working class couldn’t be clearer as they organized defeat of loans to the Big Three under this command: “Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor.”
They haven’t gotten the message sent out by the electorate in November. Voters rejected politicians prolonging the same old policy of protecting themselves and the rich. The nation’s voters want selfless leaders who will perform in the best interests of the entire country. They want change.
Clearly the allegiance of the 31 Republicans who opposed the loan to save GM and Chrysler is not with the United States of America, which would lose 900,000 jobs if just GM closed, and more than 2.1 million if the Big Three did. Those job losses would occur during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. In November, the 11th consecutive month of job losses, another 533,000 people were thrown out of work, swelling the pool of unemployed to 10.3 million. The Toyota Republicans were willing to increase that.
They voted against the interests of their own states as well. Consider what would happen in a few of those Southern States whose senators led the charge against preserving the Big Three. If just GM collapsed, Kentucky would lose 20,000 jobs; Alabama, 21,000; Georgia, 23,000, and Tennessee, 29,400, according to calculations by the Economic Policy Institute.
Sen. Cochran just didn’t think it was right for the U.S. government to aid its auto industry. But apparently he’s fine with foreign governments providing subsidies to the transplant automakers in his state. And, apparently, he’s okay with spending state and federal money to help foreign automakers locate manufacturing plants in the U.S.
Korean and Japanese automakers – including Nissan and Toyota with plants in Cochran’s Mississippi – benefit from manipulation of currencies by their governments, a factor that, according to EPI estimates, reduces their costs by between 10 and 20 percent. In addition, nationalized health care in countries such as Japan and Germany serves as a subsidy.
Also, the Toyota Republican opposed federal money for American companies but supported state and federal money for foreign auto makers estimated at $3.6 billion.
Shelby, for example, got $3 million in federal funds to improve roads near the Hyundai plant in Alabama after the state gave $250 million to the Korean automaker.
Shelby opposed loaning one federal cent to the U.S. automakers, though, telling “Face the Nation” that they should die: “Companies fail every day and others take their place. . . There’s not a bank in this country that would loan a dollar to these companies.”
But for foreign auto companies, his home state of Alabama couldn’t provide enough taxpayer cash – more than three quarters of a billion. In addition to the quarter billion it gave the Korean automaker, it handed another quarter billion to German Daimler for a Mercedes-Benz plant, nearly a quarter billion to Japanese Honda and $29 million to Japanese Toyota.
Similarly, Jim DeMint, another senator who led the Toyota Repubicans’ rebellion against the loans to GM and Chrysler, told the “National Review” recently, “Government should not be in the auto industry.” Yet, his state, South Carolina, got into the auto industry with nearly a quarter billion — $230 million – in gifts to a German auto company – BMW.
The same is true in Kentucky, home of Sen. Mitch McConnell, who said of loans for the Big Three, “Government help is not the only option. It’s not even the best option.” But government help was fine when Kentucky was providing grants for Toyota, which got $371 million from taxpayers since 1986.
It’s clear that the real problem was not a philosophical one. All of these lawmakers were willing to flick free market capitalism out the car window like a cigarette butt if their states could use taxpayer dollars to buy a foreign auto plant. No, what really gags them about the Big Three is that they pay good, middle class wages and benefits as a result of contracts with the United Autoworkers.
Repeatedly, the Toyota Republicans insisted that UAW members bear the brunt of the cost of the bailout. The senators insisted that UAW wages be lowered to match those of non-union auto workers at foreign-owned manufacturers. Toyota Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, wrote an amendment to the bailout bill that would have required UAW members to accept pay cuts by a specific date in 2009. When Republicans defeated the bailout, DeMint blamed that on the union, saying, “It sounds like the UAW blew up the deal.”
The Toyota Republicans then conferred the American auto industry to bankruptcy. They said they favored bankruptcy because it would enable the Big Three to break pledges made in labor contracts and promises for health care and pensions made to retirees. The Toyota Republicans want the wages of American workers pulled down. To them, UAW members making an average of $28 an hour, accounting for less than 10 percent of the cost of a car, are earning just too much money.
The Toyota Republicans did not, however, make that claim about the white collar workers on Wall Street who got this country into the financial fiasco that led to the dire circumstances for automakers. And not just for American ones. Domestic car sales declined by 40 percent last month, but Asian producers’ sales dropped too – by 35 percent.
The average salary of white collar, Wall Street employees — workers in “securities, commodity contracts and investments” — is four times that of those laboring in the rest of the economy. Remember, these are the guys who are so smart that they took down Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, AIG and Lehman Brothers – in less than a year – and ultimately required $700 billion from taxpayers to bail them out.
The top executives of Wall Street banks receive billions of dollars in year-end bonuses. The New York Times detailed those at Merrill Lynch in a story Dec. 17 entitled “On Wall Street, Bonuses, Not Profits Were Real.” In 2006, the firm gave its top executives between $5 billion and $6 billion in bonuses, which means, for example, a trader earning $180,000 a year got a $5 million bonus.
Merrill’s $7.6 billion earnings that year turned out to be bogus. The company’s losses now have exceeded all of the profits it earned over the previous 20 years. To prevent collapse, it sold itself to Bank of America in September. But then, Bank of America took $15 billion of that $700 billion in bailout money. Despite the gift of taxpayer dollars, the CEO of Bank of American has not publicly announced that he will decline a bonus, and Bank of America plans to tell Merrill Lynch workers the amounts of their bonuses beginning Friday, the New York Times reported Thursday.
When those Toyota Republicans voted in favor of providing $700 billion for Wall Street — including both of Tennessee’s senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander; Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell; Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson; South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Texas’ Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn – none asked for high-paid white collar workers to take pay cuts or give up their million dollar bonuses. There was a feeble attempt to limit the pay of chief executives, but that applied only to firms that received federal money under one particular method, and the treasury decided not to hand out the $700 billion that way.
And no lawmaker asked white collar workers or executives who got billions in bonuses based on false profits to return them.
But those Toyota Republicans want middle class, blue collar workers who don’t get year end bonuses, who don’t celebrate with five-figure dinners, to take wage cuts. They want autoworker pensioners to lose the monthly benefits they earned with a lifetime of labor.
And at no time did those Toyota Republicans suggest that they should cut their own salary or top-notch, government-paid health benefits or pensions. Like the reckless speculators on Wall Street, Congress bears responsibility for the crisis condition of the American economy because it deregulated financial markets.
In 2002, during a downturn in Japan, the House of Councillors reduced the pay of Diet lawmakers by 10 percent, and ended the transportation allowance, portrait-painting and pension given senior lawmakers.
If the Toyota Republicans believe the Japanese way of pay is so great for autoworkers, they should first impose it on themselves.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steelworkers Acclaim Obama's Appointment of Rep. Solis as Next Labor Secretary

Pittsburgh - The United Steelworkers (USW) union today hailed President-Elect Barack Obama’s appointment of U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.

