tells how he loaded as many people as he could on his train, rescuing them
from the Courtland Street - WTC Train Station.
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Friday, January 25, 2002
Bush, Congress Face Full Agenda
While House and a divided Congress face daunting challenges as they deal
with a full agenda of legislative issues, while tip-toeing through the
political minefields of a looming election cycle.
more than a year ago, President Bush stood before the nation and
promised to be a “unifier, not a divider.” The country did unite
behind Bush and the war on terrorism that followed the horror of
September 11, but White House policies opened a chasm between
America’s working families and Corporate America’s wish list.
inherited a $236 billion budget surplus when he took his inaugural oath.
Those surpluses were expected to continue for the next two decades,
protecting both the Social Security and Medicare trust funds and paying
off the entire federal debt.
generous economic legacy could have grown. But the White House chose a
different path: massive tax cuts for the wealthy.
Bush urges Congress to pass his so-called “economic stimulus”
package to jump-start the economy with even more tax cuts for Big
Business and the richest taxpayers. There’s precious little there for
working families who need extended jobless benefits, including health
care, a Patient’s Bill of Rights, a prescription drug plan for
Medicare, a higher minimum wage, and strict workplace safety rules.
we don’t need, and won’t accept, is a phony stimulus package that
hands over millions of our tax dollars to corporations like Enron,”
declared IP Tom Buffenbarger.
Wing Attacks Pay Raise at UALIAM
IP Tom Buffenbarger took on conservative columnist Robert Novak for a
January 24 op-ed piece opposing pay raises for Machinists Union members
at United Airlines.
Novak column, syndicated in 150 papers nationwide, attacks the
Bush-appointed Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) for recommending a 37
percent pay hike for mechanics at United. “How could Bush’s
handpicked board do this?” asked Novak, who also wrote the
Machinists Union was “pleasantly surprised” by the outcome.
were not ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the Presidential Emergency
Board’s recommendations,” responded Buffenbarger. “They earned
those raises the old fashioned way: they worked hard for them.”
To view the Novak column: http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak24.html
To view IP Buffenbarger’s
Mechanics to Vote Feb. 12
IAM members of District 141-M
at United Airlines will vote Feb. 12 on a contract offer including
economic terms proposed by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB).
United accepted the PEB
recommended terms on January 22, setting the stage for a ratification
vote before the February 20 close of the current 30-day cooling off
period. The 15,000-member mechanic and related group will also vote on
February 12 to authorize a strike at United in the event the company’s
offer is rejected.
Separate negotiations for
30,000 IAM members represented by District 141 are scheduled to resume
in Chicago on February 11.
Act to Block Amtrak Attack
IAM and 10 AFL-CIO rail unions filed suit this week to block a report to
Congress recommending a restructuring and possible breakup of Amtrak,
the nationwide passenger rail service.
“Instead of pursuing an objective assessment of Amtrak’s operations
and finances as Congress intended, the Amtrak Reform Council (ARC) has
long pursued an ideological agenda to dismember and then sell-off Amtrak
to private interests,” said Mark Filipovic, IAM Railroad Coordinator
and chairman of the Rail Labor Division of the Transportation Trades
In 1997, Congress gave the railroad until the end of 2002 to prove it
could operate without federal assistance or face possible restructuring
or liquidation. The ARC acted “in excess of its authority,” charges
the rail labor suit, by recommending the break-up of Amtrak, when it was
legally mandated to offer a plan for a “restructured” national
intercity rail system.
“We’ve long known the ARC is a rogue group wasting taxpayers’
dollars,” said Filipovic. “But in the last few months the ARC has
taken its self-appointed missionary zeal to new, and illegal extremes.
Tax Goodies Draw WTO Fire
Even the World Trade
Organization (WTO) can’t stomach some of the massive tax loopholes
Corporate America uses. The WTO ruled that certain tax breaks allowed by
U.S. law are illegal under international trade rules.
The WTO ruling further illustrates the dangers of Bush’s proposal for
Fast Track trade authority, reports the Economic Policy Institute.
“Members of Congress who are alarmed at this decision ought to think
carefully before giving away their authority to shape the next round of
trade agreements,” said Jeff Faux, UPI president. The House passed
Fast Track by a single vote last December. The bill is pending in the
Safety Plan Inches Ahead
The Bush administration
has yet to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of Mexican
trucks that will be allowed to operate on U.S. highways this year. The
General Accounting Office reports that only two of the 25 U.S.
commercial points of entry have permanent inspection facilities. At the
same time, the Transportation Dept. has not reached agreement with
border states on sharing inspection responsibilities, the GAO report
Congressional Democrats and working families fought last year to impose
strict safety standards on Mexican trucks that will operate in this
country under provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).