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With the presidential election over, labor will once again push organizing--hard.

And to that end, AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff plans new ways to raise the profile of organizing as an issue, involve rank-and-file union members in it, and get unions to undertake more, and more-comprehensive, strategic campaigns. (MORE >>>)

United pilots' pensions protected

United Airlines will have its pension scheme for pilots underwritten by the US agency created in 1974 to protect workers' retirement rights. (MORE >>)

Hopefully the current Adminstration won't find a way to undermine this plan.

Workers Feeling the Pain of Bush's Victory

Those who warned that working people would suffer severe consequences if President Bush was re-elected were not exaggerating. The first major post-election battle pitting Bush and his allies in Congress and corporate business against organized labor and its congressional allies made that all too clear. (MORE >>>)


Protecting Americans' rights at work

Over the past several months, decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency charged with enforcing labor law, have stripped workers of legal protections. The system to protect workers has been broken for a long time, but it's getting worse. (MORE >>>)

Legal Fight Looms Over Calif. Workers' Comp Reform

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new guidelines on workplace injuries go into effect within days, but critics threatened lawsuits on Monday to prevent them from become permanent.

The guidelines are a key part of Schwarzenegger's plan to overhaul his state's workers' compensation system, its insurer of last resort for injured employees. It has been one of his top priorities, reflecting the view of business lobbies that the system's high costs are an economic drag. (MORE >>>)


Teamsters Union Offers Own Proposals in Growing Debate Over AFL-CIO's Future

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has come forward with a plan to streamline the AFL-CIO and make better use of its resources for organizing.

The union’s 7-point plan is the latest entry into the growing debate about the future of the AFL-CIO, which will be discussed at a meeting of the Executive Council in March in Las Vegas.

“We believe our restructuring proposals will allow us to build a more unified and more effective labor movement,” IBT President James Hoffa said in a Dec. 8 statement. “We hope these proposals will contribute to the process that will lead to a stronger labor movement as we head to the coming AFL-CIO convention.”

The Teamster plan would streamline the national AFL-CIO by eliminating those functions that are duplicated by the affiliates or more appropriately done by them. It would also cut the duplication of operations and resources between the national unions and affiliated state and local bodies. That would save millions of dollars, which could be used for organizing.

Another proposal would reduce the per capita tax by 50% for those unions that allocate a minimum of 10% of their national union dues income to organizing and devote rebated resources to organizing in core industries. This would provide an incentive for laggard unions to take on more organizing campaigns.

The Teamsters insist the AFL-CIO Executive Committee, which is composed of 25 members of the 54-member Executive Council, is “untenable” and “unfair for those unions that are the principle sources of AFL-funding.”

The IBT plan recommends that the Executive Council be drastically shrunk. “If ten is too small, let it be the top fifteen unions and no more,” it says. This proposal is expected to receive heated opposition from many international unions now represented on the Council.

Differing with the SEIU, whose plan would restructure AFL-CIO’s international unions from 64 to fewer than 20 through forced mergers, the Teamsters say: “The Executive Committee should develop a concrete plan for encouraging sector/industry appropriate mergers and should be authorized to create special inducements, financial or otherwise, to accelerate the merger process.”

There will probably be consensus on the IBT proposal to “develop a strategic political and organizing plan for ‘swing states’ to increase union membership and political influence in order to produce a pro-labor White House and Congress in future elections.”

The Teamsters also want to reform the AFL-CIO jurisdictional disputes mechanisms so that unions are prohibited from undercutting contract standards established by other unions. The AFL-CIO has tried for decades to stop jurisdictional warfare without much success.

Whatever plan emerges from the AFL-CIO meeting in March, it will represent the best thoughts of the current union leadership. But there is no guarantee that any plan will work without inspiring millions of union members to become involved. That was the missing ingredient in past programs to revitalize the labor movement. It can happen again if our national leaders don’t learn from their past mistakes.

Ohio Official Refuses Interview Over Vote

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has requested a protective order to prevent him from being interviewed as part of an unusual court challenge of the presidential vote.

Blackwell, in a court filing, says he's not required to be interviewed by lawyers as a high-ranking public official, and accused the voters challenging the results of ``frivolous conduct'' and abusive and unnecessary requests of elections officials around the state. (MORE >>>)

I didn't think the preservation of democracy was ``frivolous conduct'' and the taxpayers of ohio foot the bill for this idiot's salary so if they want questions answered (even if asked by a lawyer to Mr. Blackwell) he has an obligation to answer.

Airline seeking unpaid volunteers for New Years

Trying to avert another round of flight disruptions, US Airways yesterday sought volunteers from its nonunion workforce to work without pay at its troubled Philadelphia operations over the New Year's weekend. (MORE >>>)

I don't even know where to begin on this story.
How about instead of getting voluteers the CEOs who bankrupt the company with their greed, give up their raises and Christmas bonuses and use them to pay for staffing.
Secondly, I thought the airline industry was a high priority for Homeland Security. Doesn't the concept of volunteers (probably without background checks) seem like potential hazard?


Unions Deny Holiday Sick Out at US Airways

Union leaders at US Airways blame thin staffing for the carrier's weekend "operational meltdown," but the airline is contending that large numbers of workers decided to call in sick. (MORE >>>)

I was just waiting for a story hinting blame to the airline unions being the cause of the Christmas Travel Choas. The computer glitches along with Corporate Greed is to blame, not the workers or the unions.

New Study Shows Companies Willing to Outsource More Jobs

A new study from Duke University and Archstone Consulting reported that over the next three years, the shipment of jobs and services outside the U.S. is expected to increase by "more than 50 percent" of the firms surveyed.

The study conducted on-line surveys to business leaders of world-class corporations who fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Currently offshoring
  • Currently considering offshoring
  • Currently not offshoring

The majority of the companies stated that they would continue to move jobs and services offshore despite political pressure in Congress.

Of the surveyed companies, the study found that:

  • 93 percent expected to cut costs
  • 55 percent expected to exceed projections on cost cutting
  • 72 percent expected to meet or exceeded savings

Of offshore operations, India led the way with 69%. In 2005, it is expected that India will continue to hold 65% of offshore business while 26% will go to the rest of Asia.

A study released in September by the Center for Urban Economic Development found that 400,000 information technology sector jobs have been lost since 2001 and that more than 281,000 jobs have been cut so far this year.

With the open-arms approach of the Bush administration and the present outsourcing trend, the prospect for good paying family jobs will likely continue to diminish.

Hourly Workers Continue to Lose Ground to Inflation

According to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) latest survey, most U.S. workers’ average weekly earnings dropped for the second month in a row as the consumer price index rose 0.6 percent for October and 0.2 percent for the month of November.

Last month hourly earnings shrank by about 0.4 percent as American worker paychecks failed to keep pace with inflation. Taking inflation into account, real weekly earnings totaled $277.72 in November 2004, as compared with $283.70 in November 2003.

For the year ending in November average earnings have declined 1.6 percent. The survey points out that 11 of 13 specific industry sectors have seen wages declining over the past 12 months.

For workers earning minimum wages, the squeeze on earnings only adds to their troubles as they try to meet rising rent and utility costs. More and more state governments are looking at raising the minimum wage to ease the burden on low-wage workers.


Labor to Join Count-the-Vote Rally on Jan. 3

The Cleveland Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) will be sending buses to Columbus on Jan. 3 to support a "Count Every Vote" pro-democracy rally being organized by Rainbow/PUSH, the NAACP National Voter Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, and several other organizations.

The Cleveland AFL-CIO has already signed up members of the Cleveland community for three busses, one of which will be specifically for union members.

Cleveland labor is working on this effort with the N.A.A.C.P. National Voter Fund, the Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Coalition, and the 11th Congressional District Caucus, and is also reaching out to the 10th District.

The rally is intended to cast more international light on the fraud and irregularities that took place in the November 2nd election in Ohio.

For more information, contact Marcia McCoy at the Cleveland AFL-CIO, 216-374-0913 or 216-881-7200.

