Saturday, May 30, 2009

They Fought Then - We Fight Now

Having hired into, and retired from, a company where a local union already existed and whose workers already had a contract, I can’t fully appreciate what it must be like for workers to organize and then have their company refuse to recognize them as a union or to refuse to bargain, eventually to result in such a tragedy as that which took place at Republic Steel in South Chicago on May 30, 1937, the day we memorialize today. I can, however…….imagine.

Unfortunately, workers today face the same determination of companies to remain “union free” albeit with somewhat less violence.

My own experience was in 1980, when members of USWA Local 12775 and 13796 were forced to strike the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) for 242 days. Billed as the longest utility strike in American history at the time, it was a dispute where getting a contract seemed futile. That experience will be in my memory forever.

Not long after President Reagan’s firing of the PATCO workers, former USWA President Lynn Williams, with the help of the Steelworkers Union, formed the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, (S.O.A.R.). Our organization is made up of thousands of Steelworker Retirees who have experienced similar labor disputes with companies that have refused to bargain.

Today, companies continue to fight workers attempts to organize. Not only do they unlawfully fire labor leaders, knowing that the cost of back pay is, to them, a small price to pay to stay “union free”, but they use intimidation, scare tactics and threats of moving or closing the plant, and when workers do elect representation, many times a company will refuse to negotiate a contract with them.

On top of that, when workers are forced to strike a company, they are faced with the hiring of permanent replacement workers.

NiSource is the parent company of NIPSCO and owner of the Northern Indiana Fuel and Light Company (NIFL). The workers at NIFL organized their union in January of 2005 and negotiated with the company for over a year, and yet they still had no contract. It was a disgrace.

Workers in the United States have had a belly full. The United Steelworkers and SOAR are supporting legislation that would address these problems. It’s called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and I urge everyone to support it by asking their U.S. Senators to co-sponsor this legislation.

The working families at the Republic Steel plant in south Chicago helped set the stage for what is today the largest, strongest, most powerful industrial union in North America. It was the determination and guts of the founders of our great union in places like Republic Steel that gives today’s Steelworkers and members of SOAR that sense of resolve and the fortitude needed to continue in that same tradition. Remembering those who lost their lives and suffered from the massacre itself is, of course, very important. However, it was the determination of the workers after the event, never giving up the fight for recognition that gives us the resolve to “never give up on justice”. We are activists with a memory.

Building SOAR to increase our strength on senior issues is a high priority for our union. With the anti-union attitude of the far right wing in the United States today, there is nothing more important to our retirees than having a strong voice representing their interests. By becoming more active in the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), we can make our voices heard more powerfully in the struggle to protect and extend the rights of retirees.

Charlie Averill, SOAR Secretary-Treasurer

Celebrate the Memory

Click on the above flyer to enlarge it

Medicare = Health Care

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor is a great choice

How do I know?
Here's proof.
Hannity says she is a judicial activist.
Limbaugh says she's a racist.
Carl Rove says she is stupid.
Remember this....

Whatever the right wingers say, the very opposite is true.

Therefore, She will make a great Supreme Court Justice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Congressman of the Year

May 21, 2009

(Washington, DC) – In a bold and historic move to help rejuvenate the American economy, Congressman Alan Grayson introduced the Paid Vacation Act of 2009 today. The bill will dramatically improve productivity at American companies and provide a much-needed spark for the U.S. travel and tourism industries.

Congressman Grayson said, “Why are paid vacations good enough for the Chinese, French, Japanese, and German employees, but not good enough for us? In other countries, it’s a matter of right. Everyone is entitled to it. In our country, it is a matter of class. Over time we are coming to realize that whatever your background, wherever you grew up, wherever you live, there are certain basic elements that people need to have enjoyable lives. They need health care. They need a decent paying job. And for a good life, they need time off.”

The Paid Vacation Act will require at least one week of paid vacation for employees at companies with at least 100 employees. Full- and part-time (25 hours per week/1250 hours per year) workers will be eligible after one year of service.

Three years after enactment, companies with at least 50 employees would be required to offer at least one week of paid vacation, and companies with at least 100 employees would be required to offer at least two weeks of paid vacation.

John De Graaf from “Take Back Your Time” points to a recent story in FORBES Magazine. It showed that the U.S. is not even among the top ten countries in the world in terms of happiness. “Those higher-ranked countries emphasize a work-life balance, including ample vacation time. Many of those same countries are weathering the current world economic storm better than we are. Vacations make people happier and economies stronger,” he said.

