Working people all across the United States and the world continue to raise their voices against the looming Bush war in the Middle East. As the U.S. economy continues to slide - and gasoline prices rise - a growing tide of union voices are calling on President Bush to call-off his apparently imminent attack on Iraq.
UE Political Action Updates
As President Bush continues his single-minded push for war against Iraq, working people around the world have increasingly demonstrated their desire for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis. The massive peace demonstrations that took place around the world over the weekend of February 15 and 16 were indications of the growing tide of public opinion against the Bush plan of attack. Literally millions of people declared their opposition to a military strike against Iraq; peace demonstrations were held in more than 600 cities around the world, including dozens in the United States.
President Bush delivered the annual State of the Union speech last night before a war nervous Congress, the American public, and world-wide audience. The carefully-scripted speech began with a hodgepodge review of domestic issues, but cut-to-the-chase halfway when the President all but promised a war against the oil-rich Iraqi regime.
As UE members and their families are adversely impacted by the avalanche of red budget ink at the state and local level, two recent tax policy studies by respected Washington, D.C. research organizations provide some startling facts on the situation.
The United States Senate and House of Representatives have convened the 108th Congress in Washington D.C. One of the first orders of business will likely be the extension of unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed. The benefit cut-off was due to the refusal of the Republican House leadership to extend exhausted benefits last December. The political heat on Congress to right this wrong has been intense, and passage of an extension of benefits is predicted.
The flood of phone calls demanding that the U.S. Senate amend or reject the big business "Fast Track" scheme have helped slow the progress of this job-killing legislation. The anti-worker U.S. Chamber of Commerce (CoC) and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have mobilized an army of business lobbyists to bribe and threaten Senators who do not yet support "Fast Track" in its most destructive form.
The House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would place some limits on how employers handle 401(k) plans for workers. The bill passed by a 255-163 margin, after Democrats gave up attempts to improve the bill with amendments. The bill was promoted as a "pension reform" bill in the wake of the unraveling Enron fiasco. In reality - something in short supply in our big business-dominated Congress - it was merely a mis-named bill to provide some minimal protections and rights to holders of 401(k) accounts.
Corporate America celebrated two anti-labor decisions issued last week, one by our illustrious "Supreme" Court and the other by the Bush Administration. On Wednesday, April 3rd, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrant workers fired by their boss for trying to organize a union were not entitled to back pay. The 5-4 decision involved the cases of several workers at the Hoffman Plastic company in California who were fired from their jobs in 1989 after trying to form a union.
Anti-labor Republicans in the House of Representatives have renewed the push to repeal overtime pay and paid time-off. The so-called "comp-time" bill (HR1982) is the same bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in 1995 and 1997, but died - thankfully - due to lack of any action by the Senate.
Without Congressional action over the next several months, our national rail passenger system - Amtrak - is in danger of being liquidated. Strained Amtrak finances are reeling under the weight of additional terrorism-related expenses, and without an infusion of cash by the U.S. Congress most long-distance inter-city train service could end by October 1st. In recent years the federal government has provided Amtrak with annual subsidies of $521 million dollars.