Link to info and flyers on Jan. 3 and 6 rallies!

Sign Petition to US Senators

Contract would boost corrections officers' pay

Corrections officers at the Fayette County Prison (Pa.) are represented by the United Mine Workers of America, as are about 50 of the county's probation and domestic relations employees who received an identical contract earlier this year. (MORE >>>)

A New Poverty Draft

Military Contractors Target Latin America For New Recruits

With the situation in Iraq becoming more and more deadly and the resistance gaining increasing popular support inside the country, the Bush administration has begun sending thousands more US troops to Baghdad. But many question how many more troops the administration can afford to send, or more important, how many soldiers it can send. The US military is facing an unprecedented crisis in recruiting numbers and new enlistments. Meanwhile, new Pentagon statistics show that more than 5,000 soldiers have now been charged with desertion from bases in the U.S. and overseas since the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. (MORE >>>)

U.S. airlines face more cuts in 2005

With the six big U.S. airlines expected to lose another $5.5 billion this year, every one of them - American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest and US Airways - has announced plans for deeper cuts in 2005. All told, these cuts will reach $7.5 billion in spending and at least 20,000 jobs. (MORE >>>)
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Teachers' benefits top AP ranking

Kentucky teachers flexed their political muscle in 2004, and their threatened statewide strike forced a special legislative session to improve state health insurance benefits for next year over the package proposed by the governor. (MORE >>>)

This is another example of activism working in 2004.

University boots Taco Bell

Students have taken a bite out of Taco Bell and not the kind the fast-food giant wants.

Taco Bell will not return to Cal State San Bernardino when the student union reopens next fall after students complained that Florida tomato pickers are underpaid and mistreated.

It is the 21st college in the country to remove Taco Bell. (MORE >>>)

Activism works. Nuff said.

Appeal for Justice at Tyson Foods

As the world’s largest meat company—enjoying record sales and profits in 2004—Tyson Foods can and must provide its employees with a safe workplace and treat its workforce with dignity and respect. (MORE >>>)

Other unions take over picket duties from nurses

More than 100 members of the area's skilled trades unions took on picketing duties Saturday at St. John's Mercy Medical Center to give striking nurses time to spend with their families on Christmas.

Carpenters, electricians, elevator constructors, operating engineers, pipefitters, plumbers and other skilled trades workers carried signs mainly at the hospital's entrances along Ballas and Conway roads in Creve Coeur. Meanwhile, the hospital operated routinely, said Bill McShane, a St. John's spokesman. (MORE >>>)

Wal Mart burden to state's taxpayers

  • Retailer stands out in program for uninsured kids

  • The parents of children enrolled in West Virginia’s program for uninsured kids work in retail stores, fast-food restaurants and even post offices.

    But the employer that appears most often in the program’s rolls is Wal-Mart, the state’s largest private employer, according to an analysis prepared for the Sunday Gazette-Mail by the state’s Bureau for Children and Families. (MORE >>>)


    City Council Throws Support to Youngstown Strikers

    The full City Council in Youngstown, Ohio, has thrown its weight behind the TNG-CWA members on strike against the city's newspaper over wages and health care.

    "The Council is in support of the Vindicator's striking employees and their position to receive fair wages, fair working conditions and fair health care benefits," the Dec. 15 resolution stated. All seven council members voted for it.

    In addition, a councilman from the nearby city of Warren, Ohio, publicly burned his Vindicator subscription card at a rally for the workers last week and said he plans to present his council with a resolution backing the strikers. (MORE >>>)

    Nurses sue over staff ratio law

    This story really makes me happy. Hope this shuts Gov. Arnold's anti-union mouth and shows him union folks push back when provoked.

    Two weeks after branding them "special interests" and bragging he can "kick their butt," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was sued Tuesday by California's largest nursing union as it moved to uphold landmark hospital staffing ratios recently blocked by his administration. (MORE >>>)

    UMWA praises new activist website

    United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Praises Website That Educates People About Unjust Federal Bankruptcy Laws and Urges Reform

    United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts is praising a newly created website (www.reformbankruptcylaws.com), which educates people about America's unjust federal bankruptcy laws and includes a link where people can sign a petition to Congress, urging reform of the laws. The site was created by a group calling itself "Citizens United to Reform Bankruptcy Laws," which was founded by Matt Alley.

    "The UMWA applauds the creation of this very useful tool, and we will encourage everyone to log on to read the material and sign the petition," said Roberts. "It is good to know that there are people out there who feel as strongly as we do about how unjust the bankruptcy judge's ruling was to our Horizon members. But, like us, they also know it is not only coal miners who are being adversely impacted by our nation's unjust bankruptcy laws, but also airline workers and steelworkers America's bankruptcy laws need to be reformed, and this website provides an excellent way for people to educate themselves about the issue and let Congress know how they feel."

    UMWA wants more debates with Massey CEO

    United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Open to More Debates With Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

    Says December 19 Debate Was Good Start but More Discussion is Needed. (MORE >>>)

    Labor site voting

    Some loyal readers have been sending me a banner link to post on this blog so visitors could vote for Resist Oppression as their favorite Labor Blog. I will put the banner link up (on the sidebar towards the bottom) and even if we don't win, its nice knowing we are appreciated by such a fan base.

    This site is not about recognition or possible awards, its about protecting workers rights and getting the message out there.

    Click on the link below to vote:

    Jobs with Justice announces Grinch winner

    (Click Here To Read The Resist Oppression Grinch Winner)

    Wal-Mart elected "Grinch of the Year" for 2004

    Cintas and Comcast runners-up in national contest to determine who did the most harm to workers and their families this year

    More than 2,300 of you voted in our fourth annual 'Grinch of the Year' contest, and over 60% voted to elect retailing giant Wal-Mart as this year's winner. Thanks for your votes! We plan to deliver the award to Wal-Mart sometime next year, and our hope that this "honor" will help to draw attention to the abuses of this mega-corporation.

    Wal-Mart is a fitting recipient of the Grinch title. As the United States' largest retailer and largest employer, Wal-Mart is a driving force in setting wage standards wherever its stores are located. Despite nearly $9 billion in profits, its wages are so low that many employees are eligible for food stamps. Even so, local taxpayers often finance Wal-Mart's expansion through tax breaks and development incentives. Wal-Mart has created such high barriers to qualify for its health care benefits, that many workers are left dependent on publicly financed medical services, a largely hidden taxpayer subsidy. According to a research study in California, Wal-Mart workers seek $86 million a year in state aid because of inadequate wages and benefits. In effect, Wal-mart cleverly shifts a portion of its labor costs to the public. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart admitted that it routinely locked overnight workers in its stores. Wal-Mart was also sued this year in the largest sex-discrimination case in history, brought on behalf of about 1.6 million current and former employees.

    Around the country, Jobs with Justice coalitions have been in the middle of many community-based campaigns calling attention to the impact of Wal-Mart by demanding agreements from this giant corporation to improve its hiring and employment practices. Local Jobs with Justice coalitions in Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, Buffalo and New Paltz, NY, Washington, DC, Eugene and Bend, OR, and Toledo, OH have held rallies and hearings on Wal-Mart, published reports about its potential impact on communities, and pushed for comprehensive 'Big Box' store ordinances to help communities gain more leverage in the development process.

    "The overwhelming vote to name Wal-Mart 'Grinch of the Year' reflects the growing concern that working families have with this mega-corporation," said Fred Azcarate, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice. "Jobs with Justice and our many allies are building a movement to challenge Wal-Mart's low road strategy."

    Wal-Mart has more than 3,500 stores and 1.3 million employees. The company is based in Bentonville, Arkansas. Learn more about how Wal-Mart is harming working families at www.walmartwatch.com.

    Cintas, the largest uniform provider and industrial launderer in the nation, was runner up in the Grinch contest. Cintas workers have been injured and killed on the job as a result of illegal and unsafe working conditions. It has been charged with over 100 violations of health and safety standards, many for repeated violations that could lead to "death or serious physical harm." Cintas workers have routinely been disciplined or fired after reporting their injuries or filing worker's compensation claims, a serious violation of workers' rights.

