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        May / June  2011

        May / June 2011

        Vol. 54, No. 5-6

        International Union, UAW

        President: Bob King

        Secretary-Treasurer: Dennis Williams

        Vice presidents:
        Joe Ashton, Cindy Estrada, General Holiefield, Jimmy Settles

        Regional directors:
        Chuck Hall, 1;
        Rory Gamble, 1A;
        Norwood Jewell, 1C;
        Gerald Kariem, 1D;
        Ken Lortz, 2B;
        Maurice Davison, 3;
        Ron McInroy, 4;
        Jim Wells, 5;
        Gary Casteel, 8;
        Scott Adams, 9;
        Julie Kushner, 9A

        Public Relations and Publications Department

        Director: Michele Martin
        International representatives:
        Gwynne Marie Cobb, Sandra Davis, Susan Kramer, Vince Piscopo, Joan Silvi and Solidarity editor Jennifer John, interns Herman Jenkins and Chris Skelly, members of CWA/The Newspaper Guild Local 34022. Clerical staff: Susan Fisher, Pauline Mitchell and Shelly Restivo, members of OPEIU Local 494.


        Fight is on against right-to-work in Granite State

        04/26/11

        New Hampshire Republicans try to fix what’s not broken with remedies that won’t work

        With the highest median income, fastest growing economy, and one of the lowest unemployment rates, New Hampshire is a good place to live – and do business.

        But apparently that’s not enough to satisfy greedy corporate CEOs and the Republicans state lawmakers who do their bidding. The state House and Senate have both now passed Right-to-Work legislation. There are some differences between the two versions that will need to be worked out in a conference committee, but with the Republicans’ solid majorities in both chambers a single bill is likely to emerge quickly.

        Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has pledged to veto the anti-worker measure, but it will be an uphill battle to withstand a veto override. The non-partisan group New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, VoteVets and union members are working to convince legislators to oppose the anti-worker bill by voting to sustain the governor’s veto.

        This week the activists are fanning out across the state to let their representatives and senators know they were not elected to silence the voice of teachers, nurses and firefighters by having a state without unions – where nobody stands up for workers when Wall Street executives outsource jobs or cut workers’ benefits. Politicians should be working together to create quality jobs that lift the economy, not attacking the middle class to benefit their corporate donors.
         

        Executive Paywatch

        No food but plenty of thought

        04/12/11

        When most people hear about hunger strikes, they think of Mohandas Ghandi, who engaged in several to protest British rule of India. It was Ghandi’s nonviolent way of communicating his message against an unconscionable offense to achieve dramatic results.

        The way Tony Hall sees it, Congress’ proposed budget cuts are an offense to conscience.

         

        SEIU's mary Kay Henry
        SEIU President Mary Kay Henry has joined the hunger fast to support workers who can barely make ends meet. Photo by Rick Reinhard.

        Nearly two decades ago, the former Ohio congressman fasted for 22 days in response to budget cuts that would have had a devastating impact on poor people at home and around the world. That was 1993.

        Fast forward to 2011, and Hall is at it again – provoked by similar budget cuts under consideration by Congress.  Hall he was joined by other prominent religious leaders including Jim Wallis of Sojouners, Rev. David Beckmann of Bread for the World, and Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive Worldwide who are enduring open-ended fasts in protest of the proposed budget cuts. 

        SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, also joined the fast stating, "I am fasting for the nurses' aide who holds the hands of our elders by day, but does not have the means to care for herself by night. For the security officer who puts his life on the line for us, but whose own life is at risk because he can barely make ends meet. I'm fasting for the child care provider who nurtures the promise of the next generation, yet fears that her own children will not have a better life than she had."

        The Republicans’ proposed cuts (including a 30 percent cut to development assistance, 14 percent reductions to child survival programs, 8 percent cuts in HIV/AIDS treatments and 40 percent cuts to the Global Fund) put the lives of millions of children at risk, will harm seniors and those with disabilities, and unnecessarily plunge tens of millions around the world deeper into an already desperate struggle with severe malnutrition and hunger.

        According to his website, hungerfast.org, the former Democratic member of Ohio’s House of Representatives began this hunger strike on March 28 for three reasons:
         

        • To remind people about the status of vulnerable people in the United States and around the world.
        • To focus public attention on the devastating effects that Congress’ proposed cuts would have on vulnerable people.
        • To form a circle of protection around programs benefitting the most vulnerable people in America and around the world.

         

        According to feedamerica.org, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty, including 15 million children – the highest poverty rate since 1960. Meanwhile, Americans face high unemployment with skyrocketing food and energy prices. Globally, about 25,000 people die from hunger-related causes every day, 925 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition, and 2.1 billion live on less than $2 a day. 

        There’s no doubt that Congress must address America’s long-term fiscal challenges. No nation can spend without limits. But in the name of deficit reduction, some in Congress have called for irresponsible cuts to vital domestic and international anti-poverty and hunger programs. As Americans, such cuts not only run counter to our sense of compassion and the common good, but they also distract us from the real problem.

