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Action Center
From the President

June 29, 2012
Jun 27, 2012

 

Resignation
 
On June 7, 2012 at the regular meeting of the Local 72 Executive board I tendered my resignation as president effective June 30, 2012. In compliance with the UAW constitution the Vice President Richard Popovich will assume the office of President and an election will be held for Vice President of Local 72.
 
The decision to resign did not come easily or without many, many hours of thought and apprehension. I have been a part of Local 72 since I transferred from Milwaukee Body in 1976. I’ve been in a leadership role from 1977 and as most of you know I live in Green Lake County. I enjoy being active in my union and have always had a desire to help all my brothers and sisters, any way I could. That’s why the decision came so hard.
 
The President of this Local needs to be close at hand to help guide and resolve things that come up almost daily. I am a hands on person and just felt like I was not doing my job the way it should be done. I’ve been very fortunate to have a very good executive board that works very well together. They are all volunteers and don’t get the credit they deserve. Since none of us are paid it’s very hard to get people who are willing to donate their time and talents to help any organization, much less a labor union. Every one of them deserves the utmost respect and appreciation for the efforts they contribute. 
 
For me being 272 miles away, the round trip was a killer. More than five hours in the car on a good day was just more than I could handle. Some of the retirees said, it’s easy to solve just move back here. Well, when I retired from the plant in 2004 my wife Kathy and I built our home here in Green Lake County and here we want to stay. I can say I hate the politics up here but the area is beautiful and peaceful.  
 
The other problem is my health. I have a severe problem with staying awake while driving. That along with driving at night on the return trip to my home after 10 pm led to several close calls with deer and the unmarked Amish horse drawn buggies that are in my area. Almost 50% of my travel is on county and township unmarked two lane roads.  So the decision to resign was based more on common sense and a rational realization that I just couldn’t keep doing what I was doing without having a car accident.
 
So, in closing I want to say this, it has been an honor and privilege to serve this great local for many years. I’m humbled by the fact that so many people had the confidence in me throughout the years to elect me as a representative of Local 72. I will never forget all this great union has done for me and my family. Keep hope alive!
 
In solidarity
 
 
Phil Anastasi
 
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.  
 
President Obama talks about Social Security
 
Social Security is not in an immediate crisis. It's not the driver of our deficits, the way Medicare and our health care programs are. We can easily tweak the Social Security program while protecting current beneficiaries, ensuring that it's there for future generations. There are ways that involve, for example, slightly raising the [payroll] cap. I think it's a pretty sensible thing to do. What I've said to [Republicans] is, "I am prepared to sit down with you, the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill sat down together. And make very modest adjustments that extend the life of Social Security for 75 years." We can do that again. But it's going to require us not playing politics with Social Security. All of us must understand that millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty because of Social Security. It is the linchpin of our social safety net. We can't privatize it. We don't want it to be subject to the winds in the stock market. We want it there for people over the long run.
 
 No Pension buys outs at Chrysler
 
The chief executive of Chrysler Group LLC said there was "no need" for the No. 3 U.S. automaker to follow its larger U.S. rivals in offering white-collar pension buyouts.
 
"There's no need for us to do it," CEO Sergio Marchionne said of the buyouts during a visit to a Fiat dealership in Austin on Monday. He did not expand on his comments. 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.
 
Chrysler ended 2011 with a nearly $32 billion pension obligation and its pension plans were underfunded by $6.5 billion, according to its annual filing. The company's market value was around $7.5 billion at the end of 2011. Chrysler has just over 130,000 retirees. About 30,000 are former employees who were paid an annual salary while the rest are retired hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers union.
 
Marchionne, who is also CEO of Italian automaker Fiat SpA (MIL:F), has been at the helm of Chrysler since the U.S. automaker emerged from the brink of collapse before its U.S.-funded bankruptcy in 2009. At that time, analysts said Chrysler would hold Fiat back, but in the last three years; the U.S. automaker has been Fiat's main source of strength as Europe's auto market weakens. Chrysler sales in the United States have jumped about 30 percent while the overall U.S. auto market has risen 13.4 percent during the first five months of the year.
Fiat has delayed the launch of its Bravo and Grande Punto cars to 2014. By contrast, Marchionne has not slowed spending on vehicle development in the United States.
 
"I have not slowed down one single dollar of spending in the United States," Marchionne said. "As a matter of fact, I've probably accelerated it in the last six months."
 
A sharp slowdown in jobs growth last month raised fears on Wall Street that the U.S. economic recovery may be foundering. Marchionne said the pace of the economy is slow, but there would not be an economic contraction. "If I have any concerns about the U.S. it's the potential impact coming from Europe, but it's not from internal issues," Marchionne said.
 
Bring jobs home
 
 The UAW and AFL-CIO affiliates held the first of several nationwide events launching their “America Wants to Work” mobilization campaign today near Master Lock’s flagship factory, which brought back production jobs from China last year.
 
