Task Force on the Underground Economy and Misclassification at a Field Hearing Conducted by Senator John Kerry

Sara Stafford, a Saugus construction business owner shared her personal experience of being underbid by a contractor using misclassified workers and illegals.


On Mon., April 28, George Noel, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Labor [pdf] and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Stark [pdf] gave testimony and a progress report on the state's new Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification at a field hearing conducted by US Senator John Kerry in Chelsea.
"Cheaters and unscrupulous employers have created an underground economy as big as $1 trillion. Worse, workers right here in Massachusetts are being taken advantage of and not getting the benefits and protections they deserve," said Kerry.

Participating in the hearing with Kerry was US Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem), co-author of the Taxpayer Responsibility, Accountability and Consistency (TRAC) Act, which seeks to discourage employers from misclassifying workers by allowing the IRS to collect the unpaid taxes from the employer. In addition, the bill would increase fines for misclassifications. Frank Callahan, President of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council [pdf] gave testimony in support of TRAC.

"This is a problem that is severe and is getting worse," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the UBC's New England Regional Council [pdf] who testified on the negative effects of misclassification. Erlich added that it was encouraging to finally see the problem getting greater public visibility.

Business owners also attended the hearing. Sara Stafford, a Saugus construction business owner shared her personal experience of being underbid by a contractor using misclassified workers and illegals. Scott Morrisey of Red Line Wall Systems, Inc. gave this overview [pdf].
Ask your US Representative to support H.R. 5804, the Taxpayer Responsibility, Accountability, and Consistency Act.

Charles Lazette is a contributer/Administrator of Union Review and a politically active member of UBC local 370 in upstate New York, he also runs his website UBCNewsroom, go check it out and keep up to date with the latest misclassification headlines in the US and other news that affects workers in the area


Crane collapse in New York, 2 dead, 2 critical

"You can be safe, you can do everything you can do, but construction is a very complex and dangerous business."- Donald trump

My heart goes out to the families affected

This accident is completely different from the accident on March 15th., this crane was not being 'jumped', it was fully inspected and in service. There was no load on the crane, nothing fell and hit the crane. It just toppled at the "turn table" from the weight of the crane, boom and counterweights. This should not happen, ever.

Commenting to a reporter from the New York Times on Friday Louis J. Coletti, who is president of the Building Trades Employers' Association, said "you've seen some new regulation put into place by the City, but today we're talking about an incident where every regulation has been followed."

Bloomberg (5/31/08) follows with:
Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said he ordered the suspensions even though the city hasn't found any similarities between the cause of yesterday's accident and a March 15 collapse that killed seven.

In addition, the city plans to spend $4 million to hire about 20 ``highly specialized engineers'' who will have the authority to change practices on ``high-risk'' jobs involving cranes, concrete pouring and excavation, LiMandri said.

``They will make recommendations as they see fit,'' LiMandri told reporters a block from the Upper East Side site where a crane collapsed, killing two construction workers and seriously injuring a third. ``Once that goes into effect, we will not wait for a report.''

The engineers are part of a $9.3 million program budgeted for the department that will pay for 63 new engineers and inspectors. The plan was adopted after the March 15 accident, at 303 East 51st St., the site of numerous prior complaints from neighbors.

In the past eight years, New York City has experienced an unprecedented construction boom, with $29 billion of building forecast for 2009, an 83 percent increase from $16.4 billion in 2000, according to the New York Building Congress, an association of developers, architects and vendors.
Donald Trump chimes in at ABC News for '20/20' interview (5/30/08) :
"I'm one of the biggest builders in the world, and I tell you I hate to walk under construction sites," Trump said. "You can be safe, you can do everything you can do, but construction is a very complex and dangerous business."

New York's trendy SoHo district is the home of one of Trump's current hotel construction sites, which received one of New York City's 128 crane safety violations this year. "We built a series of many, many buildings from 72nd Street all the way down the Hudson River, and we never had a problem, and yet we did have one problem in SoHo," Trump said. "I've got a great track record, one of the best, but it's a dangerous business."
"I'm doing buildings elsewhere, and many cranes are being shipped over to other parts of the world," Trump said, noting that he is also working on a new building in Dubai. "So I'm not sure if New York City is getting the best cranes, but to have a crane topple the way it did in New York City is an amazing thing."
"They are big, they are strong, they are powerful, they can lift tremendous payloads, and they are dangerous," said Trump. "If a crane is an inch off, it gets dangerous. And you know you're talking about a crane that can go up 60 stories."
The image “http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/8578/20080530t112427450x307ups9.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This time the crane maintenance is being questioned, according to speculation by Gordon Gibb at Lawyers and Settlements:
The crane, one of dozens in New York City that have been pressed into service during the current building boom in the bustling metropolis, was erected April 20th and 21st. It has been reported that city inspectors shut the crane down on two separate occasions for safety reasons, however those problems were believed to have been unrelated to the accident yesterday.

Rather, the focus is turning to a metal plate that resides at the base of the turntable underneath the cab. On May 16th 2007—just over a year prior to the fateful accident yesterday—a worker discovered a crack in the metal plate of that same crane, which at the time was being used to put up a building at 46th Street in New York. Work was promptly halted until the turntable could be replaced.

Investigators are now trying to determine just what became of that broken turntable from last year. Could it have been repaired, and put back into service? That's the million-dollar question being asked right now.
I had to wait until today to get this story out, I was a few blocks away when this happened, many of my co-workers went over to the site and the story was constantly changing, even when I got home. It gives you such a terrible feeling when you hear this type of news at work. You know it could be a good friend or a casual acquaintance. You know it could be you. I just couldn't write about this yesterday.

Inspectors from DC, Hawaii and Boston have noticed and pledged reinspections of tower cranes. according to KGMB9, Hawaii:
"One of the things we decided when we got in this morning after we heard the news is let’s send our inspectors out and let's inspect all the tower cranes," said James Hardway, Hawaii Department of Labor.

"Hawaii is one of a handful of states that requires an extensive certification of operators," said Hardway.

Construction cranes in Hawaii are usually rented from one company and set up by another. There are fewer than a dozen companies in the country that are capable of the job. The main company used in Hawaii is Northwest Tower Crane Service.

"There is an inherent risk. It's listed as one of the riskiest jobs in the United States," said Tammy Hardy, Northwest Tower Crane Service Inc.
As for what caused the New York crane to fall, there is plenty of speculation.

"Probably shoddy oversight by the government regulators," said Hardway.

Which Hawaii is working hard to never let happen here.
While they scramble, they neglect the need for more drastic changes

Whatever the case, there definitely needs to be some drastic overhauls, I call 311 reporting sites with major violations, I have seen stuff being raised over pedestrians heads on some sites, smaller sites, nonunion sites, without basic safety necessities, and have offered to send the pictures from my phone to the DOB and they do not have the technology? That is unacceptable!

