Local 9462        

Welcome to USW Local 9462, Conshohocken,  Pa.

USW Local 9462

476 W .Elm st.
Conshohocken pa.
                    19428

   

 

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2009

 


There's No Question: We Need Jobs.

Americans want action on jobs! A CNN/Opinion Research poll released this week found that 65 percent of Americans would rather President Obama and Congress focus on job creation than deficit reduction. Meanwhile, the Census Bureau just released a new report covering key indicators of how our nation faired in 2010. The data is mostly grim – and in all likelihood has not improved for 2011. All indicators reinforce the fact that good jobs are desperately needed now!

  • The number of Americans in poverty in 2010 jumped to a record-breaking 46.2 million, including 16.4 million kids. That number is equivalent to the population of a whopping 24 states plus the District of Colombia.*
  • Median household income declined by $1,154 from 2009 to 2010.
  • Employment-based health coverage dropped from 56.1 percent in 2009 to 55.3 percent in 2010. Key parts of the Affordable Care Act that will help address some of these issues do not begin until 2014.

Safety-net programs helped prevent further devastation.

  • An additional 3.2 million Americans were kept from poverty by unemployment insurance benefits.
  • If Social Security payments were excluded from income, the number of Americans over 65 living in poverty would be 14 million higher.
  • Public health programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid helped fill some of the gap for those losing insurance from employers.

For a bit of good news. . .

  • More young adults had health insurance coverage in 2010 thanks to the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 25. Among 18-to-24 year olds, the rate rose from 70.7 percent having insurance in 2009 to 72.8 percent in 2010.

Watch for more information on strategies for job creation coming soon, including information on the President’s American Jobs Act. Thank you to all who have taken action to save jobs by opposing the free trade agreements. Please keep up the pressure!

* Equal to the combined population of AK, AR, CT, DE, DC, HI, ID, IA, KS, ME, MI, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, UT, VT, WV and WY based off the Census Bureau’s Annual Population Estimate, 2009. The poverty line is currently set at $22,113 for a family of four.

 

 

Reminder: National Call-In Days to Stop
Free Trade Agreements Begin Tomorrow!

The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to begin discussions on the Colombia, Korea and Panama Free Trade Agreements this week. We need to turn up the heat by calling our U.S. Representatives and telling them to oppose these dangerous agreements.

Please make calls tomorrow and Wednesday. Take a stand FOR the good jobs that are at stake and AGAINST the violence facing union members in Colombia!
 

 

Call Your Representative Beginning Tomorrow (6/20)!

Dial the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at:
866-311-1889
Ask for your Representative.*

  • Tell your Representative you are a constituent and you want him or her to OPPOSE the Colombia, Korea and Panama free trade agreements.
  • Ask for his or her position.

If you learn of any information on your Representative’s position, please pass that on to your Rapid Response District Coordinator or Congressional District Coordinator.

* If you have any difficulty getting through using the toll-free number, you can call your Representative directly. To look up his or her name and contact information, go to www.house.gov (find the lookup feature at the top right of the page).

 

For more information:
- View the InfoAlert outlining the problems with these agreements: http://bit.ly/mkLSe8
- Check out the AFL-CIO ad that just ran in Politico, an influential D.C. publication, that denounces the Colombia agreement: http://bit.ly/ioeo7c
 

 

 

Pennsylvania Steelworkers:
Quick Action Needed On
Unemployment Compensation
 
When our jobs are outsourced, off-shored, downsized or gone for any other reason, unemployment compensation provides a critical lifeline. In the last few years of economic upheaval, this has been as important as ever. Right now in Pennsylvania, we are at a key moment in a fight over unemployment.
 
Last month, labor worked to prevent a bad unemployment compensation bill from gaining traction. However, another bill dealing with unemployment compensation – SB 1030 – is moving in the legislature. This bill was better, but a series of amendments were just added in a House committee that make this bill something we cannot support. Now we need to fight to make this bill as fair and reasonable as possible.
 
State Representative Gene DiGirolamo is working to amend this legislation, and we need to build support for his efforts. A vote on the bill is expected in the full House on Monday, so we must act quickly.
 

 

Please call your state representative today and over the weekend, leaving a message if necessary. Tell your Representative:
 
  • That you are a constituent.
  • That you want him or her to support Rep. Gene DiGirolamo’s amendments and/or floor motions on the unemployment compensation bill (SB 1030).

Click HERE to find out who your state representative is, and for contact information.

 

 

 


  

Stand & Fight    

What a weekend.  Over 100,000 people rallied in Madison, WI on Saturday.  Thousands more of us gathered across the United States to show solidarity, stand up for our rights as workers and bring energy to the fight.  The entire labor movement is coming together.

  • Locked out Steelworkers travel 500+ miles Friday night to lend support – Despite their own ongoing struggle, two vans full of USW members who have been locked out by Honeywell for over six months traveled from Metropolis, IL to Madison’s capitol building.  "After all the support we have seen from around the country, it would be a disservice not to join our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and give some of that support back," said Darrell Lillie, President, USW Local 7-669.

     
  • Wisconsin police stand with protestors – Late last week, lawmakers and the Governor worked to change rules that would block overnight protests at the Capitol.  The head of the police union called on the Governor to keep the building open, “Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong.  That’s why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping with them tonight.”

We need to keep the momentum going.

This week, key events will continue to unfold in states around the country where similar fights are playing out, including Indiana where efforts to defeat right to work legislation have resulted in Democratic lawmakers leaving the state to prevent a vote, and Ohio, where we’re trying to stop the dismantling of public sector bargaining rights and worker protections.  Key events: Indiana - join activities beginning at noon at the Statehouse on Monday (2/28); Ohio - meet at the West Lawn of the Statehouse at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday (3/1).
 

Make sure to join in upcoming solidarity events.  Check out the AFL-CIO’s listing for this week and into March by clicking HERE.

Reminder: to get updates on state fights via text, sign up by texting uswrapid to 69866
Messaging and data rates may apply. You can stop receiving texts at anytime. 

Photo: USW members from 7-669 spend the night in the capitol building in Madison.

 

 
 

 

 

 

CORRECTION - Please ignore the previous version if received.
  

Wisconsin's Governor Walker Tells All    

Right now a critical battle is playing out in Wisconsin over worker rights.  In an effort to prevent a vote on anti-worker legislation, Democratic legislators left the state.  Thousands of union members and allies continue to rally against the attacks. 

A strong supporter of the legislation, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unknowingly engaged in an extended tactical conversation with a blogger who claimed to be billionaire David Koch.  Read on and view the video below.

The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press article:

"On a prank call that quickly spread across the Internet, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was duped into discussing his strategy to cripple public employee unions, promising never to give in and joking that he would use a baseball bat in his office to go after political opponents.

Walker believed the caller was a conservative billionaire named David Koch, but it was actually a liberal blogger. The two talked for at least 20 minutes - a conversation in which the governor described several potential ways to pressure Democrats to return to the Statehouse and revealed that his supporters had considered secretly planting people in pro-union protest crowds to stir up trouble."

Click HERE to Watch the Video  

 


 
 

Do You Text? 

We’re always looking for new ways to get key information to you as quickly as possible.  With the dozens of state-level attacks we’re facing across the country, this is more important than ever.

We’re launching a texting program so that you’ll have one more way to get Rapid Response information even faster.  It turns out that about 72 percent of those of us with cell phones text, so if you’re not sure how to text, just ask a friend who does. 

Please make sure to spread the word to everyone at your local who may be interested.

To sign up:

Text uswrapid
To
69866

Messaging and data rates may apply – You can stop receiving texts at anytime.
 

