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10/29/2004

The lack of paid sick leave in the U.S. will compound the risk of getting the flu this winter

The lack of paid sick leave in the United States will compound the risk of getting the flu this winter, at a time when even at-risk individuals cannot obtain flu shots because of a massive shortage of the vaccine, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Nearly half the nation’s workers don’t have guaranteed paid time off from their jobs when they are sick, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These workers are more likely to go to work when they are sick, increasing the likelihood they will infect others, says the National Partnership.

“Many workers may put others at risk by going to work sick because they cannot afford to miss a paycheck,” says National Partnership President Debra Ness. Fully 86 million U.S. workers don’t have paid sick days to care for sick children, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, No Time to Be Sick: Why Everyone Suffers When Workers Don’t Have Paid Sick Leave.

“Paid sick days would ease some of the tough choices facing American families today,” says Ness. “It would help workers provide for their families while being responsible employees.”

Flu Vaccine Shortage: Another Chapter in Bush’s ‘Not My Fault Presidency’
After half the U.S. supply of vaccine was halted following discovery of contaminated vaccines from one of two companies the Bush administration relied on to provide vaccines, President George W. Bush said the sole cause of the shortage is a “major manufacturing defect.”

Calling Bush’s refusal to take responsibility for the vaccine shortage “another chapter in the ‘not my fault presidency,’” Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says, “While in the end a manufacturing defect caused millions of contaminated vaccines, public health experts agree that the [Bush] administration ignored warnings to take action to avert this crisis. America should not be left in a position where our public health is left vulnerable to flaws from a single company.”

As president, Kerry says he will develop private and public strategies to prevent another vaccine crisis by putting America’s ingenuity to work to develop, produce and distribute safe flu vaccines.

Nearly 60 million of the 90 million people at high risk for getting complications as a result of the flu will be able to receive vaccines, according to an analysis by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health.

Meanwhile, state and local lawmakers are scrambling to provide flu vaccines to their residents. In Montgomery County, Md., more than 20,000 people applied for a lottery to determine who will receive the county’s remaining 800 doses of flu vaccine—with the odds of receiving one at about one in 25.

UMW endoreses Dan Mongiardo for Senate on Nov. 2

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Encourages Coal Miners-and All Working Kentuckians-to Vote for Dan Mongiardo
United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts today issued an appeal to Kentucky coal miners-and working people across the state-to cast their vote for Dan Mongiardo (D-Ky.) on Nov. 2. Mongiardo is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).


"A few months ago, the pundits didn't give Dan Mongiardo much of a chance, but, having worked closely with Dan over the years on several important issues, UMWA members know what a great fighter he is, and we never doubted his ability to stay in this race-if not win it," said Roberts. "Dan Mongiardo has marched in Lexington with displaced UMWA Horizon miners to highlight that travesty of justice, he has been a fighter in Kentucky to restore fairness to the state's process of awarding black lung benefits to miners and he has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to helping working Kentuckians get their fair share. I would add that UMWA members in Hazard, Ky., remember how Dan returned to that area after graduating from medical school to set up a free health care clinic to help the rural poor. Dan is the kind of person the people of Kentucky deserve as their representative in the U.S. Senate, not someone who has to resort to name calling and innuendo to prove his worth. UMWA members remember all too well how, in 1994, then-U.S. House member Jim Bunning cast his vote against passage of the Black Lung Restoration Act (H.R. 2108), which, thankfully, ended up passing 252-166. Working Kentuckians can-and must-do better, and that is why the UMWA is strongly encouraging them to cast their vote for Dr. Dan on Nov. 2."

Commentary:
Dr. Dan Mongiardo was there for 2 out of 3 protest rallies on the Horizon Natural Resources Bankruptcy Hearings in Lexington, Ky. I talked the guy personally at the first rally and agree with the UMWA that he has working class people, unions and coal miners in mind if elected.
I'm a life-long baseball fan, but that doesn't make me want to vote for incumbant Jim Bunning. The former MLB pitcher has done nothing for the state of Kentucky except push Bush Administration agendas that have hurt the working class and has endorsed outsourcing, keep the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour and will continue to do so if re-elected.
If you are a Kentuckian vote Dr. Dan Mongiardo on Nov. 2. Working class families are depending on it.

10/27/2004

Bush Admin. Plans To Cut Mine Safety Inspections?

