Monday, February 28, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The developing struggle to protect Social Security from the Republicans and the federal Fiscal Reform Commission won a victory recently in President Obama's State of the Union address. There's an important lesson for us here.
In his speech, Obama said: “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities, without slashing benefits for future retirees, and without subjecting American's guaranteed income to the whims of the stock market.”
This is a solid statement that won praise from activists fighting to defend Social Security. Obama took a position in opposition to the findings of the Fiscal Reform Commission that he appointed. His state- ment, further, is in opposition to the divisive push by corporate forces to split young folks from retirees, central to their drive to destroy Social Security.
Leaders of retiree groups had been told, right up until game time, that Obama might include language supporting the Fiscal Commission. However, retirees organized a grassroots campaign that built the ground beneath Obama, giving him room to fully support this essential program in his speech.
There has been a growing crescendo of deficit cutting calls directed at Social Security and other programs aiding working folks. Obama, in a move that many saw as a dangerous concession to right-wing forces, set up the Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission. Its marching orders were to develop a "bipartisan approach" toward cutting spending.
Even though Social Security is funded by working people and has nothing to do with the nation's deficit, it immediately became the focus of the commission.
Commission co-chair Alan Simpson, the right-wing former Wyoming senator, called Social Security a “giant cow with 32 million tits.” He went on to say he was “tired of people on Social Security sitting around in their gated communities, waiting to get in their Lexus to drive to the local Perkins to get their senior discount.”
Worse than his arrogance, was the program that Simpson and the commission put forward to attack Social Security. They called for:
• raising the Social Security eligibility age from the present 62 to 70.
• cutting benefits for future recipients.
• introducing "means testing" for eligibility.
This was greeted with alarm by retirees and many others. Raising the eligibility age to 70 would be a death sentence for people working in hard physical jobs. The introduction of means testing for Social Security would make it more of a “welfare program” for only the poorest Americans, instead of the income base for all that it was enacted to be. This would make it an easier target for cuts. The commission said benefits wouldn't be cut for current retirees, only future retirees - trying to split youth from present retirees.
The anger at those extremist proposals made it impossible for the commission chairs to get the votes needed to officially send its plan to Congress. However, a majority on the commission did vote for the proposals. It helped create a poisonous atmosphere as the American people went to the polls last November.
The Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) and coalitions across the nation launched a fight. Many thousands signed a petition demanding that Social Security be strengthened, not cut. Mass meetings were organized. Delegations demanded that their representatives NOT support the Fiscal Commission proposals. ARA leaders from every state co-signed a strongly worded letter to President Obama, urging him to oppose the commission proposals. Right up to the State of the Union, discussions continued in Washington.
A study titled “Social Security and the Future of the Democratic Party” was sent to activists. It was presented at union halls, churches and retiree centers and was given to Democratic elected officials. The study, backed up by polls and research, showed that when Democrats back Social Security, their support goes up strongly. It also showed that when they are associated with attacks on Social Security, their support plummets. It cited recent polls showing Democrats were now below Republicans in response to the question, “Which party is best at protecting Social Security?”
Clearly, the organizing bore fruit with President Obama's speech.
There has been an ongoing debate on what relationship the people's movement should have to the president and Democrats. Some have taken a “plague on both your houses” approach, saying there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. Others have supported the administration but without doing enough to organize an independent fight for the people's agenda.
The Obama administration has corporate influences within its own ranks along with more progressive influences, and is facing heavily financed pressure from the ultra-right. Without pressure from an organized people's movement, the only push will be from the corporate side.
The ARA-led movement took a positive approach. They did not, even faced with real anger, break with Obama over the Fiscal Commission's plan. However, they were not going to sit on the sidelines and wait. What they did was mobilize and fight. This organized fight let all elected officials know that they attack Social Security at their own political peril. As a result, a victory was won, and retiree coalitions are stronger. With Obama's positive statement, support for him has also significantly improved.
Bruce Bostick, District 1 SOAR Coordinator
Friday, February 25, 2011
- Government employees are overpaid compared to the private sector.
- Taxes are out of control.
- The debt is out of control.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
STATEMENT: President Guyott on the defeat of "Right to Work"For Immediate Release
Contact - Jeff Harris, 317-632-9147
Mike Uehlein, 317-610-6634
Statement by Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott
February 24, 2011
Working families in Indiana are thrilled to hear that Governor Daniels, Speaker Bosma, and Senate Leader Long have abandoned the falsely-labeled “right to work” bill. We agree with Governor Daniels’ position that the members of the Indiana General Assembly did not campaign on these issues and so bringing it up during this General Assembly was indeed “a mistake,” as Senator Long termed it.
