Tuesday,  December 17, 2002

Lott’s Fate Hangs in Balance
Despite a barrage of mea culpas, embattled Sen. Trent Lott, R-MS, faces a fierce fight to hang onto his post as the Senate’s top Republican. His party colleagues scheduled a Jan. 6 election where he is all-but-certain to be challenged for his post.

Lott submitted to a 30-minute interview on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and apologized once again for his stunning remarks complimenting a 1948 segregationist campaign led by Senator Strom Thurmond running on the Dixiecrat ticket.

During the BET interview, Lott admitted that during his 30 years in Congress he had been part of an “immoral leadership” in the South that had held “wrong and wicked” positions on race.

Lott’s deputy, Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, has called publically for a new election on the leadership post. He is considered a certain candidate for the job if Lott is ousted. Some Republicans, however, point out that Nickles’ record on civil rights issues differs little from Lott’s.

Further muddying the waters, speculation has surfaced that Lott may resign from the Senate if he loses his leadership post. That would allow Mississippi’s Democratic Gov. Ronny Musgrove to appoint a fellow Democrat to the seat. Such a move would turn the GOP’s present 51-49 edge into a dead heat.

President Bush and high-ranking White House officials have remained pointedly silent on the matter; a stance that many pundits say is bad news for Lott.

Gore’s Dropout Stirs Democratic Pot
Former VP Al Gore’s surprise announcement that he would not run for president in 2004 stole some of the political spotlight from the Republican’s Senate squabbles and sparked growing speculation over a lengthening list of Democratic hopefuls.

Senators John Kerry, MA; John Edwards, NC: Joseph Lieberman, CT: and Tom Daschle, SD; have been in the mix for some time, along with Rep. Dick Gephardt, MO. Others mentioned in the early handicapping are Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Gore’s unexpected decision throws the Democratic presidential bid up for grabs, and leaves the party with no frontrunner at this time. Gore actually won the popular vote in the 2000 election by more than 500,000 votes, lost a critical Supreme Court decision by a single vote that handed Florida’s electoral votes to George Bush.

Gore has urged the Democrats to make the economy the issue in coming political debates and called for a national single-payer healthcare plan for all Americans.

IAM’s Sleigh Joins Watchdog Panel
The IAM proudly takes a high-profile role in winning access to affordable health care for all working families. In recognition of that fact, an influential panel named Steve Sleigh, the union’s Strategic Resources director, to a seat on its board of directors.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is one of the nation’s most influential organizations monitoring health care quality. Sleigh has held a post with the organization for the past three years.

IAM surveys have shown that access to affordable, high-quality healthcare has become the number one issue among union members, ranking ahead of job security and retirement benefits.

“In his new position, Sleigh will make sure the concerns of IAM members and all working people are brought to the attention of this important group,” noted IP Tom Buffenbarger.

More Workers Say ‘Union, Yes’
The IAM’s Eastern Territory scored another organizing win in a recent campaign. District 65 brought union representation to 80 workers at Fisher Gauge Ltd, in Watertown, NY, reports GVP Warren Mart. “We welcome these new members into the IAM family,” he said. Mart congratulated GLR Bill Rudis, District 65 DBR Greg Stone and BR Tom Holl “and the entire organizing team for their role in the winning effort.”

Now’s the Time to Pick a Grinch
It’s that time, again. Jobs with Justice is running its annual “Grinch of the Year” contest and is asking visitors to its website, www.jwj.org to choose which person or organization did the most harm to working families this year. The competition includes President Bush, Comcast, General Electric, Wal-Mart and others of that ilk. The website features resumes and qualifications for the dubious honor. Check it out. Your vote counts.