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2/26/2005

Mine union chief arrested in bankruptcy-law protest

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts was among 10 people arrested yesterday after they blocked a highway during a protest against federal bankruptcy laws.

Traffic was backed up about a half-mile in each direction on U.S. 60 as the protesters sat on the highway while more than 100 others held a rally outside Massey Energy's Mammoth operation in the London area, said Kanawha County Sheriff's Lt. Bryan Stover. All 10 protesters were arrested without incident and were arraigned in magistrate court on a misdemeanor pedestrian violation. They were later released on personal recognizance bonds, Stover said.

In all, about 150 people attended the 90-minute rally, Stover said.

The Mammoth mine formerly was owned by Horizon Natural Resources, which sold it to Massey after declaring bankruptcy.

A federal bankruptcy judge in Kentucky granted a request by Horizon to terminate its contract with the union, allowing the company to drop health-care benefits for thousands of active and retired miners and their dependents.

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2/20/2005

U.S. Inspector General to Investigate Labor Department Deal with Wal-Mart

The U.S. Department of Labor’s inspector general announced on Feb. 18 his office would investigate the department’s agreement to give Wal-Mart 15 days advance notice to investigate and fix complaints of all federal wage-and-hour law violations before any department investigation.

In a letter to Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Inspector General Gordon Heddell agreed “to review the circumstances surrounding” the Jan. 6 agreement, which The New York Times revealed Feb. 12. Although the settlement grew out of child labor investigations, the deal covers all violations of federal wage-and-hour law, not only child labor provisions. Miller had asked the inspector general for an investigation.

The deal was part of a settlement in which Wal-Mart agreed to pay $135,540 for child labor violations involving young workers’ use of dangerous equipment. Most of the violations involved children younger than 18 operating heavy machinery, including cardboard balers and chain saws. In one case, a minor hurt his thumb while cutting Christmas trees with a chain saw. Wal-Mart just announced that its profits last year were a record-breaking $10 billion.

Labor Department officials, including Victoria Lipnic, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards, insisted to reporters this week that the agreement is similar to those the department signed with Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1999 and Foot Locker in 2000. But a House Education and the Workforce Committee Democratic staff analysis shows, despite the Labor Department’s repeated claims to the contrary, it gave Wal-Mart an unprecedented sweetheart deal.

The department gave Sears and Foot Locker 10 days notice for child labor investigations only at a limited number of stores—those that already had been scheduled for self-audits regarding child labor law compliance.

“The 10-day notice for Sears and Foot Locker stores, which had scheduled but not yet completed self-audits, was for the explicit purpose of allowing the store to complete the self-audit with the results to be shared with DOL as it opened its investigation,” the committee report finds. “With no self-auditing system in place in the Wal-Mart agreement, there is no reason for the advance notice. The results of an internal Wal-Mart investigation or audit are not turned over to DOL to assist in the investigation. Indeed, the Wal-Mart agreement provides no reason for the advance notice.”

Neither Wal-Mart nor the Labor Department has offered any evidence to explain why this arrangement is acceptable, says Miller. “I am very concerned about this secret agreement between Wal-Mart and the Bush administration,” he says.


The Labor Department agreed to provide the retailer advance notice of investigations of wage-and-hour laws even though Wal-Mart has a long record of repeatedly violating them. Maine fined the company more than $200,000 in March 2000 for child labor law violations in every one of the 20 stores in the state. A weekly internal audit of 128 stores found more than 1,300 instances of children working improper hours, although company officials later said the audit was faulty, according to The New York Times.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said earlier this week he will seek to enlist other states in a states-led investigation into allegations Wal-Mart violated child labor laws. Throughout the nation, dozens of individual and class-action lawsuits have been filed by current and former workers alleging Wal-Mart made them work overtime without pay.

“Once again, it looks like the Bush administration is doing a favor for a powerful friend and contributor at the expense of workers who do their jobs and still cannot get fair treatment in the workplace,” says Miller.