“Our union has worked tirelessly to reverse the disastrous course that our nation has been led down during the past eight years,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. Celebrating President-elect Obama’s victory was a joyous occasion, but putting things right will not be easy.”

“The right-wing advocates of the failed trickle down economics will not fall silent when the new Administration takes office,” he said. “Our union is looking forward, with overwhelming enthusiasm, to working with a labor secretary who is committed to supporting the needs of millions of working families in this country.”

“We know that Hilda Solis is committed to bringing fairness and economic justice to American workers, especially those who go to work every day and have no voice in the workplace, that is, no union to represent them,” Gerard concluded.

Source: usw.org

Friday, December 19, 2008

United Steelworkers, a generous bunch

The spirit of Christmas is being demonstrated every day as Steelworkers and retirees help the communities in which they live.
To see the various ways in which they give to their communities, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Corporate Greed Finally Breaks the Economy

The American Worker is Under Assault with:

  • Attacks on Unions
  • Job-Killing Trade Deals
  • Skyrocketing CEO Pay
  • Anti-Family Policies
  • Global Race to the Bottom
  • No Oversight for Corporations
  • Right-to-Work (for less) Laws
  • Out-of-Reach Health Care
  • Retirement Insecurity
  • Corporate Greed
  • Millions of Lost Jobs
  • Risky Stock Schemes

The economic crisis we are now in is the result of unchecked corporate greed and decades of attacks on workers. The last thirty years have seen the biggest shift of wealth in American history where the richest 1% of all Americans owns 40% of all wealth. The USW has warned again and again that this economic inequality would eventually result in disaster and now that time has come.

The following are some of the guiding economic principles in place over the last thirty years that have crippled our economy and left American workers under assault like never before:

Deregulation – The anti-worker economy and its practitioners reduced and eliminated rules for how corporations carry out their business operations and worked to institute these policies at the global scale through the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements.

De-unionization – They trampled workers’ rights to form a union, leaving them on their own to overcome employer harassment, intimidation and even illegal firings. They allowed corporations to run roughshod over contracts and retiree benefits. And, they made sure global trade agreements fail to protect workers anywhere.

Globalization – They pushed policies that leave corporations unaccountable – to their
workers, to the environment and even to the governments that allow them to operate. They’ve delivered unprecedented amounts of power to these companies, who in turn leave the U.S. and our workforce behind in a global race to find the lowest wages, no benefits and no unions.

Privatization – Through turning over government services to private entities they’ve left our government vulnerable at all levels to corporations, unaccountable to taxpayers and oftentimes in situations where we wind up with greater costs.

Now it’s up to us to turn our economy around and WE HAVE A PLAN!

Watch for an upcoming InfoAlert that lays out the USW plan for economic recovery.

Source: USW Rapid Response (412) 562-2291 http://www.uswrr.org

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Farewell Kiss

Yesterday at a news conference in Baghdad, an Iraqi journalist threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush.

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog," he yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Now let me be clear. I didn’t like to see that happen on the news, and I don’t condone or appreciate my country’s president being attacked in any way.

However, I must confess that if my country had been invaded and attacked by another nation with bombs for no good reason killing thousands of my countrymen. And if the invader had occupied our country for five years displacing millions of innocent civilians and killing and maiming hundreds of thousands. And if the leader of that invading country responsible for these atrocities was giving a speech, I think I would want to throw more than my shoes at him.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bleepin Union Haters next to bite the dust

Many thanks to Indiana's U.S. Senators for voting to loan the auto companies their 14 billion bucks to get them through this depression. Both Senator Lugar and Senator Bayh voted the American way.

The Union Haters who voted for their foreign car companies which are located in "right to work for less states" are the ones we need to concentrate on kicking out in the next election. They vote for the race to the bottom for American workers, hate the unions (except for their own) and don't know what it means to be a patriotic American.

Here are their bleepin names:

Allard, Colo.; Barrasso, Wyo.; Bennett, Utah; Bunning, Ky.; Burr, N.C.; Chambliss, Ga.; Coburn, Okla.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Corker, Tenn.; Crapo, Idaho; DeMint, S.C.; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Isakson, Ga.; Kyl, Ariz.; Martinez, Fla.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Thune, S.D.; Vitter, La.; Wicker, Miss.

Notice that Mr. all American "McCain" is in that group.

The Loan would have provided some security for the workers and retirees. But, since voting against the loan would cause human misery, the right wingers naturally voted against it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

America's choice: destruction or construction

By Leo W. Gerard

International President, United Steelworkers

From sea to shining sea, America is suffering.

She is, however, afflicted with an avoidable condition she brought on herself, like a hangover. Only this one’s interminable and internationally contagious.

She did it by choosing over the past 30 years to establish an economy that worshiped avarice. That decision has destroyed her financial system and taken down with it much of the world’s.

Now America must decide whether to be swayed by the greedy urging her to continue basing her economy on the destructive policies of deregulation, de-unionization, globalization and privatization or to construct a new financial system focused on industry and profit shared by the workers who produce it.

Over much of the 20th century, the nation created real wealth by manufacturing – taking raw materials from the ground, using machines, energy and labor to convert them into products and selling those here and overseas. That process, to make steel or tires or washing machines, was the engine of the economy. In 1947, 32 percent of the workforce engaged in it belonged to unions, which meant workers received good wages and benefits. This enabled them to churn real money throughout the economy by buying homes and cars and television sets and to sending their children to college. And it enabled them to save 7.5 percent of their earnings.

Then, in the 1980s, a new narrative for the economy emerged. In this story, greed was good. Self-interest was supposed to lead to the best outcomes for business. To accommodate this concept, Government de-regulated and, in fact, passed laws favoring big corporations and the nation’s wealthiest citizens. The idea was that some of the prosperity they created as a result of the abolished protections for workers and the environment would trickle down.

This was the new economy.

