iMail for Thursday, November 10, 2005

Working Families Score Big in Off Year Elections

Working families scored major victories in Tuesday’s off-year elections, propelling two worker-friendly Democrats to the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, as well as beating back a slew of anti-worker initiatives in California.

With the help of more than 1,700 union volunteers, Democrat Tim Kaine defeated Republican Jerry Kilgore by 5 percentage points in Virginia. In New Jersey, thousands of union volunteers helped Democrat Jon Corzine easily defeat Republican Doug Forrester.

The democratic sweep should act as a springboard to garner support for democratic candidates in the 36 gubernatorial races in 2006.

In California, working families helped defeat Proposition 75, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s anti-worker initiative aimed to restrict political involvement by working families in their unions. Since January, union members passed out over a million leaflets in their workplaces against Proposition 75 and made over 400,000 calls.

Nationwide Rally Planned for December 10

The IAM will join with other unions and allied organizations in a massive mobilization planned for International Human Rights Day on December 10 to demand recognition of workers’ freedom to join unions and bargain collectively. Tens of thousands of workers in 68 cities nationwide will carry the message from statehouses to the front door of the White House that Union Rights are Human Rights.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) called union membership “the ticket out of poverty” and said the nation needs laws like the Employee Free Choice Act to protect workers from employers who regularly threaten, intimidate and fire employees who try to form unions.

The law, which has 204 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, would allow workers to form unions based on a majority of signed authorization cards. “The current union election process managed by the National Labor Relations Board is nothing more than a management-friendly black hole where workers’ rights are routinely denied,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger.

December 10 marks the anniversary of the 1948 United Nations ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes workers’ freedom to form unions.

IAM President Named to Solidarity Center Board

International President Tom Buffenbarger was named to the 12-member Board of Trustees of the Solidarity Center, an AFL-CIO allied organization created to help workers around the world build strong, independent and democratic unions.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in 30 countries, the Center promotes global organizing, get-out-the-vote efforts, women’s leadership, corporate accountability and other programs aimed at empowering workers.

Sign the Online Petition to Hold Delphi Accountable

Anyone concerned about the prospect of sweeping pay and benefit cuts for 33,650 workers at bankrupt Delphi Corp. can sign an online petition calling on bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain to hold the Delphi Corp. accountable to its workers and U.S. taxpayers.

The petition reads: “It is time to stop the bleeding of good-paying American jobs in the manufacturing industry. We must hold accountable those who would take profits generated by the American consumer and invest them overseas, taking with them jobs that have contributed to our tax base and our American middle class. We also ask that you consider the bargaining agreement, entered into in good faith by the workforce, as fair and binding.”

Usage Up on Revamped IAM Website

The IAM has seen steady growth in usage of the IAM website,, since it was revamped and re-launched this past summer.

Page views have moved from 550,859 in August to 864,736 in September, and to 1.53 million in October. During that period, unique visitors nearly doubled.

RSS feeds climbed from 7,074 in August to 19,439 in September to 53,182 in October. The Speak Out sections followed a similar pattern going from 5,737 to 17,090 to 38,918. My Turf usage has climbed from 8,738 to 12,701 to 13,998.

“We expect traffic on the site to increase even more as IAM members get used to using the new features on the site,” said Communications Director Rick Sloan.

Congress Bows to Big Oil

In response to growing outrage among middle-class Americans who are being pinched by record gas prices, executives from five top oil companies were ordered to appear before the Energy and Commerce committees to explain their record profits yesterday.

Lawmakers, however, did little to force the executives to explain their record profits, opting instead to lob soft questions at the executives and offer them praise. Nor did they move any closer to legislation that would reel in record oil prices. When Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) did begin to grill the executives about their gaudy salaries, she was promptly cut off by Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

While most Americans had to cut back on various expenses to pay for gas topping $3 a gallon following Hurricane Katrina, Exxon Mobil Corp. recorded a $9.92 billion profit in just three months, up 75 percent from a year ago. ConocoPhillips, meanwhile, saw profits jump 89 percent from a year ago to $3.8 billion. Joining the executives from these two oil giants at the hearing were executives from Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc.

Record Trade Deficit Tops $66 Billion

The U.S. trade deficit jumped to a record $66.1 billion in September, up 11.2 percent from August. The overall trade deficit is on pace to hit a record $706.4 billion this year, further evidence the Bush administration’s failing trade policies.

“The trade deficit is growing much faster than the economy,” said Christian Weller, senior economist at the Center for American Progress. “Today’s figures confirm the trend of an ever widening gap of imports and exports.”

The record trade deficit was fueled by higher oil prices and a large increase in imports of consumer products such as clothing, toys and televisions.

The U.S. trade deficit with China also jumped 8.9 percent to a record $20.1 billion in September. The trade deficit with China is on pace to hit $200 billion this year, shattering last year’s record of $162 billion. China’s trade surplus, meanwhile, hit $80.37 billion through the first 10 months of the year.

BRAC Commission Proposals Take Effect

The final recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) took effect at 12:01 a.m. on November 9, 2005 after Congress allowed them to pass into law by the November 8 deadline.

The BRAC Commission submitted its final report to President Bush on Sept. 8. The President sent the report to Congress on Sept. 15. Congress had 45 legislative days to accept or reject the report in its entirety.

The Defense Department expects to complete the process of closing and realigning bases mandated by the BRAC Commission by late 2011.