Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Day for Labor 2008




Labor Day Press Conference and Union Rally with Congressman Pete Visclosky will focus on
Region’s “First-Contract” Fights


• When: Monday Labor Day September 1, 9:15 a.m.

• Where: Lowell Labor Day Parade at USW floats, Position 21, Deanna Dr., just south of George’s Family Restaurant (1910 E. Commercial/Rt. 2 in Lowell)

• Why: Three newly organized workforces at Worthington Steel in Portage, Georgia Pacific in Wheatfield and ARC Bridges in Gary who have been fighting for their first contract for up to 2 years are prime examples of the need for the Employee Free Choice Act, one of Labor’s main priorities for the 2008 elections.

• Who: Union workers from the Region, including all 3 contract fights, will hold a rally and press conference featuring Congressman Pete Visclosky, candidate for Governor Jill Long Thompson and USW District 7 Director Jim Robinson to explain to the public this growing and widespread tactic used by companies to attack workers who choose to organize for better wages and conditions.

For more information contact:
Robin Rich, United Steelworkers District 7
219-881-6224 or 743-0624
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For Those in the Plymouth, Indiana Area

Indiana’s anti-working family Governor, Mitch Daniels, will be marching in the Blueberry Festival Labor Day parade on Monday (tomorrow).

We are asking for everyone to bring friends with them to a team-building rally tomorrow morning at 7:45a.m. (Plymouth time) at the Martin's Supermarket parking lot, then march in the parade at 9:00 a.m.

Please wear your union gear, a hat, and any Jill signs or other campaign media with you. If you cannot walk, you can ride on the float.

We will have something to do for everyone. The parade will be about an hour and a half long. Plus, there will be blueberries in nearly every imaginable form at the festival.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shocking Choice by John McCain


Washington -- Senator John McCain just announced his choice for running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. To follow is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.


"Senator McCain's choice for a running mate is beyond belief. By choosing Sarah Palin, McCain has clearly made a decision to continue the Bush legacy of destructive environmental policies."

"Sarah Palin, whose husband works for BP, has repeatedly put special interests first when it comes to the environment. In her scant two years as governor, she has lobbied aggressively to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, pushed for more drilling off of Alaska's coasts, and put special interests above science. Ms. Palin has made it clear through her actions that she is unwilling to do even as much as the Bush administration to address the impacts of global warming. Her most recent effort has been to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list, putting Big Oil before sound science. As unbelievable as this may sound, this actually puts her to the right of the Bush administration."

"This is Senator McCain's first significant choice in building his executive team and it's a bad one. It has to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about John McCain's commitment to conservation, to addressing the impacts of global warming and to ensuring our country ends its dependency on oil."

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund provides a powerful voice to Americans who value our conservation heritage. Through grassroots lobbying, issue advocacy and political campaigns, the
Action Fund champions those laws and lawmakers that protect wildlife and wild places while working against those that do them harm.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

WOW! What a Great Democrat Convention

What a great convention it was. It will be very interesting to see how the republicans can pull off one as successful.

Barack Obama sure did tell it like it is.

Time to go to work, that's for sure.

Let's take back America.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This election is green; not black and white

August 26, 2008


By Leo W. Gerard
USW International President

Presidential race

While some want to paint this year’s presidential race in black and white, for middle class America, it’s all about the green. Greenbacks. Team colors are clearly visible: The Republicans’ – green and gold. That’s obvious when their nominee, John McCain, is one of the richest men in the Senate. He’s so wealthy that when recently asked by a reporter how many homes he owned, he just couldn’t recall.

Seven, Senator, seven.

When schlepping around Arizona on the campaign trail got tough, his wife surprised him the gift of a private jet to ease the sojourn. When asked to define wealthy, he said, for him, a guy whose worth has been estimated at $100 million, rich is $5 million.
Team colors for the chosen Democratic candidates, by contrast, are basic red, white and blue. Presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s boyhood family struggled on food stamps for a time. His chosen vice president, Sen. Joe Biden, grew up in hard scrapple Scranton and his family shared quarters with in-laws during tough times. Biden has long been ranked as one of the least wealthy members of the senate.