Only through acts of God have more people not been killed in New York recently. I was watching a (safety shed) scaffold being erected in midtown New York with steel I-Beams being lifted directly over pedestrians and called and waited and no one showed within the hour I waited. Imminent death to the public and it continues every single day in New York. The entire reregulating of the DOB only adds buildings over 10 stories to their scope of hard lined oversight. Meanwhile you have undocumented workers throwing asbestos into the streets of NYC in full public view and nothing is done.

Michelle Malkin puts construction safety in a nutshell, from here story "Another deadly crane collapse"

Top story right now on all the cable news stations: another deadly crane collapse in NYC that reportedly has claimed two lives. (Update: 1 dead, two seriously injured.) The NYPost has extensive coverage. NY’s Fox 5 is livestreaming. The accident is the second in 2 1/2 months in NY and comes on the heels of crane regulation revisions by the city just this week. Miami-Dade County is in the middle of heated debate and litigation over post-accident rules. Maryland, Washington, and Indiana are also drafting tighter regs.

It would be helpful for journalists to report what the background rates on crane-related deaths and injuries are. Also, the coverage should distinguish between types of accidents (human error, mechanical failure, etc.). Here’s one report on offshore crane safety that covers 1995-98. Here’s an ABC report with a little more info on stats and causes, among which they mention illegal alien labor and corporate short cuts:

At least 43 people died while working construction in New York in 2006, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, up 87 percent from the year before when 23 people died.

Across the United States, construction ranks as the most dangerous industry, representing about 20 percent of all work-related fatalities, according to federal statistics.

Deaths rose from 1,131 in 2003 to 1,226 in 2006. By comparison, 836 workers died in mining accidents last year, and 447 died in manufacturing. The government reports between six and seven construction deaths per 1,000 workers.

Nationwide, deaths from falling off scaffolding remained steady at about 88 per year…

…The rise in construction fatalities can be explained by a deadly mix of untrained immigrant workers, lax attention to safety regulations and profit-minded contractors who cut corners in all areas from labor to materials.

“There is a tremendous pressure, particularly in construction, to put pressure on workers to be productive and to take short cuts,” said Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

Fines for employers who violate regulations are low — averaging only about $1,600 an incident, according to Shufro. When a worker is killed, the maximum punishment is six months in jail.

“Fines for harassing a burro on federal land are greater,” he said. “But they do the best they can with limited resources.”

Bovis Lend Lease, the company that is handling the Trump project, released a statement to the Associated Press saying they would launch an investigation of the worker’s death.

“Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased concrete worker, and our prayers are with the injured workers,” said Mary Costello, company spokesman.

What is most startling in these accidents is the disproportionate number of immigrant deaths — and not only in New York, where illegal workers make up 86 percent of all fatalities.

While urban areas are facing a building boom, more rural areas are feeling the effects of a slowing economy, according to construction experts. Unions and employers say they face increased competition from those who hire cheap, illegal immigrants.

Here’s another round-up of links to recent crane regulation moves.

Competing with unregulated, bad contractors, using poorly crafted equipment

The constant pressures of competing with contractors who use undocumented workers is devastating the conditions on all construction sites, everyone is in a frenzy to get the lowest bid against these unscrupulous contractors and to keep themselves employed. Be it cutting corners or rushing to complete a job, the atmosphere is there. There also should be a push to use USA and other highly qualified countries materials and tools on the job sites. Shit, if the dog food ingredients and toys from China contain poison, why is it acceptable to use rigging equipment and steel from that region? A lot of Chinese equipment such as 'shackles' and wire slings do not even have a company name on them. It's up to the rigger to refuse to use them. Thats a terrible burden to put on the worker, who will then be "labeled" a trouble maker and risk losing his job. It should be against the law to use them. Many times we have had "Jet" equipment, such as furniture dollies fail with under weighted loads. The rigging equipment needs to be stringently regulated, especially if it is being used overhead. The 'sweatshop construction' practice needs to be eliminated all together. According to a piece featured here at Joe's Union Review from Al Jazeera news:
According to New York Construction Workers United, about 64 per cent of the city's 250,000 construction workers are immigrants who do the vast majority of non-union work.

Basic security equipment like harnesses and – in Juan's case - hard hats are often lacking from job sites.

Those who do receive safety equipment are often forced to pay for it themselves. Many are afraid to complain because they do not want to be blacklisted or risk being deported if they are illegal.
End the 'sweatshop construction' and the city and the United States will be a much safer place.
Currently we have a large percentage of contractors (aprox. 1/4 of all current construction in NY has employees that work off the books or are misclassified as independent contractors) here who pay their undocumented employees below the minimum wage and misclassifying them as independent contractors. Entitling them to let the "employee' bear the burden of making sure his taxes are being payed, workers comp insurance is in place, supply their own safety equipment and working conditions.

Currently our Building and Construction Unions, local politicians from a bipartisan background and a host of other agencies, like the Brennan center for Justice and the Fiscal Policy Institute have been bringing to light the reckless behavior of these unscrupulous contractors, their safety violations, their shotty and dangerous work, their unskilled workers, the slave wages (according to the Brennan report some are forced to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $6-$12 an hour), the public safety concern, the nonpayment by employer of taxes for said employees(in fact 2 construction companies are facing jail time(NY Newsday reported one for $220,000 and another $394,788 in evading employee taxes), The Governor himself has declared an Executive order to end this misclassification of workers, this doesn't even mention the tax burden these contractors push off onto the general public and those contractors who(according to Fiscal Policy Institute) cost workers lost wages and benefits and local, state and federal governments nearly $500 million in 2005.
When one of these 50,000+ workers gets sick and winds up in the hospital who do you think winds up paying for that? We do.Who winds up paying for their kids schooling, the upkeep of our infrastructure, our public employees wages? the list goes on. What is the cost to us for the lowest bid?
So I say if the Department Of Buildings, Bloomberg and any Governmental entity really wants to make anything better and safer here in New York they should not wait until the next crane travesty, they should not focus on the 'giant accidents', they should work from the bottom up. Remember these contractors who go into business never do it to get smaller. These are the huge contractors of the future and they seem to get a free pass on everything.

There is one reason to be working, to go home in one piece at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, 2 construction workers here in New York will not have that opportunity. From the crane operator who was going to get married in 2 weeks, to the immigrant from Kosovo who was working on the sewer lines in the street, to the carpenter who was working in the stairs who is still in serious condition, to the fourth victim who I haven't read anything about, it is a terrible day indeed.


