Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Franken makes it 60 in the Senate

Finally, Minnesota has two Senators. Al Franken soon to be seated in Senate giving workers a super majority.
Congratulations Al.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

RNC’s Michael Steele Becomes Union Man


By Leo W. Gerard
International President of the United Steelworkers Union

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele appears to be suffering philosophical identity confusion, you know, like some people experience sexual identity confusion.
He’s got an organization named United STEELE Workers Union, white hardhat emblem and all, collecting members for him on Facebook. It had 255 worldwide as of June 19.
This is disconcerting on so many levels, least of which is that I head the original, authentic United Steelworkers Union (USW). It has, by the way, 1.2 million retired and active members in North America.
Far more importantly, Steele historically has expressed hostility toward unions. When President Obama agreed to help General Motors restructure in bankruptcy, for example, Steele said it was “another handout to the union cronies who helped bankroll his presidential campaign.” Now that there’s a union created in his own image, if Steele slams labor organizations, is he criticizing himself? Has he become a “union crony?”
Steele can perch that white hard hat atop his head, but he’s going to have to labor at learning some hard philosophical lessons before becoming a real steelworker, a true union man.
A union brother or sister knows it’s all for one and one for all. Our union brothers and sisters don’t see themselves as “ownership society” islands. That’s because they know when the sun stops shining, it’s nice to have union siblings to help clean up after the hurricane.
To join, Steele must learn that a union man has his brother’s back; he doesn’t stab him in the back. This may be a tough lesson for the Republican. Consider, for example, what Mark Bergeron, the STEELE Worker Union Facebook group administrator, says on his blog about the party’s 2008 nominee for president:
“How far to the left do we as Conservatives go to satisfy some of our Moderate ( Liberal ) Republicans? What sacrifices will we make to the Moderates? Abortion? Illegal Immiration [sic], a little more Socialism? Less Fiscal Responsibility? My point is that we have already made concessions to these softies and we got John McCain.”
In addition to insulting McCain, that smacks of exclusion. It is the Republican Party wringing itself out, shedding diversity at the insistence of its most conservative, self-appointed, over-amplified leader, Rush Limbaugh. So it has been reduced to little more than wealthy white protestant males — and wannabes. A union, by contrast, is a collective. By nature, then, it is inclusive. This may be a tough one for Steele to accept, considering he refused to stand up to Limbaugh earlier this year when the talk show host insisted he, not Steele, headed the Republican Party.
The STEELE Worker Union Facebook site says the group is interested in organizing. That’s a great first step in the correct direction. An important function of an international union, like the United Steelworkers, is to help employees at individual workplaces organize their local unions. Those efforts in recent years, however, have been thwarted by corporate campaigns of intimidation against union organizers and sympathizers. This is documented in a study called, “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organization,” released in May by Cornell University professor, Kate Bronfenbrenner.
Bronfenbrenner, who has researched labor issues for a quarter century, documents employers obstructing unionization by firing union organizers, threatening to close down the shop, cutting wages and benefits, and forcing workers to meet one-on-one with supervisors who interrogate them to determine whether they support the union. Bronfenbrenner found employers conducted these coercive tactics, many of which are illegal, in the run-up to union elections more frequently than in the past to dissuade workers from voting for unionization.
The upshot is that organizers and union sympathizers risk their livelihoods and corporations are increasingly killing unions. The Employee Free Choice Act now before Congress would significantly reduce that. It would allow workers — rather than the employer — to decide how to form the union. It would give workers the right to choose whether to form their union by collecting signatures from a majority of the workers or by conducting a secret ballot election. The threat-filled period before balloting could be eliminated, if the workers wanted.
The United Steelworkers union actively and vociferously supports the Employee Free Choice Act. If Michael Steele wants to be a real union man, he must do so as well. I will be waiting to hear from him. If I do, I will be glad to take him under my wing and mentor him. I will make him an Associate Member of the real United Steelworkers union. We will embrace him. Of course, I will warn my male members to be careful not to actually hug him because this is a guy, so touchy about unions, that he even used the word “crazy” to describe civil unions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Health Care Reform....NOW

The Rejerklicans are doing everything in their power to stop health care reform from becoming a reality. Do you have health insurance. If so, great. But don't let that stop you from doing all you can to make these stinking politicians understand that our country needs it now.
If you go to the website below, you can type in your town and see what some of the problems are close to home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Graham and McCain - go back home where you belong