Wal-Mart donated $2.1 million to candidates and campaigns in the 2004 election cycle, with 80 percent going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics website OpenSecrets.org.

The Labor Department’s agreement to give Wal-Mart advance notice before inspections is “quite shocking and the notion that the wage-and-hour division would give Wal-Mart advance notice on some level is a compromise of its investigative authority,” says John Frasier, who retired in 2001 as deputy administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, in the Feb. 15 Wall Street Journal. Notifying the retailer of an alleged violation, he says, compromises a complaining worker’s privacy.

Wal-Mart has admitted it has locked workers in overnight at about 10 percent of its more than 3,500 stores, according to a June 18, 2004, New York Times story. Saying they have been denied promotions and pay raises because of their gender, a group of women sued Wal-Mart this year in the largest sex-discrimination case in history, and in June, a U.S. District Court in San Francisco gave class-action status to 1.6 million women who have worked at Wal-Mart since 1998. Wal-Mart also has had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to workers throughout the company who were subject to race discrimination.



2/16/2005

Wal-Mart got secret notification of Labor Dept. inspections

Is there a secret sweetheart deal between Wal-(Evil)-Mart and the George W. Bush Administration? A recent affair where the company was caught for illegally employing teenagers in dangerous jobs seems to confirm this. Leading American politicians and at least one of the U.S. States involved - Connecticut - are now asking for this to be investigated.

According to the New York Times, the Labor Department had given Wal-Mart a 15 days notice before any additional investigations or audits would take place, and then an additional 10 days to correct any violations. (MORE >>>)

Democrats are criticizing the Labor Dept. Deal with Wal-Mart and demanding answers.

McDonald's franchisee penalized for wage, youth labor violations

A few days ago Wal-Evil-Mart was busted for violating child labor laws and now McDonald's has joined the ranks of youth labor violators. The Big Ugly Clown's Birmingham-based franchisee has agreed to pay $101,915 in civil penalties and $38,800 in back wages to 574 employee.

State Worker Unions Offended at Being Called "Evil" by Schwarzenegger

Corportate-suck-up Gov. Schwarzenegger of California since being elected has been the mouth-piece for the GOP's anti-union propoganda machaine. The Gov's remarks have gone too far when he began referencing the California's State Workers Union as "evil".
Now the state workers are fighting back and girly-man Arnold doesn't understand why everyone is so upset.

Stop the Bush-nominated Judges from taking office

Ol' W has renominated a bunch of right-wing activist judges Democrats managed to block during his first term. CivilRights.org has a good rundown of those activist judges and which activities they particularly like. And here's an activity for you: TELL YOUR SENATORS TO STAND FIRM IN OPPOSING ACTIVIST JUDICIAL NOMINEES.

2/15/2005

RECORD TRADE DEFICIT AGAIN

For the third consecutive year, the U.S. trade deficit set a record, the Commerce Department announced Feb. 10. The 2004 deficit of $617.7 billion dwarfs the record $496.5 billion set in 2003. The U.S. deficit with China, the largest with any country, reached unprecedented heights at $162 billion, eclipsing the record $124 billion deficit with that country in 2003.

SEC SHIELDS HALLIBURTON

Contrary to what it previously promised investors, the SEC ruled Feb. 7 that executives of scandal-plagued Halliburton Co. can exclude a shareholder proposal from the AFSCME Pension Fund and the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds. The proposal asks the company to allow investors to nominate their own candidates to the company’s board of directors. Vice President Dick Cheney served as Halliburton CEO from 1995 to August 2000, when Bush chose him as his vice presidential running mate.