    Despite lucrative profits, Cintas has pushed increased health insurance costs onto its employees, making it impossible for many workers to afford insurance. To make matters worse, many employees of Cintas report being paid below the federal poverty line.

    Cintas operates 351 facilities in the U.S. and Canada, including 15 manufacturing plants and seven distribution centers that employ more than 28,000 people. The company is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Learn more about how Cintas is harming workers at www.uniformjustice.org. Comcast, the nation's largest cable TV and broadband internet company, won third place in the poll. Like Wal-Mart, Comcast has adopted a low road approach to its employees. "Comcast acts like a bully, refusing to adhere to the rules or community standards," said former maintenance technician Shannon Kirkland, who worked for Comcast for 11 years. "Comcast uses its disproportionate power to deny workers their rights."

    Earlier this year, Jobs with Justice's National Workers' Rights Board released a report "This is Comcast: Silencing Our Voice at Work" documenting its widespread pattern of abuse of workers' rights and illustrating why the United States' 75 year-old labor laws need to be modernized. Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and employs 68,000 people in 4,000 communities. Learn more about how Comcast is harming workers at www.comcastwatch.com.

    Each year JwJ coalitions across the country hold local 'Grinch of the Year' elections to determine the most deserving greedy Grinch in their hometowns. This year's local winners included: Missouri Governor Bob Holden in St. Louis and Ed Hickey of Add Temps in Providence.

    To learn more about the Grinch awards and the other companies nominated to have most harmed working families in 2004, visit www.jwj.org/Grinch/2004Vote.htm.

    Jobs with Justice is a national network of more than 40 local coalitions of unions, community groups, faith-based organizations, and student groups working together to fight for social and economic justice. Over 100,000 individual activists have taken the Jobs with Justice Pledge to be there five times a year for someone else's fight as well as their own.

    When Wal-Mart lost

    Seven years ago, Kanawha City, WV stood up to a giant and won. (MORE >>>)

    This is a great 4 part series of stories printed in the Charleston Gazette about
    fifteen years after opening its first store there, Wal-Evil-Mart has become part of the fabric of West Virginia, with 33 stores and 11,450 employees. I highly suggest readers check it out.

    As always on Resist Oppression...Wal-Mart is evil...BOYCOTT them.

    Homelessness Rose Drastically in 2004

    Without offering any solutions or accepting accountability of their own, an organization of the nation’s big city mayors released its annual report showing poverty and homelessness continue to rise. (MORE >>>)

    Although this story may come as a surprise to many Bushies, most of us know the rise in homelessness is a direct result of this Adminstrations economic policies and total disdain for the working class. As I stated in a blog entry after the election, "I suppose more people were more concerned about making sure Bill couldn't marry Bob than having a job to support themselves and feed their families."

    DOE issues secret guide for disciplining teachers

    The Department of Education last month gave principals a confidential 61-page guide to help them exercise their authority over school staff in ways that they believe will skirt the grievance procedure (e.g., how to break the intent of the contract without violating its literal terms). It contains many specifics, including sample letters, that school administrators can use in disciplining teachers. (MORE >>>)


    KY Attorney General deposits over $2.7 Million into state Medicaid account

    Attorney General Greg Stumbo announced that he has deposited $2,776,627.14 into the Kentucky Medicaid program as a result of the receipt of settlement funds in two antitrust lawsuits. This brings the total amount of settlement monies collected by the Office of the Attorney General to reimburse the financially strapped Kentucky Medicaid program to nearly $7 million ($6,925,495.89) this year alone. (MORE >>>)

    Massey CEO and vultures

    I just finished reading the transcript from the televised debate between United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts vs. Massey Coal Corp CEO Don Blankenship and I had to check the old Webster's dictionary to make sure I was correct in my assumption about a term that best describes Massey's character:

    Vulture -
    1. Any of various large birds of prey of the New World family Cathartidae or of the Old World family Accipitridae, characteristically having dark plumage and a featherless head and neck and generally feeding on carrion.
    2. A person of a rapacious, predatory, or profiteering nature


    Don Blankenship - Massey Coal Corp. CEO who not only bought himself his own federal judge in West Virginia, but also purchased the Cannelton Mines as part of the Horizon Natural Resources bankruptcy assets auction. Now Blankenship plans on re-opening the mining facility, but will not rehire the hundreds of laid-off union miners instead he plans to replace them with non-union or perhaps contracted labor.

    After reading the definition and applying it to Blankenship's character...yeah I think it fits.

    Check out our sister-site to find out more information about our campaign to Reform Federal Bankruptcy Laws and take action to close the loopholes that corporations use to rob working class America of its jobs, pensions and health benefits.



    George W. Bush's top push in the New Year will be to "partially privatize" your Social Security.

    So before the Radical Right starts ripping your retirement bastion to shreds, here are a few facts you should know and use to arm yourselves in arguments with the Right, and your brainwashed neighbors. (MORE >>>)

    Media Blacks Out Bush Attack on Labor

    The AFL-CIO will be 50 years old in 2005. Its leaders have sat down and met with every U.S. President during those 50 years, except one, George W. Bush.

    The compassionate conservative will not talk to the representatives of organized workers. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney made this point in a speech on Labor Day of 2003, in which he called Bush's refusal to meet "a travesty." (MORE >>>)

    OSHA to get new leader, but new policies unlikely

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will get a new leader, but will that mean a new approach to workplace safety? (MORE >>>)

    Workers are less safe now than they were four years ago because the Bush-led OSHA has walked away from new safety regulations and isn't doing enough to enforce rules already on the books. Give it another four years and there won't even be an OSHA if this Administration has anything to do with it.

    Labor councils jump into debate on AFL-CIO's future

    An “open letter” circulated by the presidents of 12 AFL-CIO central labor councils warns that changes in the AFL-CIO at the national level will not work without significant changes that build powerful local union movements as well. (MORE >>>)

    The debate continues.


    By a party-line 3-2 vote, the Bush-named majority at the National Labor Relations Board limited the impact of company plant-closing threats on future union elections.

    The December ruling is yet another in a string of NLRB cases where the Bush board majority reversed Clinton-era NLRB rulings. (MORE >>>)


    Union Advantage Grows

    The already substantial union advantage for employee benefits has increased in recent years, according to new survey data. Unions have been able to preserve the most important benefits for their members, while nonunion workers have not been able to withstand the huge employer push to cut coverage and shift costs on to employees. Union workers are far more likely to be covered by health care and retirement benefits than nonunion workers and far less likely to be forced to contribute to the cost of those plans.

    The new data are now available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' November 9 release of the results of its March 2004 survey of employee benefits in the private sector, the largest survey of its kind. The survey covers 4,703 establishments representing 102.3 million workers. Findings from the survey include the following:

    • Almost all union workers - 89 percent - have access to employer-provided medical benefits, compared with 67 percent of nonunion workers. Seventy-three percent of union workers have dental care coverage, compared with 43 percent of nonunion workers. For vision care, 56 percent of union workers receive benefits; only 26 percent of nonunion workers are covered.

    • The advantages of union membership also show in whether or not employees must pay for part of their health care benefits. For single coverage, the employer pays all costs for 43 percent of union workers, but only 21 percent of nonunion workers receive employer-paid coverage.

    • For family coverage, 33 percent of all union workers are not required to contribute, but only 7 percent of nonunion workers receive coverage that is fully paid by the employer.

    • When union members are required to contribute toward their health care coverage, they pay far less than nonunion workers. The average flat contribution for single coverage for union members is $56.53 a month, or $678.36 per year, compared with $68.98 per month, or $827.76 per year for nonunion workers.

    • For family coverage, union members contribute an average of $195.12 a month, or $2,341.44 a year, compared with $273.51 a month, or $3,282.12 per year, for nonunion workers.

    • Nonunion workers face much higher costs for medical coverage than they did only a few years ago. The average annual nonunion employee contribution for family coverage is $1,052.64 more today than it was in 2000.

