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|Friday May 4, 2001
Social Security: Under the Gun Again
“Once again, working families have been pushed aside in favor of Corporate America,” warned IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Make no mistake, we will make our voices heard. This commission is neither objective nor bipartisan. Its findings will be written by Wall Street, but working families will pay the fees.”
Corporate executives pledged to privatization dominate the panel, with a scattering of academics as camouflage.
Democratic leaders also weighed into the fray. In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, his House counterpart, scorched the new commission and its creator: “President Bush has again failed to follow through on his promise of bipartisanship. Instead of working with us, he has decided to appoint a commission to validate his plan to divert Social Security funds into the stock market.”
The furious Democrats pointed out that the panel does not “represent the range of views among Democrats or among Social Security experts generally… they were selectively chosen to give the commission the appearance of bipartisanship and cover for a pre-ordained outcome—the Social Security privatization plan the President has long advocated.”
Even Bush’s press secretary,
Ari Fleischer, admitted that the “commission will, of course, be composed
of people who share the President’s view that private accounts are the
way to save Social Security.”
UAL Resolutions Draw Shareholder Ire
Buffenbarger declared his intentions in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where he stated he would support resolutions to limit compensation for board members to stock only, rather than the current practice of stock and cash compensation. United Airlines employees hold more than 55 percent of UAL stock with IAM shares controlling more than 20 percent of the 117.6 million shareholder votes. Buffenbarger encouraged all United employees to vote their shares prior to the May 17 Board of Directors meeting. “Let’s send them a message,” said Buffenbarger. “If they don’t like their pay held back, maybe they’ll understand how 44,000 IAM members at United feel about this company’s deliberate delay at the bargaining table.”
Buffenbarger also indicated he would support a management-opposed resolution to allow shareholder balloting on all future airline acquisitions. “It’s time for the employee-owners to make their voices heard at every level of this company,” said Buffenbarger. “The workers own 55 percent of United, yet this management repeatedly acts without regard for that fact.”
UTC Unions Hold Jobs Summit
The session in East Hartford was followed by a “GrowCT” rally to encourage communities and elected officials to press UTC to expand jobs in the state, rather than export them. “Our issues are about the future,” explained Jim Parent, District 91 directing rep. “This is another step in a march we will continue until UTC commits to that future.”
Arkansas Legislature Backs Railroad Retirement Act
The Arkansas General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Railroad Retirement and Survivors Act of 2001.With all Arkansas congressmen and senators on board, the resolution of support will be forwarded to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
The rail retirement bill, introduced as H.R. 1140, improves benefits for widows and dependants of rail workers and lowers the age at which workers may retire with full benefits. The bill has broad bi-partisan support and is identical to a bill that passed the House last year by a 391-25 margin.
The IAM supports this overdue legislation and welcomes the support of the Arkansas legislature. “The bill contains benefits for railroad companies as well as rail workers, “ said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “Every IAM member should contact his or her representative and encourage them to co-sponsor and support this important legislation.”
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