        Suggesting that the budget can be balanced on the backs of poor people not only ignores the two largest slices of America’s budget — tax cuts for the wealthy and military spending — it betrays a fundamental lack of conscience. Poor people did not cause America’s financial problems, and hurting them is not the right solution. In fact, cutting programs for low-income people actually hurts the economy; every dollar spent on food stamps yields $1.73 in stimulus benefit.

        The first time Hall began a hunger strike, in 1993, Congress had eliminated the House Select Committee on Hunger, a bipartisan panel created to address the needs of poor and hungry people at home and around the world. Hall inspired thousands across the country to join his crusade. Through their efforts, the World Bank pledged increased support for hunger programs and the nonprofit Congressional Hunger Center trained future leaders in the hunger movement.

        Not everyone may be able to go on a hunger strike, but there are other ways to participate. For information and to sign a commitment form, visit hungerfast.org.

        Gwynne Marie Cobb

        Go union and get a great AT&T discount

        Go union, get AT&T and get a great discount, too

        04/07/11

        As UAW members, we know how important it is for consumers to buy quality, union-made products and services.

        Members of other unions support us. And we do the same when we look for union-made goods and services.  UAW members not only support their brothers and sisters from the Communications Workers of America when they sign up for AT&T service, but they also qualify for a sweet 15 percent discount on those services.

        It’s easy to sign up: Just fill out this form and go to your local AT&T store (not a kiosk or retailer) or go online. Active and retired members will need their union identification card to qualify. Some restrictions exist so carefully read your plan details.

        When you sign up for AT&T service, know that you are getting service from the nation’s only unionized wireless carrier, and you are helping support the jobs of 40,000 union-represented workers and their families.

        Do you think the poor are lazy?

        How we talk about income inequality has a lot to do with how the wealthy and the poor are viewed, says Anat Shenker-Osorio. The way we talk about wealth assigns moral superiority to the wealthy, she writes in this excellent opinion piece that ran in the Christian Science Monitor.

        Human Rights: Women Form

        Telephone Town Hall with UAW President Bob King and Region 1C Director Norwood Jewell

        04/05/11

        On March 17, UAW President Bob King and Region 1C Director Norwood Jewell hosted a tele-town hall with the region's leadership and activists.  The call covered ongoing legislative issues in Michigan and the UAW's plans to defend the middle class.  Participants posted questions to the hosts.  If you missed the call, here is the recording of it.

        Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott and labor-faith coalition call for moratorium on foreclosure sales, investigation of bank fraud

        04/05/11

        Leaders of the People Before Banks Coalition -- an alliance of labor, faith and community groups -- will speak April 6 in support of the Homeowner Protection and Neighborhood Preservation Act that Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott plans to submit to the County Commission on April 7. 

        Citing the economic and social devastation of the foreclosure crisis, Scott is calling for a one-year moratorium on sheriff sales of occupied foreclosed homes, as well as an investigation of the "extent to which the county and its citizens have been victimized and economically harmed by the fraudulent practices of banks and mortgage servicers." 

        UAW President Bob King will join the call for action to "deal with the foreclosure problem and give Americans a hand up -- not a hand out."

        More than 100,000 Michigan homes were foreclosed in 2010, according to the Center for Responsible lending. Wayne County alone accounted for one-quarter of that total and more than 400 foreclosure auctions a week, according to RealtyTrac. 

        The call for action at the local level is spurred by mounting evidence of fraud, as cited in Scott's bill, "from the predatory lending practices of subprime mortgage companies, to the deceptive practices of Wall Street underwriters, to the misrepresentation of security valuations by ratings agencies, to the improper recording of mortgage assignments and evasion of county fees, to the counterfeiting of mortgage documents and robo-signing of affidavits at foreclosure." 

        "Federal efforts to aid distressed homeowners have been a disappointment," said the Rev. D. Alexander Bullock, whose church will host the press conference in the commissioner's home district. "The Making Home Affordable Program promised to modify three million to four million mortgages to keep people in their homes, but the actual number of permanent modifications is a fraction of that."

        The most recent report indicates only 540,000 permanent modifications nationally and only 11,000 in the metro-Detroit area.

        Scott will formally submit the bill to the full commission at its regular meeting Thursday morning in the ground-floor auditorium of the Guardian Building at 500 Griswold St. in Detroit. 

        Who:  UAW President Bob King, Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott, Pastor D. Alexander Bullock, president, Rainbow PUSH Detroit Chapter and Saundra Williams, president, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO. 

        When:  Wednesday, April 6, 5 p.m.

        Where:  Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church, 396 Labelle St., Highland Park 

        (Directions: Exit the Lodge Freeway at Linwood and follow Linwood south a half-mile. Turn left on Oakman Boulevard and go one mile to Hamilton and turn right. Go two blocks to Labelle and turn right.)