 

 
 

 

Stand in Solidarity

Throughout this week, union members, community groups, faith leaders, and students will come together to rally in support of workers under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere across the country.  Their fight is all of our fight.  Let's make sure we're there!    
 

 


Nationwide Solidarity Rallies This Week
 

Find an Event Near You!  Check HERE for a listing of key events happening around the country. 

  • New events are being added to the schedule all the time, so please check back if an event near you is not listed - or start one of your own, and let us know!
  • After the event, share your photos with us!  Email them to uswrr@usw.org

Questions? Contact your Rapid Response Coordinator. 
Contact Information is available HERE.

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

2009

 

  

Get Ready.

 
Click above for a highlight video.

2011 Rapid Response and Legislative Conference
February 8-10, 2011
Washington, DC

View and print a copy of the Conference call letter here.

See you there!

 

 

For a printable version of this ActionCall, please click HERE.

Help Needed Today and Tomorrow!
Ask Your Senators to Stand Tough on China & Sign a Key Letter to the President    

The Steelworkers launched a large-scale trade case under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to take on the illegal subsidies, discriminatory laws and regulations, restricted access to key materials and other practices that China is using to support its clean energy industries and cost us jobs. 

Right now a letter is being circulated in the Senate in support of this case, and we need as many Senators to sign on as possible.  This has to happen very quickly given that the Senate will leave town shortly.  A similar letter in the U.S. House gained 181 signatures earlier this week!

This case is critical because many of our key sectors can benefit greatly from the opportunities the clean energy sector holds, from wind and solar energy projects to advanced batteries to energy-efficient vehicles.  However, none of that will be realized if we cede this entire sector to China.

 


Act Today!

Please make a quick call to each of your Senators and ask them to sign the “Wyden, Bingaman, Brown Letter to the President”.  The deadline for the letter is the close of business tomorrow (Thursday).  Senators who have already signed on include Reid, Wyden, Bingaman and Brown.  Please thank them for their efforts!

To reach the Capitol Switchboard, dial toll-free:

866-203-4960

  • Ask your Senators to sign on to the “Wyden, Bingaman, Brown Letter to the President” in support of the 301 petition. 
     
  • If a Senator agrees to sign on, his or her office should contact Jayme White in Senator Wyden’s office.  For a printable copy of the letter, click HERE.
 

For more information on this key trade case, click HERE.  

 

 

 

 

What a Response!

Yesterday Rapid Response asked you to weigh in on a key poll that dealt with critical tariffs that are helping Steelworkers keep their jobs.   While the poll still isn’t closed out, well over 1500 of you have weighed in and made sure that our suggested response – a response that supports Steelworker jobs – is leading all others with a whopping 89.6%. Thank you for responding and for standing up for U.S. jobs!

 

 

  

Take a Quick Survey to Support U.S. Jobs    

Last fall, our union won a key trade case when the President agreed to impose tariffs on certain tire imports from China.  The result meant that thousands of Steelworker jobs were taken off the immediate chopping block, and some companies have even started hiring.  China was sent a signal that we wouldn’t tolerate job-destroying practices.

Of course, free traders want to see those tariffs lifted, and we need to fight back whenever we can.  Today, there is a poll running that asks about these tariffs.  Free traders are weighing in, and we need to as well!

 


Please click on the following link
and stand up for Steelworker jobs by selecting #4:
“Implement a new high or higher tariff and extend it permanently.”

http://www.tirebusiness.com/tbpoll/poll.html?pollid=1283189846

 

For more information on the outcome of the tire case, click HERE.  

 

 
 

 

 


  

China Undercuts U.S. Paper Jobs    

The U.S. paper sector is facing difficult times.  In the last decade, approximately 200,000 jobs were lost.  That represents about a third of the total jobs.  Those remaining face an increasingly uncertain future if current trends continue. 

With over 100,000 Steelworkers employed in this sector, it is our members and the communities in which they live that are feeling the impact.

In many cases, our Union has successfully argued that China’s violations of international trade laws have undermined many of our industries, including those in paper.   A newly-released report supports our argument.

The report, No Paper Tiger: Subsidies to China’s Paper Industry from 2002-09, shows the following:

  • The Chinese government is providing massive subsidies to its paper industry, including $33 billion in 2002-2009 alone.  This has fueled their rapid rise in paper production, tripling output since 2000.
  • When an industry is subsidized in this way, the product falsely appears lower-priced. 
  • China makes much more than they need, exporting the rest.
  • When cheap, illegally subsidized product reaches the U.S. market, our American-manufactured paper companies struggle to remain competitive, plants close, jobs disappear and families and communities suffer.
  • And, these illegal subsidies violate our international trade rules. 

Policy makers must intervene now to preserve our remaining domestic paper sector jobs.  That’s why Rapid Response is currently taking this report to Congressional offices and requesting action.

Get involved in upcoming paper sector activities!
  

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.

Action Tops 100,000 Notes
Rapid Response tells lawmakers: we must secure current jobs and create new green jobs!

Rapid Response recently took on a national action with a simple goal: remind lawmakers that we desperately need good jobs, and that we can secure and create jobs by investing in the clean energy economy.     

 


We are pleased to report that Rapid Response activists have generated over 100,000 notes on this Action!

Thank you to everyone who participated, especially those members in USW District 10 who, through their outstanding efforts, secured almost 33,000 notes! 

And, special recognition also goes out to District 9 whose members contributed a whopping 22,000 notes. 

 

Through these efforts, we’re ensuring that “green jobs” – those blue collar jobs that our sisters and brothers do for green purposes across the United States – are a priority now and in the future.  We’ll be continuing our Action through strategic deliveries of the notes planned in July.

For those Rapid Response Teams who are still in the process of taking Action, it’s not too late to get your notes mailed in!  And, if your local hasn’t acted yet, there’s still time.  View a copy of the Action Call HERE.

Rapid Response will be taking on other job-creating and sustaining initiatives throughout the summer.  Watch for more activity to come!

 

 

To view a printable version, please click HERE.

It's About Jobs.

Each day millions of Americans are struggling to find or keep good jobs that provide decent pay and benefits as well as some stability.  It’s our neighbors, our family members, our kids – and maybe even us.  Too many jobs have gone overseas.  Good jobs aren’t easy to come by.  The devastation caused by the economic meltdown and resulting recession has only made a bad situation worse.  Join your fellow members in fighting back. 

Your participation is a critical part of the effort!

 

The current national action is about sending a message to Washington that we need to: 1) secure our current jobs and 2) fight to ensure that as we develop the clean energy economy, the new green jobs – which are centralized in the manufacturing sector – are created in the United States. 
 

We must have a strong manufacturing base to have a strong country.  Investing in green jobs gives us the chance to secure and rebuild domestic industries that provide the quality, good-paying jobs we need.

Has your local taken action yet?

Thank you to everyone who has already participated or who is in the process of completing the action.  We’ve generated tens of thousands of notes, but thousands more are needed.  

It only takes a minute to make a difference!

Please take action today.  This action is about all of us.  We need to make sure Washington knows where we stand. 

View the Current Action Call HERE
& Take Action Today! 
  

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

It's Time to Take Action for Jobs    

Our country desperately needs to secure and create good-paying jobs.  The emerging clean energy economy has provided us with tremendous opportunity to do just that.  If we don’t push and take advantage of this opportunity that provides particular promise for manufacturing, the opportunity will pass us by as other nations create these jobs.  

This is our chance to secure and rebuild domestic industries through new clean energy jobs!

 

Action Instructions:

1 – Write three handwritten, personalized notes – one to each of your Senators and one to your Representative.  Please see the sample note on the following page.

2 – Make sure to include your home address to show that you are a constituent. 