Indian Ambassador refuses to visit with "slave" hunger strikers

Follow up on the post-Katrina abuses of H2B Visa guest workers in Mississippi and Texas.
From DC Labor Council Newsletter (5/29/08):
Indian Ambassador Refuses to Visit with Hunger Strikers
Hunger strikers – too weak to make the trip to the Indian Embassy – were refused a visit by Indian Ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, on Tuesday. Sen – who has met with workers in the past and promised his support (Indian Workers March on Embassy 3/28/08 UC) – stunned the strikers on Tuesday when he told them that he had not received their list of demands and he would not visit hunger strikers because he “couldn’t get involved with politics.” "Since when is showing sympathy for brutally exploited Indians in America called 'politics’”asked Sabulal Vijayan, an organizer with the Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity. Indian workers have been pressuring Indian government officials to demand the US government allow the workers to stay in the US to participate in the human trafficking investigation against their employer, Signal International.
Click below to subscribe
The image “http://img.getactivehub.com/08/custom_images/dclabor/newunioncitywrapper.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

American Axle gearing up to destroy the environment

Who would have thought that those good guys at American Axle would wind up winning their labor dispute with the UAW here in the states, getting as much as wages of $10 less an hour and gearing up to shed 3 US factories and a little less than 2,000 US workers in the process. You would think that they have gotten a sweet deal. Figuring that the US worker is the absolutely highest production worker in the world. Theres gotta be some reasoning and considering all the new business it has recently gotten, its a cause for alarm, according to Automotive News:
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. said today that it has a $1.4 billion backlog in new business beginning next year through 2013 — almost all of which will be sourced outside the United States, Automotive News reported.
You would think they would be opening factories on every block, but that simply isn't the case. For some reason, be it governmental labor regulations or environmental standards, American Axle is pledging to do more business outside of the US, according to Crains Detroit (5/28/08):
Despite those gains, American Axle said about 85 percent of its new business will be made in non-U.S. operations, increasing its business in Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Poland and Thailand. That means more than 50 percent of the supplier's production will be done outside the United States, Dauch said. About 65 to 70 percent of that production will be shipped back to the United States.

About half of American Axle's new business will be for rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive products for cars and crossovers. But the company said it is also looking to begin offering electronics products, including transmission differentials and transfer cases.

"Record-high fuel prices, rapidly shifting consumer preferences and fast growth in the emerging markets are quickly changing the product development requirements of the global automotive industry," Dauch said in a statement.

"American Axle's success in growing its new business backlog demonstrates that our long-term strategic goals of expanding and diversifying American Axle's product portfolio, customer base, served markets and global manufacturing footprint are on track and in balance with the needs of our customers."
How on Earth is all that product going to wind up in the United States?

Is the Starship Enterprise gonna beam it here? What about the exceedingly low environmental standards of these countries that are getting the AAM business? how much more fossil fuels are going to be burned to import back the product? Brazil is destroying its wetlands, for biofuel crops and blatant deforestation, China is burning coal like its the 1900's and cares enough about the environment to still be mining coal with its prisoners. That doesn't even tip the iceberg of China's infractions and most of us are aware of India, but what about Poland and Thailand? heres a clip from Nations Encyclopedia (note some of it is a bit dated)

The labor code prohibits employment for children under the age of 15. There are strict rules governing the work standards for those between 15 and 18 years old, however these are not regularly enforced. The minimum wage in state-owned enterprises was $180 per month in 2002, although large number of workers earn less than the minimum wage. The legal standard workweek is 42 hours with one 24-hour rest period. The labor code defines occupational safety and health standards but they are not consistently enforced.
(on energy)
The main domestic energy sources are coal, lignite, and peat; rivers remain a largely untapped source of power. In 2001, the net installed capacity was 30,559,000 kW. Production in 2000 was 135.2 billion kWh, of which 98.1% was from fossil fuels, 1.5% from hydropower, and less than 1% from other renewable sources.

...Minimum daily wage rates in 2002 ranged from $3.01 to $3.71 depending on the cost of living in different provinces. Legislation regulating hours and conditions of labor, workers' compensation, and welfare also exists, however, these laws are weakly enforced.

While forced labor is prohibited by the Thai constitution, there are reports that workers are physically prevented from leaving some sweatshops, especially ones which employ illegal immigrants from Laos, Cambodia, and Burma. These same sweatshops have also been accused of using physical coercion to meet production goals.

American Axles, is not only fucking the US workers, by exiting our country for places with little or no enforced labor standards. This multi national corp is now helping destroy the entire planet while we are so caught up in the "Green" movement here in the states, AAM and other wonderful corporations are skirting laws and regulations by just moving away. I only wonder where the outrage is? Where's the environmental tariff? Why do I have to sort shit in green and blue bags so some corporation makes money off of my labor? Now I have to put leaves in a separate bag and American Axle is getting away with burning coal to make it's products. What a sham. We all work harder and get less and they convince us its for our own good. I'm not going to disagree, but how is this country going to allow this? A big fuck you to AAM, Dick Dauch and all the bullshit rules and regulations that are selectively sentenced upon our people.

A huge thanks to UnionGal for pointing this out


Bloomingdales flagship store in New York gets 4 year deal

A little late news on my part, sorry people. Bloomingdales and RWDSU Local 3 now have 4 year agreement.

From UNI Global Union (5/6/08) :
New York flagship department store gets four year collective agreement

Workers at Bloomingdales, New York's upmarket department store, have achieved a four year collective agreement. The deal came after difficult and drawn out negotiations, where the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union finally was forced to announce a strike on behalf of the 2,000 Bloomingdales workers.

The new contract will give workers an hourly average pay raise of 2,15 USD over the four year period. There is also a productivity bonus of 30 cents, which will depend on the department store's performance. Other benefits include better possibilities for part time workers to get full time contracts.

Ida Torres, President of Local 3 RWDSU was satisfied with the result:

- Our members work hard and deserve all of the benefits of a good contract. We're pleased to have negotiated a new collective agreement with Bloomingdale’s that provides for many improvements and protections including a guaranteed wage increase in each of the 4 years of the contract. I am proud of our members and their resilience and determination to secure a contract that is right for them.

Late last year, RWDSU organised over 1,000 shop workers at leading global fashion retailer H&M after more than 90 per cent of participating employees cast their votes for union representation.

American Axle strike of 2008 ends

From the LA Times (5/23/08) :
Workers for GM supplier vote to accept cuts, end strike
From Bloomberg News

Workers for American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. approved a contract Thursday that cuts wages and shuts two plants, ending a 12-week strike that idled production at its largest customer, General Motors Corp.