This was a scam to move wealth from the middle class to the affluent. And it worked. In 1976, the richest 10 percent in this country possessed 49 percent of the wealth. In 2007, it was 73 percent.

During this time of bowing to corporate demands, the government actually gave multinational corporations tax benefits to offshore their U.S. manufacturing facilities. Sometimes they shut down, throwing hundreds of Americans out of work, then packed the factory pieces into crates, numbered piece by numbered piece, and shipped them to China or Indonesia or whatever country would allow blatant violation of its own labor and environmental regulations. Sometimes they closed American factories and built brand new ones overseas with breaks from foreign governments. As U.S. companies closed, union membership dropped to below 12 percent. And America found herself importing toxic lead coated toys, paper made from trees illegally harvested in Indonesian national forests and untested pharmaceuticals.

Companies that remained here threatened to leave if workers didn’t accept wage and benefit concessions. American workers were vilified for seeking a living wage while CEOs pulled millions out of corporations in annual bonuses.

The American economy began to depend less on manufacturing and more on the “financial sector,” where profit was made moving money around, betting on stock trades, and participating in asset bubbles. Remember the tech bubble? That was manufactured value – not manufactured goods – and that’s why it disappeared when the bubble burst.

The same has now happened with the housing bubble. Those smart guys on Wall Street, among the brilliant ones who sold America on the idea that greed was good, bet on housing prices never falling. A decline in home values never entered their calculations.

Then they fell. And they took down with them a couple of Wall Street banks and the largest insurance company in the world and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, credit markets and then the economy of the nation and the world.

Now workers are really in trouble.

They were struggling before the crash as manufacturing jobs disappeared and wages stagnated. Personal savings declined so that the average family now owes $8,000 to credit card companies. Without sufficient wage increases to sustain their lifestyle, families borrowed against their major asset, their homes. Now, because the housing bubble burst, a quarter of mortgage holders owe more than their homes are worth and 2.5 million have lost theirs to foreclosure.

All of this is because America failed to give greed the wide berth warranted by one of the seven deadly sins.

Alan Greenspan, who served as steward over the rise of the culture of avarice for nearly two decades as chairman of the Federal Reserve, admitted to Congress in October that his opposition to federal regulation was a blunder:

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

In the song, America the Beautiful,” from which the lines “from sea to shining sea, come, lyricist Katharine Lee Bates counseled in the second verse, “America! America! God mend thine every flaw.”

Clearly, this greed-based economy is a flaw. It was created by covetous humans. It must be mended by Americans of better grace, people Katharine Lee Bates described as those, “Who more than self their country loved.”

America’s workers must seize back control of their country and wrest back determination of its priorities. They must re-regulate the financial markets and remove the onerous restrictions placed on unions to prevent organization of new workplaces and bargaining of new contracts to raise worker salaries and benefits.

But, most immediately, America’s workers must insist Congress immediately pass an economic renewal package that will reinvigorate Main Streets across the nation. This is essential to prevent a prolonged and excessively painful deep recession resulting from the housing bubble collapsing.

This public investment has two purposes. It will stimulate the economy by providing jobs. In addition, it will strengthen America’s manufacturing competitiveness in the international marketplace.

The Institute for America’s Future has developed a plan called A Main Street Recovery Program calling for investment of $900 billion over two years.

The money would be targeted to areas that would create sustained, long-term, shared economic growth. This includes investing in green technologies to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and the threat of global warming. Another focus is repair and modernization of the country’s physical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and intellectual infrastructure – its education system. And finally, the third targeted area is assistance to workers most in need, which would include moves toward universal affordable health insurance, a middle class tax cut and expanded unemployment insurance.

More than 250 organizations and economists have endorsed this program. President-elect Barack Obama’s recovery plan outlined last weekend includes many of its aspects. Its passage would signal the beginning of conversion to an economy that values production and workers, something the self-interested greed-mongers will oppose.

But let’s work for realization of Katharine Lee Bates’ final verses:

“America! America”

God shed his grace on thee

Till selfish gain no longer stain

The banner of the free!”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Song is for you, Elaine

43 Years - with a wonderful woman

Thanks for taking good care of me.

Here's "Stay" by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs from 1960 when we were Juniors in Highschool

Monday, December 08, 2008

Passing of Larry Spitz - A Sad Day for the Labor Movement


Today, we in the labor movement are saddened upon the passing of Larry Spitz, Emeritus member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). Larry passed away on Friday, December 5, 2008

Below is a short “Bio” of Larry published in the “SOAR Executive Board Connection” newsletter in February, 2006.

Larry Spitz, Emeritus

Larry Spitz was one of the early organizers of the labor movement in New England. In 1933 he went to work as an organizer for the United Textile Workers of America. In 1936 he participated actively in the New England area in the formation of the Committee of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and was appointed by John L. Lewis to a three man committee which headed the organizational drive of the CIO in the State of Rhode Island.

During the years 1943 to 1946 he served in the United States Army participating in the Philippine campaign. Upon his return to the United States in 1946, he was appointed by Philip Murray as Sub-District Director of the United Steelworkers of America in Providence, Rhode Island and occupied that position for 19 years.

In 1965, Larry became the Director of the Wage Division of the United Steelworkers of America and moved to Pittsburgh, PA. In November, 1966, he left the Steelworkers and became Executive Director of Community Progress, Inc. in New Haven, Conn.

Upon his return to the Steelworkers in 1968, he worked as the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer and on special assignments from the President of that organization. He has represented the Steelworkers at a number of International Labor Conferences in Europe and the Caribbean area, has been a guest lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, and was on the faculty for specialized programs of the Rutgers University Extension Division.

He is listed in “Who’s Who in the East” and was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) by Brown University in 1976.

In 1976 he retired to Sun City, AZ and with help from his close friends, I.W. Abel and Walter Burke, organized 13 Union Club chapters with over 7,000 members, giving voice to union retirees and forming a strong support group for the Labor Movement.

In 2000, Larry was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He continues to be very involved with our SOAR organization and is always fighting for the rights of working families and retirees.

Note: Larry Spitz would have been 97 years old on February 19, 2009


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Save the Jeep; Save the Nation

by Leo W. Gerard
President, United Steelworkers Union

In 1941, car manufacturer Willys-Overland demonstrated the strength and sturdiness of its new Army scout vehicle – the Jeep — to Congress by driving it up the U.S. Capitol steps.