3 – Local Rapid Response Coordinators should collect all completed notes and mail them to your District office.  We will be doing deliveries and mailing them periodically to increase the impact.

If you have questions or need an address, contact your District Rapid Response Coordinator.  You can also call us toll-free at 866-851-9631 to be connected with your Coordinator.

 

To view last week’s InfoAlert describing the many USW members who are already working in green jobs, click HERE.

To view information on how China is investing in the creation of green jobs, click HERE.

_______________

Sample Note

Dear Senator or Representative _________:

Please support efforts to secure current jobs and create new green jobs in the United States as part of a clean energy economy.

[Add in any additional points or tell how this could benefit you (see below).]

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Address

_______________

Additional Points (Note: The more personalized your note, the more powerful it is.)

  • We must have a strong manufacturing base to have a strong country.  Investing in green jobs gives us the chance to secure and rebuild domestic industries that provide quality, good-paying jobs.
     
  • When the manufacturing, mining and other work for the emerging clean energy economy is done domestically, and our industries are given the support they need to become more efficient, we secure our jobs.  We also strengthen the tax base, ensuring funding for the public sector jobs that build strong communities. 
     
  • If we fail to make the investment in green jobs, other countries will.  Our economic strength depends on taking advantage of this opportunity.  We can’t lose out on these jobs.
     
  • We have to ensure that we’re building our domestic industries in the clean energy economy.  Absolutely no taxpayer dollars should be used to fund job creation in other countries.
     
  • Our country is desperately in need of quality jobs.  We need over 11 million just to get back to pre-recession levels.   We have to focus on creating jobs here.  And, we can do that by investing in green jobs. 

Are you already working in a green job? 

You might be if the job you do or the products you make or mine:

  • Encourage use of renewable energy (ex: iron ore is mined for the steel that goes into a wind turbine, a biomass by-product from paper production is used as fuel, etc.),
  • Focus on increasing efficiency (ex: energy-efficient windows, water-saving faucets, filters that remove harmful substances, etc.), or
  • Contribute to using our resources wisely (ex: reusing manufacturing waste, incorporating less-toxic substances in production, using recycled component in products, etc.).

Make sure to tell your Senators and Representative your story and why supporting jobs in a clean energy economy is important to you!

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE.

  

Are We Going to Invest in Green Jobs?    

Last week Rapid Response shared information on a few of the many Steelworkers whose jobs are part of the emerging clean energy economy.  We stressed the fact that when the manufacturing, mining and other work is done domestically, and our industries are given the support they need to become more efficient, we secure our jobs, and in turn our tax base.  There is also tremendous potential for green job creation in the United States if we are willing to make the investment. 

 


Unless the United States makes a strong commitment to keeping green jobs here, those jobs will certainly go elsewhere.  Other nations are making the investment.  Consider China’s efforts:
  • They were the world’s largest maker of wind turbines in 2009.
  • The largest-ever wind turbine manufacturing facility was recently built in China.
  • They are the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels.
  • They report having 1.12 million people employed in the renewable energy sector in 2008 and that they are adding 100,000 jobs a year.
  • In 2009, China dedicated $440 billion in government funding solely to clean energy.
 

We know that China violates trade agreements and manipulates their currency to support their own manufacturers and jobs.  It’s part of the reason that we’ve lost 2.4 million jobs – impacting every state – due to our trade deficit with China since 2001.  The United States cannot afford to give up any more jobs.  We need to make the commitment to domestic manufacturing through securing and creating jobs in a clean energy economy – or someone else will! 

Get ready to take action later this week!  

 

 

 

2009

For a printable version, click HERE.


What Healthcare Reform Means for Us

Many of us are wondering how the healthcare reforms signed into law earlier this week will impact us.   It's important to know that nothing in the bill changes our right to negotiate our healthcare benefits. 

Key Healthcare Reform Benefits Starting THIS YEAR Include:

  • Ending lifetime limits on benefits.
     
  • Regulating annual limits on benefits from 2010-2013 (abolishing them in 2014).
     
  • Allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan up to age 26.
     
  • Banning the insurance company practice of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions for children.  The ban applies to everyone in 2014 and provides a subsidized high-risk pool in the meantime for those unable to secure coverage.
     
  • Ending gender discrimination in insurance rates.
     
  • Stopping the insurance company tactic of dropping coverage for people who get sick.

Benefits for Retirees - Including Early Retirees - Include:

  • Assisting pre-Medicare retirees with insurance costs.  Under the new law, 80 percent of plan costs over $15,000 will be paid through a new program.
     
  • Providing assistance to employers and Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) to encourage them to continue coverage for pre-Medicare retirees.
     
  • Phasing out the Medicare drug "doughnut hole."
     
  • Eliminating co-pays for preventative screenings. 
     
  • Extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund through cuts in wasteful spending. 

Other Benefits -

With 95 percent of Americans expected to have health insurance coverage under the new law, we can anticipate less cost-shifting of the uninsured's healthcare expenses onto those of us who have insurance.  Cost containment strategies along with other provisions in the bill should help control premium increases from year-to-year. This will ultimately help us at the bargaining table. 

In the event that a job is lost, there will now be affordable, quality options for coverage. 

Because of our work in opposing the excise tax, we were able to substantially alter its impact on high-cost insurance plans.  There will be no tax until 2018.  When that goes into effect, a variety of modifications and exemptions will lessen any impact.
 

 

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
 
  
Health Care Reform Passes
President Obama to Sign Into Law This Week

Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive health care reform bill by a vote of 219-212.  The bill, which had already passed in the U.S. Senate, is an historic first step towards ending the strangle-hold that the for-profit insurance companies have on hard-working American families.  

 


 

"It not only makes sense economically, but it's morally the right thing to do. Our union has fought for a long time for health care for all. We consider it a basic human right. These reforms are desperately needed and move us a huge step towards that goal.  The bill isn't perfect, but it makes progress."

Leo Gerard, International President

 

HOW THEY VOTED

All Republicans voted WRONG (against the bill).

All Democrats voted RIGHT (for the bill) Except For:  Adler NJ-3, Altmire PA-4, Arcuri NY-24, Barrow GA-12, Berry AR-1, Boren OK-2, Boucher VA-9,  Bright AL-2, Chandler KY-6, Childers MS-1, Davis AL-7, Davis TN-4, Edwards TX-17,  Herseth Sandlin SD-1, Holden PA-1, Kissell NC-8, Kratovil MD-1, Lipinski IL-3, Lynch MA-9, Marshall GA-8, Matheson UT-2, McIntyre NC-7, McMahon NY-13, Melancon LA-3, Minnick ID-1, Nye VA-2, Peterson MN-7, Ross AR-4, Shuler NC-11, Skelton MO-4, Space OH-18, Tanner TN-8, Taylor MS-4, Teague NM-2

A special thanks goes to all Steelworker activists who
took action to help make this victory possible!  
 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House Wants to Hear from Us
Rapid Response to Weigh in on Creating Jobs in America!
  

Click HERE to take the Rapid Response survey.

As you know, the USW is taking the lead in pushing for a new approach to creating good, family supportive jobs in America. 

We have worked hard to push the White House and Congress to focus on concrete approaches like creating a new manufacturing policy, providing tax credits for employers that create AMERICAN jobs, giving stimulus funds to small and medium sized businesses that create jobs - instead of big banks, and other approaches.

President Obama is considering various approaches to needed job creation, including the strategies the USW is fighting for.  He is now asking us to weigh in to tell him what we believe should be the most important priorities and tactics to make this happen.

 


Please take five minutes to let the President and his staff know your ideas for how best to create jobs in the United States right now.  Rapid Response will be compiling the responses over the next few days and delivering them to the White House. 
 