United Mine Workers of America Takes Action to Force Immediate Release of Government Report on Bush Administration's Plans to Cut Mine Safety Inspections
The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today filed an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain a copy of a controversial government report aimed at reducing the number of mine safety inspections conducted by the Bush Administration's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Through its appeal, the UMWA is seeking immediate release of the report that has been withheld from the public by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) since the summer of 2003. The report resulted from a nearly half-million-dollar contract that DOL awarded to ICF Consulting in September 2002 to provide recommendations to MSHA on reducing mine safety inspections. UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said any proposals to cut federal mine safety inspections are "ludicrous. These inspections are integral to protecting the health and safety of America's coal miners, who continue to work in one of the world's most dangerous industries." He called on MSHA to "quit thumbing its nose at the law-the FOIA-that guarantees public access to the ICF study," adding, "It seems obvious that the Bush Administration plans to keep this report-aimed at cutting mine safety inspections-under wraps until after the election."..........

COMMENTARY:
It wouldn't surprise anyone if the Bush Administration did have an secret agenda to cut Federal Mining Safety Inspections because it would benefit the coal operators and create deregulation of the entire industry thus putting thousands who work in the mining industry at risk.

Organizations like the United Mine Workers and thousands of coal miners have worked hard over the past 100 years to make the industry safer. Some lost their lives in order to have the regulations and forced MSHA inspections we have now.

I've said it over and over, this Administration needs to be voted out of office and its time to take back America for the Working Class.

NOV. 2...VOTE.

10/26/2004

Democracy is hard work.

Democracy is hard work.

American democracy requires constant vigilance to survive and nothing short of total engagement to flourish. Voting is vital, but in times like these voting alone simply isn’t enough. By the time some of you hear these songs the election will be over. Then the real struggle begins.
When the dust clears and the votes are all counted (we’re watchin’ YOU, Jeb) it will be up to all of us- Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and independents alike-to hold whomever is left standing accountable for their actions on our behalf every single day that they are in power. The day after the election, regardless of the outcome, the war will go on, outsourcing of our jobs will continue, and over a third of our citizens will have no health care coverage whatsoever.

Like I said, it’s hard work and there’s so much to be done. And there always will be.

The Constitution of The United States of America is a REVOLUTIONARY document in every sense of the word. It was designed to evolve, to live, and to breathe like the people that it governs. It is, ingeniously, and perhaps conversely, resilient enough to change with the times in order to meet the challenges of its third century and rigid enough to preserve the ideals that inspired its original articles and amendments. As long as we are willing to put in the work required to defend and nurture this remarkable invention of our forefathers, then I believe with all my heart that it will continue to thrive for generations to come. Without our active participation, however, the future is far from certain. For without the lifeblood of the human spirit even the greatest documents produced by humankind are only words on paper or parchment, destined to yellow and crack and eventually crumble to dust.

The Revolution Starts Now....VOTE.

10/23/2004

Useful Quote for the Presidential Election

This has to be the best quote I've heard to counter-attack the Right Wing propoganda that John Kerry will take away people's guns:

When union members give him grief about Democrats being soft on the Second Amendment, Bill Dorward, an organizer for the United Steelworkers of America, fires back: "If you lose your job, you can't eat your gun." (From Oct. 23 Washington Post Article)

10/22/2004

President signs corporate tax bill giving more tax breaks to corporations

Without fanfare, President Bush has signed a package of changes in corporate tax law -- giving 136 (b) billion dollars in new tax breaks to businesses, farmers and others.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan announced that the president signed the bill aboard Air Force One on his way to campaign in Pennsylvania.
It's the most sweeping rewrite of corporate tax law in nearly two decades.
Congress' original intention was to repeal a tax break that resulted in punitive tariffs against American exporters.
But the final version grew to include tax breaks for a wide array of businesses, from oil and gas producers to importers of Chinese ceiling fans to NASCAR track owners.

Commentary:
Just more proof this adminstration does not have working class people in mind and are selling this nation out to big business. Working Class America its time to vote for change in Nov.

10/21/2004

Towns Hand Out Tax Breaks, Then Cry Foul as Jobs Leave

GALESBURG, Ill.- People in this big-shouldered town, birthplace of the poet Carl Sandburg, say Maytag broke their hearts. After a decade of tax breaks and union concessions to keep the company in a place that has been making refrigerators for more than 50 years, Maytag closed its factory last month, terminating 1,600 jobs....