Kitchen tables

Biden, long a personal friend of McCain’s, noted the economic difference in his speech in Illinois Saturday after Obama introduced him as his selection for vice president. While many Americans sit down at their kitchen tables to worry over bills, Biden said, John McCain, by contrast, would just have to worry over which of his seven kitchen tables to sit down at – not over an actual bill.
Ah, the frets of the rich. And for them – and himself — John McCain wants to preserve Bush’s tax cuts.
Those tax cuts are a considerable part of the budget deficit, and the budget deficit – along with the trade deficit — is a considerable part of the declining confidence in Wall Street.
The Republicans, George Bush, VP Dick Cheney, and McCain, the self-styled “maverick” who voted with Bush-Cheny 95 percent of the time last year and 100 percent this year, took the budget surplus that Democrat Bill Clinton bequeathed them and converted it into a behemoth debt.

$4 gasoline

They took rising employment and sent it down and a burgeoning housing market sent it to bankruptcy. They took a low consumer price index and bought us the highest rate of wholesale inflation in nearly 30 years – 9.8 percent. Think $4-a-gallon gasoline.
Then, just to smack middle class America in the face, they gave the rich tax breaks. ‘Cause multi-millionaires like John and Cindy McCain, with their seven homes and private plane, need a break today.
Greenbacks. Republicans Bush and Cheney put us here, with McCain agreeing all the way. Electing McSame would result in four more years of greenbacks draining out of our wallets.
Obama and Biden didn’t come from the world of wealth that Bush, Cheney and McCain luxuriate in. They have lived the life and felt the feelings of middle class Americans. They know what it is to pay off college and car loans.

Riding the train

Biden rode a train back and forth from Washington to his district home in Delaware, chatting with conductors, never buying a second home and living in pricey D.C. He crawls on the floor to play with his grandkids.
Obama declined top dollar job offers when he graduated Harvard Law School to return to Chicago to become a civil rights lawyer and organize voter registration drives. When he was campaigning in Pennsylvania earlier this year, he wanted pictures of himself feeding a bottle to a calf at a Penn State University dairy so he would have something interesting to tell his little daughters about in their evening telephone call.
Greenbacks. Obama and Biden will help the middle class keep them in their pockets. Because they understand from firsthand experience how difficult it is to get a few there in the first place.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quality Schools, Not School Vouchers

It’s back-to-school time. In conservative politics, that means it’s time to pull out their tired old ideological war-horse, school vouchers. But vouchers represent a cut-and-run strategy in public education. By definition, vouchers abandon the goal of—and shirk responsibility for—providing a quality education to all students. In fact, Americans have never liked school vouchers: voters have rejected every voucher and tuition tax credit referendum proposed in the past 30 years.

The Facts

There is no credible evidence that school vouchers improve student achievement. Two studies from Bush’s own Department of Education found that the voucher program in Washington D.C. has had no impact on students’ academic performance. An exhaustive eight-year study of Milwaukee’s school voucher program reached the same conclusion. The Milwaukee study also found that vouchers failed to raise public school achievement through competition, as many conservatives had claimed they would.

There is no credible evidence that private schools are better than public schools. There is virtually no difference between public and private school students’ academic achievements, once family background characteristics are taken into account. Attending a private school does not make a low-income student more likely to attend college, or to find a satisfying job later in life.

Vouchers fail to put private education in reach of students from the neediest families. Voucher programs do not cover the full cost of tuition at many private schools, leaving families and the schools to make up the difference. New Orleans, for example, caps voucher payments at $6,300, though the area’s elite private schools charge tuitions of over $20,000 a year. Vouchers also fail to help low-income families meet other costs of private education, such as uniforms, books, and transportation.

Private schools receiving vouchers are not held to the same level of accountability as public schools. Even though vouchers are funded with public-school dollars, the private schools that take them do not have to meet the same standards that public schools do, such as those outlined in the No Child Left Behind law. In Washington, D.C., nearly 18 percent of schools that received vouchers reported that a significant proportion of their teachers lacked bachelor’s degrees, and many of the schools were not accredited.

