USW Local 9462
476 W .Elm st.
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!
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
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.
additional 3.2 million Americans were kept from poverty by
unemployment insurance benefits.
Social Security payments were excluded from income, the
number of Americans over 65 living in poverty would be 14
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
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.
calls tomorrow and Wednesday. Take a stand FOR the good
jobs that are at stake and AGAINST the violence facing
union members in Colombia!
Representative Beginning Tomorrow (6/20)!
Dial the Capitol
Switchboard toll-free at:
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
- 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
* 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
(find the lookup feature at the top right of the
InfoAlert outlining the problems with these agreements:
- Check out
the AFL-CIO ad that just ran in Politico, an influential D.C.
publication, that denounces the Colombia agreement:
Quick Action Needed On
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
your state representative today and over the
weekend, leaving a message if necessary. Tell
- 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).
to find out who your state representative is,
and for contact information.
Stand & Fight
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
out Steelworkers travel 500+ miles Friday night to lend
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
Wisconsin police stand with
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.
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).
to join in upcoming solidarity events. Check out the AFL-CIO’s
listing for this week and into March by clicking
to get updates on state fights via text, sign up by texting
uswrapid to 69866
and data rates may apply. You can stop receiving texts at
USW members from 7-669 spend the night in the capitol building
CORRECTION - Please ignore the previous version if
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
following is an excerpt from an Associated Press
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
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
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
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.
sure to spread the word to everyone at your local who may be
To sign up:
and data rates may apply – You can stop receiving texts at
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
for a listing of key events happening around the
- 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
Contact your Rapid Response Coordinator.
Contact Information is available
For a printable
version of this ActionCall, please click
Help Needed Today and Tomorrow!
Senators to Stand Tough on China & Sign a Key Letter to 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.
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:
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
information on this key trade case, click
What a Response!
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
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
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!
For more information on
the outcome of the tire case, click
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.
No Paper Tiger: Subsidies to China’s Paper Industry from
2002-09, shows the following:
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
China makes much
more than they need, exporting the rest.
illegally subsidized product reaches the U.S. market, our
American-manufactured paper companies struggle to remain
competitive, plants close, jobs disappear and families and
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
Tops 100,000 Notes
Rapid Response tells
lawmakers: we must secure current jobs and create new green
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.
are pleased to report that Rapid Response
activists have generated over 100,000 notes on
you to everyone who participated, especially
those members in USW District 10 who, through
their outstanding efforts, secured almost 33,000
special recognition also goes out to District 9
whose members contributed a whopping 22,000
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
View a copy of the Action Call
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
It's About Jobs.
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!
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
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
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!
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
This is our chance to
secure and rebuild domestic industries through new clean energy
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
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.
last week’s InfoAlert describing the many USW members who are
already working in green jobs, click
information on how China is investing in the creation of green
Senator or Representative _________:
support efforts to secure current jobs and create new green jobs
in the United States as part of a clean energy economy.
in any additional points or tell how this could benefit you (see
Additional Points (Note: The
more personalized your note, the more powerful it is.)
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,
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
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
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.
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.
you already working in a green job?
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
energy-efficient windows, water-saving faucets, filters that
remove harmful substances, etc.), or
Contribute to using our resources wisely
reusing manufacturing waste, incorporating less-toxic
substances in production, using recycled component in
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
What Healthcare Reform
Means for Us
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
Key Healthcare Reform Benefits Starting THIS YEAR Include:
- Ending lifetime
limits on benefits.
annual limits on benefits from 2010-2013 (abolishing them in
- Allowing young
adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan up to age
- 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
Benefits for Retirees - Including Early Retirees - Include:
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.
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."
co-pays for preventative screenings.
- Extending the
life of the Medicare Trust Fund through cuts in wasteful
Other Benefits -
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
event that a job is lost, there will now be affordable, quality
options for coverage.
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
Health Care Reform Passes
President Obama to
Sign Into Law This Week
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
Republicans voted WRONG (against the bill).
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
Click HERE to take the Rapid Response survey.
know, the USW is taking the lead in pushing for a new approach
to creating good, family supportive jobs in America.
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.
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.
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
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!
printable copy, click
Reader is needed to view the file. For a download, click
Call for REAL REFORM Today!
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.
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!
1 - Dial Toll-Free, 866-203-4960.
2 - Ask for your Senators and
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:
- Has a strong
- Ensures employers
provide care or pay into a system to ensure
everyone can get care, and
- Does not tax
Please make sure that all
results are reported to your District Rapid
more information on healthcare, please visit the Rapid Response
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
Key problems with the Senate Finance proposal
- 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
A public option - like in the House bill -
would provide real competition for private
- 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!
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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:
September 12, Noon-3:00pm:
the Crisis and the Struggle for Global Justice
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.
Climate Change: Which Way Forward
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.
September 23, 9:00am-3:00pm:
Rights and the Struggle for Global Justice
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
All above events are at the USW Headquarters Building.