Make sure your vote counts!

Here are SIX SIMPLE STEPS you can take on Election Day to protect your voting rights.

1. Call the local elections office to verify the location of your polling place. Locations may have
changed, and a vote cast at the wrong place might not get counted.

2. Bring identification to the polls in case it is needed, preferably government-issued ID or a utility bill,
phone bill or paycheck with your name and current street address.

3. Ask for help from poll workers and check posted information signs if you have questions or need
assistance.

4. Make sure you cast a vote. If you arrive late in the day and are in line when the polls close, you
should stay in line because you are entitled to vote.

5. If you are offered a provisional ballot because of a question about your eligibility, ask if you can
cast a regular ballot by providing additional ID or by going to another polling place. If no alternative is
available or practical, cast a provisional ballot.

6. If you have a voting rights problem, ask to speak with the chief election official or a voting rights
volunteer at the polls or call the toll-free nationwide Election Protection Hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE,
a project of a coalition of groups, including the AFL-CIO, promoting voting rights.

Corporations Doubled the Number of Jobs Sent Overseas in Three Years

U.S. companies will send some 406,000 American jobs overseas this year compared with 204,000 jobs three years ago, according to a new government report. Of those jobs, 140,000 will be moved to Mexico and 99,000 will go to China. The report supports the findings in recently released studies by the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council (IUC) which examine the role trade has played in manufacturing job losses in several key states. Since January 2001, Americans have lost more than 2.7 million manufacturing jobs and 850,000 professional service and information sector jobs. The AFL-CIO reports show that many of these jobs have been moved overseas as a result of bad trade policies pursued by the Bush administration.

The government report, The Changing Nature of Corporate Global Restructuring: The Impact of Production Shifts on Jobs in the U.S., China and Around the Globe, released Oct. 14, was prepared for the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission, which Congress created four years ago.

“With no particular loyalty to country, industry, community or product…this global race to the bottom is driven by…the search for ever-cheaper production costs, accessibility to expanding global markets and the flexibility that comes from diverse supply chains in an ever more volatile economic and political climate,” the report says.

Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and Stephanie Luce, research director and assistant professor at the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, prepared the report.

Middle-Class Incomes Decline Since Bush Tax-Giveaway to Wealthy

With fewer family-supporting jobs available and health care costs skyrocketing, America’s middle-income families last year had less cash in their pockets than in 2000, and those with children saw their income fall by $699, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Although President George W. Bush says his tax cuts have helped the middle class, the EPI report found job losses and rising health care costs far outweighed any benefits from the Bush tax cuts, which heavily favored the wealthy.

“Middle-income families now have less income available…to meet their needs,” says Larry Mishel, president of EPI and co-author of the study, Less Cash in Their Pockets: Trends in Income, Wages, Taxes and Health Spending of Middle-Income Families, 2000–03.

10/20/2004

Video: Working Families Cannot Handle Four More Years

Can America Afford Four More Years?

Congress Gives Away $130 Billion in Corporate Tax Relief

While lawmakers were busy touting tax relief for the “middle class,” they were quietly handing out billions in obscurely reasoned cuts favoring big corporations, in what critics call a reward for campaign funds.
Energy companies, tobacco farmers, engineering giants Bechtel and Halliburton, and even commercial whaling captains and fishing tackle box manufacturers are among the beneficiaries of at least $130 billion in tax cuts passed by Congress last week.
The bill, originally introduced to repeal an export tax break declared illegal by the World Trade Organization, quickly ballooned into what taxpayer advocates are calling the biggest corporate tax cut in 20 years.
"This is nothing more than a very complicated, intricate legislative dance to buy votes," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of policy for the advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The bill includes a wide range of tax cuts, including $495 million for shipbuilders, $28 million for the cruise ship industry, $9 million for US arrow manufacturers, and $11 million for makers of fishing tackle boxes. In addition, the bill eliminates excise taxes on sonar devices for finding fish, allows NASCAR track owners to write off their grandstand facilities in seven years -- saving the owners over $100 million -- and gives film and TV studios $336 million in tax breaks over the next five years. The bill also extends a tax credit for purchasing sports utility vehicles and gives tax breaks to the builders of a massive Alaskan pipeline.
A change in the definition of manufacturing accounts for over half of the total tax breaks. Under the new definition, engineering and energy companies, including electricity, oil and natural gas concerns, are classified as manufacturers and qualify for the manufacturing tax credit. The new classification includes giants like Halliburton, Bechtel, and ExxonMobil. The change is expected to cost taxpayers $76.5 billion...