    • Overall, employers pay 83 percent of the cost of health care benefits for family coverage for union workers, but only 67 percent of the costs for nonunion workers.

    • Fifty-nine percent of workers have access to retirement benefits, with 50 percent participating in at least one type of retirement plan. The vast majority of these workers are covered only by a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), and the data do not reveal the size of the retirement accounts for these workers.

    • Only 21 percent of all workers are covered by defined benefit retirement plans, which are primarily traditional employer-funded pension plans with a predetermined retirement benefit paid out for life after retirement. Only 10 percent of all private sector establishments still offer these plans. This benefit is now really a union benefit, with 70 percent of all union workers covered by a defined benefit plan, compared with only 16 percent of nonunion workers.

    • Fifty-three percent of all workers are covered by defined contribution retirement plans, which are largely funded by the workers themselves. Among union workers, 48 percent are covered by these plans, which are often offered in addition to pension plans at union workplaces.

    • The union advantage extends well beyond health and retirement benefits. Union workers are more likely to receive employer-provided life insurance and twice as likely to have short-term disability coverage.

    • Union workers are also more likely to receive paid time-off benefits and greater amounts of paid time-off. For example, union workers with 20 years of service receive an average of 22.3 paid vacation days, compared with 18.1 days for nonunion workers.

    Unions have also been able to maintain larger wage increases for their members, with annual wage cost increases averaging 3.0 percent for union workers and 2.5 percent for nonunion workers from September 2003 to September 2004. Largely because of the rising cost of benefits, total compensation costs for union workers rose 5.8 percent, compared with 3.4 percent for nonunion workers. This growing differential in union and nonunion costs will fuel greater employer opposition to organizing drives going forward.

    No Wage Progress Despite Three Years of Recovery

    As of last month, the economic recovery that officially began in November 2001 was three years old. Yet, as the figure below reveals, hourly earnings (adjusted for inflation) fell 1.3% over the past year and are now at about the same level now as they were when the recovery began. (MORE >>>)

    Election Facts

    Did you know....?

    1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.
    2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
    3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
    4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
    5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
    6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
    7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
    8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
    9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
    10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
    11. Diebold is based in Ohio.
    12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
    13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
    14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
    15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
    16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here.)
    17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
    18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
    19. Florida's governor, Jeb is Bush's brother.
    20. Major voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and questioned by experts.

    The odds of some of these amazing voting anomalies were the equivalent of statistical miracles. Was it God? or was it Diebold...?

    If you doubt me on any of these, CLICK HERE for references.
    By the way, there's also word that Hagel is considering running for president in 2008! Imagine that....


    Utah miners fight mass firings

    On the eve of a union representation election scheduled for December 17, coal miners at the Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah, and their supporters are mobilizing to respond to the firing of 30 miners, and to make sure every supporter of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) makes it to the voting booth to cast a ballot in support of the union. (MORE >>>)

    Steelworkers vs. Ormet Corp.

    Ormet Corp.'s reorganization plan was confirmed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, prompting the Wheeling-based company to pledge continued efforts toward ending its ongoing labor dispute with the United Steelworkers of America.

    About 1,300 Ormet workers represented by the USWA are now in their fourth week of a strike at the company's Hannibal reduction plant and rolling mill. A union spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the company's reorganization plan today. (MORE)

    Union Activists: Protect Social Security—Not Tax Cuts for the Rich

    Working families are calling on President George W. Bush to abandon his scheme to privatize Social Security and instead shore up the nation’s most successful family protection program by requiring the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share into the system.

    “Instead of dismantling Social Security, we should consider plausible solutions,” AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said at a Dec. 16 news conference in Washington, D.C., joined by advocates for seniors, women, African Americans and people with disabilities. “Congress could make a substantial down payment on the system with some of the money that Bush wants to use to pay for permanent tax cuts for the wealthy.”

    Bush should transfer the revenue from the estate and gift tax each year to Social Security, said Sweeney. The Bush administration should back federal legislation that redirects revenue by taxing large estates rather than completely eliminating the estate tax. Under current law, big cuts in the estate tax are being phased in so that by 2009, estates worth up to $3.5 million for individuals (up to $7 million for couples) will be exempt from the estate tax, and the tax rate on estates worth more than those amounts will drop to 45 percent. If Congress does not eliminate the estate tax, the resulting revenue could provide a major source of support for Social Security.

    In addition, Congress could make the highest wage earners pay their fair share to Social Security by raising the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax, said Sweeney. Today, workers and employers pay Social Security taxes on the first $87,900 of their annual incomes (a figure that will rise to $90,000 in January). All or part of wages above the current cap could be subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

    Future Benefit Cuts Likely if Social Security Is Privatized

    President Bush wants to divert some Social Security contributions to private accounts, which would lead to future benefit cuts for retirees, people with disabilities and surviving families of deceased workers who rely on the nation’s most successful family insurance program, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 47 million Americans get benefits from Social Security.

    In addition to cutting benefits, Bush’s privatization plan would lead to an increase in the retirement age, increase the federal deficit and expose retirees to the risks of the stock market.

    While retirees would see their benefits tumble under Bush’s privatization plan, Wall Street firms would enjoy a whopping $940 billion windfall over 75 years, according to a report this fall from Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Although the Securities Industry Association, a coalition of financial services companies, disputes Goolsbee’s findings, it still admits firms would reap as much as $279 billion over 75 years from fees.

    Working Families Call on Financial Industry to Oppose Privatization Scheme

    Working families also are calling on the financial industry to oppose Bush’s scheme to privatize Social Security. Because banks, mutual fund companies and insurance agencies would reap billions of dollars in fees if Social Security is privatized, they have a conflict of interest if they support such plans, say union activists and their allies.

    “The only group that would benefit from privatization is the financial services industry,” said Sweeney. “It is unconscionable for firms that handle the investments of working Americans to support an ill-advised plan that will slash guaranteed benefits for retirees.”

    Sweeney sent a letter to 46 financial services firms asking them “to publicly disavow support for Social Security privatization” and to support maintaining America’s safety net for retired workers, people with disabilities and survivors. He noted that State Street Corp., a huge investment firm once on the forefront of supporting privatization, reversed its position two years ago and now opposes private accounts.

    “We believe that the current payroll tax revenue stream for Social Security should not be diverted from current-law retirement, disability and survivor benefits to create private retirement accounts,” says a Jan. 30, 2002, statement from State Street.

    Bush’s Economic Summit a ‘Public Relations Gimmick’

    Advocates for strengthening Social Security made their voices heard on the same day Bush met with a hand-picked group of political supporters and economists in the nation’s capital, where he continued his campaign to privatize the nation’s most successful and comprehensive family protection program and transform it from a guaranteed safety net into volatile accounts subject to the whims of the stock market.

    “This week’s so-called economic summit is not really a conference to discuss pressing issues facing working Americans,” said Sweeney. “This is just another public relations gimmick to promote the president’s damaging proposal to privatize Social Security.”

    “Privatization is not the answer to saving Social Security,” said George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a nationwide grassroots advocacy organization for seniors. “We won’t put up with a government that would use us as part of a political experiment,” Kourpias said at the news conference. “Diverting money into private accounts will bleed the Social Security system to death.”


    Massive U.S. trade deficit undercuts U.S. workers.

    The U.S. trade deficit continued its record-breaking rise, jumping to an unprecedented $55.5 billion in October, up from $51.6 billion in September, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Dec. 14.

    The U.S. trade deficit with China, the largest with any country, swelled to an all-time high of $16.8 billion—the eighth consecutive month this year the nation’s trade shortfall with China has grown. The growth in the deficit with China follows last year’s record $124 billion deficit with that country, the largest annual deficit with one country in U.S. history.

    Such a huge trade deficit undercuts domestic manufacturing and destroys good U.S. jobs because the nation is importing, on a large scale, products that had been produced domestically. Because of market barriers abroad and unfavorable tax and currency policies, U.S. manufacturers then are unable to sell enough products abroad to offset the losses from imports. Due to the combination of imports and companies moving jobs overseas, America’s workers lose good jobs and see their wages and benefits eroded.