For a printable
5 Gateway Center, (Corner of Stanwix and Blvd. of the
Allies), Downtown Pittsburgh
For updates or more details, check the
September 23, 6:00pm
Rally for Clean Energy Jobs - Point State Park, Downtown
will feature special guest speakers and entertainment.
For a printable flyer, click
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."*
Benefits of a Public Option Include:
Americans a Better Range of Health Care Choices
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.
the Private Health Care Market More Competitive
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.
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.
Insurance Companies Honest
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.
Public Option Is Really Just Common Sense.
transcript of President Obama's remarks at the town hall health
care forum at a high school in Portsmouth, N.H., on August 11,
on Health Care Reform
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
to educate yourself on the facts as this debate continues!
printable version, click
Reader is needed to view the file. For a download, click
be Justice from Unfair Trade?
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.
time to make a break from the failed trade policy of the past.
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.
Unfair Trading Practices are Not New
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
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.
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.
President Now Holds the Key
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
Please Watch for an Action Call Later this Week
USW Members Respond with Compassion
Across the Country Send Much-Needed Help to Our
Sisters and Brothers in the Gulf Region
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
"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
date, locals have raised nearly $200,000.
A special thanks goes to the following three
that led the way in the fundraising efforts:
District 12 ($35,000)
District 13 ($32,000)
District 1 ($29,000)
any local still wishes to contribute, please note to the
can be written to: Steelworkers Charitable and Educational
Please mail checks to: United Steelworkers, c/o Tim
Waters, Rapid Response, Five Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA
United Steelworkers Charitable and Education Organization is a
501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax
printable versions, click
Reader is needed to view the file. For a download, click
Important Information for Laid Off Steelworkers:
Make COBRA Health Care Continuation
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.
in Recently-Passed Economic Recovery Act Makes COBRA More
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.
Individuals Take Advantage of the Subsidy?
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.
Any Special Circumstances?
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
Resources Available for Laid Off Workers
updated version of the Resource Guide for Laid Off Steelworkers
HERE or visit the Make Our
Future Work site at
For a printable version of the following, click
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
for a copy of the ActionCall for more guidance. The more
resolutions we pass, the greater the chances of getting
Americans back to work.
HERE Anytime to See Updated Buy
Activity From Across the Country
For a printable version of the following, click
Act Now for U.S. Jobs!
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.
off the Buy American Resolution, available in legal size (click
letter size (click
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
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.
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.
4) On the
Resolution Progress Report, available
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.
a copy (or original, if possible) of any signed Resolutions or
Resolution Progress Reports to:
Mail: USW Rapid Response, 5 Gateway Center - 7th Floor,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
questions, contact your District Rapid Response Coordinator or
call Rapid Response toll-free at 866-311-1889.
What are the goals of the Resolution?
Resolution asks that elected officials:
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
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?
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?
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
What are some talking points I can use when talking about the
need for the Buy American Resolution?
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.
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.
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
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?
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?
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
additional resources and assistance, contact Rapid Response
at 866-311-1889 or visit the following websites:
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.
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.
printable versions, please click
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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.
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.
printable versions, please click
Reader is needed to view the file. For a download, click
Rapid Response Says THANKS!
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!
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.
Get Registered to Vote
Fill Out a Card & Mail to Rapid Response
Help Our Union Pass the Employee Free Choice Act
Win a USW-Made Harley Davidson Motorcycle!
Questions? Call us on the toll-free Action
prohibited by applicable law, neither the offering nor awarding
of the prize shall be valid or enforceable.
For a printable version, please click
About to Begin
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
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?
having voted before
Removed from the rolls because of not voting in a recent
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
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
CA, GA, IL,
LA, MN, MO, NV, OH, OR, SD,
VA, CO, DE, FL, MD, NM or TX
printable version, click
Reader is needed to view the file. For a download, click
Taking Back Our Economy - Part 17
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.
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
2003 - The last year the average weekly hours
were this low
2.8% - Amount weekly earnings were up in
4-5% - Current rate of inflation (resulting in
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
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
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
Please call your Senators right away.
Time is short, as the vote is scheduled for
call your Senators toll-free at:
- Ask them to support H.R.
- Let them know that you are
watching to make sure that they do not
settle for a compromise that leaves seniors
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
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
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Members Tortured and Murdered
The Truth About Colombia
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. . .
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
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
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has declared
Columbia: "the most dangerous place in the world to
be a union member."
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.
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
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."
2007 & In with 2008!
Last year saw a number of key Rapid Response
- 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
- Targeted action
on national and state issues
addressing the key issues facing the middle
class as part of the Taking Back Our Economy
Think lead isn't serious? Think Again
Whose rules are we playing by anyway?
Anti-Swweatshop actions get results
Taking back our economy
Message from Pittsburgh
Steelworkers deliver message to Capitol Hill
EFCA Passes The House
Nearing Passage in the House
It's time to
bust the Union Busters
fight to Goodyear
Leading American Labor Lawyer
passes both houses of Congress
11/27/2006 Goodyear Corporate Greed
Issue with Goodyear Tires-
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
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