A majority of the 3,650 United Auto Workers members at five plants in Michigan and New York voted to approve a four-year agreement that will reduce wages and provide buyouts to workers who agree to quit, said Adrian King, president of union Local 235, which represents workers in Detroit.

"It passed," King said of the vote at the largest and last union to ratify the agreement. "Good or bad, now we can start getting our lives back together."

The approval paves the way for GM to open 20 plants that have shut or partially closed because of parts shortages.

American Axle will reduce wages and pare its U.S. manufacturing presence while avoiding the bankruptcy filings that were the fate of other suppliers, including Delphi Corp. and Dana Holding Corp.

Under the agreement, hourly pay will drop by more than one-third for some jobs, to a range of $10 to $26 across all five plants involved in the strike, according to a proposal distributed at a UAW meeting in Detroit on Sunday.

The base pay for production workers would be about $18 an hour, down from as high as $28.14. Worker contributions for health insurance would rise 3% annually starting in 2010.

American Axle will close a forge plant in Detroit and a factory in Tonawanda, N.Y., union leaders said at Sunday's meeting.

The company will also provide buyouts worth $140,000 to workers with more than 10 years of experience. Cash payments over three years adding up to no more than $105,000 are designed to soften the blow from lower wages.

About 1,172 members voted yes and 429 voted no at Local 235 on Thursday, King said. Four other locals, including two more in Michigan and two in New York, voted in favor of the agreement earlier this week.

"I think with the economy the way it is, with the truck sales the way it is, I feel that's what people thought they had to do," said Local 235 shop chairman Dana Edwards.
More American Axle strike headlines below


I'm sick

So I'm gonna take a few days off, thanks for the rest people. Heres a few quick updates.

New GI Bill passes Senate

Consumers Union Collects $8,500 in first 24 hours

Consumers Union Action Fund

We raised $8,500 in just the first 24 hours.

Help us reach our goal of $15,000 by tomorrow!

Donate right now!

Dear Joseph,

This is the last chance to help keep dangerous toys and other hazardous goods out of our homes by passing strong product safety reform.

The CU Action Fund needs just $15,000 to pump up our efforts and make sure the new law really protects our loved ones.

It’s crunch time. President Bush wants a watered down compromise; we are fighting for the strongest reforms possible. Now is our best chance to stop the endless stream of dangerous imports that put all of us at risk.


Six more workers joined the week-old hunger strike by Indian guest workers Wednesday at a rally outside the Capitol to pressure Congress to support their struggle against exploitation. At the action, workers reported that hunger striker Christopher Glory was admitted to George Washington University Hospital Wednesday for dangerously low blood pressure. The workers' families and dozens of DC area activists also participated in a day-long solidarity fast Wednesday to support the campaign. Following the rally, workers and their supporters met with Congressional representatives and pressured them to hold hearings on abuses of workers under the guest worker program and ask the Department of Justice to protect the workers during an ongoing criminal anti-trafficking investigation against their former employer Signal International. A community meeting with representatives of the campaign will be held today at 7P. If the workers demands are not met, they will continue their strike outside the Capitol through Sunday, May 25 then move to Dupont Circle. Click here for ways you can support the campaign.
- report/photo by Andy Richards
More at the AFL-CIO Web Blog
Hunger Striker Hospitalized, Others Rally on Capitol Hill

Take The CWA Speed Test

Dear Joseph,

Millions of Americans—especially in rural and low-income urban areas—don’t have high-speed Internet access. Millions more who have, what we in America call, “high-speed” Internet pay much more for slower speeds than people in Europe or Japan.

How fast is your Internet access? How does your speed compare nationwide and around the globe? Are you getting what your Internet provider says you’re paying for?

Take the Communications Workers of America Speed Matters test to find out:



Consumer's Union and Free Press need donations, send em' some help

From the E-Mailbox

Consumers Union

NIMC, Tegan, toy, safety, product
Will you help us raise $15,000 by May 30th to make toys and products safer? Donate Today!

Dear Joseph,

The clock is ticking! Congress must quickly finish its work before lawmakers turn their attention to the elections--and that means they must finalize a strong product safety reform bill.

But President Bush just announced his opposition to many of the best provisions. With only a short time left to craft a final bill, he wants to make sure it does as little as possible.

That's why we are asking you to pitch in now with a contribution to the Action Fund.

The recalls continue unabated--nearly 10 million products all told in the first four months of this year, and 1.3 million toys due to lead. Bush opposes a requirement that all manufacturers test children's products before they reach our shelves. He also opposes a public web site that would give you more timely information about unsafe products.

Consumers Union and the CU Action Fund are pulling out all the stops. In the past few days:

  • Consumers Union released a new report on the nearly 10 million dangerous products recalled since the holidays;
  • you sent thousands of messages to members of the key committee that must finalize this bill; and
  • some of you attended a rally at the Capitol in Washington.

You may not live in D.C., where we held the rally, or in the district of a conference committee member, but you can still help us get a strong bill passed with a donation right now!

Click here to help us reach our $15,000 goal by Friday, May 30th with a secure online gift.

Your contribution to the CU Action Fund will help us use every tool we have to battle industry opponents and the President and help lawmakers give you the strongest product safety bill.

Will you please help ensure that we have the resources we need to do this crucial work?

With your support, we can continue to ramp up activity on Not In My Cart and other critical campaigns, and give you the power to choose safe products all year long.

Thank you so much for your generous contribution.


Kathy Mitchell
Consumers Union Action Fund
506 W. 14th Street
Austin, Texas 78701

P.S. Your donation to the Consumers Union Action Fund is not tax-deductible because it will enable us to do the lobbying work needed to win.


Free Press Action Fund

Dear Joseph,

Fox News:

Expose the Pentagon Pundits -- Help Place This Ad Now!

The media still refuse to cover the outrageous Pentagon propaganda scandal. We need your help to place this ad in Washington news outlets by Friday so we can force all 535 members of Congress, their staff and other D.C. influentials to hear this message:

We won't let the Pentagon -- and its Big Media enablers -- get away with manipulating and deceiving the public.

Help Stop Propaganda: Place the Ad

Congress and the media must know we're not backing down. The shocking -- and very likely illegal -- campaign that turned "independent" military analysts into on-air Pentagon propagandists and Iraq war apologists must be investigated.

And Big Media's shameful failure to cover the story -- and hold itself accountable for its own complicity -- must end.

Your contribution today will help the Free Press Action Fund achieve both goals. We need to raise $10,000 in the next 24 hours to run this ad and publicly turn up the heat on Congress to act.

Put This Ad on Congress' Doorstep

You and other Free Press supporters have already helped mobilize hundreds of thousands of Americans to express their outrage over this propaganda scandal and media cover-up. Your contribution today will help us put even more pressure where it counts most: on Congress and Big Media.

