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Déjà vu all over again

Region 5 wins V-CAP award for 2008, 2009, 2010

You can count on a few things at UAW Community Action Program conferences:

  • We will talk to lawmakers about the important issues facing working Americans.
  • We will hear from interesting speakers to get the latest on political developments that affect all of us.
  • UAW Region 5 will win the award for having raised the most money to support working family candidates.

Region 5 was recognized for raising the most voluntary contributions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The region has won 11 out of the last 12 years, a fact Region 5 Director Jim Wells good-naturedly reminded his colleagues on the International Executive Board as he accepted the award on behalf of the region’s active and retired members.

Region 5 Director Jim Wells
Region 5 Director Jim Wells accepts the award for raising the most V-CAP funds for 2008, 2009 and 2010 on behalf of the active and retired members of the region. Photo by Rick Reinhard.

“Ever since I’ve been on this board, he’s been beating us all,” UAW President Bob King said as he handed the award to Wells.
While Region 5 leads the way, every UAW region works exceptionally hard at convincing our members that their contributions have a direct impact on elections – and working families.

“The UAW has a long tradition of rising to the challenge when it comes to raising money to support our political agenda,” King said. “Our members understand the strategic importance of having the financial resources needed to run an effective ground game.”
So how does Region 5, which encompasses a large swath of the western and southwestern U.S., manage to raise roughly $1 million in each of the last three years? According to Donna Birks, the financial secretary from UAW Local 31 in Kansas City, Kan., Region 5 CAP activists make it clear to active and retired members which candidates support the UAW’s agenda for working families and which candidates do not. Sometimes, members are just not aware of the issues and the candidates’ voting records. It’s their job to make them aware, and then ask them to voluntarily contribute to put good candidates in office, she said.

“You have to explain to them what would happen if we don’t get the right people in office,” Birks said. “We talk about it at every union meeting. You talk to your members about why it’s important and what the repercussions are if we don’t do it.”

Birks also credited Wells with placing strong emphasis on the program. 
“He doesn’t let us lie around, and we push the tickets,” Birks said.

Vince Piscopo

Cap-and-trade bill boosts jobs, helps environment

Rebuilding U.S. manufacturing

<p>"Green technology is the way of the future, and America must get in on the ground level," says Jeff Manning, president of UAW Local 31.</p>
<p>After decades of neglect and even outright hostility toward the nation's manufacturing sector from policy makers in Washington, U.S. manufacturing workers have a rare chance to gain the kind of public support that other nations have always used to their advantage.</p>

"Green technology is the way of the future, and America must get in on the ground level," says Jeff Manning, president of UAW Local 31.

After decades of neglect and even outright hostility toward the nation's manufacturing sector from policy makers in Washington, U.S. manufacturing workers have a rare chance to gain the kind of public support that other nations have always used to their advantage.

The UAW is fighting for green jobs as a way to rebuild manufacturing by backing legislation known as "cap and trade."

The bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, passed the House in June with support from the UAW and other labor unions and environmental groups. Similar bills are now under consideration in the Senate.

A cap-and-trade program would establish limits on climate-change pollution and commit the United States to invest billions to create and support green jobs.

And you'd be surprised how many jobs can be considered green. Several thousand Ford Motor Co. workers are about to find out, because Ford was just awarded a low-interest loan of $5.9 billion from the Department of Energy to convert U.S. factories to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles and their key components.

Ford got the loan through the existing Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturers Incentive Program, championed by the UAW for many years and enacted by Congress in 2007. The money must be used for new tooling at assembly and component plants or for certain engineering costs associated with that production.

This kind of investment is just a preview of what cap and trade could mean for the auto industry.

As passed by the House, the act contains provisions that would provide billions more to fund auto industry retooling through 2025.

"Providing incentives to retool factories to produce green products makes all the sense in the world," said Jeff Manning, president of UAW Local 31, whose members work at General Motors' Fairfax (Kan.) Vehicle Manufacturing facility. "Green technology is the way of the future, and America must get in on the ground level."

The bill provides incentives to fund the production and installation of a wide range of job-creating green products in addition to automobiles: windmills and their components, solar, clean coal, energy efficiency products and alternative fuels.

The cap-and-trade legislation would establish a national limit on the emission of pollutants that cause climate change. Emissions would decline gradually over many decades, reducing global warming and protecting our environment. That's the "cap" part.

