Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

Democratic Talk Radio will be on the air in the Lehigh Valley starting April 3

03.31.08

Democratic Talk Radio will be on the air in the Lehigh Valley starting April 3, 2008 at 8:05 am on WGPA, 1100AM. The program will be streaming live on the Internet at http://www.wgpasunny1100.com/welcomepg.html. All programs will be archived on the Democratic Talk Radio website at http://66.39.111.188/arc.html for anytime streaming or downloading for Podcasting.

The program will feature book authors, talk show hosts, journalists, labor leaders, officeholders, candidates, policy experts, political activists and more, as guests. The program will be co-hosted by Stephen Crockett (from Maryland and Tennessee) and Dana Garrett (from Delaware.) Both are experienced political observers and talk show hosts.

Stephen Crockett writes the Democratic Voices opinion column which is widely available on the Internet. He is a member of the National Writers Union (UAW local 1981) and is active with the UAW Community Action Program. Professionally, Stephen Crockett has an extensive background in marketing, advertising and public relations. Crockett owns College Marketing.com http://www.CollegeMarketing.com .

Crockett serves as a public relations specialist for American Income Life Insurance dealing with unions in Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania. He represents the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 277 on many labor councils in the region. Crockett is an associate member of the Steelworkers’ (USW) union.

He serves as Editor and Publisher of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com. He has worked in dozens of political campaigns from New Hampshire to Florida. Crockett has been active in Democratic political circles in his home states of Maryland and Tennessee. He blogs on many different websites and is very active in the progressive Netroots community.

Dana Garrett is married and the father of two children. He is a former State of Delaware employee and Adjunct Professor at Wilmington College. He resides in Wilmington, Delaware. He has Masters of Arts degrees in Philosophy and English Literature. He writes for the blog Delaware Watch and is a co-host of the radio program Progressive Voices, which is broadcast by the University of Delaware (WVUD). His poetry has been published in anthologies and dozens of periodicals and journals.

Democratic Talk Radio would like to meet with your Executive Board and/or membership. Stephen Crockett can explain how you can assist Democratic Talk Radio and obtain addition benefits for your organization or union membership at no cost via American Income Life Insurance.

The Laborers’ Local 1174 have helped bring you Democratic Talk Radio by sponsoring the first 4 shows. Please contact Stephen Crockett at demlabor@aol.com or 1-443-907-2367 if you or your organization might be willing to sponsor broadcasts of Democratic Talk Radio. Airtime will cost us about $180 per show. You can sponsor a whole broadcast or just buy some ads. Ad rates are $30 per 1 minute ad or $20 per 30 second ad.

Democratic Talk Radio advertising opportunity in the Lehigh Valley of PA

03.30.08

Democratic Talk Radio will be on the air in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania starting next Thursday morning. The station is WGPA. Ad rates on the program will be $30 for a one minute ad and $20 for a 30 second ad. The weekly show will air Thursday mornings from 8:05 am until 9 am.

You can sponsor an entire show for $180. The program will stream live on the Internet and be permanently available later on the Democratic Talk Radio website for anytime Internet streaming or downloading for Podcasts. The program archives will include all advertising content.

We expect a very large national Internet audience for the shows.

Please contact me at 443-907-2367 for any additional details required. This is my personal cell phone so you can call any day or hour.

The Democratic Talk Radio office address is: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702.

Sincerely,

Stephen Crockett

Co-host & Owner, Democratic Talk Radio
http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com

Email me at demlabor@aol.com

MOBILIZE and ORGANIZE with the UNITE HERE Organizing Team

03.29.08

MOBILIZE and ORGANIZE

Make a difference … become a member of the UNITE HERE Organizing Team working to organize hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers in hotel, casino, retail and laundry work throughout North America. Help workers stand together and fight for their rights and economic security. We are interviewing soon-to-graduate and post graduate applicants for a two day intensive organizing skills workshop.

Recommended participants will be offered paid organizer training apprenticeships and jobs.

*2008 Dates are:*

*Phoenix, AZ – April 11, 12***

*Philadelphia, PA - April 18, 19*

*Los Angeles, CA - May 2, 3*

*New York/New Jersey - June 6, 7*

Requirements:

• Desire to fight for justice and organize the unorganized.

*• *Valid driver’s license.

*• *Excellent communication skills.

*How to Apply: Fill out an online application at*

http://jobs.unitehere.org/organizerapp.php

*For More Information contact: unitehere@gmail.com*

* *

*No 2 Day Training in your area? No problem! Apply online at **
http://jobs.unitehere.org/organizerapp.php*
*and we will arrange for a field interview in your area.***

Is Cheney betting on Economic Collapse?

03.29.08

Is Cheney betting on Economic Collapse?

By Mike Whitney

07/04/06 “Information Clearing House” ## ##

Wouldn’t you like to know where Dick Cheney puts his money? Then you’d know whether his “deficits don’t matter” claim is just baloney or not.

Well, as it turns out, Kiplinger Magazine ran an article based on Cheney’s financial disclosure statement and, sure enough, found out that the VP is lying to the American people for the umpteenth time. Deficits do matter and Cheney has invested his money accordingly.

The article is called “Cheney’s betting on bad news” and provides an account of where Cheney has socked away more than $25 million. While the figures may be estimates, the investments are not. According to Tom Blackburn of the Palm Beach Post, Cheney has invested heavily in “a fund that specializes in short-term municipal bonds, a tax-exempt money market fund and an inflation protected securities fund. The first two hold up if interest rates rise with inflation. The third is protected against inflation.”

Cheney has dumped another (estimated) $10 to $25 million in a European bond fund which tells us that he is counting on a steadily weakening dollar. So, while working class Americans are loosing ground to inflation and rising energy costs, Darth Cheney will be enhancing his wealth in “Old Europe”. As Blackburn sagely notes, “Not all `bad news’ is bad for everybody.”

This should put to rest once and for all the foolish notion that the “Bush Economic Plan” is anything more than a scam aimed at looting the public till. The whole deal is intended to shift the nation’s wealth from one class to another. It’s also clear that Bush-Cheney couldn’t have carried this off without the tacit approval of the thieves at the Federal Reserve who engineered the low-interest rate boondoggle to put the American people to sleep while they picked their pockets.