Invented and manufactured in the USA, the Jeep would become an icon of American ingenuity, durability and mechanical ability. Soldiers loved the lithe little vehicle for its uncanny capacity to go anywhere. The New York Museum of Modern Art would exhibit it in 2002 and describe it as a masterpiece of functional design. Now it’s 58 and constructed by United Auto Workers for Chrysler in Toledo, Ohio.

Disregarding Jeep’s help in securing this country against fascists, conservatives like former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are calling for its execution. Romney and his conservative compatriots want Congress to deny Chrysler, GM and Ford federal loans so that the Big Three go bankrupt. Using false wage information, these conservatives have persuaded the public that auto workers are overpaid. That has resulted in polls showing 61 percent of Americans oppose aid to the Big Three. And now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed is saying he fears he can’t muster the votes necessary for a loan.

Congress cannot let the Jeep die in bankruptcy. Congress must not fail the U.S. auto industry. Doing so would be abandoning the core of the American economy – manufacturing. America is not built on Wall Street’s credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. Its wealth and culture are built on and built by middle class workers who construct actual products like steel beams, tires and Jeeps, who operate and repair machines that pull oil and coal out of the ground, who log trees and man the mills that convert them into paper.

Just after the end of World War II, when the Jeep first became a civilian vehicle, 35 percent of workers belonged to labor unions. That’s significant because union members earn 30 percent higher wages than non-union workers and are 59 percent more likely to have health insurance. Those better wages and benefits helped create the great middle class in America. Workers earned enough money to buy refrigerators and homes and cars and, later, college educations for their children. The money they earned and spent churned through the economy and kept it humming.

But over the next half century, union membership declined. So it is only about 12 percent now. Business and industry groups intent on the extinction of unions can claim credit for a good part of that. These are the same organizations that are today misleading the public about auto worker wages, claiming they make $70 an hour when it’s really $28. They’re the same ones advocating auto company bankruptcy because it would allow the Big Three to renege on their contractual promises to workers and to retirees. They criticize auto workers for making a decent living, $28 an hour plus health benefits and a pension. And they denigrate the companies for being decent corporate citizens and fulfilling their health care and pension promises to retirees.

Over the past half century, multinational corporations have shipped a significant number of those good-paying union jobs overseas. With the help of wrong-headed federal policy that encouraged it, the U.S. lost an average of 12,000 manufacturing jobs per month since 1980. Since May this year, the average has been nearly 60,000. Multinational corporations sought cheap labor and lax environmental regulations in places like China and Indonesia, in what has become an international wage race to the bottom. Americans supposedly benefit from the import of cheap goods. But unemployed workers can’t afford to buy them.

Along with the decline in jobs and union membership came a reduction in the rate of personal savings and an increase in household debt. The financial situation of the typical American family became increasingly precarious even as, over the past 25 years, the very richest one tenth of one percent accrued more and more wealth. These were the kind of guys involved in short-selling – a practice through which a person owns nothing but makes money by betting that a stock will lose value – and by selling sub-prime mortgage-backed securities. These were the kind of know-it-all Wall Street risk takers who gave themselves $30 billion in bonuses last Christmas.

You know what happened next. Three months after those bonuses the initial investment bank fell. Bear Stearns got the first big federal bailout in March. Then other financial institutions and a gigantic insurance company involved in the subprime speculation toppled: AIG, Washington Mutual, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Lehman Brothers. Congress quickly offered up $700 billion to save financial institutions, and giant Citigroup took $25 billion of that in October and another $20 billion in November trying to stave off bankruptcy.

Congress used taxpayer dollars – working people’s money – to save those year-end-bonus awardees on Wall Street. Then it stiffed the working stiff. So far, there’s been talk, but no actual help for millions facing foreclosure. And while unemployment is rising, Congress is dithering over the Big Three’s request for a loan that could save millions of auto worker and support industry jobs.

Unemployment increased to 6.7 percent in November, after 533,000 people got thrown out of work in just those 30 days. Over the past 12 months, 2.7 million people lost their jobs. And finally, what every one of them already knew was officially declared earlier this week - the country has been in a recession for a year.

This nation clearly can’t survive on what is produced by Wall Street – reckless speculation. That took America down.

This country should not be spending all of its financial resources salvaging those who destroyed the economy. America needs to invest in what works – its people. Congress must provide mortgage relief. But, most urgently, it’s crucial that we re-invigorate our manufacturing base. America must be able to actually produce products. Swapping paper is not enough to sustain a strong and stable middle class that will save money and buy cars and homes.

The Jeep helped us win World War II. What has Wall Street actually done for you? Saving the Jeep – and Chrysler, GM and Ford – would be a symbol that America understands manufacturing is key to a strong economy and financially brawny workers.

Jeep owners should let Congress know they’re prepared to drive up the Capitol steps to support loans for the Big Three and investment in American manufacturing.

Keep the snow and ice off your windshield

Now, take it from a guy who keeps his car out of the garage all winter. Don’t waste time and effort scraping snow and ice off of your windshield.

Get a nice big piece of cardboard from your nearest electronics or appliance store big enough to cover the width of your windshield. Punch a couple holes in each end. Cut two pieces of elastic about the length of the width of the cardboard and insert the ends in the holes of each end of the cardboard. Pull the ends through the holes and tie them together.

Lift the windshield wiper blades up and leave them up.

Center the cardboard on the windshield and pull the elastic over the side view mirrors. Do this every night and before an expected snow storm.

One of those big boxes used for the new television sets works great. Ask for a box from their display televisions. Then you can make two covers, keeping one in the garage. In the morning, or after the snow stops, pull it off the windshield and put it in the trunk.

Source: A poor member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR)
No Charge for this tip.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gerard talking about challenges in manufacturing, auto rescue plan

USW International President Leo W. Gerard continues to earn the media spotlight with his insight into why the auto crisis is having a huge impact on manufacturing. Watch this latest interview on Fox News below:

Gerard: Congress bails out those who shower before work, not after

If you missed USW International President Leo W. Gerard on CNN this morning talking about how Congress' bailout of Wall Street discriminates against blue-collar workers, check out this video clip.