Expose the Pentagon, Call Out Big Media, and End Fake News

Support Free Press Action Fund's "Propaganda Pundit" ad-buy right now.


Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press Action Fund

P.S. Thanks to you, Free Press is leading the charge to hold the Pentagon and Big Media accountable for the "Propaganda Pundit" scandal. Our next step is to run a powerful ad to put Congress and the media on notice. Contribute now and send the message: We're not backing down


American Axle: Voting Underway Now

By uniongal (aka bendygirl)
crossposted on Dailykos and Uniongal

Obama made his first public comments about the American Axle strike last Thursday in Macomb and then, suddenly, there’s an agreement. I highly recommend seeing the video and listening to what he says about American Manufacturing jobs:

Let's take a look at the “agreement” Mlive has the skinny:


Details of the tentative agreement between the United Auto Workers and American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc.:

WAGES: Varies by factory location. Production workers in Detroit would see pay cuts from $28 per hour to $18.50, up from $17 the company was offering. Factory support workers would make $14.35 in Detroit and $10 per hour in Three Rivers.

BUYOUTS: Workers with less than 10 years of seniority could get $85,000 to leave the company. Those with 10 or more years could get $140,000.

PLANT CLOSINGS: Company will close forges in Detroit and Tonawanda, N.Y. No date was revealed for the closures.

EARLY RETIREMENT: Workers who are 60 or above with 10 or more years of service could get $55,000 to retire.

BUYDOWNS: Workers would get three annual payments to make the transition to lower wages. The maximum amount would total $105,000.

BONUS: Workers would get a $5,000 signing bonus.

THE VOTE: Starts Monday at some UAW locals. A large local in Detroit votes Thursday.
The “deal” is pretty darn disappointing especially in light of American Axle’s profitability, rare in the GM spin-off companies. So, let’s take a look at the striker’s reactions from the AP to step up their coverage of the American Axle strike:

After the meeting, Adrian King, outgoing president of UAW Local 235 in Detroit, said the session didn't go well. Workers were angry about the deal, and their frustration was compounded by a malfunctioning public address system that hampered questions from the crowd.
"We had a lot of angry brothers and sisters," he said. "It's definitely a hard-looking contract, very tough pill to swallow for the membership."


Most workers leaving the meeting Sunday predicted the vote will be close. One worker tossed pages of the summary into the air as he walked out.

"There will be a lot of unhappy people," Reed said as he carried a picket sign outside the school. "But I think it's going to be accepted."

Today, American Axle workers are voting on this “deal”. From Mlive for some, it’s good news like:

Jeff Claussen, 58, of Three Rivers, said he is prepared to take a buyout and will retire after 28 years at the Three Rivers plant. His 59-year-old wife, Ruth, retired last year.

"If you prepared for retirement, and we have for the past 20 years, then I guess you're all set," Claussen said.

For some, it’s really bad news (from AP)

I'm voting no. It's totally unacceptable," said Gary Reed, 52, of Warren, who criticized American Axle Chairman and CEO Richard Dauch for making millions while asking production workers to take a pay cut from $28 per hour to $18.50.

"It's a slap in our face," Reed said. "We've been watching this guy making millions and millions of dollars even while we've been on strike, and were going to accept a stab in the back and just walk away with a smile on our face?"

And for others, it’s a mixed bag, from Freep

"I feel like I'm done, but I have no choice," said Tod Rippe, 43, of Dearborn. He said he plans to accept a buyout and may move out of Michigan. "It's a nightmare. It really is."

Mike Ulicne, 39, of Trenton said the contract would be tough to accept.

"I'm relieved, but not happy or satisfied," Ulicne said.


Terasiena Cunningham, 36, of West Bloomfield started a similar chant for workers gathered outside the school.
Cunningham said she feels workers gained little, if anything, by going on strike.

"We can get better than this," she said. Cunningham also said she wished the two sides had extended the contract that expired Feb. 26, allowing workers to stay at their jobs as negotiations continued.

Former Local 235 UAW Vice President Erik Webb, 39, of Detroit said a much calmer meeting was held Sunday afternoon at the Local 235's union hall in Hamtramck, and predicted the contract would pass.

"Everybody who has been out on the picket line has been frustrated. People are ready to go back to work," Webb said. "We didn't really get what we wanted to get, but something is better than nothing."


"Most of us are at a point where, financially, we are so ruined that this contract beats being homeless," said Michael Dudun, 46, of St. Clair Shores.

Workers at American Axle are hurting and some are willing to vote for anything. After 11 weeks (Wednesday marks 12 weeks out), it’s understandable. Again, from Mlive

Local workers have been living on $200 a week in strike pay. Many workers who said they were unhappy with the settlement said they would vote for it anyway.

"It's just a nasty situation," said Curtis McCall, 45, an American Axle worker who attended an informational meeting Sunday in Detroit. "You almost have no choice. If you vote no, then really you're out in the cold."

Workers will see their wages slashed under the deal.

A 54-year-old worker from Lockport Township, who declined to give his name, said he will see his pay drop from $27 an hour to $14.50. The 15-year employee said Sunday he hadn't decided how he would vote.

"We're putting one of our trucks up for sale, I've sold some scuba equipment on eBay -- but I just don't think we can adjust to such a drastic rate in pay," the worker said.

The summary of the contract distributed by the union said there will be buyouts of $85,000 for someone with less than 10 years with the company and $140,000 for a worker with more than 10 years. An offer of a $55,000 early retirement bonus also was included in the proposed contract.

Workers would get a wage "buydown" of up to $105,000 paid over three years to help ease the transition to lower hourly pay. The size of the buydown would vary with the size of a worker's pay reduction.

It’s even tougher to swallow a contract like this when you know that Dick Dauch will be shelling out nice bonuses to himself again next year.

But then again, what can we expect in this day and age? The haves like Dauch can reap $10 plus millions dollar compensation packages while the working stiff gets a whopping $14 to $17 an hour. Seems an awful lot like the times of the Robber Barons and I for one don’t want to return to the days of ole and the likes of Carnegie and Rockefeller.

I don’t know how I’d manage with a 50% reduction in income even with the 3 year buy down. I suppose, like many others, I’d be looking at a new line of work or a new job, just like Jerd0708:

I have been on the hunt for a new employer. Going well. I think I am going to take the buy out either way. I had a real nice interview with a forging / machining company out in Wayne. My pastors brother in law works there and loves it. They have been looking for CNC experienced guys to start up a new machining building. They can only handle about 20% of there work there right now so they are building a huge new building with all new equipment to bring all the work back in-house. Good money and they just got a huge contract with a wind mill company making rings for the shafts and generators. They are 100% non automotive. Quarterly bonuses to the workers and great benefits.