After rallying all week at the Statehouse, these developments show that when Hoosiers join together and raise our voices in pursuit of fairness and an economy that works for everyone, working families can make a difference. Working people agree with Governor Daniels – now is not the time to be having this conversation – our leaders need to focus on creating middle class jobs.
Indiana’s middle class is still under attack, and while we celebrate the solidarity and progress we’ve achieved on this issue, we continue to build momentum and mobilize to stop the numerous anti-worker legislative bills that threaten Hoosier working families. Without the ability of workers to join together, these attacks on the middle class will go unanswered.
Strengthening Indiana’s middle class and creating good jobs should be the highest priority in the General Assembly. While we have won this battle, the fight continues and our cause will endure.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A strong supporter of the legislation, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unknowingly engaged in an extended tactical conversation with a blogger who claimed to be billionaire David Koch. Read on and view the video below.
The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press article:
"On a prank call that quickly spread across the Internet, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was duped into discussing his strategy to cripple public employee unions, promising never to give in and joking that he would use a baseball bat in his office to go after political opponents.
Walker believed the caller was a conservative billionaire named David Koch, but it was actually a liberal blogger. The two talked for at least 20 minutes - a conversation in which the governor described several potential ways to pressure Democrats to return to the Statehouse and revealed that his supporters had considered secretly planting people in pro-union protest crowds to stir up trouble."
Click HERE to Watch the Video
- Right to work laws lower wages for everyone. The average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167).
- Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).
Federal law already protects workers who don’t want to join a union to get or keep their jobs. Supporters claim right to work laws protect employees from being forced to join unions. Don’t be fooled, federal law already does this, as well as protecting nonmembers from paying for union activities that violate their religious or political beliefs. This individual freedom argument is a sham.
Right to work endangers safety and health standards that protect workers on the job by weakening unions that help to ensure worker safety by fighting for tougher safety rules. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 51 percent higher in states with right to work, where unions can’t speak up on behalf of workers.
Right to work laws just aren’t fair to dues-paying members. If a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union must use its time and money to defend him or her, even if that requires going through a costly legal process. Everyone benefits, so all should share in the process. Nonmembers can even sue the union if they think it has not represented them well enough.
Big business and special interests spent a great deal of money to put key lawmakers in place to deliver for them. Now these lawmakers are fulfilling their commitment by pushing Right to Work legislation in a number of states.
SOAR needs to be in this fight. We must stand up to this attack on the labor movement. Find out if your state is being targeted. If so, call your state representatives and set them straight. Tell them to concentrate on legislation that creates jobs and to stop this unnecessary assault on workers.
Connie Entrekin, SOAR President
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Finally, today, the Democrats in the House of Representatives went to Illinois to prevent the Republicans from having a quorum and to slow the business down.
I am so proud of them for continuing to look out for Hoosier workers.
They are the greatest.
Monday, February 21, 2011
America has been the standard for many over the years for where they would like to be. An example of good hard-working people that stood firm on their convictions, principles and were willing to fight for them.
The “American Dream” was the goal of more than just those of us living in the U.S. Recently we have seen good examples of people rising up saying that they want a better life. They want good jobs and good schools. Many have pointed at the U.S. for what they wanted.
And yet, state after state is turning into a battle ground, because the “haves” are wanting to take out an even bigger piece of the pie and the “have-nots” are struggling to get a piece of the pie pan!
Who’s left in the middle? It’s the very group that created the middle class. The group that provides the workforce for the country and helped create that very American Dream that became the shining star of the world, and it is the Union. And how does corporate America show their thanks for the wealth we helped create for them? They attack us on every level, at every corner, and put the whole blame for the economic collapse of our country on us.
Wait, am I taking about America or the Middle East, well, isn’t that ironic …and sad.
Buril W. Smith
USW Local 9231
Sunday, February 20, 2011
1. The so called "Right to Work" legislation (the freeloader bill) that would reduce wages and increase poverty, and decrease the number of people that have health insurance.
2. Another issue was the Republicans wanting to reduce Unemployment Insurance by 25% making Indiana the fifth lowest state in the country for average UI benefits.
3. A bill that restricts the ability of teachers to bargain for anything other than wages and benefits.
4. And finally, we lobbied for full funding of the CHOICE program which allows seniors to stay in their homes rather than have to go to a nursing home.
By the looks on their faces, you can tell that our SOAR members love to help their union and haven't forgotten the power of unity. The photograph above represents just some of our SOAR members that participated. SOAR members are hard to corral for such a photo in the midst of so many people.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
More Action Needed NOW!