Right Wing Nuts

It's ok to spend 12 billion dollars a month to invade and bomb Iraq, but these right wingers don't think it's worth loaning 34 billion dollars to keep the automobile industry on its feet.
Right wingers in congress who end up voting against helping the big three auto companies thus saving millions of jobs, pensions, and health care for their retirees must be given the final boot at the next election.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

NIPSCO Credit When Credit is Due

A few months ago I replaced my 30 plus year natural gas furnace. I then applied to the NIPSCO EneryHarvest program in an attempt to get their advertised rebate for purchasing an energy efficient furnace.
A couple weeks ago I received a check from NIPSCO for $250.
What a great deal from NIPSCO.
What a wonderful program.
This company seems to be doing their part to help our environment, and conserve our natural resources.
I congratulate NIPSCO on this program and encourage others to take advantage of it by clicking here

Phony Conservative

I got a kick out of Governor Sarah Palin yesterday. She's a real hoot.

During the presidential campaign, she kept going after Barack Obama for “palling around with terrorists”, because he was acquainted with that professor from Chicago who was a terrorist so many years ago.

Then, yesterday, she was in the same room and sucking up to Obama; the same guy who she accused of Palling around with that terrorist.

Two faced, I’d say.

As well, during the campaign she kept referring to Obama as a Socialist because he wanted to “spread the wealth around”. Well what was she palling around with Obama for?……..you got it. She wanted to spread the wealth around……to Alaska.

I’m telling you, these so called conservatives are a dying breed. So phony.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Auto Company Scoundrels

Today, the jackass CEO’s from the big three auto makers will testify before congress and present their plans for getting their companies up and running.

It will be interesting to see how they travel to Washington this morning. The last time they testified, they all three took separate private corporate jets, then requested a 25 billion dollar loan.

What is it about some CEO’s of big corporations that make them so elitist? What makes them think they’re better than everyone else?

Such egos they have. They need to come down to earth. Power. Power sure does change people. A down to earth person who is otherwise normal, when given too much power, has to be very careful not to give in to falling prey to the instinct to think they’re better than everybody else.
At the same time, I sure have to give credit to these companies for negotiating fare contracts with the UAW. They pay living wages and provide good benefits which is more than I can say to many other auto companies that exploit workers.

The economy and the failure of the country to make it easier for workers to organize into unions is what has created this catastrophe.

The UAW has sure done what any good union would do to make these companies profitable, but just like in years past, the companies run themselves into the ground by not having vision.

The UAW has already negotiated the concessions necessary. Now it’s up to the auto companies.
Every CEO in America should pay very close attention to the behavior of these auto company CEO’s and learn from their mistakes.

Congress must grant the loan to prevent the Midwest from going down the tubes. At the same time, take away the extravagant salaries of these scoundrel CEO’s along with their golden parachutes and benefits.

The workers and retirees must not be the fall guys. They have forgone wages over the years to earn their pensions.

If the auto companies go bankrupt, the workers and retirees will lose those decent pensions and will lose their medical insurance. Maybe that’s what the conservatives in Washington really want. For the unions to disappear. After all, the auto companies that are doing well don't allow their workers to organize themselves, or at least fight them tooth and nail.

There ought to be a law against so called Right-to-Work-for-less states, or better yet, pass the Employee Free Choice Act. If this legislation could be passed and signed into law, then workers who want a union, could have one.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What a nice long week end

Wow, what a great four days. The turkey was delicious and it was nice to be able to snooze on the floor while watching the football and basketball games on television.
We certainly deserved the break.
In preparation for the bad weather, I got a big piece of cardboard to keep the frost, ice and snow off the windshield. Seems to be working just fine.
Gosh, the stock market is has sure taken a hit today, down more than 600 points. I'm glad I've been investing in whiskey, bullets and toilet paper.
Tomorrow we'll see if the big shot CEO's from the auto companies float in by their three jets or if they hitch hiked.
Sure hope they get some help, otherwise, I'm afraid Indiana will lose even more jobs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thanksgiving brings back many good memories. I remember as a school boy delivering the Chicago Tribune and realizing that today's newspaper was the largest in numbers of pages than any other day of the year. I used to dread it cause I had so many customers. Made for a very heavy paper bag.

There are many of our fellows who are desperate this Thanksgiving. Lost jobs, about to be lost jobs, hungry families.

We all can make this Thanksgiving better than most by helping others. The community food pantries are just about bare. Please consider a donation to one in your community. It will do you and others a world of good.

And, if you believe in prayer, say one for our country and for our new President Elect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emergency Assistance for the U.S. Auto Industry


The following message is from USW President, Leo Gerard:

Nov. 24, 2008

A Special Message about the Emergency Assistance Package for the U.S. Auto Industry

Sisters and Brothers,

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, let us not forget that our nation’s economy is in crisis. We’ve all felt the effects of this difficult time and we need to do what we can to prevent the crisis from getting worse.

That means supporting an emergency assistance package for the U.S. automakers. Let’s be clear: this is not a bailout that only helps Wall Street. This is an absolutely necessary loan to aid Main Street and protect our jobs.

The auto industry employs millions of hard working men and women and provides health care and pensions to millions more retirees. These family-supporting jobs are vital to communities across the nation. But this issue goes far beyond that – millions more jobs, including tens of thousands of USW jobs - are directly tied to the auto industry.

If the auto industry goes bust, chances are our jobs will go with it, and our entire economy will spiral deeper into peril.

So supporting this package isn’t just about solidarity for our brothers and sisters at the United Autoworkers and other unions, although that on its own would make this a worthy cause. It’s about saving our economy, protecting the middle class and fighting for our families.

Here’s what you can do right now:
1. Visit our Web site, www.usw.org or the UAW’s site at www.uaw.org and get the facts about the emergency assistance package. You can also download a PDF version of the talking points by clicking here. http://assets.usw.org/News/uaw-talking-points.pdf
2. Call and write your Congressmen and Congresswomen, state leaders and governors to express support for the emergency assistance package and request that they support the UAW-endorsed plan. You can mail Congress using our easy tool by clicking here.
http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/autojobs
3. Pass along this information and ask your co-workers, friends and families to also take action.

Here’s the message we need to send: Congress must act in December to avoid the terrible consequences that would result from a collapse of the domestic automakers. It must pass legislation providing an emergency bridge loan to enable the domestic auto companies to continue their operations. At the same time, it should include requirements that will protect the taxpayers, and ensure the accountability and long term liability of the domestic auto companies.

As always, thanks for all you do.