FIRM QUITS PRIVATIZATION GROUP

Workers scored a victory in the campaign to strengthen Social Security Feb. 11 when broker Edward Jones pulled out of the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, an industry group backing Social Security privatization. Edward Jones had been a member of the alliance since its inception in 1998. The pullout came after a coalition of community, retiree and union activists rallied Feb. 8 outside the firm’s St. Louis corporate headquarters while the firm’s executives were sending a national satellite broadcast on Social Security to clients in 9,000 offices nationwide. Activists also sent thousands of e-mails. The protestors and activists demanded Jones drop its support for Social Security privatization, which could earn billions for brokers but would hurt working families. In December, the firm paid a record $75 million to settle charges by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that included accepting payments from mutual funds in exchange for steering clients to them. For more information, visit www.wallstreetgreed.org.

Union activists can visit www.socialsecuritypledge.org, a new website, to tell their members of Congress to pledge to strengthen Social Security and oppose President George W. Bush’s efforts to privatize the nation’s most effective family protection program. Officials who sign the pledge say they will oppose Bush’s privatization proposals, which would require cuts in guaranteed benefits, weaken the system by diverting money to private accounts, increase the federal deficit and possibly increase the retirement age. Union activists also plan to meet with members of Congress in their home districts during congressional recesses and hold rallies and town hall meetings to make their voices heard.

Steve Earle wins Grammy

After 9 Grammy nominations Steve Earle wins his first Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album .

Steve Earle accepted his award for the best contemporary folk album with a brief, to-the-point acceptance speech: "This one is for Danny Goldberg." Goldberg was chairman of Earle's label, Artemis Records, which released Earle's latest release, The Revolution Starts … Now, which criticized the Bush administration.

WAL-MART'S TOP 10 OF THE WORST

The "Multinational Monitor," which tracks corporate activity, has named Wal-Mart one of the 10 worst corporations in 2004. It cites a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 1.6 million women workers alleging rampant employment discrimination and the retailer's shifting of workers' health care and other costs to taxpayers. Last year, a report by the minority staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee found one 200-person Wal-Mart store may cost taxpayers nearly $421,000 annually in public services used by its workers. A recent study in Tennessee found more than a quarter of Wal-Mart's workforce there was enrolled TennCare, the state's Medicaid program for low-income workers. For more information, visit http://www.multinationalmonitor.com and http://www.walmartcostsyou.com .

Mine Workers praise NLRB's Decision

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts is cheering a January 31 decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C., to reject an appeal by C.W. Mining Co. that would have allowed the ballots of over 100 members of the Kingston family to be counted in a recent union representation election at the Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah. The Co-Op mine is owned and operated by the Kingston family under the name C. W. Mining Co.

"The UMWA is pleased that the national NLRB has indicated its agreement with the Denver NLRB decision by rejecting C.W. Mining's appeal," said Roberts. "It is clear that including the votes of the Kingston family members would have stacked the deck heavily against the workers who risked a lot to finally be able to exercise their right to vote for union representation. This is a first step in winning the battle for the Co-Op miners, but there is much more to do."

In November, 2004, the regional NLRB office in Denver ruled that the defined bargaining unit at the mine could not include Kingston family members because of their ties to mine management. Both C.W. Mining and the company union, the IAUWU, challenged that decision, appealing it to the full NLRB in Washington. In December, 2004, a representation election was held at the mine, and Kingston family members voted in the election-though all their ballots were challenged and not co-mingled. Everyone's votes were then impounded, pending a decision by the full NLRB.

In the weeks prior to the December election, C.W. Mining fired approximately 30 Latino workers at the mine, claiming that they did not have additional proof of their eligibility to work in the United States. Mine management also fired other workers-both before and after the election-for what it termed "disciplinary reasons." All the fired workers voted in the election, but their votes are being challenged, too. The UMWA has filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, which must be resolved by the NLRB before the fired workers' ballots can be counted.

"The Co-Op miners have shown tremendous courage throughout this struggle, and they can be proud of what they have achieved so far," said Roberts. "The UMWA will continue to help them try to obtain the true union representation they desire. These workers were-in the UMWA's opinion-unjustly fired because they wanted to join the UMWA. It was blatant retaliation-and I said that at the time. The law says these workers have a right to belong to a union just like anyone else who works in America. It also says it is illegal to fire them for wanting to exercise that right. We intend to see that their rights are upheld."