Reasonable people can dispute that Bush is “intentionally” skewering the dollar with his lavish tax cuts, but how does that explain Cheney’s portfolio?

It doesn’t. And, one thing we can say with metaphysical certainty is that the miserly Cheney would never plunk his money into an investment that wasn’t a sure thing. If Cheney is counting on the dollar tanking and interest rates going up, then, by Gawd, that’s what’ll happen.

The Bush-Cheney team has racked up another $3 trillion in debt in just 6 years. The US national debt now stands at $8.4 trillion dollars while the trade deficit has ballooned to $800 billion nearly 7% of GDP.

This is lunacy. No country, however powerful, can maintain these staggering numbers. The country is in hock up to its neck and has to borrow $2.5 billion per day just to stay above water. Presently, the Fed is expanding the money supply and buying back its own treasuries to hide the hemorrhaging from the public. Its utter madness.

Last month the trade deficit climbed to $70 billion. More importantly, foreign central banks only purchased a meager $47 billion in treasuries to shore up our ravenous appetite for cheap junk from China.

Do the math! They’re not investing in America anymore. They are decreasing their stockpiles of dollars. We’re sinking fast and Cheney and his pals are manning the lifeboats while the public is diverted with gay marriage amendments and “American Celebrity”.

The American manufacturing sector has been hollowed out by cutthroat corporations who’ve abandoned their country to make a fast-buck in China or Mexico. The $3 trillion housing (equity) bubble is quickly loosing air while the anemic dollar continues to sag. All the signs indicate that the economy is slowing at the same time that energy prices continue to rise.

This is the onset of stagflation; the dreaded combo of a slowing economy and inflation.

Did Americans really think they’d be spared the same type of economic colonization that has been applied throughout the developing world under the rubric of “neoliberalism”?

Well, think again. The American economy is barrel-rolling towards earth and there are only enough parachutes for Cheney and the gang.

The country has lost 3 million jobs from outsourcing since Bush took office; more than 200,000 of those are the high-paying, high-tech jobs that are the life’s-blood of every economy.

Consider this from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) June edition of Foreign Affairs, the Bible of globalists and plutocrats:

“Between 2000 and 2003 alone, foreign firms built 60,000manufacturing plants in China. European chemical companies, Japanese carmakers, and US industrial conglomerates are all building factories in China to supply export markets around the world. Similarly, banks, insurance companies, professional-service firms, and IT companies are building R&D and service centers in India to support employees, customers, and production worldwide.”

(”The Globally integrated Enterprise” Samuel Palmisano, Foreign Affairs page 130)

“60,000manufacturing plants” in 3 years?!?

“Banks, insurance companies, professional-service firms, and IT companies”?

No job is safe. American elites and corporate tycoons are loading the boats and heading for foreign shores. The only thing they’re leaving behind is the insurmountable debt that will be shackled to our children into perpetuity and the carefully arranged levers of a modern police-surveillance state.

Welcome to Bush’s 21st Century gulag; third world luxury in a Guantanamo-type setting.

Take another look at Cheney’s investment strategy; it tells the whole ugly story. Interest rates are going up, the middle class is going down, and the poor dollar is headed for the dumpster. The country is not simply teetering on the brink of financial collapse; it is being thrust headfirst by the blackguards in office and their satrapies at Federal Reserve.

Clinton and Obama to speak at Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia

03.28.08

Senator Hillary Clinton to Speak on Tuesday, April 1st at 11:15 AM and Senator Barack Obama to Speak on Wednesday, April 2nd at 9:00 AM at Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia

As indicated by the attached Speakers Schedule, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama will be speaking at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Biennial Convention in Philadelphia at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. Senator Clinton will be speaking at 11:15 AM on Tuesday, April 1st and Senator Obama will be speaking on Wednesday, April 2nd at 9:00 AM.

Several other prominent national and state political and labor leaders will also speak at the convention which begins on Tuesday, April 1st and runs through Thursday, April 3rd. John Sweeney, President of the National AFL-CIO representing over ten million AFL-CIO union members will be speaking on Thursday, April 3rd at 11:00 AM. Other key speakers include: U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Jr.; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; and Larry Cohen, International President of the Communications Workers of America.

Over 1,000 delegates and guests, representing Pennsylvania AFL-CIO affiliated unions are expected to attend the convention which will be focusing on plans for the 2008 elections: building even larger worker friendly majorities in the U.S. Congress, the State Legislature and electing a President who supports workers. As of this time the AFL-CIO has not endorsed a Presidential candidate.

Delegates will also concentrate on issues of importance to all workers: quality, affordable health care; creating and protecting good jobs; fair trade policies; strengthening social security; defeating privatization; freedom to organize; and work and family protections.

The Convention’s General Sessions will be held in the Liberty Ballrooms B, C, & D of the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, 17th and Race Streets, Philadelphia, PA during the following days and times:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 9:30 AM through 1:00 PM

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 9:00 AM through 1:30 PM

Thursday, April 3, 2008 9:00 AM through completion of all business

Other convention events include:

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Honorees Dinner - Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 7:00 PM

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Citizen of the Year Award Honoree

Media Credentials:

Press registration and credentials for covering Senator Clinton’s and Senator Obama’s speeches will be conducted by their respective campaigns and not by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

Press credentials for speakers and events other than for Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama will be available at the Delegate Registration Desk, Liberty Foyer of the Hotel.

See attached Speakers Schedule of complete list of speakers and times. Updated media advisories including schedule changes if any will be forwarded.

Confirmed Speakers for Convention

Tuesday, April 1st

9:30 AM Pat Eiding, President Philadelphia CLC

9:40 AM Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

10:00 AM Congressman Christopher Carney

10:00 AM Senator Robert Casey, Jr.