    More than 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing jobs have disappeared since President George W. Bush took office, many because of unfair trade policies and job exporting. Many jobs have been lost to China, where workers’ rights are routinely violated to keep wages low, according to Robert Scott, director of international programs at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

    ‘Devastating for the Economy’

    Unfair trade policies pushed by corporate interests also are behind the nation’s jobs drain. Just this month, Electrolux shut down an entire plant in Greenville, Mich., and a portion of another plant in St. Cloud, Minn., and moved production overseas, causing more than 2,900 people to lose their jobs.

    “Our trade policies have to be changed. They are unfair. If they keep moving jobs away from here it will be devastating for the economy. It would be really bad, terrible. There are no jobs here that pay as well as these. When you have children, you don’t want to work two jobs just to make it,” says Colleen Murphy Cooney, a painter at the St. Cloud Electrolux plant. Although Cooney will not lose her job now in the plant’s production shift to China, she is unsure whether the company will move more jobs out of the United States.

    U.S. manufacturers are losing markets to foreign competitors because of trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Similar trade deals proposed by the Bush administration, including the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), reflect the interests of large multinational companies, not domestic manufacturers and workers, union leaders say.

    CAFTA is the first bilateral or regional agreement the Bush administration has pushed since fierce opposition from workers in North and South America and their community allies stymied trade ministers in November 2003 from consolidating the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which would eliminate tariffs among 34 countries with a population of more than 800 million. CAFTA, which would eliminate most tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and possibly the Dominican Republic, would extend the same disastrous anti-worker policies and environmental damage to Central America, according to union leaders, who have joined in a coalition with environmental, human rights, poverty, trade and faith organizations to fight the trade proposal. The Bush administration plans to submit CAFTA to the new U.S. Congress for approval next year.

    Since NAFTA went into effect 10 years ago, U.S. workers have lost nearly 900,000 jobs, while poverty and inequality in Mexico have increased and Mexican real wages have fallen, according to the EPI.

    Community action group receives praise

    United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Praises Recommendations of the Community Board Examining Economic Impact of Horizon Natural Resources' Bankruptcy on People and Communities Near the Cannelton Mine (MORE >>>)

    Cast Your Ballot for Corporate Grinch of the Year

    For several years, JwJ coalitions across the country have held local 'Grinch of the Year' elections to determine the most deserving greedy Grinch in their hometowns. This year, national Jobs with Justice will sponsor the fourth annual online Grinch of the Year election to determine the national figure who does the most harm to working families. Click here to cast your vote.

    We here at Resist Oppression have already compiled our own Grinch List....

    Who was the Resist Oppression Top Five Corporate Grinches (aka Corporate Trash) of 2004, click here to find out.

    Caterpillar, UAW reach tentative deal

    Caterpillar Inc. and its largest union, the United Auto Workers, said they had tentatively agreed on a new six-year labor contract, ending a four-month stalemate. (MORE >>>)

    NVRI and Kerry-Edwards Add Election Tampering to Law Suit

    The lawyers for Green presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, along with Kerry-Edwards 2004 have added election tampering to a civil suit filed against the state of Ohio over problems with the state's recount, RAW STORY has learned. (More >>>)

    No more union-made clothes?

    ICFTU warns that after next January 1, restrictions on Chinese-made clothes will end.

    "The textile and clothing sector is set to experience a revolution on 1 January 2005", according to an ICFTU report published today. The report (below), entitled "disaster looms with the end of the quota system", concentrates on the imminent social drama of global proportions which will accompany the end of the quota system on January 1. The expected consequences include "the loss of millions of jobs in countries which are already some of the poorest in the world".

    Focussing on the impact of the phasing out of quotas and unfair competition from China, the ICFTU report examines the outlook for several countries whose economic development is largely based on the textile and clothing industry. Using the examples of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mauritius, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, the report presents detailed local studies and national analysis of a situation that is creating near-panic in dozens of countries across the globe.

    The impending problem does not solely affect developing countries - the phasing out of the quota system is likely to have an impact on industrialised nations too. For example, the textile and clothing industry employs over 2.5 million people in the European Union, and in the United Kingdom alone, the ending of quotas could lead to the loss of 15% of jobs in the textiles and clothing sector and in Germany, this figure could approach 13%. In the United States, 350,000 jobs have been lost in the sector over the last four years and the ending of quotas is likely to lead to many more job losses. A similar scenario is predicted for Canada too. (MORE >>>)


    Hotel Workers March in DC

    On December 15 in Washington, D.C., hotel workers, members of UNITE HERE, and their supporters marched from the AFL-CIO headquarters to a number of hotels where the workers have threatened to strike.

    Board says Massey should rehire miners

    Massey Energy Co. has a "moral obligation" to rehire union workers laid off after the owner of the Cannelton mine went bankrupt, according to a community impact board report released today. (MORE>>>)

    UMWA leader blasts Massey CEO

    Massey's money defeated McGraw, now he must help miners

    When Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was questioned during the election about the millions of dollars he personally spent to defeat state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, his canned response was that he was doing it to make life better for all West Virginians, especially the children. I could almost hear the violins playing in the background while Don voiced his hope for a better future for West Virginia's citizens. For me-and I have to believe a great many West Virginians who live and work near Massey coal operations-Blankenship's rhetoric rang as hollow as the messages in the flowery ads blanketing our airwaves that promote Massey as a responsible operator. (MORE>>>)


    More than 7,000 RNs, aides, technicians, clerks and other hospital employees at Sutter Health hospitals across Northern California returned to their jobs and their patients last week after a four-day lockout by management. The workers, members of the California Nurses Association and SEIU Local 250, struck 13 Sutter Health facilities on Dec. 1 to protest the for-profit company’s refusal to accept adequate nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Sutter is the only ­hospital system in Northern California to refuse to negotiate patient-focused staffing with union caregivers. When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared at his Conference on Women, nurses protested his attempt to roll back safe RN staffing ratios. After the protests, Schwarzenegger told the audience, “Pay no attention to those voices over there. They are the special interests. Special ­interests don’t like me because I am always kicking their butts.”

    I suggest any union member or those who support organized labor boycott this moron
    Schwarzenegger movies.


    Members of Graphic Communications voted to merge with the Teamsters effective Jan. 1. GCIU will become an autonomous conference of the IBT. The current officers will retain their positions and local unions will keep their autonomy and identity, including ­authority over their contracts. “This is an historic moment for the GCIU and Teamsters. This merger will strengthen both unions,” IBT President James P. Hoffa said. GCIU President George Tedeschi said joining with the IBT will give his members a “powerful new alliance for organizing and negotiating decent wages and benefits.”


    The AFSCME Pension Fund and the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds jointly filed a resolution to give shareholders the right to ­nominate directors at the Halliburton Corp. Directors now are nominated and elected in a closed system, with incumbent board members determining whom to nominate. Such internal procedures have produced the worst of corporate America—cooking the books, doing business with terrorist states and ­cutting deals of questionable legality with oppressive regimes around the world, said AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee, who chairs the union’s pension fund.


    Members of the Communications Workers of America are mobilizing around the country to protest Verizon Wireless’ union-busting actions. The union reports Verizon Wireless workers have been fired or disciplined for trying to win a voice at work. More than 1,100 workers lost their jobs when the company closed call centers in Orangeburg, N.Y., and Morristown, N.J. Members of CWA and the Electrical Workers rallied outside Verizon facilities in Buffalo, N.Y., and New York City and other actions are planned elsewhere. For more information, visit www.cwa-union.org.


