Tuesday, June 18, 2002
The 12-page investigative report, available on line, takes a hard look at the political money trail left by several recent public laws: the Internet Tax Moratorium Act; the Aviation Stabilization and Security Acts and the Ergonomic Standard, issued in January 2001 and then killed by incoming President George W. Bush.
“The relief that was so close for the two million people victimized each year by ergonomic injuries was crushed by legislators who can’t see past the checks being dangled by lobbyists,” said Buffenbarger.
“The system may be stacked in favor of Big Money, but on Election Day they still count ballots, not dollar bills,” insisted Buffenbarger. “Workers – not the rich – make up the vast majority of people in this country. If we register to vote and show up at the polls, we can take our country back. Our strength will always rest with politically aware working people who vote.”
Marks IMF Aerospace Session
Aerospace workers’ representatives from around the world gathered in Toulouse, France this week and heard IP Buffenbarger call for an end to anti-worker collaboration by governments and transnational aerospace corporations.
“We may come from different countries, but we face common obstacles,” Buffenbarger told delegates to the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) World Aerospace Conference. “Outsourcing, subcontracting, offsets, and mergers all represent serious job security dangers to the aerospace workforce,” said Buffenbarger. “In addition, some transnational corporations are working with governments as never before in all out assault on workers’ basic rights.”
The IP noted global ventures by Lockheed, Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney as evidence of challenges facing aerospace workers. “In the United States alone, mass consolidation of the industry resulted in only a handful of companies that now dominate the market,” said Buffenbarger.
“The men and women represented here are responsible for creating and maintaining the most successful industry in the world,” said Buffenbarger. “Just as the world’s aerospace companies are working together on a new level, we – the world’s aerospace workers, must come together in a new-found sense of solidarity. This is the goal of our conference.”
The workers, Enron and Enron’s creditors agreed on a plan that adds some $34 million in additional severance pay. The agreement, which must be approved by the federal bankruptcy court, grants workers up to $13,500 each in severance pay. That’s a sizable hike from the meager $4,500 in earlier arrangements.
The agreement also provides for the possible recapture of an additional $80 million paid to Enron executives in so-called “retention bonuses” on the eve of Enron’s collapse. The AFL-CIO paid all legal fees in the case and will receive no compensation from the agreement for legal services.
Workers and experts are expected to outline employer harassment and intimidation that happens when workers try to come together. Working people participating in the hearings and a Capitol Hill news conference will meet with members of Congress and tell their stories. Look for video highlights from the hearing on www.aflcio.org beginning June 21.
Republicans are planning to float their own proposals that call for significantly higher premiums, force seniors to pay a huge portion of their drug bills out of their own pockets and to enter into HMO-type plans to even get the coverage.
“There’s no comparison between the two,” said IP Tom Buffenbarger. “The Democratic plan goes a long way to meet the needs of our seniors. The other one looks more like an election-year gimmick.”
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To read the full transcript of the interview, visit the Online NewsHour web site at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/transportation/jan-june02/gunn_6-13.html