Monday, March 30, 2009

Demonstration Tomorrow Morning

Speak OUT for a
Fair Labor Agreement NOW
for Georgia Pacific Workers

Tuesday March 31 at 8:15 a.m.
Where: Hampton Inn, 1451 Silhavy Rd.,
(behind Strongbows at Route 30 & 49)
Valparaiso, IN

Georgia Pacific workers in Wheatfield, Indiana have tried for two years to reach a fair agreement after they decided to form a union.
Georgia Pacific has insisted on wage and benefit concessions - despite making over $40 million in profits. This is a clear attempt to bust the union.

This is the best example I know of as to why the Employee Free Choice Act should be passed by Congress.

Rekooklicans, you should all be so proud

Now here's a great ticket for the Rekooklicans:
Alaskan nutcase, Sarah Palin for President

Wild Eyed Rep from Minnesota, Michelle Backmann for Vice President

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buy American Press Release-Knox and Starke Co. IN.


Contact: Robin Rich, 219-881-6224, or Charlie Averill, 574-772-3332

USW Celebrates ‘Buy American’ Win
Resolution Urges Keeping Tax Dollars, Creating Jobs at Home

Knox, IN – The United Steelworkers (USW) said today that it appreciates the passage by the Starke County Commissioners and the Knox City Council of a “Buy American” resolution that ensures our tax dollars are used to create jobs at home.

The resolution has been introduced by USW activists in over 800 cities, states, boroughs, counties and towns. It’s part of the union’s Make Our Future Work economic renewal campaign, which aims to refocus the American economy on manufacturing and rebuild the middle class.

The resolution, which can be found at, calls on our local and state governments to:

  • Maximize the creation of American jobs and restore economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed.
  • Commit to purchasing only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible with any economic recovery monies provided by the American people.
  • Commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation’s economic recovery program.

“To get our nation back on track, we must get our economy working again and working for the middle class. In order to do that, we need to insist that our tax dollars are spent at home, on American-made products,” said Charlie Averill, Secretary Treasurer of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). “The United States is, by far, the world’s largest importer. We brought in $819 billion in goods in 2007. We can afford to invest in our economy without breaking any international trade obligations.”

Studies show significant investment in infrastructure could create tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs if U.S.-made goods are used.

For more information about “Buy American” and the USW’s economic renewal campaign, visit or

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New website for Employee Free Choice

The Indiana AFL-CIO now has a great website devoted to the Employee Free Choice Act which is before both houses of Congress and would level the playing field for workers when it comes to joining a union.

The URL for this web site can be found here with new articles daily.

A couple days ago, a neighbor of mine asked, "if workers organize a union, will the company move out of town?" An interesting article from this new website provides the following briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute titled, "STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS - Unionization Has No Causal Effect on Firm Closures" which you can get here.

Released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Still Open for Business looks at research over the past two decades into union membership, wages and firm survival and finds that there’s no evidence to suggest that firms where workers have a union are more likely to go out of business than any other firm.

This research provides evidence that this causal effect of union recognition is zero….In short, the biggest fear voiced by employer groups regarding unionization—that it will inevitably drive them out of business—has no evidentiary basis.

Oh yeah, one more thing:

A striking concession today from the hard-right, corporate-friendly editorial board of the Wall Street Journal admits that the Employee Free Choice Act doesn’t remove the secret ballot option from the National Labor Relations Act….
I think that puts to rest the lie that appeared in the South Bend Tribune a few weeks ago and written by the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donahue.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Go Obama Go!!

Dear Barack--

Eight years of RepubliCRAP.

The RepubliCANTS have dug us a pretty deep hole and now want to tell you to use a small shovel to dig us out of it.

Don’t listen to these crooks.

You got the steam roller. Keep it rolling. Get everything we voted for you to get. Don’t let up. Forget about trying to placate these ReCANTlicans.

Go for it. Put it all in one big package. Up or down vote.

Employee Free Choice Act.

We’re behind you Barack. Don’t let them stop you.

Charlie Averill

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poor, Poor McCain

Please, oh please......................somebody call John McCain and let him know that he lost the election.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Damn Basketball !!

Well, here goes another month without a wife.

Although having been married 43 years (on paper)---being married to a woman who loves college basketball so much that she'll watch each and every game no matter who is playing--also means I have to do some math......

Let's see now...........43 years times 12 months equals.......516 months.

516 months minus one month for each month of March....or 516 minus 43 equals 473 months.

473 months divided by 12 months equals 39 years.

So we've been married 39 years......not 43.

Oh well, I know she still loves me...................I know because last month she told me so.

If my math is wrong, blame Hobart High School.

Starke County passes Buy American Resolution

March 16, 2009 was the day that Starke County passed the Buy American resolution.
Thank you Starke County Commissioners Dan Bridegroom, Mark Milo and Kathy Norem

Charlie Averill

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's about democracy and rights, not secret elections

By Jon Geenen

The absurdity of this is obvious. These are the same people who have fought every initiative to increase minimum wage. These are the people who provided unwavering support of NAFTA and other offshoring efforts that have decimated our manufacturing base. These are the people who worked tirelessly to defeat new health and safety regulations and environmental efforts related to cleaner water and air and safer chemicals, not to mention their vehement opposition to health care reform.

The American business community claims there is a travesty associated with the Employee Free Choice Act, and they are right. But the travesty has nothing to do with secret ballots. Like the master illusionist creating an act of prestidigitation, corporate America is undermining democracy, while at the same time pretending to be its biggest defender in the workplace.