Source: Campaign for America's Future

Friday, August 22, 2008

Social Security Privatization Could Force Thousands In Indiana Into Poverty

Campaign For America's Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Toby Chaudhuri
202-587-1653

TUESDAY, AUG. 5, 2008

New Report Shows Social Security Privatization Could Cut Guaranteed Benefits
By $183K, Placing 145K Older People In Indiana At Risk Of Poverty

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Social Security privatization, embraced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would cut guaranteed benefits for thousands of future retirees in Indiana by thousands of dollars, according to a new report released today by the research arm of the Campaign for
America’s Future. Today’s report shows that more than 145,000 older people living in Indiana
would have a greater risk of falling into poverty, each losing more than $183,000 over the course of their lifetimes, by the time a privatization plan like the one supported by Sen. McCain and President Bush is fully implemented.

Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey, whose organization has worked to
defend and strengthen Social Security for more than a decade, said the popular program is at risk again.

“Social Security is very popular in Indiana, but its guaranteed benefits are in the national
crossfire again,” said Hickey. “Sen. McCain has been very clear about his plans to push
privatization again despite the public backlash President Bush faced when he pushed his scheme a few years ago. The conservative ideologues just won’t stop trying to privatize Social Security.”

In Indiana, 1,097,000 people depend on their earned Social Security benefit every month,
according to the Social Security Administration. Thousands of businesses and the state
government also depend on the program. More than $13.6 billion flows into the Indiana
economy from Social Security each year.

Diverting a portion of payroll taxes into risky private accounts could force many people below
the poverty line. More than 777,000 people in Indiana currently live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. Meanwhile, 197,000 individuals depend on their guaranteed Social Security
benefits for 90 percent or more of their income. The average Social Security check for individual retirees in Indiana is $1,135 per month; it takes $867 per month to stay above the federal poverty line. These Social Security recipients would be close to the edge and vulnerable to rising food, housing and energy costs.
# # #
**NOTE: Media representatives interested in a copy of today’s Indiana Social Security report

Thursday, August 21, 2008

USW Statement on Passing of U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-11th-OH)

Pittsburgh, PA (Aug. 21) – Statement by Leo W. Gerard, President, United Steelworkers (USW), on passing of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.


“Cleveland Steelworkers and USW members across the nation are saddened by the loss of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. No one could stir a crowd quite like Stefanie. Her life force was so strong that she could project it into a weary crowd and get them all on their feet yelling for more.

She roused our 4,000 local union leaders at the USW Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas earlier this month with her fierce support of America’s union workers by quoting a passage from her favorite poem, ‘Let the union spirit take hold of this land. Let the union’s power fill every woman and man.’

Urging unprecedented activism in the upcoming November elections, she told us, ‘There are those who believe God’s going take care of everything. Well, that’s not faith. That’s superstition.’ Tubbs Jones, who supported Senator Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, urged everyone to unify behind the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Congresswoman Tubbs Jones was proud of her life of ‘firsts,’ including being the first African American woman serving on one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives, the Ways & Means Committee. But she was equally proud of her achievements as a judge on the Common Pleas bench in the State of Ohio and as a Municipal Court Judge in the City of Cleveland.

Her legacy of leadership will stay with us. There was no greater friend of the Steelworkers than Congresswoman Tubbs Jones and she will be missed, not only by our members, but by working men and women nationwide. The USW extends our condolences and prayers to her family during this most difficult time."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Labor Day Celebration

LABOR DAY Pullman Community Is the Place to Be for Labor Day 2008!

Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood is shaping up to become the greatest place in the city to celebrate Labor Day in 2008.

The storm center of perhaps the most famous industrial conflict of the 19th century was the charming and wholly owned planned community where industrialist George Pullman manufactured the sleeping cars.

Although the factory is partially gone, the dramatic Clock Tower remains and industrial artifacts from the vanished steel industry are on display. The Hotel and factory property belong now to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and can be toured by appointment.

The partly-restored factory/Clocktower building will serve as the perfect backdrop for the day's celebration, which begins at 2:00 p.m. -address 11035 S. Cottage Grove Ave (111th St).