Reporters’ union fights suspensions over concert attendance

Two weeks after a Minnesota newspaper suspended two reporters for attending a pro-Kerry concert, the reporters’ union is fighting back.
The St. Paul-based Pioneer Press suspended investigative reporters Chuck Laszewski and Rick Linsk for three days after they attended an October 5 "Vote for Change" concert sponsored by liberal political group MoveOn.org.
The paper’s management had asked all newsroom employees not to attend any "Vote for Change" concert because of its connection to MoveOn.org.
Officials from the Minnesota Newspaper Guild/Typographical Union met with Pioneer Press representatives yesterday. "We asked them to remove the suspensions, restore their pay and remove the information from their files. The company refused, and now we’ll move it to arbitration," Guild Executive Officer Mike Sweeney told Workday Minnesota.
The suspensions are based on a newsroom Code of Ethics policy addressing concerns about objectivity. However, union representatives say the suspensions were unwarranted and limit the rights of workers.
"Both these guys are investigative reporters. Their normal assignment is not politics or elections," Sweeney told Workday Minnesota. "If this is let go, they can come up with just about anything as a conflict," he added.

Health Plan Passes; Teachers Strike Called Off

State teachers have voted to call off a threatened strike.
Kentucky Education Association officials met Tuesday night in Frankfort, hours after legislators passed a proposal to sweeten 2005 health insurance benefits. K-E-A president Frances Steenbergen called the night -quote- "history making."
Earlier, both chambers of the General Assembly signed off on last-minute changes to the state plan. The action capped more than two weeks of a special session. Governor Ernie Fletcher signed the new proposal Tuesday night. The teachers then voted to cancel their planned October 27th strike.
When Fletcher announced next year's state health insurance proposal, it was met with a huge public outcry. Teachers were angered over hikes in rates and deductibles. They threatened to walk off the job if their original benefits weren't restored.

Commentary:
I am very proud of the KEA for holding their ground on this issue and not letting KY Gov. Ernie Fletcher strong-arm them on this issue. This proves that unions and solidarity in the work place works. Although the state had a "no-strike" clause for teachers the KEA still told the Fletcher Administration we aren't going to stand for this and voted to strike unless their demands were met....Guess what, the Fletcher Administration backed down and returned what was rightfully theirs despite what the Gov. told the press a month ago.

10/19/2004

A QUARTER OF FAMILES STRUGGLING

A new report by the Working Poor Families Project recently found that more than one in four U.S. working families earn wages so low they have trouble surviving financially. Twenty-eight million jobs in the United States, more than one-fifth of all jobs, cannot keep a family of four above the poverty level and provide few or no benefits, says the report funded by the Annie E. Casey, Rockefeller and Ford foundations. To download the study, visit www.aecf.org/initiatives/jobsinitiative/index.htm.

Hotel workers Union garners support of thousands

Thousands of union and community activists, along with Haitian-born hiphop singer Wyclef Jean and actress Dana Ivey, rallied Oct. 16 to support the 10,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 54 in Atlantic City, N.J., who are continuing their strike against several hotels. San Francisco hotels continue to lock out 4,000 workers at 14 hotels, despite UNITE HERE Local 2 members’ attempts to return to work and Mayor Gavin Newsom’s call for the hotels to let the workers back in. A federal mediator is convening bargaining between union representatives and the hotels later this week. On Oct. 12, thousands of hotel workers and their allies flooded Union Square for a unity rally. They were joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, San Francisco religious leaders and elected officials. Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) later joined the picket line at the Sheraton Palace. In Los Angeles on Oct. 8, members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Screen Actors, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, Teamsters Local 399, IATSE and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/CWA offered their solidarity with union hotel workers during a rally at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. In Washington, D.C., contract negotiations continued between UNITE HERE Local 25 and 14 major hotels. For more information, visit www.hotelworkersunited.org.

10/18/2004

Bush Administration wants to deny orphaned miners of health care

(From the Pittsburg Times)
Fix sought to stabilize retired miners' health plan

A fund to help retired coal miners meet their medical expenses has become ensnared in election-year politics, with one of the unions supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry charging the Bush administration with a failure to fix the fund.