A poll, conducted last year by the Opinion Research Corporation, found that 29 percent of American workers got no paid vacation at all last year, and half received less than a week off.

The Paid Vacation Act of 2009 would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which means enforcement will be handled by the Department of Labor and U.S. Attorney’s Office, just like all federal wage and hour laws in the country.


How the United States of America compares:
• The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a minimum annual leave statute.
• At least 147 countries have a paid vacation law, including all developed countries.
• In 1980 Americans ranked 11th in the world in life expectancy. We are now 42nd.
• Americans are twice as likely as Europeans to suffer from anxiety and depression, and many experts believe these deficits are caused by lack of time.
• Every European worker gets at least four weeks of paid vacation by law, yet the Euro is rising while the dollar is falling.

Americans are taking fewer (and shorter) vacations:
• PEW Research Center says "more free time" is the number one priority for middle-class Americans—68% listed this as a high priority for them.
• Last year only 14% of American workers took two weeks or more for vacation (Conference Board Study, 2008).
• The average American works one month (160 hours) more today than in 1976 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
• Last year about half (52%) of American workers took a vacation of a week or less (Opinion Research Corporation, 2008).
• 28% of Americans receive no paid vacation. Only 69% of lower-wage workers get any paid vacation leave (Opinion Research Corporation, 2008).
• 37% of American women earning less than $40,000 a year receive no paid annual leave (AFL-CIO, 2005).

• Men who do not take regular vacations are 32% more likely to die of heart attacks, and 21% more likely to die early of all causes. Women have 50% more risk of heart attack (Dr. Brooks Gump, SUNY Oswego, 2000).
• Stress and burnout are five times more costly to treat than average workplace maladies.
• Women who do not take vacations are twice as likely to be depressed as those who do (Cathy McCarty, Marshfield Clinic, 2006).

Business Development:
• Stress and burnout at work cost the U.S. economy more than $344 billion a year (Middle Tennessee State University, 2003).
• Vacations can result in an 82% increase in performance (Mark Rosekind, Alertness Solutions).
• Vacations of at least two weeks eliminate burnout (Hobfoll, Shirom, 1993).
• The travel industry adds $740 billion dollars a year to the U.S. economy (U.S. Travel Association).
• People have a 60% increase in productivity in the month or two after a vacation (Wallace Huffman, Iowa State University).
• Paid vacation, after health care, is the benefit most appreciated by workers (AFL-CIO, 2005).
• Workers sleep better after taking vacations and are 30-40% more alert on the job when they return (Air New Zealand).
Source: Congressman Garyson's website

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where Have All The Republicans Gone?

I don't think there has been a good Republican since maybe Dwight Eisenhower. Ike was the last. I liked Ike.
Now, Dick Cheeney is the modern day republican.
As a child, I knew, as did all my friends that torture was wrong and it was something only our enemies did. Torture is still wrong. We all know it.
Does torture work? Dick Cheeney wants to claim that torture works and therefore it's ok to do.

Friday, May 15, 2009

GM to American Workers: Pay for Your Own Execution

by Leo W. Gerard

The proposition General Motors has presented to the United Auto Workers and American taxpayers in its latest restructuring plan is simple: You must pay for your own execution.

GM, which already took $15.4 billion in bailout money, wants another $11.6 billion and is offering in return this deal: It will close 16 of its American manufacturing plants, terminate 21,000 of its factory workers and double the cars it builds in low-wage Mexico, China and South Korea and ships back to the U.S. to sell.

There it is: GM is demanding that Americans pay to send their own jobs overseas.

In the world where corporate executives live, the one in which boards of directors grant CEOs multi-million dollar bonuses even after companies tank, maybe that's not a perverse proposition.

But in the world where real Americans live, we've had enough of this crap. Decades of foolish tax and other federal policies that encouraged American manufacturing firms to throw Americans out of work and expatriate were bad enough. To expect American taxpayers to bankroll GM's plans to layoff American workers and move their jobs overseas goes too far.

We're taking a stand. It's gotta stop here. The United Steelworkers (USW), the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and the Mayors and Municipalities Automotive Coalition (MMAC) are conducting an 11-state, 32-city protest bus tour. At each stop so far, hundreds of people have cheered our message: "Keep it Made in America." And they've signed our petition calling for support of a simple idea: Buy it here; build it here.

We will present the petitions at a teach-in conference in Washington, D.C. on May 19 when we will explain to elected officials why GM's plan fails America and why they must require GM to submit a new plan supporting American jobs.