“It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this has been the worst week ever for workers at the Indiana Statehouse.”
- Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott
Multiple bills designed to destroy our way of life and take away our rights have been introduced this past week in our state legislature.
Last week we asked you to write letters to Speaker of the House Brian Bosma telling him NOT to hold a hearing on right to work legislation. Over 5,000 letters have been written to date. Keep those letters coming!
On Tuesday, 600 Steelworkers converged in Indianapolis to fight back against this anti-worker legislation. We need to do it again!
We Need More Action Now!
Indiana Steelworkers are being asked to come to the Statehouse next week to show our legislators that they can’t legislate us away.
We need members to come to the Statehouse on the following days:
Monday, February 21, 2011 beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, February 24, 2011 beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Please contact Brett Voorhies with the day you and/or your
local members will be coming at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-435-3333.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE -- The following are the anti-worker bills introduced this week.
Note: These are all IN ADDITION to previously introduced Right to Work legislation!
House Bill 1585: Seeks to permanently ban collective bargaining for state employees, criminalize the encouragement and participation in strikes by public employees and takes away the pensions of those who do. The bill also prohibits even voluntary collection of dues by local and state governments as well as school employers and disproportionately hurts the ability of women and minorities to bargain for better wages and working conditions. It passed out of committee, and now moves to the House floor for a vote.
Senate Bill 273: Like House Bill 1585, this bill seeks to permanently ban collective bargaining for state employees and criminalize the encouragement and participation in strikes by public employees.
House Bill 1203: An unnecessary bill designed to interfere with workers’ ability to designate a union to represent them. If passed, the National Labor Relations Board has already pledged to sue the state.
House Bill 1538: Bars local units of government from setting a minimum wage higher than a state minimum wage, restricting an important way to put upward pressure on wages.
House Bill 1216: Prohibits project labor agreements and renders Indiana’s common construction requirements useless. Specifically, the legislation exempts from common construction wage requirements projects under $1 million and all school and university projects. Currently only projects under $150,000 are exempt from this law. Passing this bill would lower the wages of Indiana’s construction workers and open the door to out-of-state workers.
Senate Bill 333: Seeks to eliminate the use of all Projects Labor Agreements on publicly funded construction projects.
Senate Bill 575: Limits collective bargaining rights of Indiana’s teachers to the point of dismantling them. If passed, only wages and certain fringe benefits may be bargained. This bill eliminates bargaining of hours and days, opening the door to extremely long hours and a longer work week with no additional compensation.
Senate Bill 001: Allows for outside agencies to be used to evaluate teachers and for teachers to evaluate other teachers. Teachers will not have input into the evaluation tool. The State Board of Education will have to approve the tool chosen by a school corporation, limiting local control. There is no appeal process under this bill if a teacher is fired unjustly. The Superintendent of Public Instruction may revoke a teacher’s license at will.
House Bill 1002: Allows for charter schools to be established by mayors of 2nd class cities or a majority vote of a school board. The bill allows for acquisition of under-utilized buildings for $1 per year for up to 20 years. The school corporation must maintain the building. Charters have first option at any under-utilized building, meaning the corporation cannot choose to sell it if a charter wants the building. It also requires that only 50 percent of the teachers in charter schools need to be licensed.
House Bill 1003: Creates vouchers to allow public money to be diverted to private schools. If passed, public schools are estimated to lose $110 million.
For Immediate Release: Feb. 16, 2011
Contact: Roy Houseman, 202-778-4384
Pittsburgh -- The United Steelworkers (USW) is urging Congress to reinstate funding for the enhanced Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program begun in 2009 that covers service workers and those whose jobs were exported to China or India due to unfair foreign trade.
The program had services slashed over the weekend when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block a bill extending the provision. The program assists workers who have been impacted by trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with job retraining and financial assistance. Opponents are trying to link the passage of future job off-shoring trade agreements to TAA.
Last week's vote reduces services for up to 170,000 Americans, from laid off steelworkers whose work was sent to China to office workers whose jobs have been outsourced to India. The Department of Labor was able to retain the program with reduced funding for one more year, but if Congress does not act to reinstate funding in the next year, tax-paying workers will lose a critical program that assists them in remaining competitive in the global economy.
“Once again, Americans are being put in the middle of a needless political battle and it’s working families who are paying the price,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “While members of the House and Senate try to win political points and the new leadership focuses on helping corporations and CEOs, tens of thousands of middle class Americans who lost jobs through no fault of their own could see job training and health care disappear.”