In Solidarity,

Leo W. Gerard

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Conservatives Are Doing

Republicans, after handing billions of dollars to the Wall Street crooks, want the big three auto companies to go belly up.

They want to compare the workers in Right to Work states that have no union organization to those states who have organized workers.

It's the race to the bottom.

Since workers without a union have to pay most or all of their Medical Insurance, and have no pensions, these Republicans are saying that the members of the United Auto Workers should be in the same boat in order to become competitive.

What we really need is the Employee Free Choice Act, so those workers in southern states can bargain collectively for better wages, working conditions, and benefits.

If the "big three" are forced into bankruptcy, millions of workers will lose their jobs. Foundry workers, rubber workers, Steelworkers and others. The retirees will lose part of their pensions and will lose their medical insurance.

Those calling for this to happen are getting their wages paid by us, their pensions paid by us, their medical insurance paid by us.

The Right to Work (for less) people need to stop dividing workers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Contacts: Gary Hubbard, USW (202.778.4384)
Nancy Gravatt, AISI (202.452.7116)
Adam Parr, SMA (202-296-1515)
Skip Hartquist, SSINA (202-342-8450)
Roger Schagrin or Tamara Browne, CPTI (202-223-1700)

The following joint statement was released today by the United Steelworkers, American Iron and Steel Institute, Steel Manufacturer’s Association, Specialty Steel Industry of North America and The Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports.

1. The Chinese government should stop manipulating currency, export tax and rebate policies. The U.S. government should insist that China have WTO-consistent policies on raw materials, semi-finished and finished steel products to ensure that no U.S. manufacturers are disadvantaged.

2. During a worldwide economic recession, China should not try to maintain economic growth by directing subsidized exports to the U.S.

3. China should stop subsidizing excess, redundant, inefficient and highly polluting steel capacity.

4. It is more important than ever that the U.S. government vigorously enforce our nation’s laws against unfair trade and that the United States stand up against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to combat China’s WTO-illegal practices and its efforts to evade U.S. enforcement of countervailing duty (CVD) law.

5. The U.S. government should, at this time of economic crisis, execute leadership in the global trade arena to ensure that China and all countries follow rules-based trade. At stake are millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs and the future of hundreds of U.S. communities. Our nation’s ability to rebound from this economic downturn will rely heavily on the ability of U.S. manufacturers to recover. Standing up to Chinese unfair trade practices will help Americans maintain their quality of life during these unprecedented and challenging times.

Conservatives; Anti-American

The Bush bunch has no problem in pumping twelve billion dollars a month into Iraq but at the same time can’t see their way clear to extent unemployment compensation to idled workers in our own country for six weeks.

They can bail out the banks but can’t see their way clear to provide a bridge loan to the auto companies.

In the balance is three million jobs lost, and thousands of retirees losing their medical insurance and much of their pension.

The big three auto companies must not be allowed to go into bankruptcy, and so called conservatives that are calling for their demise should be marked for removal at the next election.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Republican Bites the Dust

Ted Stevens, the convicted Senator from Alaska lost his election giving the Democrats an even larger victory in the U.S. Senate. Too bad for the hockey mom, Sarah Palin.
Two more to go.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Never call me a "conservative"

Let us all pray for our President Elect, Barack Obama.
Let us pray as well that President Bush will leave office without creating more damage to our country in the time he has left.
Now we all know what "conservatism" really means and I for one, want no part of it.
Can you imagine someone calling you a "conservative"? What a slap in the face that would be.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations!

The Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) Chapter 30-18 is very pleased with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Finally, the Bush era is over and we can get our country back on track.

Another candidate having our endorsement was SOAR member Nancy Demowski who won here in Indiana's 17th House District.

SOAR Chapter member Harry "Jon" Faust also won his election for Miami County Commissioner.

Congratulations to all of them.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Who Should You Vote For??

If you don’t want Social Security privatized…
If you don’t want Medicare privatized…
If you want a pension...
If you don't want to lose your Medical Insurance...
If you don't want the value of your Medical Insurance taxed...
If you're tired of the Wall Street bailouts...
If you're sick of CEO's getting their golden parachutes and millions in bonuses...
If you believe all Americans should have medical insurance…
If you want the cost of health care to be less…
If you think the Medicare Prescription drug plans are a rip off…
If you believe that Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices with the drug companies...
If you believe that Medicare should be able to re-import safe and cheaper drugs…
If you want a safe food supply…
If you don’t want toxic toys to be brought into this country…
If you don’t want any more Bush type preemptive wars…
If you want to see the congress finally start to work together to get something done…
If you don’t want to lose your home…
If you want to see a strong middle class…
If you want workers to be able to organize unions…
If you want safer work places…
If you want the Dept. of Labor to once again be a help to workers…
If you want the National Labor Relations Board to help workers…
If you think men and women who do the same job should get the same pay…
If you want more and better schools instead of more prisons…
If you want our country's infrastructure to be fixed...
If you want a clean environment…
If you don’t think torture is a good thing for America…
If you want America to once again be an example to other nations…
If you don’t want Indiana to become a Right-to-work-for-less state…
If you think Indiana should have a better Workers Compensation law…

Then you should vote for:

Barack Obama/Joe Biden for President and Vice President
Jill Long Thompson for Indiana Governor
Joe Donnelly for U.S. Congress
Larry Balmer for Indiana Senate
Nancy Dembowski for Indiana State Representative
Harry “Jon” Faust for Miami County Commissioner

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hi Hoosier Steelworkers


Hi Hoosier Steelworkers,

Today USW International President Gerard reiterated the need for us to get out there and vote for the candidates that will support and have supported working families in Indiana. He asked us to think objectively about one thing that Sen. McCain has done for working folks in his 28 years in office.
We couldn't think of a single thing. In fact, on all the issues that affect us - pensions, health care, trade and education - he stands against us. On all the issues that help us get ahead, make a living, stand up for other working folks - he speaks against us. On every single piece of legislation where we could have leveled the playing field, ensure we would not be replaced when exercising our right to strike, and protecting our retirements - HE voted against us.

When it came to Governor Daniels I couldn't think of a single thing he has done for us either. In Indiana, one of his first official acts was to sweep away collective bargaining rights for state employees. Instead of moving ahead, he moved us backwards, sold off the toll road and continues to encourage further privatization. We can't afford another term with Mitch. Jill Long Thompson is a union member that will stand up for us, by us and with us.

So get out there and Vote for Jill, Vote for Sen. Obama - and VOTE EARLY.