Bush campaign and administration officials say the charge is false.

Earlier this year, the same union that made the claim -- the United Mine Workers of America -- publicly thanked the administration for its efforts on the fund's behalf and cited the rise of a bipartisan coalition to save the fund.

Hanging in the balance is the future of the federal Coal Act's Combined Benefits Fund, which pays medical bills for more than 10,000 retired western Pennsylvania coal miners and their survivors.

The CBF, created by Congress in 1992, merged the UMWA's 1950 and 1974 benefit plans. It uses the interest that accrues to the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, a pool of money generated by coal company fees and keyed to U.S. coal production, to shore up the plan's financial well-being. No tax dollars are involved.
The CBF was designed to stabilize the union's health benefit plans in the wake of declining revenues in the late 1980s.

According to the UMWA, a wave of coal company bankruptcies again threatens the fund.
The matter is complicated by the fact that the fund is attached to the federal mine reclamation program, which itself is ensnared in controversy. Authorization for both the CBF and the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund expired in late September. A congressional resolution is keeping the funds going.
Union and congressional sources expect a further extension when Congress returns after the election. A permanent solution appears to be many months away.

Last week, a UMWA press release said, "President Bush has had four years and a Republican majority in both bodies of Congress to try and find a long-term solution to the Coal Act's funding problems, but the president has offered no plan."

Mike Catanzaro, deputy director for energy policy for the Bush campaign, said, "We have offered a plan."
Jeff Jarrett, who heads the Office of Surface Mining in the Bush administration, echoed Catanzaro. The OSM administers the Combined Benefits Fund.

In February, the union hailed the lifting of a $70 million cap on interest transfers by the Bush administration, a measure supported by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Also in February, the UMWA publicly thanked the administration for extending to September 2005 a $190 million pilot Medicare prescription drug program.

The lifting of the cap and the Medicare program were part of the CBF reforms cited by Catanzaro.
Since 1992, $665 million of Abandoned Mine Reclamation interest has been transferred to the CBF to make up for shortfalls in the UMWA retiree health care plan. The lawmaker who proposed the creation of CBF 12 years ago, West Virginia Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall, now has proposed that a restriction on the use of the fund be lifted.

Currently, transfers to the CBF from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation fund are limited to paying solely for "orphaned" coal miner health care -- those retired miners whose former companies no longer exist. Rahall's legislation, introduced with Republican Rep. Robert Ney, of Ohio, would allow interest transfers to offset any CBF deficits in order to prevent reductions in coverage.

The proposal, known as Care 21, "is definitely a long-term fix to this financial crisis," Roberts said, "and we would encourage both bodies to pass the legislation."

Jarrett confirmed the Bush administration opposes Rahall's plan to permit interest proceeds to plug CBF deficits for "assigned" retired miners.

"That (change) is far beyond our ability to finance" with current revenues, Jarrett said.

Jarrett decried the "linkage" between mine reclamation and the UMWA health plans, believing they "should be separated (since) one doesn't have anything to do with the other."

"We don't object to making the payments" outlined in the 1992 legislation, Jarrett said, "but I get concerned when there's talk of using the (Abandoned Mine Reclamation) fund to solve additional problems."

HELP TO KEEP THE PROMISE TO THE COAL MINERS CLICK HERE

10/13/2004

Additional bill introduced to help the Horizon Natural Resources Retirees

Editor's note: This is not HR 3796, it is an additional bill in hopes of helping save the coal miners benefit funds.

COSTELLO, SHIMKUS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO COVER MINER HEALTH COSTS
Washington - U.S. Congressmen Jerry Costello (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) announced today that they introduced legislation to provide funding to cover the health care costs of coal miners and retirees. The bill will cover the 5,000 Horizon Mine workers and retirees impacted by the company's bankruptcy.
“With the introduction of this bill, we are seeking to insure that the miners that invested so much of their lives into these companies are not left without health insurance,” said Costello. “This is about doing the right thing, and I am hopeful that we can enact the necessary changes to keep providing these benefits.”

"Congress needs to address this problem before coal miners lose their health benefits. We have to live up to the commitment we made to our nation's miners. This legislation is part of the solution, but Congress still needs a long term solution for our miners, to insure they have adequate health care benefits for the future," stated Shimkus.