11:15 AM Senator Hillary Clinton

Wednesday, April 2nd

9:00 AM Senator Barack Obama

9:00 AM Congressman Chaka Fattah

10:30 AM Larry Cohen International President CWA

11:30 AM Auditor General Jack Wagner

7:00 PM Rich Trumka - Banquet Speaker

Thursday, April 3rd

9:30 AM Mark Blum, America’s Agenda

Heather Booth, National AFL-CIO

11:00 AM President John Sweeney

CONTACT: James Deegan of Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, +1-717-231-2867

/PRNewswire-USNewswire ## March 26/

Street Insider press release link

SOURCE Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

SEIU to focus on Obama ground game

03.28.08

SEIU to focus on Obama ground game
by Domenico Montanaro

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/24/801630.aspx

From NBC/NJ’s Matthew Berger

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. ## SEIU leaders said they are planning on focusing on “member-to-member” contacts throughout Pennsylvania, choosing not to air advertisements for Obama at this time.

“We think in Pennsylvania, the more workers can talk to workers, the more influential we can be,” said Anna Burger, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer, in a conference call with reporters Monday.

There are more than 75,000 SEIU members in the Keystone State, and the union is setting up eight sites across Pennsylvania. The focus has been on registration through Monday, the deadline for residents to register to vote or change their party affiliation. The next step will be educating members.

While SEIU aired ads for Obama, shortly after announcing their national endorsement, before the Ohio primary, they are not planning to go on television or radio in Pennsylvania at this time. “But that could change,” Burger said.

“We think the candidates are spending so much on the air, it’s more important for us to be on the door and on the ground,” she said.

After a compressed primary schedule earlier this year, union officials said the extra time has allowed them to ensure their membership rolls are up to date and to better organize themselves in the field, which lessened the need for media buys. Burger said members have been spontaneously reaching out to union officials, interested in the race and getting involved.

When asked if Obama could win the union vote in Pennsylvania, with polls showing Clinton at a 15-point advantage, Burger said she thought “we can narrow the gap.”

Teamsters petition NLRB to conduct another election

03.27.08

April 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Teamsters petition NLRB to conduct another election

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, March 16th- The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union Local 773, Hamilton Street in Allentown, have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia asking the agency to conduct a election to determine if employees of CEVA Logistics want to be union represented.

The company operates a warehouse in Breinigsville at 861 Nestle Way.

According to the petition, filed with the NLRB on March 5th, and obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the employer at that location has approximately 35 workers. The union states the petition filed is supported by at least 30 percent of the workers. Under NLRB rules, before the agency will conduct a election of the employees to determine if they want to be union represented, the petition requesting the election must be supported by at least 30 percent of the workers.

Also, a labor organization must receive at least 50 percent plus one of the eligible voting employees in the election before they become the bargaining representative of the workers.

The union wants to represent all full-time forklift operators, auditors, pickers, receivers, and loaders employed by CEVA at its Breinigsville facility. The union wants all other employees, part-time workers, inventory control, lead persons, guards, and supervisors excluded from being able to participate in the election.

During 2007, Local 773 attempted to organize more units of workers than any other union throughout the Lehigh Valley. In fact, according to NLRB records, reviewed by the newspaper, the union petitioned with the NLRB to conduct more representation elections during 2007 than all other unions in the region combined.

In July of 2007, the Teamsters won the right to represent workers of three separate employers in Allentown. The NLRB conducted representation elections on July 12th and 19th, with the IBT winning all three.

The petition also states the union requested on March 3rd the employer recognize them as the employees bargaining representative but CEVA Logistics officials as of March 5th did not reply to the request.

American Postal Workers files Unfair Labor Practice charge against DHL Express

03.27.08

April 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

American Postal Workers files Unfair Labor Practice charge against DHL Express

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, March 18th- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) filed a “Unfair Labor Practice” (ULP) charge against DHL Express Inc. alleging the company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRAct).

According to the charge, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, the union filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region Four in Philadelphia on March 10th, 2008.

DHL Express Inc. is a global package delivery system and operates a facility on Nestle Way in Breinigsville.

The charge alleges the company violated the NLRAct by firing a employee after participating in union activity. “On or about February 4th, 2008, the employer fired employee Delvin Pena for engaging in protected, concerted activity in an effort to discourage other employees from exercising their right to self organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection,” states the charge.

The union has filed other charges against the company while attempting to organize their workers. The NLRB conducted a representation election at the facility in September, 2007, to determine if approximately 400 DHL workers wanted to be represented by the APWU. The employees voted 217 against becoming union members to 135 for union representation. Under NLRB rules, the union needed 50 percent plus one of the eligible voting employees to cast ballots in favor of the union to become the bargaining representative of the workers.

However, the APWU filed a ULP against DHL and their labor consultant, Crossroads Group Labor Relations Consultants, alleging they violated the NLRAct during the campaign leading up to the election. In January, 2008, the NLRB announced they found merit in the unions charge.

The March 10th charge also alleges the company fired employee Norma Flores for also engaging in protected union activity.

On or about March 5th, 2008 the employer fired Norma Flores for engaging in protected concerted activity in an effort to discourage other employees from exercising their right to form a union, alleges the charge.

Delaware UAW member runs for New Castle 12th District County Council seat

03.27.08

Cecilia Scherer
Committee to Elect Tom Scherer
12th county Council District
211 Aberdeen Way
Townsend, DE 19734
302 378 2920

PRESS RELEASE FOR TOM SCHERER, 12TH COUNTY DISTRICT CANDIDATE

Thomas Scherer of Townsend, formerly from Newark, and New Castle, is announcing his candidacy for the 12 District County Council seat.

Tom is a native Delawarean, who has been a member of Local 435, and United Auto Worker at General Motors for the past 23 years.

Tom resides in the community of Odessa National with his wife Cecilia, the rest of the family includes, daughters: Cecilia 18, Sara 15, Ashley 13, son, Joey 6, and a great dog, Nova.

Toms’ priorities are: Responsive Government

Constituent Service

Promoting Economic Growth and Stability

Responsible Land Use, Development, and Enforcement

Preserve and Protect Open Space & Farm Land

Provide Equitable County Resources throughout the 12th district

Scherer’s immediate area of concern will be to address the issues affecting the communities in the 12th district and promote responsible development, working to restore the economic stability of this county, as well as making sure the infrastructure is in place before the development occurs.

When asked why was he running: Tom replied “Because for the past three years the 12 district has had no voice in county government, and with the 12 district being the largest council district with the greatest population, these residents can no longer afford to go another day with out that voice.”

