Unions supporting pension-gutting bill!

There was a piece here yesterday (my own modest contribution with some links) which flagged the enormous hole (around $150 billion) that the latest pension bill currently in conference would dig in private pension schemes - that's the amount, according to the Federal agency the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, that the bill will permit employers to avoid contributing to such schemes.

Sounds like corporate welfare to me (though I'm no expert).

Now, I find (Boehner's boasting list) that several unions, including Unite To Win member UNITE HERE (but not fellow breakaways SEIU and the Teamsters, it seems) are backing the bill.

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Whatever happened to the Dems and the minimum wage?

It's a genuine question: the record shows that, in the first flush of GOP success in finally wresting control of Congress away from the Dem, a bill which (among other things) increased the minimum wage passed the House 354-72 and the Senate 76-22. With such guys as Thurmond and Frist voting for it.

Even Kerry, in his Our Plan For America, said (p78) he planned to increase the minimum wage to $7.00 an hour by 2007. (Which is almost upon us.)

Yet I get the impression (it's as scientific as that!) that Dems in general aren't terribly keen about discussing the issue.

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Union boss Andy Stern to run his own candidates!

The SEIU boss and leader of the Change to Win group of unions who broke away from the AFL-CIO is saying that his union

will actively recruit and finance its own candidates, even if that means running them against Democratic incumbents in primaries or backing Republicans in general elections.

On the performance of the two parties,

Stern says Democrats haven't done enough to keep American jobs from going overseas, and while many Americans have lost faith in the Republicans to run the country, "people don't yet believe electing Democrats will make that much of a difference.''

Stern also says that Republicans are more adept at reaching ordinary voters. "The Democrats think elections are 'Jeopardy' or 'College Bowl' and Republicans think they are  'American Idol,''' he said.

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Reflections on a 4-Year Labor Strike

When I was a freshman in high school in a little town in northern Wyoming, my stepdad, one of 200+ union mine workers at a nearby mine, voted to strike at 12:01 AM on October 1st, 1987. It was a strike that would last four years and in the process, change our family, our town, and our futures forever.

From the day he started working in his first mine, he'd been a union member.  He believed in unions as surely as he believed in the Bible, and preached the virtues of the labor movement like it was the Word of God.  By the time he met my mom, he was a strike captain in the United Mine Workers of America, Local #1972.  He was also a hardcore Democrat and as far as he was concerned, union and Democrat were one and the same: they both championed the little guy, the one who didn't have the advantage of wealth or power or fame; they both valued the integrity of hard work; they both trusted in the power of the ordinary to do extraordinary things...they both believed that together, we are mighty.

Labor is the great producer of wealth: it moves all other causes. -- Congressman Daniel Webster, 4/2/1824

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Growing up Union

There have been some questions here in the race for Arizona's District 8 about whether or not candidates support the right to organize. Let me clearly state my belief that workers have every right to organize and this is one reason our country became as strong as it is. Because of our freedoms, the people won a struggle to keep the balance of power from shifting entirely towards corporate interests.

You bet I support the right to organize. I grew up in a family where my father was a member of a union. He started out as a school teacher after earning his degree on the GI bill, granted to him because he served his country during WWII. He was never motivated by money, but he was motivated to do the right thing. I never heard him once complain about his income. He just wanted to do the right thing.

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