2/13/2005

Wal-Mart Settles Child Labor Cases

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, will pay $135,540 to settle federal charges that it broke child labor laws, the Labor Department said Saturday.

The 24 violations, which occurred at stores in Arkansas, Connecticut and New Hampshire, had to do with teenage workers who used hazardous equipment such as a chain saw, paper bailers and fork lifts. (MORE >>>)

This really doesn't surprise me at all that Wal-Evil-Mart is now putting minors in harms way in order to make a buck.

2/11/2005

Hold Wal-Mart Accountable for closing Canada store

The world's largest retailer is choosing to destroy the livelihoods of nearly 200 working families rather than accept a fair and impartial agreement on workers' wages and benefits.

Wal-Mart announced Feb. 9 it will shut down the Canadian store where workers had formed a union six months earlier to have a voice on the job. Workers at the Jonquiere, Quebec, store had been negotiating with Wal-Mart for several months, attempting to reach a fair agreement on wages and benefits. The company pulled the plug when workers appealed to the Quebec Labor Ministry to start a process to establish a wage and benefit settlement.

Please click the following link to sign the petition telling Wal-Mart's CEO: Do the right thing. Reverse plans to close your store. And negotiate in good faith with Wal-Mart workers.

www.unionvoice.org/campaign/walmart_accountable

2/10/2005

$40 billion defense secret

Rumsfeld hiding up to $40 billion in defense spending--Let's find it.

2/09/2005

Wal-Mart closes Canadian union store

Perhaps it was to send a message to the two U.S. Wal-Marts that are seeking union the evil corporate giant has no sent a message it will close its first store that won a union contract. Its obvious the big-smiley-face-ball-of- doom is scared and knows one day they are going to have to face the consequences of helping to tank our economy (how unpatriotic can you get) and mistreating thier workers. Solidarity forever and boycott the Wal-Evil-Mart.

Share your thoughts with Canadian Wal-Mart: 1-(800)-328-0402 between 7:30am-5:30pm (EST) Mon - Fri.

2/07/2005

Bush Budget Punishes America’s Workers and Veterans to Save Tax Breaks for Millionaires

Just days after President George W. Bush laid out his blueprint to privatize Social Security—a scheme that could slash guaranteed benefits for many workers—Bush submitted a $2.57 trillion federal budget that makes massive funding cuts in programs covering health care, education, veterans and worker training. Spending for Department of Labor discretionary programs will fall by 6 percent in real dollars. (MORE >>>)

COAL COMPANY, COURTS HAND DOWN COAL INSTEAD OF PROMISED BENEFITS

BY SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV)

To right a bankrupt coal company’s disregard for its responsibilities and a court that failed to act on behalf of America's workers, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV)on Jan. 25 introduced legislation to address the health care needs of thousands of miners, retirees and their beneficiaries.

“Congressman Rahall and I introduced this legislation because, in West Virginia and in other states, coal companies have used bankruptcy to eliminate health coverage for miners and their families,” said Rockefeller, author of the 1992 Coal Act. “This is a morally bankrupt corporate strategy that hurts the people who have earned these benefits through years of hard work.”

“No judge should rewrite the law and take workers’ health coverage away. This bill will make sure that there are no more Horizon rulings in the future,” Rockefeller said.

“I cannot imagine a more callous manner in which to acknowledge workers for their service than a company running away from its obligations. Instead of providing the benefits it promised, Horizon, with the court’s blessing, is handing out lumps of coal,” declared Rahall, Ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee. “Armed with an egregious court decision, Horizon took years of the hard work and the loyalty of thousands of employees and their families and heartlessly tossed it out the window. I will not stand by while this court decision sends the message that financial bankruptcy is an excuse for moral bankruptcy.”