As much as for the UAW, this is a life and death struggle for the USW, American manufacturing, and for millions of Americans in good-paying jobs. Without manufacturing, America is in danger of attempting to subsist on an economy based on nothing more than amorphous derivatives, credit default swaps and Ponzi schemes. The Steelworkers represent hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs depend on the auto industry, from steelworkers who make the steel, to the rubber workers who make the tires, to the glass workers who make the windshields, to the paper workers who make the glossy pamphlets.

Altogether, more than 7 million paychecks depend on the U.S. auto industry, including healthcare, education, service, retail and other jobs. This bus tour is about preserving those jobs, all of those jobs.

In just the past eight months of this recession, caused in huge part by recklessness on Wall Street, this country has lost 1.2 million manufacturing jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. GM cannot take tax dollars to slash more. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich agrees. Here's what he told the Washington Post, ". . . it raises fundamental questions about the purpose of bailing out these big companies. If GM is going to do more of its production overseas, then why exactly are we saving GM?"

It's not as if it's impossible for a U.S. auto company to manufacture here. Ford Motor Co., which is not taking any bailout money, is investing $500 million in retooling its Michigan Truck plant outside Detroit so that it can make small cars that it will sell worldwide, including its next-generation, battery-electric Focus. And Chrysler, which is getting bailout money, has made a deal with Fiat under which the Italian car company will manufacture a small car in one of Chrysler's U.S. assembly facilities, which, along with other long-term commitments, will eventually create 4,000 U.S. jobs.

On the first day of the bus tour, I was joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, actor Danny Glover, the angriest mayor in the U.S., Virg Bernero of Lansing, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, among others.

The Rev. Jackson drew cheers as he remarked that somehow we've given billions to the "banksters," yet somehow we're still hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands of jobs and homes each month. He called for a moratorium on foreclosures and plant closings, and I'm with him.

Bernero is tired of Wall Street describing his father, a retired auto worker, as a legacy cost. His father is a human being, a senior citizen, who worked hard every day of his life and returned home exhausted from an honest day's work. Now, however, Wall Street thinks it's fine to reduce him to a sub-human term and cheat him out of the retirement benefits he earned.

Bernero's father made things, real things that could be touched, held in the hand - not derivatives, not figments of the imagination that turned out to have less than no value at all.

Now Wall Street and GM must be made to understand that Main Street isn't going to take it anymore. We're not going to continue allowing corporate America to outsource the American dream. Bernero said it right: "This is America's fight."

Join us. Sign the petition. We have no intention of buying our own noose. We intend to win this fight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Recession Won't Bankrupt Social Security

The Recession Won’t Bankrupt Social Security

By NCPSSM April 1, 2009

Let’s start off by stating the obvious…unless you’re an economist or policy analyst, the details of Social Security’s funding mechanisms, trust fund operations (OASI & DI) and projection methodology for both, are far beyond what the average American knows (or even cares to know) about the program. Unfortunately, this is exactly why it’s so easy for those who want to see the program dismantled to continue their “Social Security is bankrupt” memo, regardless of the facts.

The latest headlines claim Social Security is running out of money to pay benefits because of the recession. This is based on CBO’s forecast included as part of its final budget projections and economic outlook. The headlines screamed: “Slowdown Slashes Social Security Surplus” and “Recession Puts a Major Strain on Social Security Trust Fund”.

Thankfully, the Associated Press provided a more thorough description of what’s actually happening. Here’s a brief summary of our full analysis now available on the National Committee website:

Social Security’s trust fund surplus is NOT disappearing.

What is happening is that the annual surpluses collected each year, which have been building up our current $2.5 trillion trust fund for decades, are below what was projected prior to the downturn in the economy. Less employed=fewer payroll taxes=lower annual surplus of contributions over expenditures. As our President Barbara Kennelly told Nightly Business Report this has nothing to do with the total assets/surplus still held in the Social Security Trust Fund:

Friday, May 08, 2009

This goes with previous post

Come to an event in your area:

Town Hall Rally
Where: 1520 Profit Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46808
When: Tuesday, May 12
Time: 4pm

Where: Radisson Hotel Star Plaza
When: May 11, 2009
Merrillville, IN.
Time: 1:00 pm

Town Hall Rally
Where: UAW LU# 685 Hall,
929 E. Hoffer St., Kokomo, IN., 46902
When: May 12, 2009
Time: 11:30 am- 1:30pm

Town Hall Rally
Where: USW LU#3261 Hall,
356 West Broadway, Logansport, IN. 46947
When: May 12, 2009
Time: 9:00am- 10:00am

Town Hall Rally
Where: UAW LU#5 Hall
1426 S. Main St. South Bend, IN 46613
When: Monday May, 11 2009
Time: 4:00 pm- 6:00pm

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

AAM/USW Auto Supply Chain Bus Tour Campaign

The Alliance for American Manufacturing and the United Steelworkers have partnered with the Mayors and Municipalities Automotive Coalition, elected officials, UAW, and the auto industry supply chain stakeholders to raise public awareness of the economic importance of the American auto industry supply chain. Our research shows that over seven million jobs are tied to the fate of the auto industry beyond the direct employment and economic impact of auto production and assembly.

