Economic Report: American Jobs And Closing Tax Loopholes Act Will Save Or Create 1 Million Jobs- 06/01/10
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act currently in Congress would save or create over 1 million jobs. EPI says this bill is urgently for its jobs creation and preservation, but also for the closing of some tax loopholes that have allowed many of the the rich to pay lower income tax rates than the average steel worker. The Economic Policy Institute says the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act is one of the most important bill Congress will consider this year.
Teamsters Willing To Support Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement IF It Includes High Standards- 06/01/10
By Doug Cunningham
By Doug Cunningham
As the expiration of the contract between the United Steel Workers and Alcoa approached Monday night the union said it was confident of reaching a fair a contract with the world’s largest aluminum maker. Negotiations are underway in Cincinnati. The USW represents 6,000 workers at 11 Alcoa plants. Both Alcoa and the union are reportedly working hard to avoid a strike.
By Doug Cunningham
More workers cleaning up BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill are getting sick. One worker hospitalized from his illness has filed a temporary restraining order against BP. Fisherman John Wutsell is asking that a court order BP to refrain from altering, testing or destroying clothing or any other evidence when workers get ill cleaning up BP’s oil spill.
Memorial Day is a time to reflect upon those fallen American heroes who have given their lives and health to keep this nation safe. Memorial Day is also the perfect time to honor those brave soldiers who are still with us, to thank them for the freedoms we enjoy every day and to do all that we can to improve their quality of life.
But, in many aspects, Memorial Day has simply morphed into the day when we kick into high gear for the summer season.
Yet, I firmly believe that the men and women who died for their nation would fully understand what we do with their day, Memorial Day. Or, at least I hope they would, because if they would have insisted that it be a somber, respectful day of remembrance, then we have blown it big time.
But you know what? Some of those that I served with, and who paid the ultimate price, would have completely understood.
They liked a sunny beach and a cold beer and a hot barbeque filled to the edges with hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and ribs. They would have enjoyed nothing more than packing the kids, the jet skis, the coolers and the suntan lotion in the car and heading for the lake or to the beach. Or, they would have enjoyed it just as much by staying at home and cutting the grass and getting together with some friends and cooking some steaks on the grill.
But they didn’t get the chance. They were ambushed at a mountainside outpost in Afghanistan; or killed by an IED on a road into Fallujah; or they were blown up in the Marine Barracks in Beirut; or they died in the oily waters of the Persian Gulf.
They never made it back from Grenada, in the little war that most folks thought was a joke. They bravely fought until the end in places nobody had ever heard of before—like Khe Sanh and the Mekong Delta. Many died in Korea at Chosin, Inchon or Pusan. And tens of thousands died in the surf, on the beaches, or in the surrounding fields at Normandy; while just as many fought until the end in the fetid island jungles of the South Pacific.
They died in the ice and snow at Valley Forge, and on the hills of San Juan; as well in the fields of Gettysburg, Antietam and Shiloh.
They couldn’t be here with us this weekend, but I think they would understand that we, as Americans, don’t spend the day in tears and heart-wrenching memorials. Americans have always been about remembering the past and looking to the future. And our military heroes wouldn’t want it any other way. Because, quite frankly, it was the future they were fighting to secure.
Having a nation mired in grief is not why they died. They died so we could go fishing. They died so another father could run and jump with his children into the surf for the very first time. They died so another father could toss a baseball to his son or daughter in their backyard while the charcoal is getting hot.
And they died so their buddies could drink a beer on their day off from work.
They won’t mind that we have chosen their day to have our first big outdoor party of the year in their honor. But they wouldn’t mind it in the least, either, if we just took one moment to think about, and remember, them.
Many of us, especially those of us who have experienced a painful loss of a loved one in battle, will honor our veterans in a more formal manner. Flowers and flags will decorate gravestones at Arlington and in cemeteries all across the nation. Wreaths will be laid in small, sparsely attended ceremonies at monuments at state capitols and in small towns.
As a nation, we will remember. We will remember all of them. And for those of us who served and who made it back, we will remember the deal we made with our fallen comrades: If one of us doesn’t come back, the rest will toast his or her memory.
For the rest of America, they will not necessarily mourn the deaths of our American heroes on this Memorial Day. Rather, they will celebrate the life and freedoms that these heroes have so unselfishly given to us. I would encourage all Americans—especially those that have not had someone close to them serve in the Armed Forces—to reach out to a Veteran on this Memorial Day and take the time to understand them.
And in so doing, I would ask that all Americans use this reflective time on Memorial Day to ensure that our collective gratitude manifests itself in concrete ways to improve the quality of life for those who have borne the struggles of battle…yet now find themselves struggling to succeed in the civilian world. And that means ensuring that our nation’s veterans have access to job training, good jobs and quality health care.
So, as we head into what is arguably the most enjoyable weekend of the year, we hold dear to the words of R.J. Goldlewski, who wrote a profound Memorial Day article entitled, “Those Who’ve Passed Before Us Haven’t Really Left.” And those words are:
While you are reflecting upon the price already paid, whenever you come across a person in uniform, kindly extend your hand in gratitude, for you just never know who’ll have to pick up the tab the next time that the bill comes around to our table. Enjoy your freedoms, but always – always – know that we’re here on lease, not ownership. Someone has to keep making the payments.
May God Bless the United States of America.
Chester W. “Bill” Hack had survived bloody air combat and the fiery crash of a B-17 bomber into the English Channel.
The Kentuckian was stateside teaching aerial gunnery when he volunteered to fly combat missions again.