It is important that we make our voices heard loud and clear in Washington, D.C.   Too many of our sisters and brothers are out of work or in jeopardy of losing their jobs for us to sit on our hands and do nothing.  Click on the link below to add your thoughts.

Click HERE to take the Rapid Response survey.

All surveys must be completed by December 10th in order to be considered in the discussion.  Make sure your opinion is heard!

 

 

For a printable copy, click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE.

 
 

Make the Call for REAL REFORM Today!       

Healthcare reform legislation is finally moving forward in Congress.  Key decisions about the shape of the final bill are being made right now, and our legislators need to understand that reform must be meaningful and not add any burdens to the middle class in order to be successful.

Please weigh in with our legislators on three key issues for healthcare reform.  First, we need a strong public health insurance option.  A public option inserts much-needed competition into the healthcare market to drive down costs and provide consumers with an alternative to the private-run plans currently available.  Second, employers need to provide healthcare or pay into a system that will help ensure everyone is covered.  And, third, we do not want our benefits to be taxed as part of any reform plan.  We're already paying too much for healthcare!

 

Action Instructions:

1 - Dial Toll-Free, 866-203-4960.

2 - Ask for your Senators and Representative.
Note: Make three calls total, one to each Senator and one to your Representative.  You can call all three on the same day, or spread the calls out over a couple of days.  The important thing is that each person gets the message!

3 - Tell him or her that you are a voter and they need to:

Support healthcare reform that:

  • Has a strong public option,
  • Ensures employers provide care or pay into a system to ensure everyone can get care, and
  • Does not tax benefits.

Please make sure that all results are reported to your District Rapid Response Coordinator.

 

For more information on healthcare, please visit the Rapid Response website at www.uswrr.org.  

 

 


  

Healthcare Reform: Senate Update    

The battle for healthcare reform is heating up now that the Senate Finance Committee, under the lead of Chairman Max Baucus, is poised to vote soon on a proposal.  While healthcare reform remains a moving target, the Finance Committee proposal raises serious concerns for the debate, while falling far short of the legislation introduced in the House of Representatives.
 

 


 

Key problems with the Senate Finance proposal include:

  • It taxes healthcare benefits, potentially impacting thousands of USW members with higher-cost plans.  These plans could be expensive because they cover older workers, workers with worse than average health histories or even because of a geographic area.  While the tax is levied on insurers, or self-insured employers, the cost will undoubtedly be passed on to workers in the form of higher premiums.

     
  • It doesn't include a public option.  A public option - like in the House bill - would provide real competition for private insurance companies.

     
  • Employers are not required to contribute in some way towards employees' healthcare, allowing irresponsible employers to continue dumping their healthcare costs on others with no penalty.
     
 

Once the Senate Finance Committee votes as anticipated, it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to develop a final bill for the full Senate's consideration.  This bill could incorporate aspects of a better version that was previously passed out of the Senate's health committee. 

Rapid Response will provide more information as it develops.
Be ready to take action again to help shape the debate!

 

 


  

The Truth About Healthcare. . .
Did You Know?
  
  

  • Every 12 minutes an American dies because they lack health insurance (45,000 annually).  This is more than the number of deaths due to drunk driving or homicide.

     
  • The average health insurance plan for family coverage currently costs $13,375. Over the past decade, premiums have increased by 138 percent.  If the current trend continues, by 2019 the average family plan will cost $30,083.

     
  • 46.3 million Americans are uninsured.  When they can't pay, the costs for their care shift to the insured. On average, insured Americans are forced to spend an additional $1,100 in premiums (family coverage) due to this cost-shifting.

     
  • Between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of employers offering health insurance coverage to their employees declined from 69 to 63; for firms employing less than 10 workers, the decline was even greater - from 57 to 49 percent.

     
  • From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of employees with an annual deductible greater than $1000 increased from 1 percent to 18 percent. Among small businesses, more than one in three workers must spend at least $1000 out of pocket before their health benefits kick in.

     
  • A recent study found that 62 percent of all 2007 bankruptcies were linked to medical expenses. Of those filing for bankruptcy, nearly 80 percent had health insurance. 

     
  • The cost of healthcare now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds.

Sources:  Harvard Medical School study results announced on September 17, 2009; The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.  Employee Health Benefits: 2009 Annual Survey, September 2009; Center for American Progress, The Cost Shift from the Uninsured, March 2009; Kaiser Family Foundation, Employer Health Benefit Survey, 2009; Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study, American Journal of Medicine, May 2009; CNN Money, President Obama quote, March 5, 2009.

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
 

WE DID IT!   

President Obama announced on Friday that he would stand up for U.S. workers and impose tariffs on Chinese tire imports.  This decision was a response to the trade case that our union brought over surges in tire imports that have resulted in thousands of lost jobs in our country. 

This move by our President signals a sharp turn from his predecessor, who refused to provide relief in four other similar trade cases with China.  The industries in these cases are being decimated.  President Obama's decision in the current case will give our tire workers a fighting chance.

This is a huge victory for U.S. workers, trade law enforcement, and our union.

 

The credit for this win is shared by every one of you who wrote a letter to the President supporting this case.  More than 80,000 letters from USW activists went into the White House in just over four weeks!  These letters came from all industry sectors and all parts of the country and is a show of the strength we have when we act collectively.
 

Thank you to everyone who took action,
and congratulations on the victory.

For more information, visit the USW's website dedicated to the tire 421 trade case.

 

 

Join us for these USW sponsored events: 

Saturday, September 12, Noon-3:00pm:
The G-20, the Crisis and the Struggle for Global Justice
Not sure you want to come downtown the week of the G-20, but want to learn more? What is the G-20? Why is so much attention being focused on this event? Why should I care? This program will answer these questions as well as discuss a path toward sustainable growth focused on clean manufacturing and justice for workers.

Monday, September 21: 
Climate Change: Which Way Forward
The USW is opening our doors for a discussion of the role of environmental regulation and the greening of our economy.  Time and participants to be announced.

Wednesday, September 23, 9:00am-3:00pm:
Human Rights and the Struggle for Global Justice
Join us for a day of discussion about the G-20 and the impact of the decisions made on human rights. We will begin with Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO leading us into a conversation about the economic rules that now determine who the winners and losers are. Charlie Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee will then share his first hand experience seeing the consequences of the current system. Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Watch will lead the closing session on resistance and solutions. Each plenary will be followed by a series of breakouts on a variety of related topics. Participants will have space to lead their own breakout and every set of breakouts will include a focus on local Pittsburgh issues.

All above events are at the USW Headquarters Building. 
For a printable flyer, click HERE.
5 Gateway Center, (Corner of Stanwix and Blvd. of the Allies), Downtown Pittsburgh
For updates or more details, check the
USW website's Events Page. 

Wednesday, September 23, 6:00pm
Rally for Clean Energy Jobs - Point State Park, Downtown Pittsburgh
The rally will feature special guest speakers and entertainment.
For a printable flyer, click HERE.

 

 


  

What exactly is a "Public Option?"

Simply put, a public option would be a new health insurance plan overseen by the government.  You can think of it like a Medicare plan non-seniors could purchase.  The President stresses that it must be self-sustaining, stating, "taxpayers aren't subsidizing it. . . it has to run on charging premiums and providing good services and a good network of doctors, just like any other private insurer would do."*

 


 

The Benefits of a Public Option Include:

.  Giving Americans a Better Range of Health Care Choices

Expanding the options that are available means consumers will have more ability to decide what fits their needs.  A high-quality public option with lower-cost premiums promises to attract many Americans, especially those who have been disappointed by our current for-profit system.

.  Making the Private Health Care Market More Competitive

Today, there is really no competition.  Huge for-profit insurers control large geographical regions.  This profit-driven system needs incentive to meaningfully reign-in costs while providing quality care, rather than simply passing on higher premiums that drive more people into the ranks of the uninsured. 