“I have always believed that a fair day’s labor deserves a fair day’s wages. I believe, too, that a company has certain obligations to a faithful worker who has devoted his life to laboring for the good of the company. It has been here, in the halls of Congress, where these beliefs have found refuge,” Rahall said.

In September 2004, a federal judge allowed Horizon to use bankruptcy loopholes to escape its obligations to provide health care benefits to its current and retired workers. This responsibility is required under the 1992 Coal Act, yet it was waived for Horizon's more than 800 workers and 2,300 retirees, including approximately 200 workers and 500 retirees in West Virginia.

In turn, the cost of the benefits legally owed by Horizon has been thrown onto already financially-strained benefits plans. Consequently, Horizon and the courts, have sent a shock wave that jeopardizes the health care benefits of thousands of other retirees and beneficiaries. The weight of those obligations cannot long be managed in the current scenario. And if other companies follow suit, collapse will only be hastened.

The bill reiterates the Coal Act’s mandate that bankruptcy courts do not have the authority to modify or terminate any coal company’s health care obligations. The legislation reinforces the original intent of the Coal Act and directly addresses the misguided ruling in the Horizon case.

TAKE ACTION TO HELP REFORM FEDERAL BANKRUPTCY LAWS


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Stop McDonald's Outsourcing

America has lost millions of good jobs because big companies have been exporting U.S. jobs to low-wage foreign countries. Now they’re exporting jobs to North Dakota.

Right now a total of 5 McDonald's restaurants in Oregon and southeastern Washington are outsourcing their drive-up window order-taking to a call center 1,300 miles away, in Grand Forks, N.D. There the minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, compared with Oregon's $7.25. If successful, a total of 50 McDonald's are expected to be on line within a few months.

Please take action now by telling McDonald's: Stop Outsourcing Jobs!

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More West Virginians Join Unions

A lot of news has came out the last month showing a major decline in union membership across the country, but recently West Virginia showed just the opposite, an increase of about 14.2%. It doesn't surprise me since WV has always been a major hub of union activity. States across this country should take notice and follow the example. Solidarity Forever.

2/06/2005

Funds to fix abandoned mines drying up

Pittsburgh Live just posted an article regarding the current state of the Abandoned Mine Land Fund which provides not only federal money (provided by tax on coal production to the coal operators....not taxes from you and me) to repair abandoned mine land, but it also provides health care coverage to union coal mining retirees and their widows that have been orphaned by bankrupt and defunct coal companies. If this mess is not straightend up by June more than an estimated 50,000 miners will lose their health care and states will be forced to pay for the reclamation work that millionaire coal operators should be paying for.

Keep The Promise - Save The Coal Act


2/04/2005

Boston Adelphia Cable workers want a union

Technicians working for Adelphia Cable have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board, Region 1, in Boston to be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1228. (MORE >>>)

2/03/2005

Kentucky Black Lung Laws need reform

Since the 1996 revisions to Kentucky’s Workers’ Compensation statutes, compensation benefits for coal miners afflicted with Black Lung Disease (Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis) have been virtually eliminated. Since 1996, the United Mine Workers of America and the Kentucky State AFL-CIO have repeatedly attempted to pass legislation that would provide a fair opportunity for mine workers with symptoms of Black Lung Disease to be eligible for compensation benefits.

In the nine-years since the changes to Workers’ Compensation fewer than twenty Kentucky coal miners have been found to have Black Lung Disease. It has often been said that Kentucky wiped out Black Lung Disease with the stroke of a pen. Ironically, while H.B.1 made it virtually impossible to qualify for Black Lung benefits; it established a funding system to pay anticipated claims funded solely by coal operators, called the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Fund (CWPF). Even more ironically, due to the miniscule number of coal miners found to be eligible for benefits since 1996, the CWPF has grown to over $20 million, with a surplus of over $18 million.