The campaign will deploy four coach buses during the week of May 11, 2009 (see routes on succeeding pages). Each bus will operate for three days and make at least nine stops for a total of at least thirty six locations. The objective is to draw community and media attention to the importance of auto supply facilities to communities where they operate. Stops will be generally organized into three styles. One would be a stop at an operating auto supply facility where management and labor would explain and discuss the impact of that facility on its community. Second would be a stop at a city center location where elected officials would join us for the signing of a Buy American resolution and have a short program that details the supply chain importance to that region. There would be a town hall type meeting where we would recruit the general community, elected officials and our AAM/USW constituency to a program that has an educational component along with testimonials from impacted individuals and officials. All of these events would be seeking maximum earned media. We will take Polaroid pictures of participants, to which they will add a handwritten message to the Obama Administration supporting the auto supply chain. We would deliver those thousands of pictures and messages to Washington once the tours were completed. In conjunction with the bus tours, AAM and the USW would assure that each town we visited has enacted our Buy American resolution.

The buses would carry officials from AAM and the USW along with our partner elected officials and supply chain stakeholders. We will recruit individuals who can testify to the importance of the auto supply chain on a region's economy and have them participate in legs of the tours. We also will provide video, public relations and recruitment support prior to and during the tours, including arranging radio and television interviews along the way. We will also launch a frequently updated website to follow the progress of the tours. AAM staff will be deployed to each site to coordinate advance recruiting and logistics for each stop as well as program needs.

After the bus tours, AAM and the USW will hold an Auto Supply Chain Teach-In in Washington, D.C. on May 19, 2009. We are recruiting highly regarded experts, opinion makers, and a selected number of participants from the bus tours to attend this event. Its purpose would be to detail the economic impact of the American auto supply chain and call for an Auto Restructuring Plan that maximizes domestic production, automobile industry jobs, and retains sufficient American Automobile production capacity to take advantage of the eventual resurgence of automobile demand in America.

Click on above flyer to enlarge it
Click on bus schedule to enlarge it.
Bus stop locations to be announced.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What a Party

Republicans--more than "no," Republicans are the party of:


nothing, and

Source: USW website

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Health care now

Click on the flyer to enlarge it

Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan is calling for a RALLY on May 20 in Indianapolis. As representatives of endorsing organizations of HCHP's single-payer efforts, we want you and your members to be there.
HCHP has chapters in seven Indiana cities now, and organizers in those cities are already recruiting people to come. We have speakers and music lined up to make a fuss at Monument Circle. We want to be heard on this issue to keep Washington from throwing more money at the
commercial insurers to solve the problem those insurers created. The flyer above has the details of the rally. Please duplicate it and distribute it to members of your organization.

Best, Milton Fisk for HCHP, 812-336-7184

Friday, May 01, 2009

The New Post-9/11 GI Bill

Starting today, veterans can apply online to receive education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The new education benefits package is the most comprehensive since the original GI Bill for World War II veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is now accepting and processing applications for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. You should complete and submit the application form available online and will receive a letter explaining VA’s decision regarding your eligibility for the program.

The application form requires that individuals currently eligible for benefits under the Montgomery GI BILL-Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) or the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) make an irrevocable election from their existing program to the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

For individuals eligible for MGIB-AD

Normally, your months of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill will be equal to the number of months of entitlement you have remaining under the MGIB-AD. However, if you use all of your MGIB-AD benefits, then you may be entitled to a maximum of 12 additional months of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

For individuals eligible for MGIB-SR and/or REAP

Normally, individuals who are eligible for more than one benefit may use a maximum combined total of 48 months of benefits.

For example: If you have used 20 months of benefits under REAP, you may be eligible for 28 months of benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Payments for Post-9/11 GI Bill will not be processed until August 1, 2009.

Click here to access the application form which includes instructions for submitting completed applications.

Please share this information with your networks of veterans and military families.

Source: United States Department of Veterans Affairs Website