Three separate funds - the Combined Benefit Fund (CBF), the 1992 Benefit Fund ('92 Fund) and the 1993 Benefit Fund ('93 Fund) – were established by the Coal Act of 1992 and a later agreement to cover these costs. Coal companies pay into the funds, but due to the fact that fewer companies remain in business and interest on the funds has declined, adjustments are needed to keep the Funds, particularly the '93 Fund, solvent.

The bill would enact three changes:
Change the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund investment policy to include a mandated investment return sufficient to cover the CBF and '92 Fund costs.

Extend AML funding to cover all “orphan” beneficiaries (those miners who worked for a company that has gone bankrupt), including the '93 Fund.

Allows the use of stranded interest that is currently available in the AML and the Rural Abandoned Mine Program funds to be used.

### ATTENTION###

Resist Oppression Update to the Story:

At least there is back up legislation if our Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners campaign tp pass HR 3796 gets defeated or log-jammed on the floor of the U.S. Congress.
Still the fight for the passage of HR 3796 must continue and we urge eveyone to go to our Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners website and sign our online petition to Congress.

The fight isn't over, we at least now have back up legislation. Support the passage of both bills. Soon we will be updating the Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners website for users to support the Cosetello and Shimkus legislation in addition to HR 3796

Congress Votes Sixth Time to Protect Overtime Pay

Oct. 13—A recent vote in the Senate marks the sixth time Congress has acted to protect overtime pay rights, but the Bush administration continues to threaten to veto any legislation that would change its rules that take overtime pay rights away from some 6 million workers.

On Oct. 11, the Senate by voice vote passed a bill by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) that would restore workers’ overtime pay rights, before adjourning and heading to their home states to campaign for the Nov. 2 election. Only a few days earlier, House and Senate members removed a similar amendment restoring workers’ overtime pay from an unrelated export tax bill.

Worker-Friendly Members Keep Up the Fight to Protect Overtime Pay
Democratic and Republican members of Congress who want to protect workers’ overtime pay rights are keeping up their fight to reverse the Bush administration’s take-away. Congress is set to reconvene for a lame-duck session Nov. 16, when it will take up the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill. In September, bipartisan majorities on the Senate Appropriations Committee and in the House passed amendments to the spending bill by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) that would force the U.S. Department of Labor to rescind overtime pay eligibility changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act rules but let stand new inflation adjustment rules that will benefit some 384,000 low-income workers.

Bush has threatened to veto the appropriations bill, which includes funds for health care and education, if it contains the amendment. But workers are faxing the White House, asking Bush to take back his overtime pay cut. Since the Bush administration announced the overtime pay cuts in March 2003—the first major rollback of worker pay protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act since it was passed in 1938—workers have sent more than 1.6 million letters, e-mails and faxes in protest.

Earlier this month, thousands of workers in 17 cities across the country protested Bush’s overtime pay take-away. The workers delivered some 200,000 postcards to Bush–Cheney campaign headquarters, federal buildings and Labor Department offices in the various cities. The postcards called on Bush to withdraw his overtime pay take-away in the face of overwhelming public opposition and repeated votes in Congress to protect workers’ paychecks.

Take Action!
Tell President Bush to withdraw his overtime pay cut

For RSS NEWS FEED READERS Take Action By Going TO: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/bush_NO_VETO

Kerry and Edwards are Miners' Best Hope to Rectify Horizon Bankruptcy Court Injustice

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts and Large Delegation of West Virginia Coal Miners To "Early Vote" On Wednesday in Kanawha and Fayette Counties
Says Kerry and Edwards are Miners' Best Hope to Rectify Horizon Bankruptcy Court Injustice and Find a Long-Term Solution to the Coal Act's Funding Problems


United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts and a large delegation of Cannelton coal miners will "early vote" on Wednesday, Oct. 13, in both Kanawha and Fayette Counties. At 9 a.m., Roberts will welcome the group of miners at L.U. 8843's local hall on Route 2, a little over a mile off Route 60. From there, Roberts and one group of miners will caravan to vote at the Kanawha County Courthouse Annex at 415 Quarter Street in Charleston. Another group of miners will caravan to vote at the Fayette County Courthouse at 100 Court St. in Fayetteville. Members of the press are encouraged to be at the local hall at 9 a.m. and then follow the caravans.