Susan A. Maroko
USW-District 7

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The American Promise

“What — what is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect. It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. Ours — ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools, and new roads, and science, and technology._Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now.”

Barack Obama

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FRI, NOV. 7, 2008 Obama's Loss Traced To Charlie Averill Single Nonvoter Tipped Election To McCain-Palin Ticket

There is only one candidate!


If you care about holding on to your job;
If you care about healthcare;
If you care about pensions;
If you care about your homes;
If you care about creating good jobs with clean energy;
Child care;
Pay equity for women workers;
There is only one candidate on the ballot this fall who is on that side;
Only one candidate that is going to stand up for your families;
There is only one candidate that has earned your vote;
and that candidate is Barack Obama!

Source: Paraphrase of part of a speech given by Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McCain's Class Warfare

Class Warfare
by Bernie Horn

In recent weeks, conservatives have ramped up their name-calling and accusations, telling voters that progressives such as Barack Obama are “socialists” who want to take money from the middle-class and give it away to the poor. According to John McCain, Obama “believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.” McCain claims that progressive tax policies will raise tax rates on small businesses and “hard-working families to give ‘welfare’ to those who pay none.”

Fast Facts

* Conservatives are the real redistributors of wealth. Under the Bush Administration, the incomes of middle-range households have stagnated. Workers with earnings in the lower range have lost ground and, taking inflation into consideration, on average they now earn less than they did in 2000. All the income these workers lost went directly to the top 20 percent of households, the only group whose share of income rose over the last eight years. Income inequality in the United States has skyrocketed since Bush took office, making America the world’s third-most economically unbalanced country, behind only Mexico and Turkey.

* It’s the wealthy, not working Americans, who avoid taxes. Conservatives like John McCain claim that “more than 40 percent [of Americans] pay no income taxes right now.” He suggests that it’s low-income workers who are skipping out on their tax responsibility, but that isn’t true. The wealthy enjoy most of the income generated by capital investments—and that income is taxed at a lower rate than the income middle-class workers earn. Warren Buffett pointed out that it is unjust for him to pay taxes at a lower rate than his secretary does.

* Progressive tax policies benefit all of America; conservative policies have failed. Conservatives accused President Clinton of “tax and spend politics” when he raised income taxes on the very wealthy to pay for investments in economic development, education, and new technology. But Clinton’s policies yielded 23 million new jobs—nearly five times more new jobs than Bush created with his tax cuts for the super-rich.

* Conservative tax policies contribute to the extreme inequality we now face—and they want to make it worse. Instead of giving everyone an equal tax cut, John McCain promises to give the richest people in America a cut five times as big as the one he’s promising to Americans in the middle class. John McCain’s tax policies are even more unbalanced than George W. Bush’s: Bush gave 31 percent of the benefits of his tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent, but McCain would give them 58 percent of benefits.

A progressive tax proposal is the best bet for small businesses. Less than two percent of small-business owners would face a tax increase under a progressive tax plan such as Barack Obama’s, and many more would see their tax bill reduced. In fact, one of the tax credits John McCain rails against—the Earned Income Tax Credit—is claimed by 14 percent of small-business owners. Obama’s plan to strengthen this credit would help seven times as many small-business owners as would McCain’s plan to decrease tax rates for the richest Americans.

Progressive Solution

We need to restore fairness to the federal tax code. It’s time to eliminate Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and ensure that all Americans pay their fair tax share. Our tax code should reward Americans who work hard and help our nation grow, not those who collect dividend checks or run companies that ship jobs overseas.

Source: Campaign for America's Future

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Just a little Republican Humor

The maverick, Sarah Palin's cost for clothes for 8 weeks - $2,678.57 a day

Shop, baby shop? GOP spent $150K on Palin clothes - see article here

The hockey mom, Palin cost for a stylist for two weeks - $1,628.57 a day

Palin stylist draws higher pay than policy adviser - see article here

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A John McSame Sweet Potato


For some reason, Republicans have been sending me John McSame campaign literature all summer.
The 4 pound sweet Potato you see here was grown at my home at Bass Lake, Indiana.

How did it get this size you ask?

Well, I tore the McSame literature into one inch squares which I let soak in a bucket of water for about a week. The resulting "McSame manure Tea" (MMT) was sprinkled onto the plant once per week over the summer.

I'm hoping to gather up enough McSame campaign literature so I can grow a whole row of them next year.

Sprinkling the MMT at the perimeter of the garden, seems to have kept the deer away as well.

Many thanks to my Republican friends.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Paint McCain a red-baiter

By Leo W. Gerard
International President

In a perverse way, the media painted Republicans perfectly when it selected red for their states.
Reporters would never have guessed when they did it that the red party’s candidate would engage in red-baiting. But there was John McCain repeatedly doing it in the debate Wednesday night, trying to convert Barack Obama into a terrifying “spread-the-wealth-around” commie. And earlier this month, the Republican’s brother, Joe “McCarthy” McCain, called two Democratic-leaning Virginia counties “Communist Country.”

When it comes to spreading assets around, however, the royal red Republicans, led by King “I-am-a-capitalist-really” George, take the Triple Crown. Their upside down communism works like this: the middle class pays for the tax breaks awarded the nation’s rich and for the financial recklessness of Wall Street’s ultra-wealthy.

Trickle down

In the Republican world, in the view of John McCain and George W. Bush, it never, ever works the other way. A curse, they would say, on anyone who would dare suggest that the rich should be taxed so that government could “trickle down” a portion of their extraordinary wealth to benefit the majority.

They believe in “free markets,” that is, allowing financial markets to run unrestrained and unregulated, or as some have put it recently – amok. They believe government interferes in markets and therefore should be shrunken and impotent. They believe that when an elite few accumulate wealth in that system, some of it naturally will eventually “trickle down” into the empty porridge bowls of the nation’s vast unworthy masses.

A dreadful thing happened on the way to the fiscal crash, though. That philosophy failed.

The “small government” Bush and Republican Congress increased spending, thus replacing the budget surplus bequeathed them with deficits. And not just any deficits – the largest known to man — $455 billion this year, edging out the $413 billion record debt Bush set in 2004.

The rich won’t be paying for that. No, Bush gave them a tax break, and McCain swears he’ll make that break for the wealthy permanent. The middle class, and their children and grandchildren will be making payments on that debt — which, by the way, was caused in part by the revenue loss from Bush’s tax break for the rich.