    More than 200 temporary city employees in Palo Alto, Calif., became members of SEIU Local 715 after a campaign featuring community petition drives, community outreach and worker appearances at city council meetings. The council voted last week to recognize a new bargaining unit covering the workers. Meanwhile, a unit of nearly 100 nursing home employees at Haven Health Center of Farmington (Conn.) won union recognition from their employer Nov. 12 under a neutrality agreement with District 1199NE. A unit of 20 food service workers employed at a Haven subsidiary in Waterbury, Conn., were similarly recognized in September. In addition, a strong majority of 75 clinicians, case managers and administrative workers at Inter-Community Mental Health Group in East Hartford, Conn., voted Nov. 3 to join District 1199NE.

    Union-Busting 101 in South Carolina

    A South Carolina lawsuit exposes the brutal, hardball tactics companies and law firms use to destroy workers' rights and bust unions.

    In a New York Times investigation, Fred Feinstein, former National Labor Relations Board general counsel, calls such anti-union campaigns "not unusual."

    Read the full article


    New Secretary of Health poised to kill Social Security

    Well 51% must have wanted to be robbed by the Bush Administration, well their wishes look to be coming true.

    Michael Leavitt, George's choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, doesn't seem poised to protect either as the country steers compassionately towards cutting billions of dollars from programs for the elderly, poor, and disabled.

    Bill Moyer Retires...sad day for journalism

    Bill Moyers signs off: "I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

    Moyer was one of the last true journalists left out there who understood that "TRUTH" was the key component to any news story. Moyer will be sadly missed.

    What Will Make Unions a Power in Politics

    The re-election of George W. Bush is cause for concern on many levels.

    Anti-worker appointments to the NLRB and the Supreme Court can be predicted for the near future. Card-check organizing may be eliminated by the NLRB in the next year, and OSHA will likely be under further attack.

    None of this will come as a surprise to union members who read their mail. Over the past few months, union leaders launched a massive campaign to inform their members about Bush’s anti-worker agenda. (MORE>>>)

    Coalition to Launch Major Campaign to Stop Social Security Privatization

    Leaders of a coalition representing millions of working Americans will counter President Bush's economic conference promoting his plan to privatize Social Security in a news conference Thursday at the National Press Club, one hour before the President delivers closing remarks. Leaders of the coalition include John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, Julian Bond of the NAACP, Kim Gandy of NOW, George Kourpias of the Alliance for Retired Americans, and Marty Ford of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

    Led by Campaign for America's Future Co-director Roger Hickey, the group will launch an aggressive campaign to stop President Bush's plan to dismantle Social Security by mobilizing citizen action in every community and Congressional district in America. Coalition leaders, none of whom were invited to the president's economic summit, represent labor, seniors, women, civil rights, disability and other activists nationwide.

    WHAT: Social Security News Conference

    WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 16, 12:30 p.m.

    WHERE: National Press Club First Amendment Lounge, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

    -- Roger Hickey, co-Director of the Campaign for America's Future
    -- John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO
    -- Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP
    -- Kim Gandy, president of NOW
    -- George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans
    -- Marty Ford, director of Legal Advocacy at The Arc and Treasurer, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

    Massey vs. UMWA in TV Debate

    The presidents of Massey Energy and the United Mine Workers of America are scheduled to participate in a televised debate.

    Donald L. Blankenship of the Richmond, Va., company and Cecil Roberts of the UMWA will participate in the debate, to be moderated by West Virginia Media Holdings President and Chief Executive Officer Bray Cary. (MORE>>>)


    Why is it that when George W says he's going to "reform" something, I instinctively want to grab my money, my liberties, my family...and flee to the woods? (MORE>>>)

    The Sinclair Propaganda Machine

    Set aside "values" and voter fraud for a moment and just take a look at Sinclair Broadcasting Group. If the nation's largest owner of TV stations didn't actually help reelect George W. Bush it wasn't for lack of effort.

    Their message to America now: Our man won, deregulation will continue and we've only just begun... to expand.

    First a recap, then a fresh glimpse inside Sinclair. Back in April, Sinclair ordered its ABC affiliates not to air an episode of Nightline during which host Ted Koppel planned to simply read the names of the fallen soldiers – around 700 at the time. When pressed to explain this unprecedented move, denounced sharply by Sen. John McCain (R-AR) among others, Sinclair's CEO, David Smith, responded: "ABC is disguising political statements as news content." (MORE>>>)


    Nurses union fighting back in Kentucky

    Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU/District 1199) will conduct an informational picket at 11 a.m. today at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

    According to a news release, the group is speaking out against KDMC’s reliance on temporary versus permanent full-time staff, the outsourcing of jobs, increased health care premiums and other issues.

    KDMC was organized in the 1970s and today represents nearly 500 SEIU/District 1199 hospital employees.

    Unions Plan Big Drive for Better Pay at Wal-Evil-Mart

    The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and more than a half dozen unions are planning an unusual - and unusually expensive - campaign intended to pressure Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, to improve its wages and benefits.

    The campaign will be highly unusual because it will not, at least at first, focus on unionizing Wal-Mart workers, but will instead focus on telling Americans that Wal-Mart - with wages averaging between $9 and $10 an hour - is pulling down wages and benefits at companies across the nation. (MORE>>>)

    I really doubt this plan will work, but at least its a start to bring attention to the issue.


    Who voted for Bush...

    People have been asking me to write an entry about whom I thought made George W. Bush voting block. After much deliberation and categorization here is what I come up with simply based on the un-scientific method of those I knew who voted for Bush and armchair-observations of society.

    Now this rudimentary system is broken down in five classes where many typical Republican voters can fall in to many categories. The typical cast of right wingers fall in to all of these categories: The rich, older veterans (usually not Vietnam era vets), the religious, Regan-era GOP folks, hate groups and the list goes on, but they fall somewhere in these catagories and some could share attributes of all five groups.

    1. Neo-Conservatives
    These folks don't make up the majority, but they were the voice that lead the battle cry that rallied the troops around ol' W. This group has a general disdain for anyone other than their own and probably would vote for legalizing slavery, vigilante justice and segregation. This group is not limited to CEOS and the rich of this country, many burger-flippers can be found here also. Megalomaniacs is an understatement when describing this group. They have a common agenda of hate and want to rid the world of anything different from them. Usually money drives them, but you'll find a certain deeper darkness to them all.

    2. Conservatives (Financial)
    This group was probably the largest. Made up of old-school Republican voters who believe in cleaning up government waste, they hate taxes, the welfare system and even though not quite as bad as their Neo-Conservative counterparts they still are pretty greedy folks...but they would probably drop a few pennies in the Salvation Army's pot at Christmas. Not really bad people, just they see things in dollars and cents instead of social and humanistic standpoints.

    3. The Spineless
    These are the folks that make Reality TV popular and guarantee corporations huge revenues when products are advertised as "hip" and "popular". This group is highly concerned about what other people think and like lemmings they will follow a popular movement just so they can feel like they belong to something and have bragging rights to it. If they thought cutting off their left hand would make them popular they would do it...see the picture I'm trying to paint here. This group is the ones in your workplace that kiss the boss's butt, wear clothing from the GAP/Old Navy/or whatever fashion dictates if popular to wear and take their kids to watch anything Disney puts its name on. After 9/11 corporations made millions of this category of people with their patriotic merchandise oddly enough made in foreign countries. This group is a truer definition of swing voters than the media gave...in four years from now its popular to vote Democrat they will.

    4. American-Southern-Baptist-Inspired Religious Types

    Not to be confused with American Christians, these are the agenda and hate groups that believe in Biblical interpretation that fits their needs. They are very group-minded and everyone outside of their clicks is evil. They will tell you they love Jesus and follow his teachings, but will spin racial slurs, use profanity when their favorite Nascar driver loses, tell you the poor is cursed by God for being lazy and will find some used-car-salesman way to justify what they say and think. These folks scare me and honestly give Christianity a bad name.

    5. American Christians
    I hold no ill contempt for them because they try to live right by their beliefs but are bombarded by religious leaders, neighbors, members of their church and Fox News with religious propaganda that they are confused when they go to the polls. These group is easily the smallest in size on this list. Sadly they get grouped in with the rightwing nut jobs like Pat Robertson by most folks on the left which is unfair.