Medicare, the public insurance program, has been much more successful than private insurers when it comes to reducing administrative and operating costs.  A public plan option would force private insurers to compete on efficiency and quality, rather than on their ability to enroll the lowest-cost people.  Plus, since a public option doesn't have to earn huge profits, premiums are expected to be less.

.  Keeping Insurance Companies Honest

The for-profit insurance industry is guilty of engaging in a number of unethical practices to increase the bottom line: raising rates exorbitantly to force companies into dropping coverage, denying procedures that should be covered, dropping a policy just as a person is diagnosed with a major illness by finding a "technicality."  With the threat of losing customers to a public plan, insurance companies will have an incentive to provide better coverage that is also more affordable.

A Public Option Is Really Just Common Sense.  

*From the transcript of President Obama's remarks at the town hall health care forum at a high school in Portsmouth, N.H., on August 11, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 


  

The Latest on Health Care Reform    

Tired of battling over health care at every contract negotiation?  Sick of worrying about what happens to your health care if you lose your job?  Think our system costs too much, covers too little and excludes too many?  If you do, you're not alone.  The good news is that we are finally close to reforming this failed system.

Health Care Reform is Underway - Before Congress adjourned for their August recess, the House of Representatives finished drafting a bill - H.R. 3200 - that would go a long way towards what we need to see for reform. Those who have employer-provided care can keep their same coverage; those who don't will have access to affordable care.

 


Key aspects of H.R. 3200 include:

  • A public health insurance option that would compete with private insurer plans to drive down costs,
  • An employer "pay or play" requirement that makes sure free-rider companies - those that don't pay for employee's health care coverage who ultimately dump their health care costs on the rest of us - either provide insurance or pay their fair share to help fund coverage,
  • Curbs to insurance company abuses so that pre-existing conditions will be covered and discriminatory practices are no longer tolerated,
  • A temporary reinsurance program which would help employers and voluntary employees' beneficiary associations (VEBAs) cover health care for retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare by providing assistance with catastrophic expenses, thereby encouraging employers and VEBAs to continue providing retiree health care coverage, 
  • And, H.R. 3200 will not tax health care benefits that we receive through our jobs.
 

Getting a Real Solution to the Health Care Crisis Won't be Easy - The Senate has not yet finished their work on a bill, and it could be weaker than the House bill.   Meanwhile, corporate-backed anti-health care reform and anti-government groups have begun an aggressive - and at times violent - smear campaign to stop this needed reform.  Their goal is to create the impression that a movement against health reform exists, but in reality they are a small, misled fringe that's frightened because we're so close to real reform.

Make sure to educate yourself on the facts as this debate continues!

 

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE.
  

Will There be Justice from Unfair Trade?    

U.S. tire workers in consumer tire-producing operations are at the losing end of a surge in tire imports from China.  This surge has a direct link to the 25 percent decline in U.S. production and the resulting 7,000 workers who are being impacted by factory shutdowns and slated shutdowns.  These are family and community supportive jobs that are disappearing because China isn't playing by the rules, and our union is taking action through a trade case to help right this wrong.

It's time to make a break from the failed trade policy of the past. 
This case has far-reaching implications for many USW industries beyond just tire.  If we lose, we can expect more industries to be harmed.  If we win, we start on a course of trade law enforcement where U.S. workers get a fair shot.

China's Unfair Trading Practices are Not New
The artificial level of imports has a direct connection to China's distorted, non-market economy and manipulation of its currency.  There are numerous cases in the U.S. where China was found to disregard our trade rules and dump or subsidize exports to our market.  The impact has been loss of jobs and wages for workers in many industries - just like what is happening in the tire industry now. 

The USW Takes Action
Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 gives us recourse when a flood of imports from China disrupts our markets and causes harm to U.S. workers and industries.  China agreed to these rules when they became a member of the World Trade Organization. 

Recently, the International Trade Commission affirmed our case, ruling that China violated its WTO commitments on surges related to the U.S. tire market.  Now the case moves on to the President for a final determination on whether or not relief will be granted.  

The President Now Holds the Key
In four previous 421 cases where the ITC found injury, the President at the time - George W. Bush - refused to provide relief.   Currently, President Obama is feeling heavy pressure from the job-exporting crowd to keep the status quo.  The President has until September 17 to make his decision.  It is very important that he hears from us on this case and understands how important this issue is.   This is not just about the tire industry; it's about the future of American manufacturing!

Please Watch for an Action Call Later this Week  

 

  

USW Members Respond with Compassion
Locals Across the Country Send Much-Needed Help to Our Hurricane-Impacted
Sisters and Brothers in the Gulf Region

When hurricanes Ike and Gustav ravaged the Gulf Coast last fall, our union had a problem.  The Steelworkers Charitable Fund that has been there for so many of our members facing large-scale tragedy in the past was nearly depleted and unable to assist our sisters and brothers in the way we would hope.  Considering that many of our members were living in tents pitched on the front lawns of their former homes, the need was great.  Rapid Response issued the news at the end of last year through our network and locals responded. 

 

"My whole family lost everything.  It meant the world to us to get the money from our Union.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you."
- Jimmy Chlamon
  Local 13-423, Beaumont, TX

Thank you to all locals and individuals making contributions!

To date, locals have raised nearly $200,000. 
A special thanks goes to the following three districts
that led the way in the fundraising efforts:

District 12 ($35,000)
District 13 ($32,000)
District 1 ($29,000)

 

If any local still wishes to contribute, please note to the following:  

Checks can be written to: Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization
Please mail checks to: United Steelworkers, c/o Tim Waters, Rapid Response, Five Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The United Steelworkers Charitable and Education Organization is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax deductible. 

 

 

For a printable versions, click HERE. 
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE

  

Important Information for Laid Off Steelworkers:
Key Changes Make COBRA Health Care Continuation
More Accessible
  

Healthcare is a critical issue for anyone in a job loss situation, and finding affordable coverage is often incredibly difficult.  Federal law allows workers who experience certain types of job loss - including a layoff - the right to continue an employer's group health benefits under a program called COBRA.  Individuals normally have to pick up the cost of the entire premium.  For this reason, COBRA is often out-of-reach for people getting by on an unemployment check.  A new change in the law is making COBRA more accessible.

Key Change in Recently-Passed Economic Recovery Act Makes COBRA More Affordable

The federal government will pay 65 percent of COBRA premiums for individuals (and their eligible dependents) who (1) are eligible due to an involuntary job loss occurring between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009, and (2) make less than $125,000 a year. Those who elect COBRA must pay the remaining 35 percent (the employer collects) and include the value of the 65 percent subsidy in their taxable income. The subsidy will last nine months, ending sooner if the individual becomes eligible under another group plan or Medicare. 

How Do Individuals Take Advantage of the Subsidy?

Employers must notify eligible individuals who lose or lost their jobs between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 of the new COBRA information and provide eligibility forms.  Notices should be sent out before mid-April.  Individuals who did not elect COBRA coverage when they first lost their jobs or who stopped making premium payments and lost coverage will be given another 60-day period to elect COBRA after the notice arrives. 

Are There Any Special Circumstances?

Yes.  For instance, if an employer went out of business and terminated the health care plan, leaving employees ineligible for COBRA, those individuals still would not be eligible. Or, if a laid-off individual's spouse has family coverage, the individual could still elect COBRA, but would not be eligible for the subsidy.  For more information on these circumstances and other details on the subsidy, please see the "COBRA Subsidy Info" section on the Make Our Future Work site at www.makeourfuturework.org.