That’s spreading the wealth around – from the pockets of middle class to trust funds of the rich.

Over the past eight years, middle class Americans have watched with shock and awe as corrupt and incompetent CEOs left their failing corporations with golden parachutes – like McCain’s top financial advisor Carly Fiorina, who exited Hewlett-Packard with $45 million in 2005 when the board dismissed her as CEO following the company’s stock dropping 50 percent and her furloughing 20,000 workers.

Bail out speculators

Now those same middle class Americans are incredulous as Bush — who had McCain’s support 90 percent of the time over the past eight years — is taking $700 billion of their tax dollars to nationalize banks. Their tax dollars will be used to bail out the Wall Street financiers who wouldn’t cut the middle class a break when they were late on mortgage payments, the speculators whose uninhibited risk-taking caused financial institutions to fail, lending to freeze, stocks to swoon.

Deregulation of the financial industry allowed banks and other sorts of financial institutions to merge and become “too big to fail” and engage in risky purchases without sufficient supporting capital. McCain, who until recently bragged about being “Mr. Deregulation,” endorsed this suspension of rules. Its chief champion served as his campaign co-chairman – former Texas Senator Phil Gramm.

Gramm successfully pressed for repeal of the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which was designed to prevent financial institutions from becoming too big to fail, and for passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that deregulated those now infamous credit default swaps that took down insurer AIG, costing taxpayers another $85 billion.

Gramm left the senate in 2002 for an executive position with the Swiss investment bank, UBS, the stock for which, by the way, has plummeted right along with that of American banks.

McCain’s mentor

Gramm still advises McCain, though he’s no longer campaign co-chair. He had to resign that position after he called the United States a nation of whiners during an interview in which he also denied the seriousness of the financial crisis. Here’s what McCain’s financial mentor said, “You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession.”

Sure, when the coins of the middle class are flowing up into your pockets, Mr. Gramm, it doesn’t feel like a recession at all. Spreading the wealth around – from the middle class to the wealthy Gramms and multi-millionaire McCains.

Really, Joe “McCarthy” McCain was right when he called the Virginia counties of Arlington and Alexandria Communist Country. John McCain owns a condo in Arlington, and that’s where he located his campaign’s national headquarters. They’re communist all right, McCain Republican-communist, under which middle class earnings are spread to the rich.

In the debate Wednesday night, McCain accused Barack Obama of conducting class warfare because the Democrat wants to end Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy and instead cut the taxes of the middle class – 95 percent of American families.

What Obama proposes isn’t warfare; it’s fairness.

Class warfare is what the Republicans have done to the middle class over the past eight years, and what McCain pledges to continue. It’s a war the rich now are winning.
That’s what Obama wants to change.

Georgia Pacific Showing True Colors

Georgia Pacific workers in Wheatfield, Indiana still without a contract

USW-represented workers at Georgia Pacific’s Wheatfield, Ind., wallboard plant continue to struggle for their first union contract. After more than 14 months of negotiations with the GP management, there is still no deal. A few of the issues delaying Wheatfield from reaching an agreement are that GP management wants to pick and choose who works overtime instead of following a seniority system and has denied the workers’ request to create a joint safety and health committee to work on issues in the plant.

Fight-Back is underway! Labor charges have been filed against GP for unfair bargaining at this plant. Steelworkers in District 7 and in the Building Products division of GP are steadily reaching out in support of the Wheatfield GP workers, and will continue to do so until a fair agreement is achieved. If progress is not made at the negotiating table soon, we will be looking at more ways to urge GP to do right by the workers in Wheatfield and offer workers a deal they can live with.

Source: Pulp truth issue 17 October 2008

Takin' it Back with Barack Jack!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Social Security Benefit Increase for 2009

SOCIAL SECURITY

News Release October 16, 2008

Social Security Announces 5.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2009


Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 55 million Americans will increase 5.8 percent in 2009, the Social Security Administration announced today. The 5.8 percent increase is the largest since 1982.

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), from the third quarter of the prior year to the corresponding period of the current year. This year's increase in the CPI-W was 5.8 percent.

The 5.8 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that over 50 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2009. Increased payments to more than 7 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will begin on December 31.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $106,800 from $102,000. Of the estimated 164 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2009, about 11 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2009 can be found at www.medicare.gov

Source: Social Security on line


Note: This will mean an additional $63 per month for the average retiree.
--

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Indiana Retirees To Endorse Obama/Biden

ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS
8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor - Washington, D.C. 20006 - (202) 637-5399 - www.retiredamericans.org

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2008
Contact: Marcie Kohenak, (914) 318-0674

INDIANA RETIREES TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR OBAMA
ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS TO ENDORSE OBAMA-BIDEN

Indiana members of the Alliance for Retired Americans will show their support for Barack Obama on Tuesday in Mishawaka. Citing his strong position on Social Security in a time of economic anxiety, the national Alliance will today endorse Barack Obama for president.

DATE: Tuesday October 14, 2008

TIME: 1:00 p.m.

PLACE:
USW Local #1191
125 S. Hill Street
Mishawaka, IN

CONTACT: Marcie Kohenak, (914) 318-0674

"Retirees are very anxious," said national Alliance President George J. Kourpias, whose organization represents over 3.5 million members. "Not only are they concerned about their own retirement security, but they worry about what lies ahead for their children and grandchildren," he said.

"Barack Obama opposes Social Security privatization, because he knows that we can't gamble away our savings on Wall Street. Obama and Biden will fix our health care mess, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and do away with income taxes for seniors earning less than $50,000," Kourpias said.

Indiana has over one million Social Security recipients, said Kourpias, commenting that retirees across the country are troubled by Senator John McCain voting three times to take money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and create private accounts tied to the roulette wheel of the stock market. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office found that Americans' retirement accounts have lost up to $2 trillion in the stock market in the past 15 months, Kourpias noted.

Kourpias said that retirees were "deeply offended" this summer when John McCain, who receives $23,000 in annual benefits, said it was "an absolute disgrace" that younger workers must pay taxes to support current Social Security beneficiaries.

# # #
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 3.5 million retirees and their families.


Marcie Kohenak
Communications Associate

Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor North
Washington, D.C. 20006
http://www.retiredamericans.org

Phone: (202) 637-5178
Fax: (202) 637-5398
Email: mkohenak@retiredamericans.org