The media efforts and the unlimited money provide a glimpse to the general public about how far corporations will go and how much they will spend to prevent workers from organizing a union. To be sure, their "democracy campaign" is a textbook strategy straight out of the union-busters handbook, complete with intensive misinformation campaigns, threats of plant closures, doom and gloom and the ostracizing and isolation of pro-union workers as un-American or out of sync with their peers. This time, rather than doing it to a worker in a plant, they are doing it to the general public.

The corporate-funded campaign attacks EFCA as undemocratic and warns that if passed into law, workers would lose access to a secret ballot election as a way to determine majority status for union representation. There is one problem with that. Workers absolutely would be entitled to a secret ballot election under EFCA.

EFCA would not prohibit or otherwise limit the use of the secret ballot. What it would do is say that the decision for workers about how and whether to form a union is a decision that is left workers - not to their bosses.

These opponents also would have you believe that somehow signing your name on a card to indicate your interest in a union is somehow a new or novel approach to organizing. There is a problem with this, too. That is how it works today and, for the most part, how it has worked since the 1930s. In order for workers to gain collective bargaining rights, workers always have had to demonstrate majority support. Signing cards or providing signatures is the first step in forming a union.

So what really would change with EFCA? Employees alone would decide how to show majority status in a unionization campaign. Why does corporate America really care? Because their ability to "intervene" becomes limited. You see, even though many progressive employers recognize unions by the card check method today, those that don't know that by demanding a National Labor Relations Board election, they gain 42 precious days to run an anti-union campaign where they can fire, demote, coerce, threaten and intimidate workers with little consequence and effectively block workers' attempts to (ironically) democratize the workplace. Under EFCA, employees would be more likely to have made that decision before the boss finds out, making the matter a decision for workers and workers alone as the Wagner Act originally envisioned.

Unfortunately, business knows what we all know: that except for the small minority of people who are simply philosophically opposed to unions, the rest of us believe, whether we belong to a union or not, that the right to unionize is a critical component of a democratic society. Democracy does not and cannot exist where strong and independent trade unions do not exist. In our country, the rise and fall of personal rights and liberty have paralleled the rise and fall of the labor movement. Why? Because the labor movement is a unique social movement that lends its voice to all working families, uniting the masses. This is what corporate America fears but doesn't dare say - because that truly would be undemocratic.

The so-called democracy card is simply a red herring.

Jon Geenen of Kaukauna is an international vice president with the United Steelworkers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kentucky and West Virginia first in Buy America Resolution

The Buy American Resolution

2009 Resolution on the Spending of
Federal Economic Renewal Grants to


WHEREAS, the economic downturn is having a critical impact on everyday Americans who are struggling to maintain or find jobs in an increasingly difficult environment, and

WHEREAS, those same Americans are the taxpayers that provide the revenue needed to operate essential government services, and

WHEREAS, Congress and President Obama are planning a taxpayer-sponsored economic recovery package that will provide billions of dollars to help economically devastated cities and states immediately provide jobs to millions of out-of-work Americans through considerable infrastructure rebuilding, green energy projects and other projects that will require manufactured components, and

WHEREAS, our taxpayer dollars should be spent to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring the economic vitality of our communities, and

WHEREAS, any domestically produced products that are purchased with economic recovery plan monies will immediately help struggling American families and will help stabilize our greater economy, and

WHEREAS, any economic recovery plan spending should – to every extent possible – include a commitment from (_______________________________) to buy materials, goods and services for projects from companies that are produced within the United States, thus employing the very workers that pay the taxes for the economic recovery plan spending in the first place.


BE IT RESOLVED THAT, we the undersigned will work to maximize the creation of American jobs and restoring economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, we commit to purchasing only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible with any economic recovery monies provided to (______________________________) by the American taxpayers, AND

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, as legislators of (______________________________), we commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation’s economic recovery program.

Now print out this resolution and get it passed in your County Council, County Commissioners, City Council etc.

You can get more information by going here

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Go Steelworkers

Yesterday, the United Steelworkers and SOAR members went to Indianapolis to promote a “Buy America” resolution in both houses of the General Assembly and asked representatives and senators to seek the support of Governor Daniels.

This resolution will ensure that American jobs are created through the billions of taxpayer dollars coming to our state. It commits our state to purchase only products and services made or performed in the USA whenever possible with our economic recovery fund, and also to publish any requests to waive the “Buy American” requirement.

The United Steelworkers District 7 represents nearly 70,000 Indiana workers and retirees.

The 9.2% unemployment rate and the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs is creating a tremendous stress on families, communities and public institutions.

We called on our State Legislators to take these positive steps to bring hope and relief to Indiana working people.

Monday, March 02, 2009

NIPSCO the fire expert

Early in January, NIPSCO had a pretty bad fire at their Michigan City generating station which started in a coal conveyor belt chute which is enclosed in a 500 foot long enclosure. I hear the plant is still out of commission.

This month, it was the NIPSCO generating station in Wheatfield, Indiana that had a pretty bad fire. The fire was also associated with coal, destroying a building and a coal conveyor. According to the newspaper, the Wheatfield Volunteer Fire Department has had to respond several times over the years. It took five hours to put this fire out.

What prompted me to mention these fires on my blog is because I was looking at the NIPSCO website which gives tips on how to prevent fire related tragedies.

I used to work at the Wheatfield generating station and know that they just don't have enough workers to keep the place clean. Oh, they have plenty of bosses walking around, but just not enough people doing the real work.