Scherer pledges to know his district, and most important to respond promptly when constituents call and address their concerns. Something they have not had for the past three years.

Scherer is looking forward to an exciting and challenging race, and is out working the district and meeting the people, and doing something they have not seen before, lending a concerned ear to the many issues each new community is facing.

Tom, is asking everyone to come on board with the message: “We Need Change Now”, and We Can Work Together, to make the 12th Better. ”

The Scherer Campaign has an open line of communication, and he and his committee are asking and encouraging the people of the 12 district to call, and talk to Tom about their issues, and to volunteer on the campaign.

Best Regards,

Thomas Scherer,

UPDATE: ON March 20th Tom Scherer received the endorsement of the 16th Democratic District

Philadelphia CLUW calls on labor to “Support Temple University workers!”

03.26.08

Dear CLUW members: Below is info on a rally to support Temple workers of AFSCME Local 1723, who have been working without a contract for six months. Many of them are CLUW members. Please come out to this rally is you can, April 1st.

In Solidarity,

Kathy Black
Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women
## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## ## -##
TEMPLE EMPLOYEES & STUDENTS
Unite!

Stop Temple’s ALL Merit Pay Plan

Support:

· A Democratic Voice in the Work Place
· A Fair and Living Wage for All
· Decent and Affordable Health Care

RALLY FOR FAIRNESS

April 1, 2008
Noon Sharp
At the Bell Tower
In Front of Paley Library

Rain or Shine

Come Out and Be Counted
BRING YOUR
CO-WORKERS & FRIENDS

Union Rights Are Human Rights

This rally is sponsored by the Coalition of Labor Organizations and Unions at Temple (CLOUT)/ Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)/ Jobs with Justice. Participating CLOUT members are: AFSCME Local 1723, BUE Local 612/SEIU, IUOE Local 835, TAUP/AFT Local 4531, TUGSA/AFT Local 6290, PASNAP/Temple Local, HPAE/Episcopal, the Temple University Law Professors Bargaining Unit, 1199C, and SPFPA Local 511.

LABOR DONATED

Labor’s New Deal

03.26.08

The Nation article | posted March 20, 2008 (April 7, 2008 issue)

Labor’s New Deal
by Andy Stern

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080407/stern

It’s no accident that the New Deal followed by four years the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, who once famously declared, “The chief business of the American people is business.” The human cost of the Great Depression created a change in climate that became the philosophical underpinning of the New Deal: the business of the American people was the people themselves## all of the people## not just the tycoons who made the “Roaring Twenties” roar and then crash.

Of course, we are as far today from the New Deal as the New Deal was from the Civil War. We cannot expect that work will be valued and rewarded in a global economy by reflexively copying strategies from an industrial economy. Although our values stay the same, our strategies must change. In the 1930s, employers were local, so local unions were strategically aligned with their employers. Today capital has gone global, trade is global, finance is global and, most important, companies are global## so how can unions assist members by just acting locally? “Workers of the world unite” is no longer an ideological slogan; it is the basis of an effort SEIU embarked on four years ago to create global unions of workers who work for the same employers.

Moreover, almost all labor issues in the 1930s pitted American unions against American businesses. The relationship was almost always adversarial. Today, America needs to act more as a team and create a new plan to compete in a global economy. That plan must start with universal healthcare. We simply cannot compete if we are the only nation on earth that asks our businesses to put the cost of healthcare on our products.

While modern developments## the Internet, fiber optics, cellphones and a globalized workforce and economy## have resulted in a profound transformation of the American economy, they have not erased the basic debate about the proper role of government. Coolidge’s heirs today are corporatists who have succeeded in rolling back many elements of the New Deal and the subsequent reforms that helped create a great American middle class.

Roosevelt understood that in addition to government programs, a balanced economy requires strong labor unions. Then, as now, increased unionization created higher wages and benefits for both union members and unorganized workers. As unionization increased, the middle class grew. And as the percentage of workers represented by a union has declined in the past three decades, the disparity of wealth has increased.

Corporatists have persistently tried to weaken two of the New Deal pillars of economic fairness and redistribution: government and the law enacted in 1935 to give workers the freedom to form a union under the oversight of a National Labor Relations Board. In recent years, the NLRB has increasingly been dominated by corporate interests issuing rulings hostile to workers’ rights and creating new barriers to workers who want to form unions.

Today, more than half of all workers say they would join a union if they had the opportunity, yet less than 8 percent of private workers are in unions. Billion-dollar corporations hire professional “union avoidance consultants,” who gang up on workers in unending private interviews, require them to watch hours of antiunion videos in “captive audience” meetings, punish or fire key supporters, threaten wage cutbacks and closings. These corporations face no consequences for their actions or meaningless sanctions under the current weak law.

Where the New Deal once served to rebalance the power between labor and capital, we are now perilously out of balance. In recent years, CEO salaries have gone up more than 600 percent. Had we only tied CEO pay to the minimum wage in 1990, the minimum wage would be more than $23 an hour and the average production worker would make more than $110,000 a year.

This is why Congress needs to enact the Employee Free Choice Act: to permit workers the choice to unite their voices at work. The House of Representatives has already passed it, but Republicans blocked it in the Senate. Both Democratic presidential candidates support it, and its passage is critical to restoring fairness to the workplace.

As in 1935, America is faced with a choice. Is the role of government to serve the 99 percent of hard-working Americans or only corporations and the super-wealthy? The answer will lead to very different decisions on taxation, education, pensions and healthcare.

We need to take into account the vast changes that have occurred since the New Deal, and we must continually adjust as new changes take place. America still needs strong unions## as well as a government on the side of working people## as part of the solution to rebalance power, provide greater fairness, make work pay and ensure that the dreams of all American children can still come true.

Andy Stern is President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Laborers’ Union re-affiliates with building trades department

03.26.08

April 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Laborers’ Union re-affiliates with building trades department

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, March 16th- The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington, DC announced on March 13th they are reuniting with the national Building and Construction Trades Department.