“These workers were already cheated out of good jobs because of bad trade deals. Now, they’re being cheated out of a second chance by their own elected officials, many of whom ran on promises of creating jobs,” Gerard said. “This political gamesmanship has to end so that Americans can go back to work.”
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, atomic energy and the service sector. For more info: www.usw.org.
It does not allow bargaining over working conditions.
Can you imagine working for some misguided, uncaring, nincompoop administrator in a school system and not being allowed to straighten that person out through collective bargaining?
Not all schools have nitwit administrators but when you have one with no common sense, you need to be able to negotiate changes in working conditions.
The saddest thing about this piece of right wing nutty Republican legislation is that my own State Senator is one of the authors and or sponsor.
Ed Charbonneau, from Indiana Senate District 5 is a sponsor of this bill and that really tees me off. This guy should know better.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
- In early 2008, NFL team owners opted out of the current deal two years early. The owners threatened to lock out the Players when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on March 4, 2010. The Players are NOT threatening to strike. The Players would play under the current deal - they are not asking for more.
- The league generate $8 billion in revenue last year and has seen a 400 percent increase in revenues over the past decade. Each team is worth at least $1 billion dollars. The model has been beneficial to all involved in the business of the game. Since the owners opted out, the responsibility lies with them to answer one question: why doesn’t the current deal work? If the teams are losing money, the owners should share audited financial statements with the Players so that, as business partners, they can help correct the problem.
- Thankfully, the NFL has remained strong despite the weak economy that has affected most Americans. The Green Bay Packers released limited financial information, and they generated $20 million in profits last year - not bad for a small-market team in one of the worst economic times in American history.
- The league has successfully negotiated multi-billion dollar television deals with CBS, Direct TV, NBC and FOX, although the NFL used the struggling economy as an excuse to lay off its employees and opt-out of the current CBA. The network deals contain provisions that require the networks to pay the NFL even if the owners lock out the Players and games are not played.
- The NFL has been granted every possible advantage from the federal government to become a successful business, including anti-trust exemptions. It also has 501c-6 non-profit status, which means the NFL pays less in taxes than average Americans.
- A lockout impacts not only owners, players and fans, but it hurts everyone associated with the business of the game. Economists estimate that team cities will lose approximately $160 million if there is a lockout.
- Hundreds of thousands in NFL communities will be impacted if owners lock out the Players, including:
- Approximately 100,000 stadium employees
- Hundred of thousands of municipal employees (Public Transportation such as train and bus workers, Parking Attendants, Police Officers, Radio/TV Reporters)
- Small business owners
- Retired players: Lose up to 80 percent of their benefits in an uncapped year
- 600 Coaches: Many of whom have already lost their pensions
Monday, February 14, 2011
Contact: Gary Hubbard, 202-778-4384 (O); 202-256-8125 (C); email@example.com
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 11, 2011) – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House Democrats and USW President Leo W. Gerard to raise their voices yesterday, sending a clear message that the number one national priority is to create jobs.
“Americans are demanding that we put jobs first; that we act to invest in our future and help our economy grow,” declared Leader Pelosi at a news conference in a U.S. Capitol room jammed with more than 100 USW members and activists of the union’s Rapid Response Network.
Speakers at the U.S. Capitol Press Event (l-r): U.S. Rep. John Carney, Jr. (D-DE); Barry Mortimer, USW Local 1001 activist at Osram-Sylvania Co., Wellsboro, PA; Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; Aaron Patterson, USW Local 1152-L President at Cooper Standard Automotive, Bowling Green, OH; Leo W. Gerard, USW International President; U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA); U.S. Rep. Gerry E. Connolly (D-VA) - Photo by Steve Dietz
USW President Gerard reminded reporters behind the “Jobs Now” podium sign that more than 50,000 factories in American have shutdown in the past decade. “Everyone in these communities is affected,” he said. “The schools with reduced taxes from fewer pay checks in the community, to the little corner stores and the suppliers. If we are concerned about getting out of debt, we need to be making things and getting everyone back to work.”
He cited proposals for infrastructure repair, high speed rail and rebuilding water treatment plants as examples.
U.S. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and John Carney (D-DE) each spoke to the bill introduced in the new congressional session by Leader Pelosi, the Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act, (H.R. 11). As a lead sponsor of the bill, Connolly called the Build America Bonds program a jobs bill. “During the last two years, $4.4 billion from the Recovery Act leveraged $181 billion in bonds needed for school construction, bridge and road repairs that created jobs.” He said the bonds expired in December and need to be renewed.