    Again, there is no scientific basis for this list, just observations I've made from talking to those who voted for Bush during this election.

    Latino miners fired for supporting union drive

    United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts is blasting the owners of C.W. Mining's Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah, for firing approximately 30 Latino coal miners last night, after claiming they were undocumented workers. (MORE>>>)

    Union leaders barred from visiting China

    AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and about 30 other international trade union leaders received a letter from the Chinese government’s Director General of International Cooperation informing them that the meeting had been called off and that their visas had been cancelled. According to the Associated Press, the visas of more than 80 government and union officials from more than 30 industrialized countries have been revoked. (MORE>>>)


    Soldier who asked Rumsfeld question being punished

    The soldier that asked the question of Don Rumsfeld, Specialist Thomas Wilson, is apparently being punished, and intimidated by his superiors, for having the guts to stand up to Rumsfeld.

    Playing Politics With Intelligence Reform

    by Senator Robert C. Byrd

    Remarks made on the US Senate Floor on the conference report on the National Intelligence Reform ActDecember 8, 2004

    "Our country went to war in Iraq on the shoulders of false claims about weapons of mass destruction, but this bill dances around that issue on tippy-toes. It is as though Congress is too afraid to mention the fact that faulty intelligence claims deceived the public into believing that there was an imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.

    Why is Congress avoiding that critical issue? Is it because some do not wish to expose the role of the White House in feeding bad intelligence to the American people? The Founding Fathers intended Congress to be a check on the power of the Chief Executive, but increasingly Congress appears content to be merely a cheerleader for the president, depending upon which party might be in control at a given moment."

    When the elected representatives of the people allow themselves to be coerced into a process that encourages the abdication of our responsibility to understand and thoroughly review legislation, the people are robbed of their voice in their government.

    Senators take an oath to defend the Constitution, and common sense suggests that that means reading and studying the legislation before the Congress. We are duty bound to explore the opinions on all sides of an issue, and to work toward a process that does not exclude opponents or silence the opposition.

    In its heyday, the Senate was known as the greatest deliberative body in the world. What we have seen in recent times, however, is a hollow shell of that noble tradition. Time after time, the Senate forgoes its responsibility to deliberate and carefully review legislation, and even defers to others to craft legislation for it.
    Legislation is passed by the Senate, and then, too often, hastily rewritten in a conference committee behind closed doors marked, "no minority view admitted." All too often during the 108th Congress, the party leadership has held bills until just before a recess, and then employed disingenuous rhetoric about last opportunities to get something done. Senators preoccupied with holiday schedules and travel plans, for example, timidly roll over and accept whatever is placed in front of them. They do it time and time again.

    I anguish about the eroding character of the Senate, and the message it sends to the American people, when this body allows itself to be stampeded into passing legislation without thorough examination. We congratulate ourselves on a job well done, and vote overwhelmingly in support of legislation, and yet we cannot even be bothered to ask questions about the changes made in conference. Like pygmies on the battlefield of history, we cower like whipped dogs in the face of political pressure when it comes to issues like intelligence reform.

    I do not claim to know as much about this legislation as the managers of the bill, but I do know about process, and it galls me that the Senate has allowed itself to be jammed against a time deadline in considering this conference report.

    This is the most far reaching reorganization of our intelligence agencies since 1947. These changes will remain for decades, and they will impact the security of our nation at countless levels. Such matters ought to be held to a higher standard of consideration by the Congress than is the case here.

    This conference report has been reworked and redrafted over the course of two months in a closed door conference, and the Senate has only received a printed copy of the conference agreement less than 24 hours ago. As late as yesterday, the conferees were making changes. It is outrageous to expect Senators to read and understand a 600-page bill in less than 24 hours.

    This conference agreement is very different from the legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate two months ago. For example, a number of provisions related to the Patriot Act and law enforcement powers have been inserted into this bill, which, again, have never been considered on the Senate floor.

    This legislation has encountered virulent opposition since the time of its conception, and while it may enjoy the support of a majority of members here today, nobody can say with any confidence or certainty as to how this new layer of bureaucracy will affect our intelligence agencies or the security of our country. We don't know if it will enable them to better guard against a terrorist attack or whether it will cause a host of unforseen problems. And we are failing, in yet another misguided rush to judgment, to take the time and effort to find out.

    The Senate barely understands how the experts line up on this bill. The 9-11 Commission is for it, that much we know. But former CIA Director George Tenet said last week that he opposes this bill. That is sobering criticism from someone who, having left government months ago, no longer has any turf to protect.

    A distinguished group of national security experts wrote in September that they oppose any intelligence reform this year. That group included former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren; former Senator Bill Bradley; former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci; former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen; former CIA Director Robert Gates; former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre; former Senator Gary Hart; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn; former Senator Warren Rudman; and former Secretary of State George Schultz. We do not know how these experts regard the bill today. Why should Senators forgo the valuable insight of almost every public figure who may actually be able to assess what is in this new version of intelligence reform?

    I say again, let us not believe that we understand what has been included in this conference report. It is, in effect, a new bill that is very different from anything the Senate has considered to date. Common sense suggests that the Congress ought to hold hearings on the contents of this new bill, so that we may be informed by experts about its benefits and defects.

    There is no reason why the Senate cannot proceed in this prudent manner early next year. Instead of viewing this conference report as the final stage of the process, we ought to consider it the starting point for debate next year. We ought to invite witnesses back to testify on it, and then allow the process to begin anew, outside the election cycle and built on the foundation of knowledge acquired this year.

    Instead, we are allowing ourselves to be lulled into the fallacious belief that we must accept this bill or risk its not passing next year, with some even suggesting that a terrorist attack could result without it. That's nonsense, and don't you believe it. No legislation, alone, can forestall a terrorist attack on our country.

    The momentum is strong now to reform our intelligence agencies, and I submit that the greater risk is not that the momentum will dissipate next year if this bill does not pass this week, but that the passage of this bill will remove any incentive to focus on the broader intelligence failures that have occurred outside the war on terror.

    This legislation is appropriately focused on the failings of 9-11, but oblivious to the many other glaring deficiencies in our intelligence community. Our country went to war in Iraq on the shoulders of false claims about weapons of mass destruction, but this bill dances around that issue on tippy-toes. It is as though Congress is too afraid to mention the fact that faulty intelligence claims deceived the public into believing that there was an imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.

    Why is Congress avoiding that critical issue? Is it because some do not wish to expose the role of the White House in feeding bad intelligence to the American people? The Founding Fathers intended Congress to be a check on the power of the Chief Executive, but increasingly Congress appears content to be merely a cheerleader for the president, depending upon which party might be in control at a given moment.

    The intelligence bill fails to address the unfolding prison abuse scandals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. The Armed Services Committee has held six hearings on the abuse of prisoners in U.S. military jails. There is mounting evidence that the CIA had some hand in the mistreatment of detainees. The Red Cross has reported on the illegal practices of U.S. intelligence agencies holding "ghost detainees" in secret prisons. Why is this intelligence bill silent on such outrageous policies? How can Congress claim to fix what is wrong with our intelligence agencies if this major piece of legislation doesn't even address such colossal intelligence failures?

    The only way to reduce the risk of such failures is to ensure the accountability of this new Intelligence Director to the people's representatives in the Congress. It is Congress that must make the decision to declare war, and it is the Congress that is responsible for the oversight of this new Intelligence Program to help guard against future intelligence failures. It is paramount that the Congress do everything possible to ensure itself access to timely, objective intelligence. Yet, that is not what we see in this legislation.

    The conference agreement eliminates provisions to ensure that the Congress receives timely access to intelligence, and it also allows the White House's Office of Management and Budget to screen testimony before the Intelligence Director presents it to the Congress. Whistle blower protections for intelligence officials who report to the Congress also have been stricken from the Senate-passed bill.