According to Terry O’Sullivan, President of the Laborers’ International Union, the two organizations mutually resolved issues regarding the plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes which governs how unions are given the right to perform specific work on jobsites, and regarding per capita voting, which allows for decision making based on the number of rank and file members each union has in the department.

The Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), is an alliance of 13 craft unions representing approximately three million members. The unions represent workers employed within the construction industry.

The Laborers’ Union unaffiliated from the AFL-CIO several years ago and joined the Change to Win (CTW) labor federation. The union will remain affiliated with Change to Win under the agreement reached between the two parties.

“We left the building trades for principled reasons and we are going back for principled reasons. It is a positive reflection on the Laborers’ leadership, the Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers, Secretary-Treasurer Sean McGarvey and the entire Governing Board of Presidents that this day has come,” said Mr. O’Sullivan.

According to James Hartman, Business Manager of Laborers’ Union Local 1147 in Allentown, which represents LIUNA members throughout the Lehigh Valley, the reuniting with the building trades labor federation will have little effect on his union because Local 1174 remained affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley labor organization while the Laborers’ were not a part of the national organization. There are 20 local unions affiliated with the regional labor federation located at Liberty Street in Allentown.

Mr. Hartman told the newspaper he has been a member of Local 1147 since 1987 and was elected to his first three-year term as Business Manager of the union in 2006. His term will expire in June of 2009.

“We are extremely pleased to have the Laborers’ back once again as an important part of the Building Trades family. And the fact that this has occurred on the eve of our 100th anniversary celebration makes it even more special. I congratulate the Laborers’ International Union President Terry O’Sullivan for his willingness to continue a dialogue with the department and for maintaining, just like all of the members of the Building and Construction Trades Department Governing Board, a shared commitment to always putting the interests of rank and file members first,” said Mr. Ayers.

Mr. Hartman stated Local 1147 represents around 940 LIUNA members throughout seven counties of Pennsylvania including: Northampton, Lehigh, Monroe, Carbon, Berks, Lebanon and Schuylkill. The number includes 164 retired members.

“We welcome the Laborers’ Union family back wholeheartedly and without hesitation,” added Mr. Ayers.

Pennsylvania Labor Federation President unsure which candidate he will support

03.26.08

April 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Labor Federation President unsure which candidate he will support

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, March 17th- Democratic party super-delegate and the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President William George told the newspaper he is “uncommitted” regarding which candidate he will support at the Democratic convention.

He said during a telephone interview on March 17th, that he has served since 1996, when Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey named him, as one of the 188 Democratic Party super-delegates. The AFL-CIO President was added because of the influence organized labor has in elections.

Mr. George stated unions are divided on support for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama but either Democratic candidate will support organized labor and be better for the working people than the Republican candidate in November.

“This is the greatest time for the Democrat’s since FDR. This race is competitive and the turnout for the Pennsylvania primary will be high. It’s healthly for our members, and our country to have an election like this,” said Mr. George.

Most of the national unions affiliated with the Change-to-Win labor federation have endorsed Mr. Obama while some of the unions that are affiliated with the AFL-CIO have endorsed Mrs. Clinton.

The two largest unions in the nation have split their support for the two Democratic candidates.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have endorsed Senator Obama while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union have endorsed Senator Clinton.
Both unions represent mostly public sector employees and workers employed in nursing and elderly care.

Meanwhile, national unions that represent workers employed within the industrial sector are also split in their support.

For example, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Union endorsed Mr. Obama while the International Association of Machinist (IAM) Union supports Mrs. Clinton.

The building trade unions are also split.

For example the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers (BAC) have endorsed Mrs. Clinton while the Pipefitters & Plumbers Union endorsed Mr. Obama.

“There is no decision to be made regarding the AFL-CIO endorsement. Both of these candidates would be great for labor. But under our constitution we can’t endorse” said Mr. George.

Bill George was first elected President of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO in 1990. He is a member of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union. “In 2000, thirty percent of all votes cast in Pennsylvania came from the labor movement. In 2004, twenty-nine percent of all votes cast were from union households. This year, organized labor will have a lot of influence on who wins,” added Mr. George.

Mr. George said he would likely support at the convention the person receiving the most votes in Pennsylvania’s primary election on April 22nd.

Steelworkers union calls on presidential candidates to address trade violations

03.24.08

http://www.workdayminnesota.org/index.php?news_6_3572

20 March 2008

PITTSBURGH - The United Steelworkers is asking the presidential candidates how they plan to address unfair trade policies with China and other countries, policies that are feeding the nation’s economic woes, harming the environment and endangering consumers.

In a letter sent this week by USW International President Leo Gerard, the union asks Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain to detail how they plan to address “gaping disparities in wages and rights between our country and those of the developing world.”

The USW, which endorsed Democrat John Edwards in the presidential race, has not endorsed a candidate since the former vice presidential candidate ended his bid for the White House. With 1.2 million active and retired members, the USW is the largest industrial union in North America.

“Your views will be especially important to the more than 175,000 active and retired Steelworkers in Pennsylvania as they evaluate how they will cast their votes in the upcoming presidential primary on April 22,” Gerard wrote. Candidates have been asked to respond by April 1.

Among other things, the letter also asks the candidates for detailed plans to:

• Reduce the nation’s staggering trade deficit
• Challenge China’s currency manipulation
• Enforce fair trade laws already on the books
• Toughen food and product safety standards, including supporting liability insurance for importers
• Demonstrate a commitment to protect human rights by opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement
• Stop unfair practices such as illegal logging that are costing U.S. workers their jobs and harming the environment.

FULL story at the link above.

UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION (UTU) ENDORSES HR 676

03.24.08

UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION (UTU) ENDORSES HR 676

Cleveland, Ohio. The 125,000 member United Transportation Union (UTU) is the 13th international union to endorse HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

James Brunkenhoefer, UTU National Legislative Director, said: “The UTU is for HR 676 because single payer health care will reduce costs without impacting the quality of the care.”

The endorsement resolution was passed by the UTU’s U.S. Legislative Committee during the Tenth Quadrennial Convention. The union is the largest operating rail union in the U.S. with over 600 local unions.

