WIN Week In Review November 2-4, 2007
By Doug Cunningham
Chrysler’s new private owners didn’t waste any time slashing and burning jobs following the narrow approval of the new Chrysler contract. Cerberus Thursday announced as many as 12,000 jobs will vanish in 2008 on top of the 13,000 Chrysler jobs cut in a February announcement. Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove told the CBC that’s horrible, devastating news for Chrysler workers in the U.S. and Canada.
[Hargrove]: “It doesn’t have to be. If only we had the political will – if we’d only deal with the real issues facing the industry as a government -then we could be opening plants and hiring people and hiring shifts as opposed to throwing people out of work.”
Every year, some 5,700 workers are killed on the job. Those deaths, which occur one or two at a time at a worksite, are noted in articles of two or three paragraph in local papers—if at all. Only when a large number of workers are killed do workplace deaths get national attention.
Yesterday in the Village of Superior, Wis., the deaths of four workers—apparently from the buildup of toxic fumes—as usual went unreported in the national press. The workers were attempting to replace a pump in what was described as an underground holding tank at a landfill.
When you say “Final Four” to Kentuckians, they’re most likely to think of University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball. But this weekend’s “Final Four” in the Bluegrass State is a huge drive by union volunteers to get out the vote in the last four days of this fall’s election season.
An army of volunteers will be making worksite contacts, phone calls and front door visits to help turn out some 350,000 working family voters.
During the past five months, union members have worked hard to elect former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear governor (see video) and to send packing incumbent Ernie Fletcher, whose record is marked by a long list of anti-worker actions, including canceling state workers’ bargaining rights, privatizing the state Medicaid program and attacking workers’ wages.
Two items this week pointed out how it easy it is for an administration to send our young people to war, but how not much thought is given to what happens to them when they return home.
First we hear that America’s war vets don’t get the health care they need.
About one of every eight veterans under the age of 65 is uninsured, according to a new study that contradicts the assumption many have that all vets qualify for free health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
|Mitch shafts mine workers. But why stop there? He also votes against children’s health care.|
Many U.S. senators and representatives are taking the lead in the fight to toughen up the nation’s mine safety laws. There is a desperate need for stronger mine safety rules, as tragically demonstrated by this summer’s Crandall Canyon Mine collapse and last year’s Sago, Darby and Aracoma mine disasters.
Sen. Robert Byrd (D) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D), West Virginia lawmakers who represent thousands of Mountain State coal miners, are pushing hard for improved safety legislation, as are longtime champions of job safety like Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who would be hard pressed to find a coal mine in their states.
But Louisville Courier-Journal columnist David Hawpe writes there is one senator whom you might expect to be concerned about mine safety who is glaringly absent from the debate—Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. Hawpe writes in an Oct. 31 column:
Sunday night there was another death at a coal mine where the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration [MSHA], overseen by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, is behind schedule in conducting required annual safety checks.
|Steelworkers across Kentucky have worked hard to get out the vote among union members.|
United Steelworkers (USW) District 8 Director Bill Thompson and his union team have put in a lot of time to get out the vote among Kentucky working families. At stake is the state’s gubernatorial election in which working families’ candidate Steve Beshear is challenging anti-worker Gov. Ernie Fletcher. USW is among many unions, including the UAW, working in coalition to defeat Fletcher.
Members of the United Steelworkers in Kentucky knew this election would be important the minute Gov. Ernie Fletcher took office. He threw down the gauntlet against workers early in his term, and we knew we had to fight back. Fletcher came after us with a vengeance—he did away with the labor secretary cabinet position, took away bargaining rights for public employees and supported “right to work” for less in a union shop state.
President Bush again says he plans to veto health care coverage for 10 million kids after the U.S. Senate—for a second time— passed a bill (64–30) to renew the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) yesterday.
Last month, Bush vetoed the first version. In doing so, he made several false claims about the bill, including the phony assertion that providing health insurance to uninsured children—children who have no private health insurance—would hurt the private health insurance industry. Bush also claimed the bill would give free children’s health insurance to families making more than $83,000 a year.
Good news for Verizon shareholders: The board of Verizon Communications Inc. voted yesterday to adopt an advisory vote on executive pay as a good first step for shareholders.
A group of institutional investors who own nearly $800 million in Verizon stock last month urged the company to adopt the “say-on-pay” shareholder proposal that received a majority of the votes cast by shareholders at the annual meeting in May.
Says AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka:
This is a strong victory for investors. Shareholders delivered a vote of no confidence in CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s pay, and the company took notice.