    The conference agreement creates senior intelligence positions, but exempts many of them from confirmation by the Senate. It eliminates the privacy and civil rights officers included in the Senate-passed bill, and it strips 18 pages of legislative text that would have created an Inspector General and Ombudsman to oversee the Intelligence Director's office. That language has been replaced with one paragraph, authorizing the Intelligence Director, at his discretion, to create or not to create an Inspector General, and provides the Director with the power to decide which, if any investigative powers, to grant the Inspector General.

    That means the new Intelligence Director could exempt his office from Inspector General audits and investigations, and that the Congress would not receive reports from an objective internal auditor. The Congress is limiting its own access to vital information within this new Intelligence Office, and it will have, thereby, compromised an essential mechanism for identifying potential abuses within the new Intelligence Program.

    Given the dark history of abuses of civil liberties and privacy rights by our intelligence community, I had hoped that the Congress would exercise more caution, but it has not done so in this legislation.

    The 9/11 Commission recognized that its recommendations call for the government to increase its presence in people's lives, and so it wisely endorsed the creation of an independent Civil Liberties Board to defend our privacy rights and liberties. The Senate-passed bill embraced this recommendation and included additional protections to help ensure that executive agencies could not exert undue influence on the Board. This conference agreement scuttles those protections by burying the Board deep inside of the Office of the President, subjecting Board members to White House pressure.

    The conferees included language making changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that blurs the rules on electronic surveillance and physical searches by the U.S. government. This conference report states that the Intelligence Director shall have authority to direct or undertake electronic surveillance and physical search operations pursuant to FISA if authorized by statute or executive order.

    This is dangerous ground to walk when the president, through executive order, and, without the authorization of the Congress, can direct this new Intelligence Director to undertake electronic surveillance and physical search operations. Yet another provision would make terrorist crimes subject to a rebuttable presumption of pretrial detention, which means that prosecutors won't be required to show a judge that the defendant is a flight risk. Instead, the defendant will be presumed to be a flight risk. Are Senators sure we are not trampling on the civil liberties of the American people with the hasty passage of this conference report?

    Again, few, if any, Senate hearings have been held on these provisions by the full Senate Judiciary Committee. The inclusion of these provisions in Title VI, with so little examination of their real meaning, reminds me of how the Patriot Act itself was enacted: in haste, with insufficient review, and with no real understanding of its true consequences.

    These are unsettling provisions, and the Senate ought to insist on its rights to consider them more carefully. The Senate has not had enough time to understand this legislation or its implications. This new Intelligence Director has been granted significant authorities, and the Congress has not done enough to ensure adequate checks on the actions of the Intelligence Director.

    With regard to homeland security, the bill authorizes a significant increase in the number of border patrol agents, immigration investigators, and a significant increase in the number of beds for immigration detention.

    The bill also authorizes increased funding for air cargo security and for screening airline passengers for explosives. All of these are worthy goals, but the provisions are just empty promises. Last September, when I offered an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill to fund these precise activities, the White House opposed the amendment and my Republican colleagues lined up and voted against it. Today, members will line up and vote for more empty promises.

    President Bush had the opportunity to support Congressman Sensenbrenner and insist on tougher immigration reforms in this bill, but he welched. Senators talk about reforms needed to protect against terrorism, and the fact is that this bill is a hodge podge of empty border security promises that the Administration has no intention of funding, and that will only encourage the kind of illegal immigration that leaves our country wide open to terrorists.

    It may well be that the only problem that this bill will actually fix is one of politics. Passing this bill in the waning hours of the 108th Congress means that, for all intents and purposes, intelligence reform will be removed from the agenda of the next Congress. By passing this bill today, the Senate will be giving political cover to those who wish to dismiss calls for more thorough reform of intelligence agencies to fix problems that are not addressed in the legislation, including the Iraq WMD fiasco and the abuse of prisoners in secret detention facilities.

    Intelligence reform should be done right the first time. But the actual implementation of this bill will be shrouded in secrecy and hidden from public scrutiny. Under this conference report, the total amount of intelligence spending will remain classified, so the American people may never know if the President is short-changing the reform effort that this bill requires. Senators ought not be so willing to rush this bill through, knowing that it may serve as political cover for an Administration that has a sorry history of promising big reform efforts that it never funds.

    The 9/11 Commission's endorsement of this legislation will mean nothing if these so-called reforms lead to future intelligence failures.

    What the American people will remember is that the Congress abdicated its role to protect their security interests. The American people will remember that the Congress empowered an unelected bureaucrat while doing little else to protect against future intelligence failures.

    This process has been hurried and rushed from the beginning, and it has been tainted ever since the decision was made to tie its consideration to a political schedule.

    When the 9/11 Commission needed more time to conduct its investigations into the September 11 attacks, the Congress acted magnanimously in granting a two month extension. Senators said at the time: "It would be counterproductive to deny the commission the extra two months it now says it needs to complete its investigations...we cannot feel we are successfully prepared to fight and win the war on terrorism and to protect the American people at home..."

    The Founding Fathers would be ashamed of the notion that time is a luxury reserved for the unelected members of independent commissions. What about the Senate, and the elected representatives of the people that serve in this Body? The Framers of the Constitution conceived a Senate that would resist the forces that urge us to bend with each change in the political breeze. To the contrary, the Constitution binds Senators to serve the greater causes of the Republic, and reserves the power of each member to demand more time for debate and thoughtful consideration.

    Shame on us for not invoking that wisdom in claiming the additional time we need to better assess this legislation.


    Top Five Corporate Grinches of 2004

    To simply call this list the Top 5 Grinches of 2004 is an understatement, but out of respect to some readers who read this blog I will refrain from my vulgarity-filled opinions about these examples of CORPORATE TRASH.

    5. Cintas - For a uniform cleaning company this corporation seems to have a lot of dirty laundry: Cintas has been fined numerous times for failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, over 40 discrimination lawsuits have been filed against Cintas,in Feb. 2003 over 75 complaints of labor law violations were filed against Cintas and countless reports of thug-style anti-organizing tactics.

    4. Quebecor World - This printing giant is amid some of the worst workplace allegations since the turn of the century that include: mandatory 70 hour work weeks, denied overtime pay, safety violations, vicious anti-organizing tactics, threatening employees, supervisors sexually harassing female hourly workers, below industry standard pay for certified and degree carrying workforce and the list goes on and on.

    3. Massey Energy - Massey's CEO Don Blankenship nauseatingly, Blankenship created a 527 named "And For the Sake of the Kids." He purchased loads of TV ads and had nice-lady recorded voices calling homes multiple times to spread smears about Warren McGraw, who earlier, as a legislator, had opposed strip mining. Blankenship supported Brent Benjamin, a virtually unknown coal industry lawyer, in a campaign that garnered national attention for its nastiness. Looks like Blankenship has bought himself a Supreme Court Judge! What can you do with your own state supreme court judge? Anything you want is the answer.

    2. Wal-Mart - I don't think I need to explain this one since its no-brainer.

    and the number one Corporate Grinch (aka corporate trash) of 2004

    1. Horizon Natural Resources - This one was an easy choice for me since its kind of personal and I knew so many affected by Horizon's despicable actions. In August of this year Horizon was granted full bankruptcy clemency to void union contracts and erase a sizable portion of their debt, thus leaving nearly 5,000 coal miners, including thousands of retirees without health care (many of whom suffering from black lung as result for 30-40 years service working for Horizon) and slashed pensions. The pentacle moment that sent myself and others in to seeing RED was when the Associated Press and the United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts reported Horizon's lawyers were "high fiving each other and laughing" when U.S. Federal Judge William S. Howard caved in to the company's requests. The Horizon bankruptcy case has set a dangerous precendent and now all companies can void union contracts and can have no obligation to workers/retirees pensions and health care benefits. Several airline companies have been reported to be looking at how Horizon handled their bankruptcy case and will probably follow suit next year. To add insult to injury, the new President of Horizon was given a $10,000 annual raise after the bankruptcy case and Massey Energy plans to open up one of the mines sold in the public auction of Horizon's assets non-union.

    So Horizon for the lives you've ruined and the communities and local economies you've destroyed...you've earned the top spot on our list.