The convention resolution, which was submitted by the Maryland State Legislative Board, said in part: “The U.S. health system continues to treat health care as a commodity distributed according to the ability to pay, rather than as a social service to be distributed according to human need. Insurance companies and HMO’s compete not by increasing quality or lowering costs, but by avoiding covering those whose needs are greatest.”

Twelve other international unions have endorsed HR 676 including the UAW, NEA, IAM, Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA), Musicians (AFM), UE, CNA/NNOC, ILWU, NALC, Sheetmetal (SMWIA), IFPTE & OPEIU.
#30#

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system in the U.S. by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to every resident.

HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental
health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic and long term care. HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

HR 676 currently has 88 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Co-sponsors and bill text are here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.00676:

HR 676 has been endorsed by 390 union organizations in 48 states including 97 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 33 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA & AK).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care## HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
Email: nursenpo@aol.com
03/24/08

High court rejects case of injured Wal-Mart employee

03.23.08

Shank to Wal-Mart: ‘Be a human being’

By Kimberly Morrison
THE MORNING NEWS

http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2008/03/18/business/031908shankruling.txt

A former Wal-Mart employee has reached the end of the road for legal recourse against her former employer.

Debbie Shank, of Cape Girardeau, Mo., will have to reimburse Wal-Mart almost $500,000 following a bitter legal dispute over the rights to her settlement money from a traffic accident that left her brain damaged, disabled and penniless.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear her case, and let stand a ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis that Shank pay Wal-Mart $470,000 the retailer spent on her medical care.

Jim Shank, Debbie’s husband, contemplated the future of his family and fielded calls from the media on a stormy Tuesday in the St. Louis area.

“She’s 52 and she’s going to live a life in a nursing home. I just got a call today from the head nurse, and (Debbie) hasn’t eaten in a couple days and she’s talking about wanting to die,” Shank said. “It makes the visits hard.”

His wife remains severely brain damaged and disabled in a semi-private room of a nursing home that her family is unsure it will be able to afford after Wal-Mart is paid. The settlement money, plus almost $52,000, is now owed to Wal-Mart.

Shank’s frustration over mounting medical bills and uncertainty over the future care of his family were directed at the retail giant where Debbie worked nights stocking shelves.

“Be a human being; don’t be a corporation,” Shank said, “for the sake of one lady who is going to be miserable for the rest of her life. Take your victory. Let us pay some bills and get some quality of life.”

The case received national media attention, not only because of the severity of Debbie Shank’s injuries, but because of the insurance clause that made it possible for her former employer to collect on her lawsuit settlement with the trucking company responsible for her injuries.

The subrogation clause, common to employee health care contracts, including the one Shank signed with Wal-Mart, says that if the injured party collects damages from an accident on which the company has paid medical expenses, the company has first dibs on it.

Wal-Mart has not wavered from its statement on record about the case, maintaining that money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business.

“While the Shank case involved a tragic situation, the reality is that the health plan is required to protect its assets so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes to and benefits from the plan,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.

The Shank’s attorney, Maurice Graham of St. Louis, said in a prior interview with The Morning News that the case was “among the most dramatic of inequities.” Graham could not be reached for comment following the high court’s rejection of the case.

Union-funded Wal-Mart Watch led a campaign to raise $5,000 to aid the Shank family, which the Service Employees International Union matched and placed in a trust fund. Now, Wal-Mart Watch spokeswoman Stacie Lock Temple is concerned that the money raised for the family might end up back in Wal-Mart’s hands.

“If on top of losing the settlement money, the money we raised and others raised trying to right the terrible injustice, ends up going to Wal-Mart, that is absolutely egregious,” Temple said.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, this story should cause Americans to stop buying anything from Wal-Mart and to oppose opening new stores in their communities. It is an equally good argument for replacing Supreme Court Justices. Scalia and Thomas should be impeached!

Russian firm buys the Point: Severstal plans to run steel mill at capacity

03.23.08

By M. William Salganik and Paul Adams | Baltimore Sun reporters
March 22, 2008

http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-te.bz.sparrows22mar22,0,3466855,full.story

Russian steelmaker OAO Severstal announced yesterday that it is buying the steel plant at Sparrows Point and says it plans to run the mill at full capacity and invest up to half a billion dollars during the next five years to improve productivity.

Severstal, led by a Russian billionaire who is one of the world’s wealthiest men, emerged as the successful bidder in the government-ordered sale, saying it will pay $810 million in cash for the Baltimore County plant. An agreement with an earlier buyer that would have paid Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal $1.3 billion for the plant collapsed over a lack of financing.

Severstal plans to keep all of the plant’s steel-making operations going, both rough steel and finishing. Workers, whipsawed under a succession of owners in recent years, have feared that a buyer might cut back on the type of products produced at the mill, throwing a chunk of the 2,500 employees out of work.

But Gregory Mason, chief operating officer of Severstal, said that the company has no plans to cut employment, wages or benefits and that it hopes to keep the current management in place.

“We’re not buying Sparrows to chop it up,” Mason said.

Both labor and management at the 119-year-old plant expressed relief, saying Severstal has the finances and global reach the mill needs to maintain operations at peak capacity for years to come. Capable of producing 3.6 million tons, the plant turned out 2.5 million last year, Mason said - Severstal wants to see it operate at capacity.

By contrast, its current and previous two owners treated Sparrows Point as a “swing plant,” meaning employment and production were curtailed whenever the steel market hit a rough patch.

“Under ArcelorMittal, we were a stepchild - that’s how we were treated,” said John Cirri, president of the United Steelworkers Local 9477, referring to the plant’s current owner. “So we’re going from being a swing plant to being the ‘beast in the East,’ and that’s what we’re going to be.”

The plant has been buffeted by the change and uncertainty generated by a worldwide consolidation of the steel industry. This marks the fourth time the plant has been sold in five years. Once the world’s largest steel mill, the plant is now down to less than a 10th of its peak work force.

For Sparrows Point workers, the wait for a new owner has been filled with a whirlwind of emotions: uncertainty with cautious optimism that the buyer would honor their labor agreement and invest in building up the plant. Union officials say worker protections in their current contract will remain.

Erin Kelly, 25, a cold mill crane operator from Baltimore who has worked at the plant for more than five years, said yesterday that she doesn’t know too much about Severstal.