Labor Day visitors will have the unexpected pleasure of hearing from historic personalities associated with labor struggles throughout the years. These will include young Jennie Curtis, who headed the “girls” local union in 1894, and Eugene V. Debs, president of the American Railway Union during the Pullman Strike of 1894. There will be major appearances by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Sleeping Car Porters Union, and no less than President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who will remind everyone that this is the 75th anniversary of the New Deal. During that time the Pullman plant employees were organized once again, this time by the newly formed United Steelworkers of the CIO.

The free program is sponsored by the Pullman Civic Organization, the Pullman Historic Foundation, the Illinois Labor History Society, Illinois AFL-CIO, the Bronzeville/Chicago Black History Society and other organizations.

Further information: contact Tom Shepherd of the Pullman Civic Organization 773-370-3305, or the ILHS at 312-663-4107 - or visit the web site: http://laborday.pullmanevents.info


Go here for more information

Monday, August 18, 2008

I've Got a Belly Full

After watching the two presidential candidates being interviewed by that preacher yesterday, with Obama answering with thought and precision and McCain turning to the audience when he spoke and answering the questions as if he knew what they were before he heard them........and McCain answering as if he was giving a stump speech.......and then finding out that it was possible for McCain to hear the questions along with Obama's answers instead of being placed in a room with no way to hear as the preacher host declared the situation would be, I decided to take a break from this blog for a day and just play some music that also brings me to tears.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Georgia Pacific Worse than Rotten

The best example I can think of as to why we need the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a rotten company located in Wheatfield, Indiana.

The Georgia Pacific Gypsum Company in Wheatfield, Indiana has been lollygagging and dragging its feet for over a year now as their workers try to negotiate a first contract with this lousy company.

The company isn’t fooling anyone. A fair contract can be negotiated in a couple of days when the company involved is honest and on the up and up.

One part of the EFCA provides for first-contract mediation and arbitration. It Provides that if an employer and a union are engaged in bargaining for their first contract and are unable to reach agreement within 90 days, either party may refer the dispute to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) for mediation. If the FMCS is unable to bring the parties to agreement after 30 days of mediation, the dispute will be referred to arbitration, and the results of the arbitration shall be binding on the parties for two years. Time limits may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.

This arrangement would prevent anti-union companies like Georgia Pacific from bad faith bargaining. Shame on Georgia Pacific.

By the way…..Barack Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act and would sign it into law.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SENIORS HONOR SOCIAL SECURITY, WORRY ABOUT MCCAIN




Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, made the following statement today at a press conference organized by Americans United for Change on the 73rd anniversary of Social Security.

Retirees have mixed feelings on today’s anniversary. Social Security is one of our nation’s greatest success stories – it has kept millions out of poverty and has allowed older Americans to retire with dignity. But at the same time, Senator McCain and his allies continue to slander Social Security and promote dangerous privatization schemes. Senator McCain has voted for privatization on several occasions.

Older voters are one of the largest, most reliable – and swing – blocs of voters in this year’s elections. The Alliance will devote the next 82 days to educate retirees on issues such as Social Security.

Today, grassroots activists with the Alliance for Retired Americans are organizing 25 Social Security events, ranging from delivering birthday cakes and cards to Social Security offices in places such as New Mexico and North Carolina, to shadowing Senator McCain during his visits to Pennsylvania and Colorado.

We are reminding retirees that just five weeks ago Senator McCain said it is “a disgrace” that young workers who pay taxes support current beneficiaries. I suspect that most of the 42 million Americans receive Social Security – our nation’s elderly, our widows and widowers, and our young children who have seen a parent die – do not see it as a “disgrace.”

We call upon Senator McCain to clarify to all Social Security beneficiaries just why he believes this is “a disgrace.” The Alliance recently ran issue ads on TV in Pennsylvania, calling attention to Senator McCain’s comments. We plan future ad buys in key media markets.

Senator McCain receives nearly $24,000 per year in Social Security. He receives these benefits because, like other older Americans, he contributed into this system over the years. We hope that he would support strengthening – not weakening – the program so that both current and future retirees can continue to count on their Social Security.

But, Senator McCain, if you believe that Social Security is “a disgrace,” then why don’t you mark RETURN TO SENDER on your check?