During the 2001 General Assembly, the United Mine Workers, with the support of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, introduced H.B. 132, designed to address the flaws in the system of diagnosing Black Lung by changing the manner in which x-rays were evaluated. H.B. 132 passed the House 64-32, but died in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism & Labor Committee.

During the 2002 General Assembly, another attempt was made to adjust the system to give mine workers a better chance for compensation with the introduction of H.B. 348. H.B. 348 was introduced with the best of intentions and passed the House 96-0 and the Senate 37-0, and was signed into law.

Black Lung was not an issue during the 2003 General Assembly. The number of mine workers eligible for compensation under H.B. 348 was monitored to determine if the number of eligible applicants increased. When 2004 began, it was clear from the actuarial reports from the Department of Workers Claims that H.B. 348 failed to meet expectations and another effort was needed to fairly compensation miners with Black Lung Disease.

During the 2004 General Assembly, H.B. 499 was introduced. It was designed to radically change the way Black Lung was diagnosed according to system set up by H.B. 348 by eliminating the so-called “consensus reading” procedure and replacing it with a streamlined approach that shortens the time it takes to diagnosis the disease and places more authority for making a determination with Administrative Law Judges. H.B. 499 passed the House 88-0 and died in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

For the 2005 General Assembly, Rep. Robin Webb, a former coal miner herself, has introduced H.B. 106, which contains the identical provisions to H.B. 499. The history of efforts to reform the Black Lung Compensation program shows that it can take more than one try to win passage of changes. Consider the unanimous vote in the House for H.B. 499 during the 2004 Session as proof.

The current strategy for H.B. 106 is to get it voted out of the House Labor and Industry Committee and to the House floor for a vote as early as possible, achieve the same widespread support in the House as H.B. 499, and then move it to the Senate and request a hearing so that the bill doesn’t fall prey to the “it arrived too late” syndrome.

Meetings regarding H.B. 106 have been conducted with House Leadership and the bill is on track to be heard. It is co-sponsored by members of both parties. If you have any questions of comments about this legislation, contact Steve Earle or Bill Londrigan



Workers Would Lose up to $152,000 if Social Security Is Privatized

President George W. Bush stepped up his campaign to privatize Social Security during his State of the Union speech Feb. 3, predicting a dire future for Social Security unless Social Security is privatized.

But his scare-tactic rhetoric masked the true cost behind Bush’s efforts to cut retirement benefits.

“He didn’t say that working people would end up with lower benefits under Social Security privatization. He didn’t talk about the high price working families would pay for privatization—in benefit cuts, new government debt and the potential Enron-ization of America’s most successful family protection program,” says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

“Government-issued privatization plans will take away our benefits. If I want to invest in a private account, I can already do that on top of Social Security,” says 27-year-old Lindsey Prestud of Portland, Ore., who watched the State of the Union address at a special Oregon AFL-CIO and AARP roundtable.

Privatizing Social Security Would Cut Guaranteed Benefits as Much as $152,000

Bush claimed his privatization blueprint would be voluntary and workers could chose to remain in the traditional Social Security program with guaranteed benefits. But even workers who don’t choose private Social Security accounts would face big benefit cuts. A young worker would lose 30 percent or more in guaranteed benefits, according to the Social Security Administration and other groups. That adds up to as much as $152,000 in retirement benefits lost in the 20 years after retirement, according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“It’s wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut. Make no mistake that’s exactly what President Bush is doing,” says Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

A preview of what’s in store for retirees under Bush’s blueprint is contained in a new government report from the Congressional Research Service. The report shows if the benefit formula that a secret White House Social Security memo proposes for Bush’s privatization blueprint had been in effect in 1940—rather than the current formula—“the initial benefit in 2003 would have been 58.6 percent lower than under current law.”

Workers Could Lose 50 Cents for Every Dollar in Private Accounts

Workers who chose private accounts would see shockingly low returns when they retire.

