New Orleans is still struggling more than two years since Hurricane Katrina hit. A new report has found that an estimated one in 25 residents of the Crescent City is homeless – nearly double the pre-Katrina count according to homeless advocacy group UNITY. The means four percent of New Orleans population is homeless while most cities have homeless rates of less than 1 percent. The next closest rate is Atlanta with 1.4 percent.
Dockworkers and shipping line representatives have begun early contract negotiations in hopes to avoid a sequel to the crippling 2002 port lockout. Jesse Russell reports:
Negotiations on a contract that expires on July 1 have already begun between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. The union represents nearly 15,000 West Coast dock workers and the Association represents the 72 shipping companies that use the 29 ports stretching from San Diego to upstate Washington. The two sides agreed to early negotiations in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the 2002 lockouts that crippled U.S.
By Doug Cunningham
Tension is growing in the American Axle strike as dozens of GM plants remain closed by the UAW strike at the auto parts maker. Over the weekend two people were arrested for disorderly conduct on the picket lines in Detroit. Bill Alford is Vice-President of UAW Local 235. He says morale is high on the picket lines, but the company is at times taunting picketers.
[Alford]: “We’ve got, you know, people trying to come out here and picket in peace and they’re being taunted and things like that, you know. And you know all my picketers are just tryin’ to come out here – you know they’re hard-workin’ people. They work nine to five and they come out here and picket. And then you’ve got the company, you know, does tactics – things that they know will probably incite people and make them upset.”
George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, writes an open letter to retirees on the need to keep up the fight for health care reform and retirement security.
I often find myself wondering, “Who does our government really work for?” I felt this way when I heard that the Bush administration wants to cut $178 billion from Medicare. This targets the most vulnerable—seniors who need Medicare to afford to see a doctor—in favor of sustaining the record profits enjoyed by big drug and insurance companies. Only in Washington could this be the work of a “compassionate conservative.”
The Bush administration continues to stand by its subsidies to large insurance companies—estimated to be $150 billion over the next 10 years—to operate privatized Medicare Advantage plans, at a cost between 12 percent and 19 percent higher than if Medicare directly served these same people. And on top of this, Bush says he would veto a bill in Congress to end the ban on Medicare negotiating bulk discounts from drug manufacturers.
Lenny Sapozhnikov, AFL-CIO deputy state director for Pennsylvania, sends us this report from the field.
Union leaders and members came out in droves in recent days to mark Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s arrival in Pennsylvania and draw the public’s attention to his record of voting against the labor movement and against the middle class.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George unveiled the campaign on a media call with several radio stations on Thursday.
John McCain’s voting record is 88 percent of the time he’s voted with George Bush. Pennsylvania, since the beginning of NAFTA, has lost 1.2 million jobs and in the last six years, we’ve lost over 220,000 jobs in the state of Pennsylvania to these bad trade policies.
Negotiations continue at American Axle & Manufacturing where 3,600 workers are starting their third week on strike and more from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
UAW, American Axle: UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said there is no movement toward settling the two-week strike at American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) by 3,600 UAW members and talks have been a “one-way street.” Parties will continue talks, although formal negotiations ended last Monday. General Motors Corp. (GM) announced that parts shortages would cause it to shut down part or all of 29 assembly and components factories temporarily. GM workers are supporting their brothers and sisters at AAM in their fight against the company’s proposals to cut wages, raise health care costs and freeze pension benefits. A top GM executive, Frederick Henderson, who was promoted last week to president and chief operating officer, indicated that the automaker does not plan to intervene and said the strike has not hurt sales.