We are reminding retirees that Senator McCain continues to support President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. This would create Social Security accounts tied to the roller coaster of Wall Street. With all the turbulence in the stock market, and the rising prices of gas, groceries and health care, this is a gamble few retirees can afford to take.

Privatization would hit the next wave of retirees as well – those currently in their mid-to-late 50s – particularly hard, as the massive amount of borrowing needed to create these private accounts would drain the Social Security Trust Fund and reduce benefits just as they approach retirement.

Retirees care about their children and grandchildren. We want them to enjoy an active, healthy, and financially secure retirement when their working days are done. The best way to celebrate Social Security’s 73rd birthday is to fight to ensure that Social Security remains strong and successful for generations to come.

###
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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Middle class needs right to bargain, secure contracts like CEOs have

By Leo W. Gerard
USW President

Kosher abuse

In May, when immigration officials raided the kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa and hauled out 389 undocumented workers, the news was all about immigration violations, but now the focus is on the employer, Agriprocessors Inc.

That’s because it turns out that while purportedly giving ritual consideration to the animals to be slaughtered, Agriprocessors failed to treat with dignity, or legality, the teenagers, and children, some as young as 13, in its employ. The 57 adolescents, some working 17-hour shifts, six days a week, testified to wielding knives and other dangerous tools prohibited for young workers.

The Agriprocessors incident raises difficult questions in the Jewish community. If meat is denied the kosher label because the animal does not die within seconds of precise slitting, is it kosher when the 13-year-old child who processed it was illegally hired, worked a 17 hour day and was refused overtime pay? What if a 16-year-old undocumented youth, who put in 17-hour shifts, six days a week, leaving no time for anything but work and sleep, said in an affidavit, “I felt like I was a slave?”

These violations happened in Iowa, but they occur elsewhere as well, for a simple reason: the Wal-Mart mentality.

Soulless corporate mindset

We have allowed that soulless, unpatriotic global-corporate mindset to control government policy. As a result, the rich have gotten richer while the middle class has paid the bill and gone bankrupt. The great builder and protector of the middle class, collective bargaining, has been eroded by deliberate corporate actions over the past quarter century. Meanwhile, the national debt has increased; inflation and unemployment are up, and foreclosure signs mar every neighborhood.

Corporate lobbyists secured from compliant politicians so-called free trade agreements that have resulted in the loss of millions of good paying, often unionized manufacturing jobs. Those jobs have gone to third-world countries where investigations have shown workers often labor long, grueling hours and are not even paid their own countries’ minimum wage. Then their products are shipped back to the U.S. to be sold at cheap prices at Wal-Mart by workers who are paid less than a living wage and are denied full-time status and health insurance.

What comes around, goes around in the Wal-Mart world. When uninsured Wal-Mart workers get sick, American taxpayers foot the bill. They pay for coverage through Medicaid, the health insurance plan for the poor. That’s what the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, banks on. Literally banks on. When American taxpayers step up and pay for half of all Wal-Mart employees’ health care, that certainly helps the Waltons stay among the 25 wealthiest families in the world.

Wal-Mart workers would benefit tremendously from forming a union. Workers who belong to unions earn 30 percent more than nonunion workers, and they are 59 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance. The same goes for those workers at Agriprocessors. If they had a union, it could file grievances over the hiring of children, against unpaid overtime and about unsafe working conditions.

In surveys, more than half of U.S. workers, nearly 60 million, say they would join a union immediately if they could. But they don’t get that opportunity under the current Wal-Mart mentality global-corporate system. The political system has been stacked against collective bargaining. Global corporations hire “union busters” to intimidate, harass and fire workers who try to organize unions. Workers are fired in a quarter of the campaigns where workers try to organize unions at private companies. Even when workers successfully form unions, they can’t get a first contract 44 percent of the time because companies refuse to bargain meaningfully.

Employee Free Choice

There is a solution for this problem. It’s called the Employee Free Choice Act. It would restore workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain. It would allow workers to create unions by collecting signatures from a majority of workers. As it is now, a company can demand an election for a union. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, workers may have an election if they want one, but the signatures are sufficient in most cases. This puts the workers in control of their union instead of the company.