West Virginia's "early vote" program allows registered voters statewide to cast their ballot ahead of Nov. 2, or Election Day. Most of the miners joining Roberts worked at Horizon Natural Resources' Cannelton mine. They were all displaced recently after a federal bankruptcy judge allowed Horizon to void its contracts with the UMWA. The judge also allowed Horizon to strip its workers of their promised health care benefits.
"The UMWA will not tell any of these miners for whom they must vote, but these workers know which candidates have publicly addressed what happened to them in bankruptcy court and are now vowing to work with us to try and rectify the injustice," said Roberts. "Those candidates are John Kerry and John Edwards."
Roberts said that the UMWA has not heard anything from the Bush Administration concerning the injustice imposed on the Horizon miners and retirees in bankruptcy court. He explained that President Bush has had four years-and a Republican majority in both bodies of Congress-to try and find a long-term solution to the Coal Act's funding problems, but that the president has offered no plan.

"The Administration announced earlier this year that it was extending our members involvement in a pilot Medicare prescription drug program," explained Roberts. "This was welcome news because it offered some much-needed temporary financial relief to the Coal Act. But I would note that when the Administration announced the extension, it also said it favored finding a long-term solution to the funding problems. That rhetoric is great, but coal miners are now demanding action to back up the words. This funding problem is not going away, and it is getting worse every day. Just look at what happened to the Horizon miners and retirees. Had the Bush Administration acted to help and worked with the UMWA to find a long-term solution to the problem the 1993 Benefit Plan, which picks up health care benefits for 'orphaned' miners, would be financially solvent and able to absorb our Horizon members without breaking the bank. That is not the case though. Today, the '93 Plan is stretched to its maximum and there is a real fear it might soon collapse. John Kerry and John Edwards are vowing to help because they understand that the federal government's promise to coal miners of cradle-to-grave health care must be kept."

UMWA head says reclamation program must continue

The president of the United Mine Workers of America says the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation program must stay afloat for public safety and to protect health-care benefits for retired miners.U-M-W-A president Cecil Roberts told an audience in Castlewood on Saturday that Congress took a "good step" in deciding to continue collecting the federal coal production fee past the September 30th expiration.

Lawmakers have until November 20th to decide the future of the program, which reclaims abandoned coal mines that were active prior to the 1977 federal surface mine laws.

Coal companies pay 35 cents for each ton of strip-mined coal and 15 cents per ton for coal harvested in underground mines.

Some of the money is also used for public water projects since some mining practices damaged water supplies in coalfield communities.

The interest collected on the A-M-L funds provides health benefits to more than a thousand retired union miners in Virginia.

Roberts says the abandoned mine sites pose serious danger to the public.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION AND SAVE THE MINERS HEALTH CARE

10/12/2004

Learn the facts before the tomorrow's debate

Tomorrow night’s presidential debate will focus on such key working family issues as good jobs, overtime pay, health care and education. The president may repeat some claims of accomplishments we’re just not feeling in our pockets and that don’t square with the realities working families face every day.

CLAIM: President Bush has created 1.7 million new jobs.
FACT: America has lost a net 1.6 million private-sector jobs since January 2001, according to the government’s own statistics. Yes, we’re beginning to gain jobs, but we’ve lost even more. We haven’t even seen enough new jobs created to keep up with population growth. In reality, Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a net loss of jobs.

CLAIM: Unemployment is down.
FACT: It’s down from its highest point because so many unemployed workers have given up looking for jobs. If they were still looking, Krugman says, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 7.4 percent.

CLAIM: The recession and terrorist attacks caused today’s budget deficit.
FACT: The president’s massive tax cuts for the rich are responsible for about two-thirds of the federal deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. President Bush inherited a $230 billion budget surplus and in less than four years turned it into a $422 billion deficit that our children still will be paying off years down the road.

CLAIM: Tax cuts have created jobs and helped working people.
FACT: The president’s tax cuts have been a bonanza for the rich, not the middle class. Most of the tax benefits went to the wealthiest, with one-third lining the pockets of people whose incomes exceed $1 million a year.

10/07/2004

Temporary Relief for Horizon Natural Resources Workers/Retirees

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts SaysUnion Is Planning Actions To Address Termination of Health Care Benefitsfor Nearly 5,000 Horizon Natural Resources Retirees and Active Miners
Says UMWA Has Determined That What Happened to Horizon Members Qualifies as a Strike Under Union Constitution. Therefore, the UMWA Will Provide Temporary Health Care Coverage to Horizon Miners and Retirees from the Union’s Selective Strike Fund........

