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


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

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

8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor - Washington, D.C. 20006 - (202) 637-5399 -

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


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.

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

Phone: (202) 637-5178
Fax: (202) 637-5398

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why I am Supporting Larry Balmer for State Senator

Larry Balmer is a candidate for Indiana State Senate District 5. He is a Democrat.

I told Larry that I was a retired Steelworker having retired from NIPSCO. I asked him to give me some reasons as to why I should vote for him. Below is his response:

"Charlie, thanks for this opportunity to address my thoughts with your members." "Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Thanks again and regards."

Larry Balmer

Positions on retiree issues:

Right to Work

Strongly oppose. Such laws unfairly allow others to take advantage of the working conditions established by the efforts of organized labor. Organized labor has proven time and again that unions promote a quality workforce necessary to the development and expansion of industry in Indiana.

Strongly oppose. Government is meant to provide services to the citizens of the state and its subdivisions. When privatization occurs, motives are shifted from service to profit and the citizen suffers. Accountability is lost, as is access to those in charge.

Health Care
We must revamp our current system of health care with several goals in mind. 1) protect and preserve Medicare; 2) Enhance access to quality health care by protecting the pension programs and health care programs offered by business to retirees; 3) We must stop the abusive practices of insurance companies that insert themselves between you and your doctor by prohibiting pre-authorizations, prohibiting the exclusion of pre-existing conditions, and prohibiting after the fact denial coverage for contractually agreed upon coverage. 4) Drug prices must be controlled and citizens need to be able to access medications from the sources available without undue restriction.

Military Veterans
We must work to serve “he who has served” by assuring the rapid access to PTSD screening for recently returning veterans, and working to shorten processing times for intake into the veterans health care system. We need to work to identify those veterans from all eras who are trying to access the system and facilitate their intake by promoting more community based health care centers. We need to enhance our county veteran services offices so that veterans can get answers to their questions quickly and find the help they need to obtain care.

The right to organize
I strongly support measures that will allow workers the opportunity and right to organize if they wish.

Collective bargaining
I strongly support collective bargaining rights for state and municipal worker, as well as binding arbitration.

Local Government Reform
I oppose any reform measures that take away our ability to participate in local government. I believe we must maintain our township trustees as an important safety net for all of our citizens. I believe that if we are going to streamline government we need to cut the fat from the top first, and not locally where the most interaction with elected officials occurs.

Safe Streets
We need to focus on promoting safe neighborhoods and fighting gang influenced crimes. The flow of illegal immigrants needs to be stopped and state and local law enforcement needs the tools to enforce immigration laws when necessary.

Quality of Life
I believe that communities need to be supported so that they can provide high quality community activities that promote quality of life for seniors, including meals and interaction with others. Having served on the Marshall County Older Adult Services Board of Directors I know first hand how important such activities can be.

Fair Trade
CAFTA and NAFTA impose unfair competition practices on American workers and undermine the relationship between labor and business. Business is free to "move on", seeking out cheaper labor alternatives in foreign countries that defeat the work organized labor has done to protect their member rights. I oppose open ended fair trade agreements and believe that American business needs to compete globally as American business and not as a "global" producer.

Source: Larry Balmer

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain Health Plan Would Cut Medicare by 22%

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Senator John McCain’s health plan would be financed through $1.3 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over 10 years. According to the Tax Policy Center, this would be a 22% cut in both programs. These cuts would be needed to keep his health care tax credits budget-neutral, in Washington parlance. The Center for American Progress said cuts of this magnitude would eliminate the Medicare prescription drug benefit for 10.2 million low-income seniors. “These reports pull back the curtain on the McCain health care plan, showing us that it would be paid for on the back of millions of retirees. This is terrible news for our nation’s seniors, who in this time of economic anxiety, are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle.

Source: Alliance for Retired Americans October 10 issue of Friday Alert

Thursday, October 09, 2008

This is what the union can do for you!

Click on the letter above to enlarge it.

This results in some workers getting a $4 per hour raise!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Can You Afford to Gamble Away Your Social Security?

Just like George Bush, Republican John McCain supports Social Security privatization, which would take money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and create private accounts tied to the roulette wheel of the stock market.

With all the turmoil on Wall Street, would you trust the stock market with your Social Security benefits?

A few more reasons why Social Security privatization is a gamble we cannot afford to take:

  • The cost of living has increased 21.5 percent since 2001. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9/14/08)
  • The U.S. Energy Department is expecting home heating oil to cost 30 percent more this winter. And a 19 percent increase for natural gas. (Associated Press, 9/9/08)
  • Bread prices are up 41 percent since 2001; Ground beef, 37 percent; Eggs nearly 100 percent. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9/12/08)
  • Home values have fallen 4.8 percent in the past year – back to 2005 levels. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 8/26/08)
  • 28 percent of all mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures are for homeowners over age 50. (U.S. News and World Report, 9/22/08)

John McCain has voted three times with Republicans and George Bush to privatize Social Security (Vote 68, 3/6/06, Vote 56, 4/1/98, Vote 77, 4/2/98)

Democrat Barack Obama strongly opposes privatization. Obama’s plan strengthens Social Security for retirees today and in the future.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Alliance for Retired Americans Retiree Roadrunner

Wrapped in red, white and blue roadrunner graphics, eight-passenger Retiree Roadrunner vans are driving across the nation to discuss the election and voting rights with America's seniors.
They will be traveling along routes in key states, filled with educational materials including state voter guides; candidate side-by-side comparisons; and information on senior issues such as Social Security, Medicare, voter rights and the stimulus rebate.

The Roadrunner will be visiting retiree town hall meetings, pancake breakfasts, and other outreach events so that retirees get the facts about the economy and this election. Stops are currently scheduled for Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The Retiree Roadrunner is driving home the issues that matter most to seniors. Alliance for Retired Americans members -- those who built the American Dream -- Steelworkers, SOAR members, vets, and retired teachers, want dignity in retirement and we're hitting the road to protect it.

Click HERE to see the schedule of events.