Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is there a sense of community?

Is there a sense of community? Are unions the last bastion of "all for one?"

Watched a John Stossel television special on health care the other week. To make the point that 'national' health care doesn't work, a woman from Canada kept praising the U.S. health care system because we have 'choice.' When questioned about the cost the woman also kept repeating something like, I don't care, I got better.

Granted we all have a sense of self preservation, but it was obvious from her remarks her intent was to convey that she had the financial ability to buy the best health care and frankly she was willing to move to the front of the line.

Okay, it's fine for her to purchase health care as a commodity, but somehow as vital to life itself as health care will always be, you'd think the richest country in the history of the world could guarantee at least basic care to everyone.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Top Dem hopefuls face off in Chicago this week

From Press Associates, Inc.

CHICAGO -- Organized labor will see some lively action in Chicago on September 24-25, thanks to both Change to Win and the AFL-CIO.

Change to Win will feature the top Democratic presidential hopefuls--at the very least, Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)--appearing on September 25 before the 6-million-member federation’s second-ever convention, at the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue.

The other fireworks will come that same morning when AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff debates labor law--and company law-breaking--against union busting lawyer Michael Flaherty of the notorious firm Jackson Lewis.

The two will joust over the Employee Free Choice Act and how it would help level the playing field for workers against bosses--and their union-busting lawyers--at the John Marshall College of Law in the downtown Chicago’s Loop.

The Chicago presidential hopefuls’ appearances before the CTW convention follow closely after their speeches to thousands of union activists at two CTW member union political conferences: The Laborers in Chicago and the Service Employees in Washington, both in mid-September.

Laborers President Terry O’Sullivan said after his union’s conference there would not be any immediate endorsement, but SEIU sang a different tune.

Union President Andy Stern and his board invited staffers from three of the seven Democratic hopefuls--Edwards, Obama and Clinton--back for more discussions after five hopefuls spoke to 2,000 delegates in D.C. on September 17-18. And Stern said an endorsement from the 1.6-million member union, CTW’s largest, could come during the CTW convention.

An SEIU spokeswoman said the other Democrats were not invited back “because they failed to meet some of our criteria” along the way to an endorsement. She did not specify which ones flunked which standards. Two of the seven, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), did not speak to the SEIU conference in D.C. Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) did.

All seven, however, spent an entire day with a rank-and-file SEIU member on the job, as the union demanded, earlier during the campaign. And at least three of them--Obama, Edwards and Clinton--released comprehensive health care overhaul plans.

In a recent blog, Stern said those days on the job were a key to his union’s decision. He told the candidates that when they went out to spend a day each with the workers “those same people you see out working for change--those are the ones you have to go talk to. And when you do, don’t talk to them about Democrat or Republican.

“Talk to them about what you will do about health care. About restoring the freedom to form a union without interference from your boss. About bringing our young people home from Iraq, giving them the services they will need, and putting the money being wasted over there to work in our local communities.”

Stern concluded, in his address to the conference, that “2008 is our chance to elect a president who we don’t have to lobby or beg as if making work pay was some type of special interest--and who knows in their gut that what’s good for workers and unions is good for America.”

The hopefuls struck similar themes when they addressed the Laborers activists in Chicago, just before the SEIU conclave in D.C.

"There will be no invisible Americans when I am president," Clinton stated. She also said she had the toughness to take on the lobbies on health care and to beat the GOP, having borne battle scars from her first health care fight in 1993-94 and from the constant GOP attacks against her husband’s administration.

Edwards declared he wants "to be the president who is responsible for the greatest union growth in America,” adding that "I want you to know I'll be with you when crunch time comes.”

But he also took several shots at Clinton, including her health care plan, noting not only that she failed to pass it 13 years ago but that she has not cut ties with lobbyists on that or any other issue. Edwards has made denunciations of Washington special interests a key campaign theme, added to his strong support for workers.

"We didn't get universal health care, but we got the North American Free Trade Agreement," Edwards said of the controversial jobs-losing ‘free trade’ pact that President Clinton pushed through over labor’s opposition. "We need universal health care. We didn't need NAFTA."

And as for health care, he added: "I don't believe you can sit down with lobbyists, take their money and cut a deal. If you defended the system that defeated health care, I don't think you can be the president who brings health care.”

One other CTW union, the Carpenters, has already endorsed Edwards. The Carpenters were notable in 2004 for being the only union to stay “neutral” all year.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Has he no shame?

Has he no shame?
President Bush yesterday commented on his opposition to the SCHIP program that both the proposed increase in income limits and total funding level represents the first step toward government health care.
Spoken like a person who has never had to worry about access to health care. Let's face it, for President Bush the only health care concern he has ever worried about is finding the time to visit the doctor's office. Cost has never entered the decision.
Somehow President Bush can't understand that a family of three which makes $60,000 a year in New Jersey is not living 'high on the hog.' Why? He has never ever lived a working person's lifestyle.
When the next election rolls around remember when you cast your vote which candidate has lived your life and shares your experiences.
Regardless of political party.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Proud of working class roots

So many 'famous' people act as if the world revolves around them. Why? because it often does. Celebrity in the United States has become a ticket to self-absorbed overindulgence.
I truly admire and feel proud to have Jim Thome hail from central Illinois. Why? He represents all that's good about working class values. His family raised him right.
So often the media's portrayal of working people centers on some sort of conflict. While his dad, under the shadow of a son who is truly a superstar, famously remains a 'regular guy' from the working class, the entire family acts with dignity.
Jim Thome has raised massive amounts of money for charity. I am proud to have been a very small part when I played guitar one year at his annual fund raising effort for Children's Hospital.
I'd vote Jim Thome into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Human Hall of Fame.

1/3 of the World's Workers are Poor and jobless

A web-site I visit often posted the following (
"An International Labor Organization (ILO) report reveals that one in three workers in the world is either unemployed or earns less than the equivalent of $2 a day. The ILO report, which was released on Labor Day, shows 195.7 million people are unemployed and nearly 1.3 billion people earn less than $2 a day per family member.
"The ILO estimates that half of all working people worldwide work for jobs that carry a higher risk of being unprotected, without health care or retirement security and without a voice at work."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Questions from a Worker Who Reads

By Bertolt Brecht

Who built Thebes of the seven gates?
In the books you will find the name of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?
And Babylon, many times demolished.
Who raised it up so many times? In what houses
Of gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?
Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finished
Did the masons go? Great Rome
Is full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in song,
Only palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled Atlantis
The night the ocean engulfed it
The drowning still bawled for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Did he not have even a cook with him?
Philip of Spain wept when his armada
Went down. Was he the only one to weep?
Frederick the Second won the Seven Years' War. Who
Else won it?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors?
Every ten years a great man.
Who paid the bill?

So many reports.
So many questions.