Cheney Lied During The Debates


Contrary to Cheney's Statement, He and Edwards Met Twice Before Debate

On Feb. 1, 2001, the vice president thanked Edwards by name at a Senate prayer breakfast and sat beside him during the event.

On April 8, 2001, Cheney and Edwards shook hands when they met off-camera during a taping of NBC's "Meet the Press," moderator Tim Russert said Wednesday on "Today."

On Jan. 8, 2003, the two met when the first-term North Carolina senator accompanied Elizabeth Dole to her swearing-in by Cheney as a North Carolina senator, Edwards aides also said.


10/06/2004

Attention Horizon Natural Resources Miners/Retirees

NEW ACTION WEBSITE:

KEEP THE PROMISE TO THE COAL MINERS...SUPPORT HR 3796


(click on the pic to enter)

Fahrenheit 9/11- Out now to buy and rent

Fahrenheit 9/11
One of the most controversial and provocative films of the year, Fahrenheit 9/11 is Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore's searing examination of the Bush administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us. He looks at how - and why - Bush and his inner circle avoided pursuing the Saudi connection to 9/11, despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi money had funded Al Qaeda. Fahrenheit 9/11 shows us a nation kept in constant fear by FBI alerts and lulled into accepting a piece of legislation, the USA Patriot Act, that infringes on basic civil rights. It is in this atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and dread that the Bush Administration makes its headlong rush towards war in Iraq and Fahrenheit 9/11 takes us inside that war to tell the stories we haven't heard, illustrating the awful human cost to U.S. soldiers and their families.
Find out more Buy the film on DVD Buy the film on VHS

"I personally loved this flick and the soundtrack it inspired. Both are must have items for working class America." --- Resist Oppression

10/05/2004

Edwards vs. Cheney: The winner is....

I am very biased on this topic, I never trusted VP Dick Cheney and never will, but in the fairness of this entry I tried to watch the debates with an opponents.
As for the winner, I'll say Cheney defeated himself with his blatant lies about denying he said there were ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, downplaying how bad the economy really is and his bullish attitude however, in criticism of him, he did not deliver the finishing blows when he had Old Man Cheney on the ropes, especially on the topic of the economy.

Although some of the polling shows Edwards did a great job, still from watching the debates the Kerry-Edwards ticket needs to get tougher in their attacks on Bush. They wouldn't even have to create foggy facts or propaganda, just call it like it is because thats what the voters want to hear.

Here is a great link to a round by round scorecard of the VP Debate.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5660340/

New website shows consumers the evils of shopping at Wal-Mart

I've preached for years about how Wal-Mart is destroying our economy, labor and our consumer rights. They offer low wages and their workers have no rights, especially in collective bargaining and forming a union.

Finally a legitimate website has been put together to show the truth so many of us have already known for years.

Standing behind what I always say...buy American and boycott Wal-Mart.

New AFL-CIO website shows how consumers pay the price at Wal-Mart.

10/01/2004

Unemployment Benefit Exhaustion Highest in 60 Years

WHERE ARE THE JOBS?
The economic rebound has missed millions of working people, according to several reports released last week. Some 43.4 percent of the people nationwide who began receiving state unemployment benefits last year exhausted their benefits without finding new jobs, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported. That is the highest benefit exhaustion rate in more than 60 years. The reason for the high level of long-term unemployment is the lack of jobs, EPI said. In 2003, the share of the unemployed who had been seeking work for six months or more was 22.1 percent, the second highest share on record, EPI found. For more information, visit www.epinet.org. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released two reports demonstrating the impact of companies exporting jobs. One report found increased losses in manufacturing jobs (2.7 million since George W. Bush took office in 2001) have stretched trade adjustment assistance (TAA) resources in the states to the limit, resulting in waiting lists. A second GAO report found exporting jobs is a growing trend that cannot be ignored and the agency plans another four studies of its impact on various parts of the economy. U.S. workers now can find out which employers in their communities or industries are shipping jobs overseas and speak out for saving good jobs with Job Tracker (www.workingamerica.org/jobtracker), an online interactive database created by WORKING AMERICA, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.