iMail for Thursday October 20, 2005

Arrest Warrant Issued for Former GOP Leader

A Texas state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), indicted earlier this month on conspiracy and money laundering charges. The court also set bail at $10,000 for the former exterminator.

DeLay and two political cronies were charged by a pair of Texas grand juries in an alleged scheme to violate state election law, by funneling corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to finance state campaigns. The indictments also charge that a Texas political committee established by DeLay sent corporate donations to the Republican National Committee in Washington, and the national party sent funds back to the state for 2002 campaigns.

The diminutive DeLay, who was known in Washington for his aggressive manner and practice of holding floor votes open until a desired result was achieved, was forced to step down as U.S. House majority leader under House rules requiring him to relinquish the leadership post if charged with a felony.

Local 1438 Wins $64,994 FMCS Grant

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) announced it awarded a $64,994 grant to IAM Local 1438 and Federal Mogul Wausau (FMW). The grant is intended to assist in the HPWO Partnership development process started in 2003. 

When LL 1438 and FMW applied for the grant, it was to address several workplace challenges, including the lack of an effective communication process, shift-work issues and inconsistencies in training and education. The grant will be used to educate and train employees in software and computer skills, enhance the shared decision-making process, make benchmarking visits, and foster effective and consistent communications through meetings and newsletters.

The grant program began in 1981, under the direction of the Labor-Management Cooperation Act of 1978, and has provided funds for a variety of projects, including outreach, communications, strategic planning, minority recruitment and process development.

GOP Buried ‘Controversial’ Outsourcing Study

A well-respected trade publication, Manufacturing and Technology News (MTN), has released a startling report about how the Bush administration stalled a taxpayer-funded study on outsourcing prior to the 2004 election.

Using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, MTN discovered the report was completed but delayed for clearance by the White House and the Republican controlled Congress “due to the controversial nature of the subject.” Offshore outsourcing had become a major campaign issue at the time.

Congress originally slated $335,000 for the report by the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration with a six-month deadline of June 2004, well before the November 2004 presidential election.

The report by MTN also notes that after the election a draft of the report was vetted by political appointees at the Commerce Department and the White House, resulting in version that focused only on the positive impacts for the U.S. economy of offshore outsourcing and failed to include any negative impact from shifting jobs overseas.

Worthy Website Links Donors, Schools

Among the many community-based efforts using the Internet to raise funds and social awareness is Means For Dreams, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ensure that Washington, D.C. public school teachers have the resources needed to properly teach their students. Donors using the MeansForDreams website can securely provide funds for materials that provide significant benefits for an individual student, class or school.

The website is a “philanthropic exchange” where teachers can request specific materials or services and individuals can fund a proposal. Teachers submit proposals requesting materials, services or other resources that range from books, to transportation to a museum, to a microscope for a lab, paints or clay for art class, software, arrangements for a guest speaker and more.

Means For Dreams is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which purchases the materials or makes the arrangements for delivery directly to the teacher. The group also forwards thank you notes and photographs from the students, a receipt for the purchases and a record for tax deduction to the donor. 100 percent of the donation goes to the project.

Social Programs in the Crosshairs

In a blow to lower and middle-income working families, Congressional Republicans are looking to cut $50 billion in vital programs for the poor, including food stamps, Medicaid, health care and education.

Despite demanding $70 billion in tax cuts designed to benefit the rich, Republicans claim the cuts are needed to help fund relief efforts in the Gulf Coast.

Democratic lawmakers are pledging to fight the efforts of the GOP, who have already denied lower income workers fair wages by suspending the Davis-Bacon Act as well as oppose efforts to extend Medicaid coverage to the hurricane survivors.

“Once again, the Majority is using a misfortune in our country as a Trojan horse. They are wheeling in this Trojan horse on the guise of assistance and using it instead as a way to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a statement.

Senate Blocks Minimum Wage Increase

Congressional Republicans once again failed to help lift the nation’s lowest paid workers out of poverty yesterday, defeating a proposal from Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) that would have increased the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 an hour.

However, Congressional Democrats were able to defeat a horrendous amendment from Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.). Enzi’s proposal would have used a minimal increase in the minimum wage to disguise provisions that would cut overtime pay, exempt millions of workers from the minimum wage and weaken job safety.

Workers who are currently working full-time at minimum wage make $5,378 less than it would take to lift a family of three out of poverty. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that a straightforward raise of $1.10 in the minimum wage could directly benefit roughly 1.8 million workers.