Other Resources Available for Laid Off Workers

For an updated version of the Resource Guide for Laid Off Steelworkers click HERE or visit the Make Our Future Work site at www.makeourfuturework.org.   

 

 

For a printable version of the following, click HERE.
 
   

Buy American Update

Thanks to the help of Rapid Response, nearly 600 Buy American Resolutions are moving in cities, school boards, counties, states and other government entities across the country.  To date, over 60 have passed, including resolutions at the West Virginia House and Senate. Those numbers continue to grow daily!

Why is this fight so important?

We need to create grassroots pressure at all levels of government to get Americans back to work.  The economic recovery bill contains billions for infrastructure and other initiatives.  If these dollars are used to "Buy American" when it comes to goods and services, we'll maximize job creation.  However, if our government entities who are spending the money try to waive the Buy American requirements found in the economic recovery bill, then we defeat the whole purpose of stimulating our economy - and miss out on an opportunity to get and keep Americans working.

How can I help?

Get the Buy American Resolution passed in your municipality, boro, city, county or other local government entity.  If you don't know your elected officials at the local level, now is the time to meet them!  Click HERE for a copy of the ActionCall for more guidance.  The more resolutions we pass, the greater the chances of getting Americans back to work.

Click HERE Anytime to See Updated Buy American
Activity From Across the Country
 

 

 

 

For a printable version of the following, click HERE.
 
 

Act Now for U.S. Jobs!    

Now that the President has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, we have to ensure that we're maximizing the benefits.  To do this, we need to make sure that taxpayer dollars are used to every extent possible to create and maintain jobs in the United States.  That's why our union is leading the way in getting a Buy American Resolution passed at the state and local level.  This will help ensure accountability in the law and make sure we are maximizing the number of jobs that are saved and created in these tough economic times.

Action InstructionsMake Our Future Work Logo

1) Print off the Buy American Resolution, available in legal size (click HERE) or letter size (click HERE).

2) Identify local elected officials that should be targeted.  Possibilities include city councils, county commissioners or council members, school boards, mayors and others.  To view a list of communities and states where the Resolution has been introduced or passed, click HERE Please note: while we are asking for your assistance with local lawmakers, there are also Steelworker efforts ongoing at the state level.  It is likely that you will be called on to assist as these efforts progress.

3) Call each elected official and set up a face-to-face meeting where you can present the Resolution.  We are asking that the Resolution be passed at an upcoming council, school board, etc. meeting.

4) On the Resolution Progress Report, available HERE, indicate whether or not each official supported or did not support the resolution.  If they did not make a decision, indicate that you will follow up in the next week.  We expect them to make a decision one way or the other.

5) Return a copy (or original, if possible) of any signed Resolutions or Resolution Progress Reports to:

Email: uswrr@usw.org
Mail: USW Rapid Response, 5 Gateway Center - 7th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Fax: 412-562-2266

6) For questions, contact your District Rapid Response Coordinator or call Rapid Response toll-free at 866-311-1889.

What are the goals of the Resolution?

 

The Resolution asks that elected officials:

  • Work to maximize the creation of American jobs and restore economic growth and opportunity by spending economic recovery plan funds on products and services that both create jobs and help keep Americans employed;
  • Commit to purchase only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible with any economic recovery monies provided; and
  • Commit to publish any requests to waive these procurement priorities so as to give American workers and producers the opportunity to identify and provide the American products and services that will maximize the success of our nation's economic recovery program.

If the federal government has already enacted a Buy American law in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, why do we need to act at the state and local level?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains Buy American rules that will help our economy and our workers.  But, the states and local governments who will be carrying out the infrastructure projects in the Act still have the ability to circumvent those rules by getting waivers under certain conditions to purchase foreign products with our taxpayer dollars.  Obviously during these tough economic times that are resulting in the layoffs of thousands of Steelworker members who are employed in the manufacturing of iron, steel and other goods, we need to ensure that Buy American rules are implemented as fully as possible - with the fewest waivers possible!  And, when a waiver is sought, we need to know about it quickly.  For this to happen, the process needs to be transparent and public.

Will some state and local governments try to claim that the Buy American rules don't apply to them because of international trade agreements?

It hasn't come up to date, but given that major off-shoring companies are working overtime to undermine these rules, we might hear this going forward.  It's important to note that Buy American rules have been around since 1933 when FDR used them to help pull our country out of the Great Depression, and they've been applied consistently with our obligations under international trade agreements ever since.  The Buy American part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act even specifies that it will be carried out consistently with our obligations under international trade agreements, and our Resolution reads that the governing body will "commit to purchase only products and services that are made or performed in the United States of America whenever and wherever possible." 

Our bottom line is that we don't want elected officials to hide behind "trade agreement obligations" as a reason to get around ALL the domestic purchasing they CAN do with taxpayer dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This is also why we are asking the state and local governments to commit to publish any requests they make for a waiver of the Buy American rules.  We want to know how our taxpayer dollars are being spent!

What are some talking points I can use when talking about the need for the Buy American Resolution?

  • To get our nation back on track, we must get our economy working again and working for the middle class.  In order to do that, we need to insist that our tax dollars are spent at home, on American-made products.
  • The United States is, by far, the world's largest importer.  We brought in $819 billion in goods in 2007.  This is why Buy American is so important.  It is about using taxpayer dollars, when allowed by our obligations under international trade agreements, to purchase U.S.-produced goods. 
  • Four million U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000, amounting to losses of nearly one-fourth of all U.S. manufacturing jobs.  Factory orders now stand at record lows while the U.S. racked up a $700 billion trade deficit in 2007.
  • Buy American ensures that taxpayer dollars are used to buy goods produced in our country and create jobs at home.
  • According to an Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) study by the University of Massachusetts' Political Economy Research Institute, significant investment in infrastructure could create more than 250,000 manufacturing jobs if U.S.-made goods are used.

How do Americans Feel About Buy American?

Two recent surveys show that Americans overwhelmingly approve.  A Harris Interactive poll found 84 percent favor "Buy American" requirements (66 percent strongly, 18 percent somewhat).  The support was consistent regardless of gender, age, income level, education or region.  A Pew survey also confirmed strong support with 70 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Independents saying the federal economic recovery plan should require that spending should be limited to U.S.-made goods and services.

Where can I read more about Buy American?

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has done a great job of outlining why infrastructure spending creates jobs, and how the job-creation is maximized by spending taxpayer dollars on U.S. goods.  Click HERE for their infrastructure report. The AAM has also debunked many of the Buy America myths in another report entitled, Buy America: Key to America's Economic Recovery, available HERE.

For additional resources and assistance, contact Rapid Response toll-free
at 866-311-1889 or visit the following websites:

www.uswrr.org
www.makeourfuturework.org 


 

 

     An Investment in America:
A Summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  
President Obama just signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.  In addition to the Buy America provisions we alerted you to last week, there are many other highlights for Steelworkers and our laid-off sisters and brothers. 
This Act:
  • Modernizes Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways – Billions for modernizing public infrastructure will help us create good jobs while investing in the needs for the future.

     
  • Creates Green Jobs – Green jobs are quality jobs that help improve our environment.  The bill includes money to update the electricity grid, make government buildings more efficient, retrofit housing, conduct research for renewable energy, clean up waterways and hazardous environmental sites, and train workers for these types of jobs.

     
  • Extends and Increases Unemployment Compensation (UC) and Temporarily Suspends Federal Taxes on UC – The Act extends Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which is 33 weeks of extended coverage beyond state benefits, through the end of 2009.  It also increases unemployment weekly benefits by an additional $25 through 2009 and temporarily suspends federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits per recipient on a temporary basis.