The Employee Free Choice Act also would increase penalties for companies that intimidate and fire employees trying to form unions. And it would establish mediation and binding arbitration when the employer and the workers cannot agree on a first contract.

The Employee Free Choice Act has bipartisan support in Congress and polls show it is backed by two-thirds of the American public, including Republicans. It passed easily in the House last year, but in the Senate got only 51 votes, not the 60 needed to stop a Republican filibuster.

Fearing the Employee Free Choice Act could win in the Senate if a few more Democrats secure seats there in the fall elections, Wal-Mart took action in recent weeks. Obviously, Wal-Mart fears that Employee Free Choice means less money for the Waltons, and more free choice for its employees.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Wal-Mart executives began indoctrinating thousands of store managers and department heads about what the company claims are the evils of unionization in an attempt to get them to vote Republican. These managers told reporters that the executives informed them that workers would be forced to pay large amounts of union dues and get nothing in return and be obliged to go on strike and get no compensation.

Contracts like CEOs

Apparently the nation’s largest private employer failed to mention that a portion of union dues goes into a strike fund to provide money for workers who vote to strike. In addition, what workers get for union dues is a contract, guaranteeing them certain salaries and benefits – like the contracts CEOs demand when they are hired by boards of directors.

All of this from a company that flies rapid response teams out to any of its more than 5,000 Wal-Mart stores worldwide to quash brewing union activity.

Global corporations like Wal-Mart have hired the likes of Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Employee Freedom Action Committee, run by former tobacco lobbyist Rick Berman, to blockade the Employee Free Choice Act. They are trying to make big business out to be David in this David and Goliath struggle, although it is union membership that has shrunk to David size over the past half century. Since its height in 1953, when 35 percent of workers belonged to unions, membership has now fallen to 12.1 percent.

A big part of the reason for that is constant harassment by big business. Let’s go back to Agriprocessors. Three years ago, Human Rights Watch investigated working conditions in the meatpacking business and found, among other things, that companies often use illegal tactics to crush union organizing efforts. The report, “Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Workers’ Rights in U.S. Meat and Poultry Plants,” says that when workers tried to defend themselves against harsh working conditions by forming unions, employers used fear and intimidation to stop them. “U.S. law does little to protect workers who try to organize. Enforcement efforts drag on for years, and even decisions that favor workers are usually too little, too late,” report author Lance Compa wrote.

He offered this example: At the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., management fired union supporters, threatened plant closure, stationed police at plant gates to intimidate workers and orchestrated an assault on union activists. When the National Labor Relations Board ordered a new election, Smithfield immediately appealed. In 2000, Smithfield created a company security force that under North Carolina law had public police powers. In 2003, it used trumped-up charges, Compa said, to arrest workers who were active union supporters.

Human rights

The meatpacking industry chooses to use undocumented workers, Human Watch found, because they are easily intimidated. As in Agriprocessor, immigration officials will swoop in and take away a large chunk of a meat packing work force at the drop of a quarter in a pay phone. Human Rights Watch found that some employers use this ability as a threat against undocumented workers who are trying to organize unions.

In addition, what employers like Smithfield and Agriprocessor have up their sleeve is a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying that undocumented workers who are illegally fired for union organizing are not entitled to back pay for lost wages.

Despite all of Wal-Mart’s money and conniving, on rare occasions, a union organizing effort wins. And then, the global giant responds by shutting them down.

In 2000, when the United Food and Commercial Workers finally organized a small number of butchers in East Texas, Wal-Mart immediately phased out butchers at all of its stores and stocked prepackaged meat. Similarly, when a store in Canada voted to unionize, Wal-Mart closed the whole store, contending it had been unprofitable.

This really comes down to a moral issue, just like it does for Jews who question whether meat processed by child laborers in abusive, illegal conditions is really kosher. The question for this country is whether it is moral to allow continued rule by Wal-Mart mentality, with its cheap imported wares of dubious safety manufactured under questionable conditions in foreign countries, then imported and sold in stores by American workers paid less than a living wage and denied health care and the right to organize a union.

Restoring workers’ freedom to organize and bargain collectively would protect them against the kinds of abuses alleged Agriprocessors. And it would begin to rebuild America’s great middle class as well as re-establish one of our country’s fundamental liberties: the right of free association.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Indianapolis is DEAD LAST!