Nazi fighters and anti-aircraft fire forced Hack’s bomber to crash into the sea on May 29, 1943. “When we ditched, I was dazed,” said Hack, an 89-year-old retired member of Ironworkers Local 782 in Paducah, Ky.
But when I smelled my hair burning, it gave me the strength to live.
Hack was barely 22 on the day he came closest to losing his life in World War II. It was his third mission against the Germans in a big, olive-green, four-engine bomber the Army Air Force called a “Flying Fortress.” Hack’s plane was nicknamed “Barrel House Bessie.”
Jeff Wiggins, a United Steelworker and president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, says “Bill is one of my heroes.”
“He fought for our freedom in Europe in World War II, and he fought for the freedom of working people to be able to earn a good living in our country.”
In 1997, Hack received the W.C. Young Award, the highest honor the council bestows. Hack represented his local on the council for many years.
Hack worked for 53 years out of Local 782 and ultimately became the union’s business manager. He says he fought for unions in Detroit before he fought for his country in Europe. Like many Kentucky families, the Hacks of Paducah migrated to the Motor City in the 1930s, seeking employment.
Hack’s first job was in a nonunion shop.
There were very harsh rules. I was just a teenager, but I ran a machine for twelve and a half cents an hour. I couldn’t leave that machine to go to the bathroom without them writing down what time I left and when I came out. They worked me twelve hours a day, six days a week. It made me think something had to be done about such matters.
Hack moved on to work for Chrysler Motors. He eagerly joined the UAW and participated in the drive that organized the giant auto company in 1937, shortly after General Motors went union. He became a UAW member and a labor activist at age 16. “I needed a job, so I got a phony birth certificate that said I was 18,” he recalled with a grin.
After he’d clock out at Chrysler, Hack would go to the Ford plants and help his UAW brothers and sisters struggling for recognition. Henry Ford was bitterly anti-union. He hired a private army to keep the UAW out.
I went out there and fought the police and the strikebreakers. I know what it’s like to have to fight for decent wages and working conditions.
Ford didn’t accept the UAW until 1941, the year the United States entered World War II. Drafted in 1942, Hack ended up an aerial gunner with the Chelveston, England-based 305th “Can Do” Bomb Group. The group’s target on May 29, 1943, was the heavily fortified German submarine base at St. Nazaire, France, on the Atlantic Ocean.
When Staff Sgt. Hack flew with the 305th, U.S. heavy bomber crews—usually 10 men per plane—had to complete 25 missions before they could go home. A flier’s chance of reaching the magic number was one in three, he said.
On the St. Nazaire raid, Hack was Bessie’s right waist gunner, manning a 50-caliber machine gun about halfway along the B-17’s pudgy, round fuselage. He was filling in for a gunner killed in action. He usually flew in another bomber dubbed “Me and My Gal.”
Messerschmitt 109 and Focke-Wulf 190 fighters riddled Bessie and the other lumbering B-17s, shooting some of them down. A 20-millimeter cannon shell tore through the fuselage, missing Hack’s head by inches and slicing his oxygen line in two. When he reached down for his metal emergency bottle, another shell blew it up in his hands.
The left waist gunner plugged Hack into his emergency bottle, but his comfort was fleeting. Flak over St. Nazaire destroyed more B-17s and riddled Bessie’s number two engine, setting it ablaze. The B-17 nosed into what seemed to be a death dive—”from 28,000 feet to about 500 feet before the pilot and co-pilot were able to pull us out,” Hack said.
The dive put out the engine fire.
After the pilots righted the plane, Hack dragged the unconscious tail gunner to the radio room. He took over the twin 50-caliber machine guns, the stinger in Bessie’s tail.
Limping on three engines, Bessie was easy prey for German fighters. A pair of Messerschmitts jumped the B-17 about 100 miles from England.
Hack fired at the Nazi planes, which turned tail. He could hardly believe he chased them away—and, in fact, he didn’t.
I looked up and saw a flight of British Spitfires. Those Spitfires were the most beautiful airplanes I ever saw.
Even so, Bessie didn’t make it home. The pilots had to ditch her about 50 miles from England. While they brought the plane down, the rest of the crew braced themselves in the radio room.
Bessie hit the sea hard. The impact hurled Hack and another crewman through an aluminum door into the empty bomb bay, which burst into flames.
Hack splashed sea water on his burning face and hair, dousing the fire. Stunned, bruised and bleeding, he managed to flee Bessie before she sank. “Fire was spreading all over the water,” Hack said.
He swam through the blazing high-octane fuel to reach a life raft. It had been shot full of holes and couldn’t be fully inflated.
Hack and eight other crewmen—all of them wounded—were hanging on to the sides of the dinghy when a British seaplane arrived to rescue them. But the channel was too rough for a landing, and the flying boat turned back.
At the same time, Hack and the other fliers watched helplessly as the tail gunner’s lifeless body floated farther away. “His name was Ralph Erwin,” Hack said softly.
Meanwhile, Bessie’s crew faced another peril. “Hypothermia,” Hack said. “They told me that even in May the English Channel is usually around 48 degrees.”
Hack and his crewmates were in the water for about 90 minutes before a British rescue boat saved them. The fliers asked the captain to retrieve Erwin’s body. “…But he said we had to leave him because of the danger of enemy air attacks,” Hack said. “So we left Ralph, and he floated away into oblivion.”
Hack logged 22 more missions, including the Eighth Air Force’s famous first raid on Schweinfurt and Regensburg, Germany, one of the bloodiest air battles of the war. He returned to air combat in early 1945 and flew four more missions before the war in Europe ended.
Staff Sgt. Hack moved back to Paducah after he was discharged. His service to his country earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, four Air Medals and two Presidential Unit Citations.