Another company I have been dealing with is in South Carolina. Had two phone interviews and now they are flying me down for a plant tour and sit down on Tue the 13th. I really like this company too. They are a German firm that make Engines and Crankshafts. Huge in Germany. They have a lot of new equipment. They are offering me a shift leader position. Money will be close to what I was making Pre-Strike. All Benefits and a lot of time off. Wife really wants to stay here but is cool with leaving too.

Voting on the contract is taking place today, so we should know tonight if the contract has been ratified. I’m very happy that they might be going back to work this week, but I still have to say that this is a really awful pill to swallow. For those choosing to go down the path that Jerd0708 has now chosen, there are profitable forges in the States doing good precision work with owners who aren’t trying to reap for themselves on the backs of their workers. Unfortunately, AAM isn’t one of these companies and Dick Dauch isn’t one of these owners. For me, it really all comes down to Dick’s entitlement mentality; he’s entitled to all of it and hell with his workers.

So, would you vote for this contract?


Iraq Veterans Against War, one Long Island mans account, and the bigger issue of propaganda and censorship in the war

A censored war, censored veterans, media black out of Pentagon propaganda "experts" on their payroll and the upcoming war with Iran. What is the facts? will we ever know?

We start our story with Joe Everybody, Kristofer Goldsmith,who starts his on Sept. 11 2001, with rage in his heart, he signed up to protect America

Goldsmith saw the World Trade Center towers collapse on September 11, 2001. He enlisted in the Army and went to Iraq in 2005. In Sadr City, he witnessed abuse of Iraqi civilians. He was assigned to take pictures of Iraqis found in a shallow grave, ostensibly for intelligence purposes, but they were only used as trophies by those who received them. After repeated commendations, he was expecting to return to civilian life and college when President Bush announced the “surge,” and the military adopted its stop-loss policy, essentially making Goldsmith a prisoner of war. He tried to kill himself rather than return to Iraq, but survived. He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but then was discharged for misconduct as a malingerer. He now delivers pizzas and struggles to overcome his persisting symptoms with treatment through the VA.

This video was played at the "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan conference (3/13/08-3/16/08)", where dozens of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars gathered in Silver Spring, Maryland and offered harrowing testimony about atrocities they had witnessed or participated in directly.

The BBC predicted that the event, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War, "could be dominating the headlines around the world this week(*March---Joe)", and while it was truly broadcast internationally, here in the States it was almost completely blacked out.

Even with the bullshit media blitzing of supporting our troops, when it came down to actually listening to the over 1000 member group of veterans and getting their message out, The New York Times claimed that they had "not been aware of the group or its meeting,"

According to FAIR - Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (4/8/08) :
The Times’ D.C. bureau editor’s claim to have not heard of the hearings is remarkable, given that the AP newswire carried a story on the hearings, and IVAW has confirmed to FAIR that the D.C. bureau had been sent three separate rounds of different IVAW press releases. In addition, at least 150 Times staffers were sent press releases about Winter Soldier by the Institute for Public Accuracy, a group that encourages inclusion of overlooked facts and progressive perspectives in media coverage. Given that media organizations operating on a small fraction of the Times' budget were aware of and able to find the resources to cover these hearings, the Times’ D.C. bureau’s plea to ignorance about the hearings is all the more disappointing.
Blackouts are only the beginning, and the New York Times actually came forward to explain that the Pentagon had strategically placed "war experts into the media" to say all is going well in Iraq. They seem to have been placed there in an effort to sell the American public the Iraq war. From Source Watch:
"Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as 'message force multipliers' or 'surrogates' who could be counted on to deliver administration 'themes and messages' to millions of Americans 'in the form of their own opinions.' ... Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war." Clarke and her senior aide, Brent T. Krueger, eventually signed up more than 75 retired military officers, who appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts, and/or penned newspaper op/ed columns. The Pentagon held weekly meetings with the military analysts, which continued as of April 2008, when David Barstow reported on the program in the New York Times.
So, if you don't read the Times, you know nothing of what I'm speaking about, do you? It has also been blacked out by the national media outlets, an illegal media propaganda campaign completely blacked out. Isn't this the type of thing we fought Hitler for?

From PR Watch.org (5/6/08) :

Here is the official Pentagon website with the 8,000 pages of documents, the most interesting and revealing of them previously secret and only available to the Pentagon and the New York Times:


More than two weeks after the New York Times reported on the Penatgon's military analyst program to sell controversial policies such as the invasion of Iraq, the broadcast television news outlets implicated in the program are hoping to tough out the scandal by refusing to report it. Recently Media Matters of America (MMA) reported that, according to a search of the Nexis database, "the three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have still not mentioned the report at all."

The Pew Excellence in Journalism project has a chart showing that " there was virtually no mainstream media follow up to The Times’ expose" with the only national TV coverage being the introduction segment and live debate featuring CMD's John Stauber on the PBS NewsHour.

Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro and three dozen colleagues have sent a letter to the Department of Defense Inspector General calling for an investigation of this "propaganda campaign aimed at deliberately misleading the American public."

Last month. one of the propaganda team came forward and saw a vision, in April one of the Pentagon’s propaganda team of military analysts exposed by David Barstow in the NYT, a Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney, speaking on FOX News, openly called for the US to begin committing “tit-for-tat” terrorist attacks by proxy inside Iran.

Craziness you may say, apparently Iran seems to believe it to be a fact, according to the Tahran Times, Iran's leading international daily, in an article entitled "Iran busts CIA terror network" (5/18/08) :
n a coordinated operation on May 7, Iranian intelligence agents arrested the terrorist network’s members, who were identified in Fars, Khuzestan, Gilan, West Azerbaijan, and Tehran provinces, the Intelligence Ministry announcement said.

The group’s plans were devised in the U.S., according to the announcement, which added that they had planned to carry out a number of acts such as bombing scientific, educational, and religious centers, shooting people, and making public places in various cities insecure.

One of the terrorists was killed in the operation, but the rest are in detention, the Intelligence Ministry said, adding that the group’s main objective was to create fear among the people.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency comprehensively supported the terrorist group by arming it, training its members, and sponsoring its inhumane activities in Iran, the Intelligence Ministry stated.

The terrorists had maps, films, pictures, and sketches of important and sensitive sites in various cities in their possession when they were arrested.
The Los Angeles Times says there is no proof to Iraq's claims in its article "IRAN: Tehran accuses West of waging war on its turf" (5/16/08), while Bush and Israel have agreed that there needs to be "tangible action in Iran." (Yahoo News 5/16)

What's really going on in Iraq, Iran and in the United Stated media? I don't know if this generation will ever know.