Yup, that’s right.

When it comes to processing and holding hearings on the denied claims of individuals for disability benefits, Indianapolis ranks dead last. And offices responsible for handling denied claims for individuals in Northwest Indiana rank among the most backlogged in the nation.

For example, the Fort Wayne office handles claims for individuals from Laporte County to Allen County. They rank 130th of 147 in the country with an average processing time of 711 days.

Orland Park ranks 131st with a processing time of 714 days.

And Indianapolis ranks 147th--or last in the country---with a processing time of 896 days! They would handle claims for Pulaski County south.


Most claimants are waiting at least 18 months, and up to and beyond 2 years to wait for a hearing on the denials of their claims. Both of the local SS offices and hearing offices for northern Indiana are understaffed and cannot handle the number of applications or appeals.
Providing SSA with adequate funding is a critical factor in reducing and eventually eliminating the disability claims backlog, and improving other services provided by the agency is an absolute must.

Knowing this Bush administration as we all do, we know darned well they’ll want to short change the SSA. Heck, they never wanted Social Security to begin with, and they’re still trying to make it fail.

Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL), who represents the Tampa, Florida area, has introduced the “Timely Due Process for the Disabled Act of 2008,” H.R. 6485. Tampa has one of the longest processing times, an average of 648 days through the end of June 2008. The bill requires that a hearing decision will be issued within 90 days after filing the request for hearing and includes the following:
  • The claimant will receive notice of a hearing date within 5 business days after the request for hearing is filed.
  • The hearing will be held within 75 days after the request for hearing is filed.
  • The decision will be issued within 15 business days after the hearing.

It’s not likely that this bill will move at all during this session of Congress. Information about the bill and the bill language can be obtained on www.thomas.gov.

The Social Security system in the U.S. needs additional funding in order to take care of the backlog of disability claims and the additional work load from the Medicare part D fiasco........They are under-staffed with staffing level being the lowest since 1972, and with 80 million baby boomers about to retire, Social Security faces more than just significant challenges.

Please call your U.S. Representative and Senators and urge them to pass an appropriations bill that will provide timely services to seniors, those with disabilities and others who rely on Social Security.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

John McCain & Bush

McCain says that nobody has been a stronger supporter of Bush than him.

John McCain

  • Voted with bush 89 percent of the time - 95 percent of the time in 2007.
  • Supports the Bush administration's massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
  • Supports Bush's disastrous policies on children's health care and Social Security.
  • Says he "would be proud to have President Bush campaign with" him and support him.
Source: AFL-CIO

Monday, August 04, 2008

John McCain on Retirement Security

John McCain on Retirement Security

John McCain has supported privatizing Social Security.

John McCain

  • Supports replacing Social Security with privatized accounts.
  • Voted to raise the Medicare age.
  • Voted to raid Social Security funds.
  • Voted against protecting seniors from higher Medicare premiums.
Source: AFL-CIO

Sunday, August 03, 2008

John McCain on Workers' Rights

Lilly Ledbetter was denied fair pay at her job. John McCain opposes a bill that would protect workers like Ledbetter from discrimination.

John McCain on Workers' Rights

John McCain

  • Voted to block the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • Voted against bargaining rights for federal employees.
  • Supports a national law to make it harder to get a voice on the job.
  • Opposes the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Source: AFL-CIO

Saturday, August 02, 2008

John McCain on Trade


John McCain on Trade

John McCain announced his support for more bad trade deals--while standing in front of a shuttered factory in Ohio.

  • McCain voted for NAFTA, CAFTA and other bad trade agreements.
  • McCain has voted to outsource federal contracts overseas.
  • McCain strongly supports the Columbia FTA.
  • McCain voted to give Bush "Fast Track" authority to pass more bad trade deals.

Source: AFL-CIO

Friday, August 01, 2008

John McCain on Health Care


John McCain's health care proposal would:

  • Tax your health care benefits.
  • Lead employers to eliminate benefits.
  • Leave working families at the mercy of big insurance companies.
  • Fail to cut costs or cover more people.

Source: AFL-CIO