“As long as they know about our contracts … and they could respect that and are agreeable with the stipulations we have and they’re willing to work with you, that’s all that matters,” said Kelly, whose father is also an employee at Sparrows Point.

The USW contract says the union has the right to reject buyers it finds objectionable. Sparrows Point has had so many owners come and go during the past few years that some workers joke about seeing a Wal-Mart sign appearing next.

“We have always maintained that the union will not reach agreement with a successor unless it includes a long-term business and operational strategy that produces security for our members, their families and our retirees,” said David McCall, chairman of the USW bargaining committee for ArcelorMittal in North America, in an e-mailed statement. “We now have that at Severstal.”

The recent uncertainty is a sharp contrast to the stability that characterized Sparrows Point’s run as an industrial icon of a lunch-pail city for most of its history. For 87 of those years - most of them prosperous - the plant was operated by Bethlehem Steel.

At peak employment in 1959, more than 30,000 worked at the plant - then the largest steel mill in the world. And during World War II, the adjacent Bethlehem shipyard, cranking out Liberty Ships for the war effort, employed more than 45,000. A company town grew up around the plant with schools, stores and workers’ housing.

After years of decline, Bethlehem went bankrupt in 2001. In 2003, Ohio-based International Steel Group paid $1.5 billion to add Beth Steel to its growing portfolio of bankrupt steel companies. Almost overnight, it became the largest steel company in the United States.

ISG cut costs, won labor concessions, and pushed itself into the black. Then ISG, in turn, was snapped up by Mittal Steel Co. NV of the Netherlands for $4.5 billion in 2005.

Lakshmi N. Mittal was a leader in pushing steel from a series of national industries to a global one undergoing rapid consolidation. But Mittal’s global ambitions forced Sparrows Point onto the market again. The Justice Department had antitrust concerns about Mittal’s acquisition of Arcelor SA of Luxembourg, another large international steelmaker. To satisfy the regulators, Mittal agreed to sell off Sparrows Point, and completed the merger creating ArcelorMittal.

In August, 2007, ArcelorMittal agreed to sell to E2 Acquisition Corp., a consortium of steel companies led by Chicago-based Esmark Inc.

But “it became increasingly more apparent” that E2 couldn’t pull together the financing and never reached the necessary agreement with the United Steelworkers, according to a court filing last month by the Justice Department’s trustee, Joseph G. Krauss. At Krauss’ direction, ArcelorMittal canceled the deal, putting Sparrows Point back on the market.

Krauss, who led the sale process that ended yesterday with the Severstal agreement, declined to comment. ArcelorMittal spokesman William C. Steers said only that the company had cooperated in the process and thanked the Sparrows Point employees “for their hard work and dedication to their jobs during this transition.”

Severstal - the name means “Northern Steel” in Russian - is fighting for a place in the newly globalized steel world. It is big - it had revenue of $15.2 billion in 2007 - and getting bigger - revenue and profit were up about 22.5 percent last year from 2006. It owns a mining division and controlling interest in an Italian-French iron and steel company, Grupo Lucchini. But Severstal is still only one-seventh the size of ArcelorMittal.

“Severstal has a good reputation,” said Mark Reutter, author of Making Steel, a book about Sparrows Point. Severstal’s principal owner, Alexei Mordashov, has a background in steel, as opposed to Ross and Mittal, who functioned more as financiers, Reutter added. “He puts money into his mills,” Reutter said.

Mason said Severstal was interested in expanding its American production because “domestic supplies can’t fill the demand” here. At the same time, he said, the falling value of the dollar and the cost of transportation have made importing steel to the United States too expensive.

Severstal expects the deal to close during the next three months, and Mason said he didn’t anticipate either of the problems that sank the E2 sale - lack of agreement with the union and difficulty in arranging financing.

“If we wish to borrow, we can borrow,” Mason said. And if the company decides to pay cash, with nearly $2 billion in cash on its balance sheet, “We wouldn’t have any problem.”

Tom Russo, the plant’s general manager, noted with some surprise that yesterday’s price tag was far below what E2 said it would pay last year. But some analysts said E2’s bid was too high, which may have contributed to its failure to close the deal.

And the price of critical raw materials - chiefly iron ore and metallurgical coal - have soared during the past 12 months, hurting the prospects of plants such as Sparrows Point. Such costs - combined with the slowing U.S. economy - factor in to the plant’s worth, analysts said.

bill.salganik@baltsun.com paul.adams@baltsun.com
Sun reporter Hanah Cho contributed to this article.

Labor unions making headway in Annapolis

03.21.08

Labor unions making headway in Annapolis

Lawmakers look to pro-worker issues

by Meghan Tierney |
Gazette Staff Writer
March 19, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — After what union representatives describe as four years of chilly reception from Maryland’s Republican governor, the state has begun warming up again to labor issues.

During his 2006 election bid, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) curried the favor of unions who had supported Robert L. Ehrlich’s predecessor, Democrat Parris N. Glendening, by voicing his support for working families and the middle class, and labor officials say O’Malley has kept his commitment……..

(click on link below to read the rest of the article)

http://www.gazette.net/stories/031908/busimlo03219_32356.shtml

Jobless claims take far bigger jump than expected

03.21.08

Jobless claims take far bigger jump than expected

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The number of newly laid off workers filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level in nearly two months, providing more evidence that the weak economy is having an adverse impact on the labor market.

The Labor Department said today that applications for jobless benefits totaled 378,000 last week. That was an increase of 22,000 from the previous week and was a far bigger jump than had been expected.
The four-week average for new claims rose to 365,250, which was the highest level since a flood of claims caused by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The current economic slowdown, which many economists believe has already turned into a full-blown recession, is starting to show up in the labor market in terms of higher layoffs and weaker hiring numbers.

The total number of payroll jobs fell by 63,000 in February, an even bigger decline that the drop of 22,000 jobs in January, which had been the first monthly decline since mid-2003.

“We have no doubt that the trend in claims is upwards and is approaching the levels seen in the earlier stage of the recession in 2001,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Part of the increase in benefit applications in recent weeks occurred because of a three-week strike at a major parts supplier to General Motors Corp., which has forced GM to close all or part of 28 plants, affecting more than 37,000 hourly workers.