USW Local 1152 President Aaron Patterson told the media gathering that the manufacturing recovery wasn’t working for them after their rubber auto parts maker, Cooper Standard Automotive in Bowling Green, Ohio, last Friday announced the shutdown of their plant that’s transferring jobs to Mexico, because Ford Motor Corp. wanted the cheapest hoses they could get. A group of 24 of the 200 workers at the Ohio plant were present.
The Bowling Green local union president looked at Pelosi, saying: “We need you to work with members of Congress to create policies that sustain our jobs.”
The USW activists at the press event were among 700 participating in a ‘Lobby Day’ on American worker job advocacy issues legislation such as currency reform, extension of enhanced Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), opposition to the U.S. – Korea and Colombia free trade agreements, and approaching the budget deficit battles with common sense solutions that don’t endanger economic recovery and job growth.
Also speaking was Barry Mortimer of USW Local 1001, a rapid response coordinator at his plant of 110 at Osram-Sylvania in Wellsboro, Pa., where halogen light bulbs are fully U.S. made with energy saving standards. “Everything is made in America, including the box the light bulbs are packaged in,” Mortimer said. “We need every government building in America to be buying and installing our bulbs to promote domestic jobs and energy savings.”
Pelosi said, “Working together, we can expand our economy through innovation and public-private partnerships. We can invest in transportation, in clean energy and manufacturing in new industries.”
The Democratic Leader’s Jobs Program can be accessed at: http://www.democraticleader.gov/
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Monday, February 07, 2011
Will you join us in standing up for our kids and for public education?
The Indiana Federation of Teachers and the Indiana State Teachers Association are joining forces to hold rallies in support of public education in Indianapolis, East Chicago, and Anderson!
We'll be standing together to have our voices heard! Let's tell the General Assembly that they can't fix the education system by demonizing workers and draining funding from our schools. Please plan on attending one of these rallies to show your support for our kids, our schools and our future!
Tuesday, February 8th
Indiana Statehouse, South Atrium (inside the Statehouse)
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
5 p.m. Eastern Time
Lake County Rally
Wednesday, February 9th
4725 Indianapolis Blvd.
East Chicago, IN 46312
4:30 p.m. Central Time
(Outside event - Dress warm)
Thursday, February 10th
4610 S. Madison Ave.
Anderson, IN 46013
4:30 p.m. Eastern Time
(Outside event - Dress warm)
Join us at any of these rallies to stand with our union brothers and sisters! By standing together, we can make sure our representatives fight for Indiana’s children!
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Negative impacts of “Right to Work”:
- Drives down wages for all workers: Union and non-union workers in states with these laws make an average of $5,538 less a year than those that live in states without the law.
- Reduces benefits for all workers: Employers in “rtw” states are less likely to offer benefits and workers are losing health insurance coverage 70 percent faster than those in other states.
- Drains Billions for Indiana’s fragile economy: With the reduction of wages and benefits, Indiana’s economy stands to lose an estimated $17.3 billion as fewer dollars are circulated through the economy by Hoosier workers.
- Hurts workplace safety: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the rate of workplace deaths is 50 percent higher in “rtw” states.
- Reduces the overall quality of life: In addition to the decreased buying power of those in “rtw” states, the infant mortality rate is 16 percent greater while the poverty rate for all people is 19 percent higher and is 26 percent higher for children.
- Does not create jobs: Despite what the opposition would have you believe, “rtw” laws have no positive impact on states’ economies. Indiana’s unemployment rate is currently 9.8%. North Carolina, a state with a comparable population and economic base that has “rtw” laws on the books has an unemployment rate of 9.7%.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Won't Create Jobs
We’re told this bill will create much- needed jobs, but that’s just what they told us about NAFTA, trade with China and deregulating Wall Street, too. It’s another corporate lie. “Right to work” for less laws actually lower wages, leaving workers like us with less money to spend and weakening our state’s economy.
Lowers Wages for Everyone
Greedy CEOs love “right to work” for less laws because they drive down workers’ wages and benefits. In fact, the average worker in states with these laws makes more than $5,500 less a year. In this economy, who can afford a $5,500 pay cut? (Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 2010)
Endangers Worksite Safety and Health
These laws weaken unions so we can’t bargain for safe, healthy working conditions—resulting in more injuries and even deaths at the worksite. (Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, AFL-CIO, 2010)
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
In an interview not long ago he said that he's "concerned about the exploitation of cheap labor for profit and the exploitation of human beings that's going on today in the state of Indiana."
I think if Senator Delph was truly concerned about the exploitation of human beings that's going on in the state of Indiana, he would be introducing legislation that would make it illegal for companies to permanently replace workers if they are locked out or find it necessary to strike a company.
To me, Senator Delph's proposed legislation is nothing more than his way of expressing his bigotry.