Censorship is the bane of our society, to get some Journalistic integrity and/or some type of opposing view, check the links below and familiarize yourself with the sites.
And if you really want to support our troops, check out
While we are on the political take, may I place this great cartoon for all of my readers to enjoy


Mobile agreement between New Era and Teamsters paves way for overwhelming union vote in Jackson facility

"The Teamsters reached an agreement with New Era Cap earlier this year with its Mobile, Alabama workers that helped lead to today's victory." - Jimmy Hoffa Jr., President International Brotherhood of Teamsters

In Feburary 2008, the Teamster, New Era Cap and the NAACP jointly announced a tentative 3 year agreement in the Mobile, Alabama facility. Part of that agreement was that the company and the union would remain neutrality, whereby they would stand clear of coercion in the organizing of other New Era Cap facilities.

Friday, the workers in the Jackson, Alabama facility, which employees 326, voted overwhelmingly, 209-77, to become union members in the Teamsters Local 991.

"We are pleased to welcome the New Era Cap workers to the Teamsters and we will work hard to represent them," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "The Teamsters reached an agreement with New Era Cap earlier this year with its Mobile, Alabama workers that helped lead to today's victory."

"I was not surprised at the size of the victory because all the workers know we need a change in how we are treated and I tip my hat to the Teamsters for coming in here and helping us," said Nancy Phelon, a three-year worker who works in Stitching. "I know the Teamsters will be behind us from now on."

Read more in the Press Release at PR Newswire
The image “http://www.prnewswire.com/images/recent/masthead01.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


American Axle/UAW reach tentative pact, Cheektowaga to stay open, Tonawanda Forge to close

There is a tentative agreement between AAM and UAW, not many details as of yet. Buffalo Cheektowaga facility to stay open, Tonawanda Forge to close, don't know much more yet, details will be released Sunday morning. WSBT DTV reports "A spokesperson who was briefed on the agreement says the auto part supplier has boosted its wage offer and increased payments it will give workers to take a wage cut."

From AFL-CIO Blog (5/17/08):
The UAW and American Axle Manufacturing have reached a tentative agreement to end a strike by 3,600 UAW members at American Axle plants in Michigan and New York. The workers have been on strike since Feb. 26. The tentative pact was announced late yesterday.

Says UAW President Gettelfinger:
Our members at American Axle have displayed extraordinary solidarity during this strike. the bargaining committee worked extremely hard to achieve this tentative agreement and they have voted to recommend it to the membership.

Details of the tentative agreement will be presented to UAW members who work in the two Detroit area plants at a meeting tomorrow morning. Meetings for workers at the other three American Axle facilities are being scheduled.
Buffalo's News 4 reports:
About 116 people work at the Cheektowaga plant.

The agreement does call for closing the Tonawanda Forge, which employs around 400.

State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who was Town Supervisor when American Axle moved into Cheektowaga, has mixed feelings.

Gabryszak said, "For them to be able to go back to work knowing they'll have jobs for at least the next four years that's the good thing. Of course the downside is losing those jobs in Tonawanda plant."

Klostermann said, "There's a lot of skepticism, sure there's probably a general uplifting feeling but for the most part until we see what's going to be offered you really can't let your guard down."

The workers have been on strike for eleven and-a-half weeks.
More American Axle strike headlines below

NY: Rock icon's The Police pledge $1 million to plant a million trees, to perform 1 last concert to benefit Public Television

From May 6th. Bloomberg press release :

$2 Million Contribution to MillionTreesNYC - $1 Million Pledged by The Police, an Amount Matched by the City - Will Plant 10,000 New Trees and Help Reforest 2,000 Acres
Final Concert Will Raise Funds for Thirteen / WNET and WLIW New York

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland of The Police to announce that the band's final concert will be in New York City and their commitment to MillionTreesNYC, the City's initiative to plant one million trees by the year 2017. MillionTreesNYC is a component of PlaNYC, the Mayor's plan to make the City more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030. The Police pledged $1 million to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City in support of MillionTreesNYC. This donation, matched by the City, will provide $2 million which will plant 10,000 trees and help launch the reforestation component of MillionTreesNYC, which will reforest 2,000 acres of parkland across the five boroughs. Reforestation efforts improve air and water quality, reduce greenhouse gases and lower energy costs.

"The Police are now part of one of the most exciting elements of PlaNYC - MillionTreesNYC - our initiative to plant one million new trees over the next 10 years," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Sting's human right's advocacy is well known, as is his support for the environment, especially the rainforests. Today The Police have demonstrated their commitment to greening our City."

"We are pleased to contribute to this powerful and historic initiative that will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for future generations," said The Police. "We applaud Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York for boldly confronting the City's environmental issues and are excited to support their goal of creating a healthier, more sustainable City."

Safety Workers Bill dropped for the moment, hard core anti-worker conservatives playing games

UPDATE To: Victory: Senate vote's overwhelmingly in favor of America's public safety workers (5/13/08)

According to the Associated Press this Bill has been dropped for the time being, from The NY Times (5/15/08):
Democrats drop first - responder bill
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats on Thursday dropped a bill allowing all police, firefighters and other first responders to unionize after Republicans complained they didn't get enough time to offer amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he did not have enough votes to force final consideration of the bill.

The two top senators on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., will try to work out an agreement before the bill comes back for consideration, Reid said.

The bill would guarantee public safety officers the right to join unions and bargain over wages, hours and conditions of employment. It also would ban them from going on strike.

Two states, Virginia and North Carolina, prohibit public safety officers from collective bargaining. At least 20 other states don't fully protect collective bargaining rights for firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and emergency medical service workers, supporters said.

States could exempt towns with fewer than 5,000 people or fewer than 25 full-time employees.

''I know there are diverse views on this issue,'' Kennedy said. ''We'll try to work out an orderly process and proceed.''
Sources say, that while there is strong bipartisan support, 11 Republicans are co-sponsors of the Bill, there is also fierce opposition, particularly from Enzi, DeMint and Vitter who have essentially been filibustering by amendment. The Bill will be brought up again right before or after Senate recess.


Stop Big Media: Huge Senate win!

second good news, E-Activism works, even if it takes a while, when the FCC on December 17th. 2007, went against 99% of American peoples wishes and overturned a rule that 1 company can not own more than one of either print, tv or radio in any one region, FreePress went to work, getting people like you and I involved in stressing to our Senators that we the people can not take this blatant disregard of our wishes. I wrote "Now Big Media can hurt workers better" at the FreePress Blog on Dec. 19th., the CWA and AFTRA joined in the fight

From the E-Mailbox

Stop Big Media

Dear Joseph,

Just moments ago, by a near-unanimous vote, the Senate stood up to Big Media. They voted to throw out the FCC decision to let the largest media companies swallow up even more local media.

