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Updated: Dec. 03 (10:05)

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Action Center
June 8, 2012
Updated On: Jun 03, 2012

 

Thanks to all the Volunteers
 
Local 72 has always been involved in social justice and we will continue to be a vocal supporter of workers’ rights in Wisconsin. We always follow the endorsements our C.A.P. Councils and customarily have a small army of volunteers doing all the heavy lifting. (phone calls, leafleting, helping people to the polls, stuffing envelopes, helping get people registered for voting, doing surveys and all the things that go unnoticed). This election on June 5th was very different than almost all other elections. The volunteers from our retired workers chapter put their hearts and souls into the re-call effort. From the entire leadership of Local 72 we can’t thank you enough. You truly are the salt of the earth and without your active and spirited contributions we would not be where we are today. Thanks again.  
 
UAW members mark the 75th anniversary of
the Battle of the Overpass
 
UAW active and retired members helped mark the 75th anniversary of The Battle of the Overpass on Friday, May 25. The Battle of the Overpass happened on May 26, 1937, in which Walter Reuther and other UAW organizers were brutally beaten by Ford Motor Company security guards.
 
The event is at the historic site of a brutal confrontation between company and union organizers on May 26, 1937.
 
After successfully organizing General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW came to the Ford Rouge Complex to hand out informational leaflets and talk to workers about organizing. Walter P. Reuther, Richard T. Frankensteen, Richard Merriweather, Ralph Dunham, Rev. Raymond P. Sanford and others went to the overpass that connected the front entrance of the complex to Miller Road. They were met by Henry Ford's hired thugs and servicemen. They were mercilessly beaten in an unprovoked attack on the overpass.
 
The confrontation at the Rouge became known as the Battle of the Overpass.
 
Today, the Ford Rouge Center is composed of six factories, including the new Dearborn Truck factory featuring a vegetation-covered roof and rainwater reclamation system. The complex is Ford's largest factory and employs about 6,000 workers, represented by Local 600, an amalgamated local of about 25,000 active and retired members.
 
"This is an opportunity to recognize how much has been achieved in these 75 years," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Ford Department. "What drove us apart in 1937 now brings us together to produce some of the world's highest quality and most popular cars and trucks."
 
"We are honoring a powerful time in the history of this country, this union and UAW Local 600," said UAW Region 1A Director Rory Gamble. "It's a somber reminder but also one that shows us things can change for the better."

"We reflect on this historical anniversary proudly," said UAW Local 600 President Bernie Ricke. "It is a reminder that union success came because members stood together and fought for what was right."
 
Statement on Mitt Romney and Paycheck Fairness Act
 
President Obama has a clear record of supporting women and their families. The first bill President Obama signed into law once entering the Oval Office was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The law amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by expanding the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit based on gender-based pay discrimination, becoming a crucial protection for women who face long-term prejudice by their employers. The President established the Equal Pay Task Force to improve enforcement of equal pay laws. And he helped increase the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. 
 
As the Senate now prepares to vote on follow up legislation to the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has a chance to publicly take a stand for fairness for women in the workplace. Yet Romney has remained silent on this and many other issues facing women. 
 
Under a Mitt Romney presidency, American women will likely see the clock turned back on many of the hard-fought victories won over the past few decades. Romney is usually nowhere to be found when key issues affecting women are debated on the national stage. He has not voiced support for women achieving pay equity with their male counterparts, the ability to find shelter from domestic abuse, achieve security in their reproductive rights, and access to affordable healthcare. 
 
Despite his unwillingness to disclose his supposed solutions to these issues, he has shown his hand and revealed some very telling positions. Positions which make it clear that were Mitt Romney to win the election this fall, he would immediately seek to erode the longstanding protections American women deserve.
 
Discovering where Romney really stands on any issue is like playing Three Card Monte on a street corner. On the other hand, President Obama has been an economic champion for American families. He gets it  ? he is much more in tune with the struggles of families trying to pay bills and survive, said UAW President Bob King. 
 
What is Governor Walker Hiding?
 
Eighty-Two Days and $160,000 later, still no word on who’s footing the bill for his team of criminal defense lawyers.  Gov. Walker and his campaign are continuing to refuse to name the donors to the legal defense fund he is using to pay for defense lawyers in a “John Doe” criminal investigation of corruption and illegal campaigning.
 
One Wisconsin Now spokesperson Mike Browne commented, “It’s understandable that Gov. Walker’s criminal defense lawyers may have advised him to refuse to comment on his involvement in the growing political scandal surrounding his administration.” He continued, “But there is no reason, other than Gov. Walker’s penchant for secrecy, that prevents him from coming clean with the people of Wisconsin about who’s footing the bill for this criminal defense team.”
 
It was first reported in February that Gov. Walker had retained criminal defense lawyers from Milwaukee and Chicago in connection with the “John Doe” criminal investigation of corruption and illegal campaigning by close aides and associates. A review of state ethics filings in April revealed that, in fact, Gov. Walker had racked up over $50,000 in legal bills from these defense lawyers in 2011.
 
In March, it was reported that Gov. Walker had created a legal defense fund to pay for his lawyers. Under state law, an elected official is only allowed to form such a fund if they, or their agent, are under investigation for, charged with, or convicted of violations of Wisconsin’s campaign finance and election laws.
 
The latest campaign finance filings show a total of $160,000 has been transferred to his defense fund since its creation, but Gov. Walker and his campaign spokesperson have refused to reveal the names of the donors.
Browne concluded, “Gov. Walker claims he is cooperating with prosecutors in the investigation of corruption and illegal campaigning by his close aides and associates. But why won’t he cooperate with the people of Wisconsin and stop stonewalling who’s bankrolling his team of criminal defense lawyers?”
 