The people of the United States want and need health care reform. U.S. Senators John McCain and Linsey Graham should shut their traps where Iran is concerned and work on getting a public health care option. These Repugnicans seem to be completely without any understanding of what their job is.
The American people rejected John McCain and his warring tendencies and they sure don't want this country to stir the pot where Iran is concerned. Over the years, we've done enough of that and it always seems to backfire. Senator Linsey Graham should keep his mouth shut and read a history book.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Retirees On the Move for Healthcare Reform

Last week the Alliance for Retired Americans met for their Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.. Nearly six hundred retirees attended several workshops during the week and lobbied Congress members and Senators urging them to support our agenda for healthcare reform. The Alliance for Retired Americans believes that any health care reform passed by Congress must:

* Allow Medicare to negotiate volume discounts with drug manufacturers. The Veterans Administration does this and its prescriptions cost 30 percent less.
* End wasteful taxpayer subsidies to private insurance companies who run Medicare Advantage programs at a cost nearly 20 percent higher than Medicare.
* Provide early retirees the option to purchase Medicare coverage. Many of the 5.1 million Americans between 55-64 who lack health insurance are victims of mass layoffs.
* Close the "donut hole" in Medicare Part D coverage.

On June 25th, 2009, thousands of grassroots people will descend on Washington, DC to lobby every Member of Congress in support of quality, affordable health care for all. We will also have a rally at 11:30 in Upper Senate Park and following there will be lobby activities in various locations.

Delegations of community leaders from over 40 states are attending in order to meet with key Members of Congress. The people comprising these groups include small business owners, rural representatives, faith leaders, health care providers, union members, SOAR members and members of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Cash for Clunkers" passes Senate



The Senate passed legislation that would provide vouchers to consumers who trade in their gas-guzzling clunkers for more fuel-efficient models. This program will get consumers back into the showroom and boost auto sales.

This legislation was modeled after Germany’s scrap program which led to a 21 percent surge in auto sales in February 2009, compared to a 22 percent decline in the United Kingdom for the same period. Similar programs have now been implemented in 12 European countries and have helped drive up auto sales across the continent.

The legislation will now go to the president’s desk for his signature.

Source: The Donnelly Dispatch

Friday, June 19, 2009

USW Rapid Response: Leading the Way on the Employee Free Choice Act!

The Employee Free Choice Act is at a critical point. A majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate are supportive. The President is willing to sign it into law. But, in the Senate, a process exists to talk a bill to death – “the filibuster” – and a Republican-led effort to kill the bill through this process is planned. To stop a filibuster, 60 votes are needed. We are just short of that goal.

As disappointed as we are with the Senators who have not stepped up in this fight, we are not letting up for a minute.

USW Activists in Key States Working Hard

Right now, USW members are continuing to keep up the pressure. In places like Pennsylvania, Arkansas and California, USW members are taking action again and again to target those Senators who haven’t yet given their support for the Employee Free Choice Act. This fight is coming down to a few key places across the country.

Senators Meeting to Address Issues; Vote Could Occur Within Weeks

While we’re working on the ground, there is a group of Senators meeting to look at alternatives to the bill. We don’t know what the outcome of these talks will produce, but we remain committed to passing real labor law reform. Senator Harkin, who is leading this fight as Senator Kennedy deals with health issues, has vowed to either find a solution that works to get to 60 votes, or force those unsupportive Senators to take a vote on the original measure. This way, we know where they stand come election time. Either way, the vote could occur this summer, possibly within weeks.

As this situation continues to play out, we will keep you posted on any major developments. Thank you to everyone for being so diligent over the years on this issue. And, for those of you in key states, thank you for continuing to fight for all of us for justice in the workplace.

Source: USW Rapid Response

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

U.S. Treasury Department Screws GM Retirees and Actives

U.S. Treasury Department treats USW/IUE-CWA/IAM/ and Teamster retirees differently then UAW retirees. General Motors and the UAW agreed to fund current and future retiree health care through a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association Trust (VEBA) fund. As part of the bankruptcy process the Trust was partially funded with cash and the balance through GM stock of the new company.