This is simply an astounding victory, and it would not have happened without the massive grassroots effort by you and thousands of others who called their senators, sent more than a quarter million letters, posted thousands of pictures and stories on StopBigMedia.com, and testified at public hearings held by the FCC.

It was your dedication that made today's Senate win possible.

Today was a huge step forward, but there is still much to do. The fight against the FCC now moves to the House, where our elected representatives need to hear from us.

President Bush has promised that he will try to veto this bill. But tonight the Senate and the American people have spoken with one voice. This historic vote sends a clear message that the only people who support more media consolidation are Big Media lobbyists and the White House.

We are in this struggle to bring more minority ownership, diverse perspectives and independent voices to the media. We need to make media consolidation an election-year issue. And we need to start talking about how to break up the giant conglomerates.

Corporate news today -- with its propaganda pundits, horse-race election coverage, and celebrity gossip -- undermines our democracy. We must continue to speak out and demand that the public airwaves be used to actually serve the public.

In just three weeks, thousands of people will be gathering together in Minnesota to build the movement for better media. You can join them at the National Conference for Media Reform, just visit www.freepress.net/conference.

For today, know that you played a key role in the fight for better media for all.

Thank you,

Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press Action Fund

StopBigMedia.com is a project of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund, on the Web at www.freepress.net.

House votes to give returning vets a fighting chance for a secure future

Follow up to:

Dear Joseph,

You did it. Just a few minutes ago, the House of Representatives passed the new GI Bill by a vote of 256-166, as an attachment to the emergency supplemental. Click here to view the full list of who voted for it and who voted against it.

Earlier this week, we told you that the new GI Bill was facing opposition from a small group of Representatives in the House, who were threatening the bill despite its deep bi-partisan support.

We asked for your help, and you stepped up to the plate. Thousands of you took action by calling your Representatives, signing the petition at www.GIBill2008.org, and spreading the word to your friends and neighbors. Today, your dedication paid off and together, we made history.

There's no question that your efforts had an impact. Referring specifically to the group of Representatives that were standing in the way of the bill, known as the Blue Dogs, the Politico, a Washington-insider newspaper, said that "there had been erosion among Blue Dogs in the face of pressure from veterans groups."1 The leadership you demonstrated in fighting for this bill shows that IAVA is a force to be reckoned with.

The new GI Bill has widespread support among Democrats, Republicans, and all of the major veterans organizations. But the legislative process is a long one, and it's your dedication that keeps it going during these crucial stages.

Next week, the Senate will have to vote on the bill as well. After that, it will go to the President's desk for his signature.

We'll keep you updated via email, but for the latest news, just visit www.GIBill2008.org.

Thank you again for standing with us. The support we're getting in this fight has been truly inspiring.


Patrick Campbell
Iraq Veteran
Legislative Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

1. Politico: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0508/10331.html

Are Labor Unions Too Powerful, The Myth That Won't Die

Wow, what an excellent article By David Macaray at CounterPunch (5/13/08):

Even on the face of it, the notion that American labor unions are “too powerful” is silly. In fact, it’s more than silly; it’s pathetic, really. Pathetic because there are people out there who still embrace this notion, still cling to it the way they cling to Kennedy assassination theories and the belief that something selling for $19.99 is cheaper than something selling for $20, cling to it despite staggering evidence to the contrary.

For openers, consider: There are millions of union members who don’t even have the right to strike, who don’t have the bedrock union right of withholding their labor as a “last resort” means of protesting an unacceptable contract. Who are these union members? Federal, state, county and municipal workers. They’re forbidden to strike. It’s illegal. How’s that for union “power”?

You really should check out the entire article

OR: John McCain's Health Care plan will make "you" pay tax on medical insurance. Workers threatened with arrest by McCain camp

Hey American worker, John McCain would rather see you arrested than speak to you.

Recent related story:John McCain's Health care plan, printable poster, spread the facts

More than 50 times American workers have been at fund raisers to confront John McCain on his anti-worker voting record and outrageous Health Care proposal, this past Monday is the first time the workers had an adjacent room just a few steps away, "making it possible for John McCain to walk only a few steps to meet with working folks."

John McCain's Health Care plan will make "you" pay tax on medical insurance
McCain’s health care proposals(PDF file), which are similar to President Bush’s failed policies, would tax employer-provided health care as income, increase costs to workers, leave workers at the mercy of insurance companies who could weed out people who need health care the most, make health care harder to obtain and lower the quality of available health care plans.'
Well heres the scoop on what happened when members of the Oregon State AFL-CIO tried to speak with McCain.

From the Oregon State AFL-CIO (5/15/08):
McCain Refuses to Meet with Oregon's Working and Women Monday Evening
Instead, Presidential hopeful spends evening with donors who can pay more for dinner than many working folks earn in a year

Oregon’s working men and women waited…and waited…and waited just steps away from Presidential hopeful Senator John McCain’s $33,100 per couple fundraiser Monday evening to tell their stories of health care crisis and struggle to the presumptive Republican nominee. But McCain never showed.

In fact, when Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain offered to approach his campaign team with one last polite, in-person request to see him Chamberlain was threatened with arrest.

“Senator McCain had an unprecedented opportunity today to show that he is as concerned about working folks as he is about his wealthy friends,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “Instead he reaffirmed that he doesn’t share the priorities of working folks and he is not the candidate to turn around America.”

The event was attended by more than 20 working men and women and their children. One Oregonian who hoped to share her story with McCain was Nancy Cochran: “For someone who claims to be a straight talker, I feel like we got the run around,” said Cochran. “With his plan, we’re basically on our own. It feels like we’ve been forgotten. He wants us out of sight and out of mind.”

Cochran, a 51-year-old wife, mother and employee, says her family can’t even afford to use its employer provided health care because they can’t afford the twenty percent of medical care that that the insurance doesn’t pay.

Brandy Benedict, an emergency room nurse who also attended the event knows Cochran’s situation all too well.

I see people every day who work fulltime, work two jobs, who don’t have insurance, and even if they have insurance they can’t afford health care or prescriptions because their premiums and out-of-pocket costs are too high,” Benedict said. “Health insurance is expensive, and it is a luxury that is already out of reach for many individuals and families. Further shifting the cost burden from employers to workers, as the McCain health care proposal outlines, will increase the number of uninsured patients I see. There is a solution to our health care problems, but we will not find it in McCain’s plan.” (continued at site)

Do you want to pay tax on your medical insurance?