     
  • Provides Assistance with COBRA – When faced with a layoff and the end of employer-provided healthcare, employees h ave the option to continue their healthcare if they pay the full cost, which is cost-prohibitive for most unemployed people.  The Act provides a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA for up to 9 months for employees laid off between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009.  It is estimated that this will help 7 million people maintain their healthcare.

     
  • Expands Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Programs – TAA will now extend to service sector workers and workers affected by offshoring or outsourcing to all countries.  It increases training funds, creates a TAA program for affected communities, gives automatic TAA eligibility for workers suffering from import surges and unfair trade, and allows for easier access and more flexibility with TAA healthcare, training and reemployment benefits.

     
  • Helps Pay for Education – Rising education costs coupled with stagnating wages, the credit crisis and job losses mean fewer of us can afford higher education for ourselves or our children.  The Act provides money for Pe ll Grants and college work-study programs.  It also contains money to improve head start programs, programs for disadvantaged kids, special education programs, and child-care for low-income families with working parents.

     
  • Provides Tax Cuts for 95% of Working Families – For 2009 and 2010, the Act gives a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and $800 for working families.  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

2008

 

For a printable versions, please click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE

     

Corporate Greed Finally Breaks the Economy

The economic crisis we are now in is the result of unchecked corporate greed and decades of attacks on workers.  The last thirty years have seen the biggest shift of wealth in American history where the richest 1% of all Americans owns 40% of all wealth.  The USW has warned again and again that this economic inequality would eventually result in disaster and now that time has come. 

The following are some of the guiding economic principles in place over the last thirty years that have crippled our economy and left American workers under assault like never before:

- Deregulation - The anti-worker economy and its practitioners reduced and eliminated rules for how corporations carry out their business operations and worked to institute these policies at the global scale through the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements. 

- De-unionization - They trampled workers' rights to form a union, leaving them on their own to overcome employer harassment, intimidation and even illegal firings.  They allowed corporations to run roughshod over contracts and retiree benefits.   And, they made sure global trade agreements fail to protect workers anywhere.

- Globalization - They pushed policies that leave corporations unaccountable - to their workers, to the environment and even to the governments that allow them to operate.  They've delivered unprecedented amounts of power to these companies, who in turn leave the U.S. and our workforce behind in a global race to find the lowest wages, no benefits and no unions. 

- Privatization - Through turning over government services to private entities they've left our government vulnerable at all levels to corporations, unaccountable to taxpayers and oftentimes in situations where we wind up with greater costs. 

 Now it's up to us to turn our economy around and WE HAVE A PLAN!
Read about solutions for the economic crisis.        Participate in the USW Economic Survey.
Watch for an upcoming InfoAlert that lays out the USW plan for economic recovery.

 

 

 

For a printable versions, please click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE

 
 

Rapid Response Says THANKS!       

Rapid Response has asked much of our activists in the past few years.  The work that has been done on the Employee Free Choice Act in particular has been outstanding.  Thanks to your efforts, the Steelworkers are leading the way in the labor movement on this critical issue.  Now is our time to say thank you!

Each local president should have recently received free entry cards and instructions for the 2008 Rapid Response Appreciation Drawing in the mail.  The person whose card is drawn will receive his or her choice of a USW-made 2009 Harley Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle or $16,000 cash.  Appropriately, the entry card for this drawing will be used as part of our union's efforts to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.  These cards will reinforce our message to the next president and Congress that we need this bill. 

Please Note:  To win, the person whose name is drawn must be an active, retired or associate member AND be registered to vote.  Persons who are already registered are not required to re-register to participate.  All members should be given an opportunity to be part of the drawing!  Cards should be mailed to Rapid Response by October 10, 2008 at USW Rapid Response, 5 Gateway Center, 7th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

1. Get Registered to Vote

2. Fill Out a Card & Mail to Rapid Response

3. Help Our Union Pass the Employee Free Choice Act

4. Win a USW-Made Harley Davidson Motorcycle!


Questions?  Call us on the toll-free Action Hotline at:
866-311-1889

Where prohibited by applicable law, neither the offering nor awarding of the prize shall be valid or enforceable.

 

 

 

For a printable version, please click HERE.

 Voter Registration Action
About to Begin

The election is fast approaching.  Voting is critical to our efforts to hold elected officials accountable.  When union members and their families turn out to vote in large numbers, legislators pay more attention to our issues.  In order to be ready to vote, we need to ensure that all our members' registrations are current.

Rapid Response is in the process of mailing packets of voter registration information to each Local Union President.  Questions on the Action can be directed to Rapid Response on the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-866-311-1889.

What are some reasons a person might need to register or re-register?

  • Never having voted before
  • Removed from the rolls because of not voting in a recent election
  • Moved
  • Changed names
  • To receive an updated voter id card (helpful since so many polling locations have changed in recent years)
  • Change political party affiliation (in some states)
  • Completed punishment for a felony

Also, watch for materials on the free 2008 Rapid Response Appreciation Drawing enclosed in the packets! 
 

Are you from one of the following states?
Click here for additional instructions for your voter registration action.

CA, GA, IL, LA, MN, MO, NV, OH, OR, SD,
VA, CO, DE, FL, MD, NM or TX

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
Note: Adobe Reader is needed to view the file.  For a download, click HERE.

Taking Back Our Economy - Part 17
 
 

Economic Snapshot    

While the Rapid Response Taking Back Our Economy series has taken a break for a few months during ongoing actions, the downturn in the U.S. economy keeps getting worse.  This InfoAlert gives a quick snapshot of job trends shaping our economy right now.  

 

Jobs by the Numbers

463,000  -   Jobs lost so far this year
7   -   Number of months we've seen a consistent decline in job numbers

5.7%   -  July 2008 unemployment rate
4.7%   -  July 2007 unemployment rate

33.6   -  Average weekly hours worked in July 2008
2003  -  The last year the average weekly hours were this low

2.8%  -  Amount weekly earnings were up in July 2008
4-5%  -  Current rate of inflation (resulting in eroding wages!)

5.7 million  -  Part-time workers who would prefer to work full-time in July 2008*
4.3 million  -  Part-time workers who would prefer to work full-time in July 2007


*This is the highest number since this Bureau of Labor Statistics started compiling the data this way in 1994.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics data as analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute, August 1, 2008.

 

 

 

For a printable version, click HERE.
 
 

Please Make a Quick Call to Protect Medicare TODAY    

Today, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on a Medicare bill (H.R. 6331) that the U.S. House passed earlier this week by an overwhelming bipartisan 355-59 margin.  This vote sends a strong message to the Senate that action needs to be taken now.  We need to call the Senate and make sure they pass the bill without making compromises that leave seniors citizens out.

What Does the Bill Do?

The bill will help more seniors qualify for help paying Medicare premiums by fixing the current personal assets test.  In addition, the bill stops scheduled payment cuts to doctors who treat Medicare patients.  There are also improvements to Medicare's preventive benefits such as eliminating several co-payments as well as bringing mental health parity to Medicare benefits.

It's time to tell the Senate to pass H.R. 6331 for America's seniors.  They need to feel pressure to vote for this bill.

 


Please call your Senators right away.  Time is short, as the vote is scheduled for TODAY.

Please call your Senators toll-free at:
866-851-9631

  • Ask them to support H.R. 6331.
  • Let them know that you are watching to make sure that they do not settle for a compromise that leaves seniors out.
   

 

 


 
A Fight We Must Win    
When we get involved in the current Rapid Response Action Call opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, we are fighting the kind of trade agreement that sends good-paying USW jobs offshore.  We are fighting for stable communities and families.  We are also making a statement that it’s completely unacceptable for the United States to be considering a trade agreement with a country that has the top rate of union member murders in the world.
How are USW members getting their Senators and Representatives to sign on to our statement opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement?
  • In Ohio, various USW locals are calling their Members of Congress and asking them to sign the statement opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  They are planning press events so that Members of Congress can sign the statement publicly.