“The government would take back 50 cents for every $1 in the account on top of the 30 percent cut in guaranteed benefits,” Sweeney says.

According to a Washington Post analysis of the private accounts’ returns, if a young worker sets aside $1,000 a year for 40 years and earns 4 percent a year on the investment after inflation, the account would grow to $99,800 in today’s dollars, but the government would keep $78,700—about 80 percent—leaving the worker with $21,100 after 40 years of savings.

Privatizing Social Security Will Cost Taxpayers $2 Trillion in First 10 Years

Privatizing Social Security would cost taxpayers $2 trillion in the first 10 years alone—a cost that would explode the nation’s deficit past its already record level.

“That’s an immoral burden to place on the backs of the next generation” Reid says.

Today’s risk-free, guaranteed Social Security benefit relies on U.S. Treasury bonds, but Bush’s blueprint would allow politicians to hand-pick Wall Street firms to control the investment accounts, a process easily corrupted by politics.

Decisions about Americans retirement security should not be “tied to politicians’ wealthy friends or companies that have political influence,” says Sweeney.

“Privatization is much too risky. I don’t want my Social Security put at the mercy of companies like Enron and WorldCom,” says Suzanne Bonamici, 50, who also attended the Portland event.

Take Action

Fox News Buys Al-Jazeera

Under intense pressure from the Bush administration to sell its controversial Al-Jazeera network, the nation of Qatar stunned the television industry today by agreeing to sell the broadcast company to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel. (MORE >>>)

From one agenda-driven tyrants to another, as if this is going to help "democracy" or "free press".

2/02/2005

Pre-Bush Propoganda Alert

You're going to hear a lot of claims about President Bush's blue print to privatizing Social Security in his State of the Union address. Here's the truth. Privatizing Social Security will not mean more money for you.

Privatization will cut benefits by 30 percent even for workers who don't choose to have private accounts. That adds up to $152,000 lost by the average worker who lives 20 years beyond retirement. And if you do choose a private account, the government will take back 50 cents for every $1 in your account--on top of the 30 percent benefit cut.

* Privatizing Social Security is not really voluntary. You'll get the benefit cuts even if you don't want a privatized Social Security account.

* You won't be in charge of your privatized Social Security account. Politicians will hand-pick Wall Street firms to control the investment accounts--paving the way to corruption and Enron-ization of Social Security.

* Retirees can't pass privatized Social Security account money on to your heirs. The accounts will be converted to annual payments.

* We have time to strengthen Social Security the right way--not by slashing benefits. Social Security can pay full benefits until 2042 even with no changes at all. We should strengthen Social Security with commonsense approaches--like requiring Congress to pay back money it has borrowed from Social Security or rolling back the most egregious tax breaks for the very wealthy.

You won't hear the word "privatization" coming from President Bush--because his pollsters and spin doctors know America's voters oppose privatizing Social Security. He'll call it "personalizing" Social Security. No matter what word spin he uses, the reality is this: Privatizing Social Security will cut benefits, add $2 trillion to the federal deficit in just the first 10 years, push seniors into poverty and replace guaranteed retirement income with "personalized" risk. Take action to protect Social Security by signing the petition:

http://www.unionvoice.org/ct/fdzHcTs1rcrI/

and more information can be found at:
http://www.thereisnocrisis.com

2/01/2005

1/2 THE DEFICIT IS BUSH’S TAX CUTS FOR RICH

The tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy, which President Bush pushed through in his first term, account for 49 percent of the nation’s record budget deficit, according to figures from the Congressional Budget Office. An analysis of the CBO figures by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) finds that without the tax cuts the nation would be enjoying a budget surplus instead of a record $427 billion deficit. Despite claims by Republican lawmakers and the Bush White House that so-called runaway domestic spending is a major deficit culprit, the CBPP found domestic spending increases account for just 13 percent of the increased spending gap. Visit www.cbpp.org for more information.