Ford: Pension buyout offers to Salary Non Bargaining Unit Workers
 
 Ford Motor Co will pursue its boldest attempt yet to tackle a nearly $50 billion risk to its business when it begins offering lump-sum pension payout offers to 98,000 white-collar retirees and former employees this summer.
 
The voluntary buyouts have the potential to lop off one-third of Ford's $49 billion U.S. pension liability, a move that could shore up the company's credit rating and stock price. It is unclear to Ford, retirees and analysts just how many people will gamble on the offer, which pension experts described as unprecedented in its magnitude and scope. "We think if we can get at least a meaningful number of employees, this will take billions of dollars of obligations potentially off the table," Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told Reuters in an interview.
 
A growing concern for decades as U.S. automakers lost market share to foreign-based automakers in their home country, pension costs became an albatross for the U.S. industry with the sector's downturn five years ago.
The offers are the latest in a series of steps Ford and its larger rival General Motors Co have taken to cut these risks. Since 2000, Ford's U.S. pension liability has increased almost 50 percent. Several companies have asked Ford how the buyout offers will be rolled out, a sign that others may follow suit if Ford is successful.
 
The No. 2 U.S. automaker sketched out its pension buyout offer for current retirees when it released first-quarter earnings in April, but until now had offered few details.
 
As early as August, between 12,000 and 15,000 U.S.-based workers will receive the first wave of offers to swap their monthly pension checks for a one-time payment. The offer shifts the responsibility of managing those funds from Ford to the retiree. It is rare for a company to amend an existing pension plan.
 
At the end of 2011, the gross pension liabilities of both GM and Ford rose to record levels, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli said. Ford finished 2011 with a global pension obligation of $74 billion, nearly double the company's $40 billion stock market value.
 
Ford's global pension plan was underfunded by $15.4 billion as of end 2011. This shortfall, which widens and contracts based on asset returns and interest rates, is typically viewed as debt by credit ratings agencies.
The voluntary buyouts will not change the pension shortfall, but lowering the overall size of the obligation will help Ford align plan assets with liabilities. Like many businesses, both GM and Ford have taken steps to shift their pension assets to steady, fixed-income investments and are pouring in cash to fund those plans.
The idea of the voluntary buyouts came after a meeting between Ford's top financial executives and in-house pension experts three years ago. In the midst of the financial downturn, Ford's then-CFO Lewis Booth met with Shanks, Ford Treasurer Neil Schloss and in-house pension experts to consider ways to slash the company's pension liability.
 
Ford received governmental approval to make the lump-sum payments in March. Shanks said the approval came after Ford showed the deal would give "an incremental favorable option to the plan participant." Shanks and Ford declined to elaborate.
 
Earlier this month, Popp and Schloss met with retired Ford engineers in Dearborn, Michigan. Over a lunch of roast pork and whitefish, they fielded questions about the lump-sum offer and how the plan would roll out.
Consideration of the offers, which have not been mailed to former employees yet, will rely on each worker's health, projected lifespan and finances - subjects that can be difficult to broach.
 
Ford benefits from a change in U.S. pension law this year that allows companies to use a corporate bond rate in calculating lump-sum payments, rather than the 30-year Treasury rates. That would make it less expensive to make those offers, said Jonathan Barry, a partner at benefits consulting firm Mercer.
Initially, Ford said the deal would be offered to about 90,000 workers, but the final tally came in higher. Ford has already hammered out the buyout figures for all the eligible employees and plans to roll out the plan in stages. Each wave of retirees will be randomly selected.
 
Of the 98,000 eligible workers, 65,000 are Ford retirees or their surviving spouses. The rest are former employees who are vested in their pension plans and salaried workers who are also part of the United Auto Workers union.
 
A small number of hourly workers in Cleveland represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the International Association of Machinists will also receive deals.
 
Retirees represented by the UAW account for the bulk of Ford's U.S. pension liability, but changes to those plans must be negotiated with the union.
 
Myths about Canada’s Health Care System
 
The truth may surprise you about international health care.  How does the U.S. health care system stack up against Canada’s? You’ve probably heard allegedly true horror stories about the Canadian system — like 340-day waits for knee replacement surgery, for example. To separate fact from fiction, Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research in Indianapolis, identified the top myths about the two health care systems.
 
Myth #1: Canadians are flocking to the United States to get medical care.
How many times have you heard that Canadians, frustrated by long wait times and rationing where they live, come to the United States for medical care?  I don’t deny that some well-off people might come to the United States for medical care. If I needed a heart or lung transplant, there’s no place I’d rather have it done. But for the vast, vast majority of people, that’s not happening. The most comprehensive study I’ve seen on this topic — it employed three different methodologies, all with solid rationales behind them — was published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs.
 
The authors of the study started by surveying 136 ambulatory care facilities near the U.S.-Canada border in Michigan, New York and Washington. It makes sense that Canadians crossing the border for care would favor places close by, right? It turns out, however, that about 80 percent of such facilities saw, on average, less than one Canadian per month; about 40 percent had seen none in the preceding year.
 
Then, the researchers looked at how many Canadians were discharged over a five-year period from acute-care hospitals in the same three states. They found that more than 80 percent of these hospital visits were for emergency or urgent care (that is, tourists who had to go to the emergency room). Only about 20 percent of the visits were for elective procedures or care.
 

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