     
  • USW members belonging to Local 8751 in Boston, Massachusetts, held an event this week with a Colombian labor leader to highlight the failures of the trade agreement and grow support for opposing the agreement.

     
  • In Tennessee, many USW members are meeting with four different Representatives this week to encourage them to sign on to the statement.

     
  • Locals 7150 and 1189 in Oregon recently visited with their Congressman and secured a signature.  Also in Oregon at a meeting of USW local unions, participants passed around cell phones and made phone calls to their Senators and Representatives.

     
  • Michigan Local 5965 had their members sign a petition that asked their Members of Congress to sign the statement opposing the trade agreement.

 

 


 
 

The Cost of Activism in Colombia
Union activists in Colombia often put their lives on the line as they
try to improve their workplaces and communities.
  


  • During the morning of November 7, 2007, 45-year-old elementary school teacher Mercedes Consuelo Restrepo Campo headed to work on her motorbike.  As she stopped at a stop sign in front of another elementary school along her route, a group of gunmen unloaded fire, piercing Mrs. Restrepo's upper body with bullets.  The gunmen fled, leaving Mrs. Restrepo to die from her wounds.  Why was she killed?  She was known for the views she shared with her teacher union's leadership (Mrs. Restrepo was the head of her union's women's committee).  They had recently taken a public stance against the ongoing corruption occurring in the city administration of Cartago, Colombia, the city where Mrs. Restrepo had worked and lived. 

     
  • José Jesús Marvín Vargas worked at a Nestlé subsidiary in Dosquebradas, Colombia.  On November 22, 2007, he left work as usual.  On his way home, unknown gunmen opened fire and shot him dead.  Mr. Marvín Vargas was a married father of two, who was known as a good union activist within Sinaltrainal, a food industry union in Colombia that has strong ties to the Steelworkers.  He was also known in the community for his activism and campaign work to gain a seat on the Dosquebradas city council. 

     
  • This past fall, union activists throughout Colombia were part of the planning for a national protest event called the National Agrarian and Popular Mobilisation.  The goals of the protest included a demand for the resignation of Colombian President Uribe and a call to stop the pending free trade agreement with the United States.  Leading up to the October event, the state-backed paramilitary groups and the Colombian Army set out to silence dissent.  What followed was a systematic hunt for activists that resulted in torture, illegal detention, and most tragically, murders.  Among those murdered were Simón Corena, Gentil Yascuaran Pai, and Feliciano Obando, three union members involved in the protest planning.

 

 

 


 
 

Union Members Tortured and Murdered    
The Truth About Colombia
  

If you lived in Colombia, you could be marked for murder simply because you are a union member.  Since 1991, over 2,200 union members have been murdered, giving it the notorious distinction of being the country with the most murdered unionists in the world.

Did You Know. . .

  • The number of reported death threats in 2006 numbered an astounding 244. Many death threats start when union leaders and activists work to organize new members or get ready to bargain.

     
  • Over 97 percent of the murder cases since 1991 have gone without punishment. Many are believed to be carried out by the government or by paramilitary death squads with corporate involvement.

     
  • The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has declared Columbia: "the most dangerous place in the world to be a union member."

     
  • Not surprisingly, this situation is taking a toll on the Colombian labor movement.  There are fewer and fewer people covered under new union contracts each year.  In 1996 there were 260,000.  Last year that number fell to only 47,000. 

     
  • The Steelworkers have been in a years-long struggle on behalf of the beverage and food union known as Sinaltrainal to challenge the human rights abuses, including a number of murders as well as torture, against its members and leaders.  More Sinaltrainal members were murdered in 2007.

     
  • The Bush Administration is actually considering a free trade agreement with Colombia even though they know all about the torture and murder of Columbian trade unionists!


Note to Rapid Response Teams:  Get Ready!  Rapid Response will be sending out additional educational InfoAlerts in the coming weeks which will lead to a call for action on Colombia.

 

 

 


 
Taking Back Our Economy - Part 14 
 

Fighting Back    

Our union was among the first to sound the warning bells over globalization and the free trade agreements that fuel the process.  Today we continue to lead the fight to protect workers in the global economy.  As a result of our efforts to raise the issues, public opinion is on our side, with a majority of Americans now skeptical of the "benefits" of globalization.* 

* An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in mid-December 2007 showed that 58 percent of those surveyed thought the increased globalization of the American economy is bad because it "has subjected American companies and employees to unfair competition and cheap labor." 


 

Out with 2007 & In with 2008!    

Last year saw a number of key Rapid Response highlights:

  • The year started with work to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (HR 800).  Our efforts paid off in the House in March when Representatives voted by a sound margin of 241-185 to pass the legislation.  The Senate failed to gain the 3/5 support needed to "invoke cloture" which would have allowed for a true vote for the bill, but it did secure a majority of support (51-48)!
     
  • In April, nearly 800 Rapid Response activists got together in Washington, DC to rally, lobby and get educated on key legislative issues as part of the National Rapid Response Conference.
     
  • In late Spring, the Anti-Sweatshop Bill (HR 1992/S 367) was reintroduced in the 110th Congress.  A national action combined with targeted local actions throughout the duration of the year helped propel the bill to 152 cosponsors in the House and 18 in the Senate - with more to come!
     
  • September was the kick-off for a series of InfoAlerts that share the story of what happened to our economy and how it came to favor corporations over everyday Americans.  If you missed any of this series, please visit the Rapid Response website under Taking Back Our Economy.

 


We expect another big year - Now is the time to get your Rapid Response Teams ready for the upcoming work.  Watch for:
  • New efforts to move the Anti-Sweatshop bill
  • A nationwide drive to register Steelworkers to vote and candidate comparisons (part of the Rapid Response non-partisan electoral activities)
  • Action on key trade fights
  • Targeted action on national and state issues
  • InfoAlerts addressing the key issues facing the middle class as part of the Taking Back Our Economy series
 

 

 

2007

10/18/2007 Think lead isn't serious?  Think Again

9/17/2007 Whose rules are we playing by anyway?

9/17/2007 Anti-Swweatshop actions get results

9/13/2007 Taking back our economy

9/11/2007 Message from Pittsburgh

4/30/2007 Steelworkers deliver message to Capitol Hill

3/3/2007 EFCA Passes The House

1/31/2007 EFCA Nearing Passage in the House

1/8/2006  It's time to bust the Union Busters

1/3/2006  Information Alert

12/19/2006 Taking the fight to Goodyear

12/14/2006 Leading American Labor Lawyer Bernard Kleiman Passes Away

12/13/2006 Vietnam PNTR passes both houses of Congress

11/27/2006 Goodyear Corporate Greed

11/22/2006 Safety Issue with Goodyear Tires-  Click here for video

11/22/2006 Goodyear Akron Rally

Your efforts are critical in helping to maximize the exposure of the Goodyear advertisement featured on Youtube

and helping to spread the word about our strike far and wide. Please be sure to view our most recent Goodyear

 ad featuring former Sen. John Edwards and Steelworkers president Leo Gerard, then register on the site, give

it the highest rating possible, and share/forward it your friends, family, and others.

Click here to see video

11/20/2006 Stop Goodyear's use of scab strikebreakers
Your efforts are critical in helping to maximize the exposure of the
USW's Goodyear advertisement featured on You tube and helping to spread
the word about our strike far and wide. Please be sure to view our
Goodyear ad, then register on the site, give it the highest rating
possible, and share/forward it your friends, family, and others.
Click here to see video

11/8/2006 Free traders sent packing