The number of unemployed workers who are receiving benefits totaled 2.865 million, the largest amount since late August 2004.

The Federal Reserve this week cut a key interest rate by a sizable three-quarters of 1 percent, wrapping up the most aggressive two months of credit easing by the central bank in a quarter century.

The Fed has also greatly expanded its loans to cash-strapped banks and used a Depression-era process to supply money to Wall Street investment houses in an effort to keep a serious credit squeeze from pushing the country into a deep recession.

For the week ending March 8, 28 states and territories reported an increase in jobless claims and 25 reported declines. The states with the biggest increases were California, up by 3,755; Michigan, up by 2,236, and Indiana, with an increase of 2,158. The layoffs in Michigan and Indiana were attributed in part to higher layoffs in the auto industry.

The states with the biggest drop in claims two weeks ago were New York, down by 13,504, and Connecticut, which fell by 2,228.

National Regrets and Paying for Reagan-Bush Policies

03.20.08

National Regrets and Paying for Reagan-Bush Policies

Our current list of national economic difficulties and governmental failures is a direct result of nearly 30 years of failed Republican policies. We are paying the price in many ways for our national love affair with slick, emotionally appealing Republican political rhetoric and candidates. We can no longer ignore the harsh reality behind the deceitful words.

We have all experienced bad relationships and failed romances. Long after the romances are over, we are still dealing with the negative consequences both emotional and financial. We keep paying the unhappy costs.

The legacy of distrust, dealing with debts accumulated based on lies, self-doubts for believing the nice sounding lies and living with an awareness that we all are subject to the weakness of emotional reasoning remain long after the relationships have collapsed. There is always the possibility that the burden of dealing with the problems is so great that we go into denial and repeat the same mistakes by buying into slightly repackaged versions. It plays hell on emotional, physical and financial well-being. We all have been there.

It is long past time for the American public to end our soured love affair with deceitful Reagan-Bush Republicanism and start cleaning up the mess left behind. It will be emotionally upsetting but has to be done. The damage is great. It will require a real change in both our behavior and thinking to undo the damage and avoid repeating the same mistakes. It can be done!

In 2008, we are finally be forced to start paying the price for the falsely named set of economic policies once labeled “economic deregulation” that became the national political creed with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. We shifted the tax burden to those least able to bear the strain by raising taxes on both the poor and the middle class. We cut dramatically the tax burden of the wealthy and even more so for the Super Wealthy. We encouraged paper financial profits over real economic growth. We exported our industrial base weakening our nation because it temporarily profited our economic elite.

We ended usury laws, weakened government regulation of our financial institutions, permitted government “no-bid” contracts to go to political powerful corporations and ignored anti-monopoly traditions. Consumer protections were weakened. Our federal courts were packed with Republican Right-Wing Radicals willing to overlook any kind of corruption by government officials, corporations or Republican politicians as long as the results favored the wealthiest of the wealthy and the politically powerful.

Our dollar is in the toilet because we exported debt in exchange for cheap imported goods. Wal-Mart raked in a fortune by lowering wage rates in community after community, fighting all efforts at unionizing their workers, and undermining our manufacturing base by encouraging American factories to relocate to China. A government truly serving our national interest would have adopted trade and tax policies that would have stopped Wal-Mart from pursuing these policies. However, the Reagan-Bush Republicans did the opposite.

Even during the brief periods of Democratic Presidential rule under Clinton, Republican policies were often still pursued. The NAFTA and WTO deals received White House support although the majority of Congressional Democrats often opposed these falsely-named “free trade” deals. They were passed largely with Congressional Republican votes. Media consolidation resulted as a direct result of some Democrats buying into the Republican “economic deregulation” arguments. Media consolidation reduced competition instead of promoting it. It hurt small business advertisers and media consumers. Both policies have been severe failures for the American nation. They have undermined the health of both the American economy and American Democracy.

The Republican Presidential candidate John McCain promises to deliver more of the same failed policies. Although McCain has an impressive past military record, his services in the political arena are not impressive. His record on economics or finding a quick exit from the Iraq quagmire inspire little hope or confidence. McCain is simply not prepared to deal with the modern challenges facing the nation in the 21st Century.

For most Americans, a McCain victory will mean a lower standard of living and even less real influence on government policy. McCain is certainly no friend of American workers or consumers. McCain will do nothing to restore America’s industrial base or basic economic health. The “100 Year War Man” has no answers for the real fundamental problems facing our nation today! He is a real threat to our long-term national security.

Both leading Democrats are likely to be a big improvement over McCain. However, we still will need to elect Senators and House members willing to support more populist economic reforms that actually reverse some of the damage done over the past 30 years. We need to elect the right kind of Democrats and to keep pressuring them to restore economically responsible policies. We need to demand more open government, more civil liberties protections and democratically responsive governance.

I urge strongly that voters educate themselves before voting in November. Two excellent books that we all should read by then are Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston and Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang. A daily visit to Buzzflash.com or Mid-Atlantic Labor.com would certainly help you become a more informed voter. Listening to talk radio shows like The Rick Smith Show, Thom Hartmann, Andy Johnson, Ed Shultz, Guy James, Democratic Talk Radio or Air America programs would help with the brain rot resulting from listening to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and the like.

You can count on the Republicans feeding you, as voters, lots of crazy emotionally charged slogans and arguments. The Corporate media will go after reform minded Democrats like resigned New York Governor Spitzer with zeal and venom while largely ignoring similar or worse behavior by currently serving Republican Senators like Louisiana’s Vitter or Idaho’s Craig. Vitter and Craig are reliable votes supporting the failed Reagan-Bush Republican policies while Spitzer actually prosecuted some of the worst Corporate abusers.

Only by educating yourself about policies can you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. For your own sake and that of your children, this year break the cycle and vote based on substantive issues like healthcare, trade policies, re-industrializing America, shifting some of the tax burden back to those most able to pay higher taxes, resumption of usury laws, jobs, consumer protection, balancing the budget, ending an unaffordable war and a return to anti-monopoly law enforcement.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com http://www.midatlanticlabor.com). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval.