A UE delegation met on March 31 with Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and legislation “Fast Track” trade authority to the president. The UE group included Western Region President Carl Rosen, Local 151 President Cliff Hall, Local 1110 President Armando Robles, and International Representative Leah Fried. They met with Rep. Quigley and his District Director Mary Ann Levar.
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UE Political Action Updates
UE members in Iowa brought union issues to the state legislature in their annual Political Action Day on February 11, with more than 30 members participating. Most were members of Local 893, and Local 896’s Political Action Chair Shawn Harmsen also participated.
Meeting at the UE’s national headquarters on January 23-24 UE’s General Executive Board (GEB) adopted a resolution opposed to legislation currently being considered in Washington that would allow “free trade” agreements to be rapidly shoved through Congress with almost no debate. This “fast track” legislation is being pushed by the Obama administration, the Republican leadership, and major corporations and big business organisations. If they succeed in passing fast track, it will likely lead to approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the most damaging “free trade” deal yet.
Eight UE people were among the 150 arrested in civil disobedience for immigrant workers’ rights on November 6. Organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the protestors rallied in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Downtown Chicago and blocked traffic on Clark Street for almost an hour.
They were demanding that Republicans in Congress stop blocking a vote on immigration reform and that President Obama halt deportations, which have totaled nearly 2 million during his administration.
The federal government shutdown and threat of default have passed, at least for now. But now the concern is what happens in budget negotiations between congressional Republicans, Democrats and the Obama White House.
For the bipartisan Washington elite and their sponsors on Wall Street, the goal of these negotiations must be a “Grand Bargain” that is centered on “entitlement reform.” Translated into plain English, that means they want the two parties to get together and agree to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the pensions of veterans and federal workers.
As the Republican-led lockout of federal workers moves into week two, it's becoming clear that the stakes for working people are high -- and going higher. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) took to the floor of the U.S.
Congress and the federal government are in crisis mode once again, with almost nothing being done to address the growing size and scope of the many massive problems facing working people. Fanatically anti-worker Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives -- and Senate -- have driven Congress to the brink of yet another federal government shutdown, by working feverishly to defund and wreck the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Medicare, as well as Social Security and many other programs, is in jeopardy in the current budget standoff in Washington. In his budget proposals unveiled in April, aimed at reaching a “grand bargain” with Republicans and ending the across-the-board “sequester” cuts, President Obama not only offered to cut Social Security by rigging the cost-of-living formula. He also offered cuts to Medicare through “means testing.”
One of the most effective lines of attack by the opponents of Social Security over the past three decades has been the notion that Social Security faces a catastrophic financial crisis, and therefore cannot survive in its present form. Therefore, they say, benefits will have to be cut, the retirement age raised, or the whole program replaced with private investment accounts.
UE has always been a strong supporter of Social Security and Medicare, and has opposed all attempts to weaken these programs. For the past several years, as the general crises of retirement security and healthcare have worsened, UE has argued not only against cuts to these federal social insurance programs, but for moving in the opposite direction. We’ve been calling for our country’s political leaders to and expand Social Security and Medicare.