General Motors agreed in principal to fund a VEBA for the other unions that represent workers in their facilities but the Treasury Department intervened and halted the process. This intervention prevents about 50,000 current and future retirees from receiving health care coverage they were promised by General Motors. Rather than receiving the benefits they deserve the workers represented by these other unions are thrown into the bankruptcy process as unsecured creditors. This essentially wipes out any chance of these current and future retirees of ever receiving health care benefits from General Motors.

The unions referenced above are fighting this injustice. We need your help!

Please contact your elected representatives and demand that all GM current and future retirees be treated the same as the UAW retirees.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I don't like being kept in the dark

I have never had a particular desire to travel to Cuba and I still don't. I do, however, want the right to travel anywhere, including Cuba.
I know Canadians who go to Cuba every year. I think I should have the right to visit that country without going through all of the hassle that is required today.
Is there something about Cuba that our government is trying to hide from us? It seems to me that our government is trying to hide a little too much from us.
Another thing is the evidence concerning the United States use of torture. I want to know and see the truth.
Too much being hidden these days. It's best to let it all see the light of day. Put it all out there and accept the consequences.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Proof of Need for Employee Free Choice Act

South of Valparaiso, Indiana is a small town called Wheatfield where a Georgia Pacific Gypsum plant is located.

The workers at this factory desired union representation and voted to be represented by the United Steelworkers Union. They began negotiating with Georgia Pacific for their first contract but just couldn’t get the company to negotiate in good faith. In the mean time, Georgia Pacific illegally fired one employee and illegally disciplined other workers.

Georgia Pacific hoped that the workers would tire of the long fight for justice and give up. They didn’t.
Over two years later, an agreement was finally reached.

This is the type of labor laws that the Chamber of Commerce and the nutty Republicans want to continue.

There is no good reason in the world for a company to be able to stall and delay and refuse to bargain in good faith with their workers --only bad reasons. That being to make the workers believe that their being united has no meaning. That it’s all futile and hopeless. That they should give up and change their minds.

The Employee Free Choice Act would put a quick stop to this unfairness. It would require that a company pay through the nose when they break the law. It would require that a company negotiate in good faith and that an agreement be reached in a reasonable length of time.

Although Indiana Senator Evan Bayh supported the Employee Free Choice Act two years ago, he is now withholding his support.

Please call Senator Bayh Toll Free at 1-866-207-2060 and ask him to co-sponsor and vote for the Employee Free Choice Act. Employees deserve the right to bargain with their employer for secure jobs, health care, and retirement benefits and fair pay.

Our country needs a strong middle class and the Employee Free Choice Act the one way to get it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Outrageous!!

Governor’s Budget Cuts $8 Million From
CHOICE Program

Calls Urgently Needed

Call your State Senator and State Representative Today!

“Keep funding for the CHOICE Home Care
Program at $48.7 million in each of the
next two years!”

Thousands of seniors and persons with disabilities will be forced
into institutions if cuts are made to the CHOICE Home Care
Program. And, taxpayers will pay millions more.

Governor Daniels has set Thursday, June 11th for the General
Assembly to convene in Special Session.
Don’t wait—call or email your legislators today.

For Calls:
House Switchboard: 1-800-382-9842 or 317-232-9600
Senate Switchboard: 1-800-382-9467 or 317-232-9400
TDD: 1-800-548-9517 or 317-232-0404

For Email:
House: h##@in.gov
(## = your district number. In the case of a single digit number, type only that number.
For example: If you live in House District 8, you type: h8@in.gov)

Senate: s##@in.gov
(## = your district number. In the case of a single digit number, type only that number.
For example: If you live in Senate District 8, you type: s8@in.gov)

Don’t know who your legislators are or their district numbers?
Contact United Senior Action (317-634-0872 or info@usaindiana.org).

Source: United Senior Action of Indiana

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Retired with a little extra time? Try Delivering Meals on Wheels

Since retiring eleven years ago, one of the most rewarding activities I’ve participated in has been delivering meals to home bound seniors. For those of you who are retired and have just a little extra time, please consider contacting the Council of Ageing in your community and volunteering to deliver a meal to someone unable to get out and who struggles to continue living in their home. If you don’t have enough time to do it on a regular basis, you can be put on a list to be called in an emergency.……you’ll be very glad you did.