The "trade" part introduces market competition by creating an allowance for the right to emit one ton of global warming pollution. The allowances can be sold and bought, traded, saved or loaned.

Since the number of allowances will be reduced as the cap steadily declines, the price of each allowance will rise over time, due to supply and demand.

This will create incentives for industry to implement new technology or become more efficient to reduce emissions, since these changes will be cheaper than the rising cost of paying for allowances to emit pollution.

Motor vehicles would not be directly covered as a source of emissions under cap and trade. Instead, the emissions from vehicles would be covered "upstream" because oil companies would be required to turn in allowances equal to the global warming emissions created when their products are used.

The cap-and-trade bill passed by the House would slowly lower the amount of emissions allowed over nearly four decades, beginning in 2012 and running until 2050. By that time, emissions would be 80 percent lower than the baseline year of 2005.

At the beginning of the program the vast majority of the allowances would be given away, enabling covered companies to either use them for the right to emit greenhouse gasses, or reduce emissions and sell the unneeded allowances on the open market.

Over time the number of free allowances will decline slowly, and they will have to be purchased from the government or others. The money generated from selling allowances can be used to promote the domestic production of solar panels, high-speed trains, advanced technology automobiles and other energy-saving products.

There is a specific amount set aside for the auto sector, and the use of these funds will be outlined in the bill.

Critics have called the bill "cap and tax," claiming increased costs for consumers. Even though addressing climate change will have costs, doing nothing will cost even more, because adapting to increased temperatures will cost more than acting to prevent those increases.

The UAW-backed bill passed by the House could be called "cap and invest" because of the billions

in investments in the domestic production of green technology the program will provide. This kind of investment policy to support domestic manufacturing is a huge victory for working people.

After decades of neglect and even outright hostility toward the nation's manufacturing sector from policy makers in Washington, U.S. manufacturing workers – including UAW members – have a rare chance to gain the kind of public support that other nations have always used to their advantage.

Investment in the technology needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will benefit the environment and create jobs.

Maybe we should call it "cap and win."





Bush visits UAW facilities; Union calls for incentives to build advanced technologies in U.S.


As President Bush visited UAW members in Kansas City, Kan., and Claycomo, Mo., today, the union called for federal action to encourage investment in domestic production of hybrid and clean diesel vehicles.

“We’re pleased that the President of the United States could join our members and see the top-quality, highly relevant fuel-saving vehicles that are made by the domestic auto industry in union-represented plants,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

“We hope the President will also join us in supporting incentives to bring the manufacture of hybrids, clean diesel and their key components in the United States,” said Gettelfinger.

President Bush visited a General Motors assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan. where members of UAW Local 31 assemble the hybrid Saturn Aura, and the Ford assembly plant in Claycomo, Mo., where members of UAW Local 249 assemble the hybrid Ford Escape.

“Our members are totally focused on building affordable, quality vehicles that consumers want to buy,” said UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, who directs the union’s GM Department. “We’re proud to be assembling these clean, green vehicles that can help reduce America’s oil consumption and fight global warming.”

The UAW supports a “Marshall Plan” to stimulate new investment in the U.S. auto industry, which would include a tax credit to any manufacturer who builds advanced technology vehicles and their key components in the United States.

Union members are concerned that many key components of hybrid drivetrain technology are now produced overseas.

“For the sake of America’s long-term energy security, we’d like to see the cutting-edge technology for the 21st century auto industry produced here at home,” said UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union’s Ford Department.

Current U.S. law provides a tax credit to consumers who purchase any hybrid vehicle, even if the vehicle and/or its key components are produced overseas.

“That means our tax policy is actually subsidizing overseas production,” said Jim Wells, director of UAW Region 5, which includes Kansas, Missouri, and other western states. “We think it makes more sense to provide incentives to build advanced technology vehicles and their key components right here at home.”

“We don’t have to choose between jobs and the environment,” said Gettelfinger. “We can have both.” A University of Michigan study, for example, shows that a tax credit for the manufacture of advanced technology vehicles and their key components would create enough jobs to pay for itself.

“A Marshall Plan for auto manufacturing is a win-win scenario,” said Gettelfinger. “We can help get clean, green vehicles on the road faster, and we can create high-paying, high value-added manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A.”