UAW Local 469 members at Master Lock saw a beacon of hope when newly negotiated contract language between the union and company brought jobs back from China in 2011 – something workers would like to see become a trend in American manufacturing. “The return of solid, middle-class jobs to Milwaukee was huge for us, especially in this economy,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4, which covers Wisconsin, who spoke at the news conference held at UAW Local 9’s union hall in West Allis, Wis.
 
“Master Lock provides a great example of what we can achieve when we work together to invest in America and American workers,” McInroy added. “For the first time in 15 years, our plant is running at full capacity,” said Local 469 President Mike Bink, who also spoke. “While we’ve made significant progress at our plant, we recognize that we still have a ways to go to get Americans back to work.”
 
The mobilization will also focus on the Bring Jobs Home Act, a legislative package introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., that would eliminate tax breaks allowing companies to deduct expenses associated with moving operations overseas, while still encouraging them to assist displaced workers. It would also provide a tax credit to corporations that bring jobs back to the United States.
 
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. (2nd District), who spoke at the news conference, said for decades in Wisconsin they have had too many middle-class jobs going overseas. “We need to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas and start rebuilding American manufacturing through targeted tax cuts for companies that keep jobs here in the United States,” added Baldwin, who has represented Wisconsin since 1999 and is a 2012 candidate for the U.S. Senate. “That’s why I support Senator Stabenow’s Bring Home Jobs Act, which would end tax benefits for firms that move jobs or businesses overseas.” The Bring Home Jobs Act is expected to be voted on in early July when Congress convenes after the Independence Day recess.
 
Congressman Paul Ryan
 
So, all we hear is how Paul Ryan is going to be on Mitt Romney’s short list for Vice President for the Republican ticket. Is this the same Paul Ryan that supports drastically changing Medicare and Social Security? Is this the same Paul Ryan who stands shoulder to shoulder with millionaires?   Is this the same Paul Ryan who has turned his back on the middle class? Is this the same Paul Ryan who supports Right to Work legislation?  Pure and simple Paul Ryan is a career politician who claims that the national debt has been caused by entitlement programs. Guess what Ryan your views are not main stream. Without Social Security and Medicare there would not be a middle class. When John Kennedy became president in 1960 more than 80% of the senior citizens in this country were in poverty. If it weren’t for unions raising the standard of living for everyone in this county and President Lyndon Johnson getting Medicare passed there would be no middle class. Paul Ryan is an extremist and his agenda only favors the rich and powerful. Don’t be fooled this fall it’s time for a change. Let’s vote Paul Ryan out of office.
 
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.”
 
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?”
 

June 22, 2012
Jun 17, 2012

 

Recall Election Golden Rule: He Who Has the Gold, Rules
 
Post recall election there has been no shortage of attempts to spin what the results mean. One unquestionable takeaway is that in this election, money mattered a lot.
 
Gov. Walker's billionaire backers, along with outside spending from corporate funded special interest groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Republican Governors Association and shadowy groups like the "Coalition for American Values", outspent Tom Barrett and groups supporting him by a reported 8 to 1 margin.
 
Don't think that makes a difference? Then consider just one example of what that kind of spending advantage means. In a 30-minute evening television news program, the place from which most people get their information, you'd barely notice the 1 or 2 Barrett ads sandwiched between a 5,6, 7 or 8 Walker ads.
How did Gov. Walker rack up such an astounding cash advantage?
 
In addition to having a lot of really wealthy "friends", Gov. Walker exploited campaign finance laws to play by different rules than his opponent as he mounted his unprecedented $30 million cross-country cash grab.
In a regular election cycle, both a sitting Governor and their opponent are limited to accepting an aggregate maximum in donations of $10,000 per individual. However, Gov. Walker was not, and in some cases is still not, limited to this contribution amount.
 
What was the result? Gov. Walker raked in over twice as much from $10,000 plus mega-donors alone than his election opponent Tom Barrett raised in total for his campaign.
 
Based on One Wisconsin Now's analysis of Gov. Walker's campaign finance reports, he raised over $7.3 million in campaign contributions from just 167 individuals exceeding the $10,000 per election cycle limit.
And we haven't even touched on the role the foundation controlled by Gov. Walker's campaign chair played in trying to drive public opinion, like using columnists whose paychecks depend on foundation grants to dutifully pass along talking points spoon-fed to them by the campaign... but that's a column all its own.
 
Debate away about the meaning of the election results.
 
But cutting funding by $1.6 billion for K-12 public schools while giving corporations and the wealthy $2.3 billion in tax cuts is no more popular today than it was last November when recall petitions began circulating.
Can you really argue Tuesday's election results were an endorsement of policies that make it more difficult for women and armed service veterans to fight workplace discrimination? Or think that Gov. Walker won a mandate for more tax increases on seniors and working families and even higher tuition for University of Wisconsin students?
 
The inescapable, bottom line fact is that Gov. Walker and his wealthy, right-wing allies bought a win.
 
 President Obama talks about Social Security
 
Social Security is not in an immediate crisis. It's not the driver of our deficits, the way Medicare and our health care programs are. We can easily tweak the Social Security program while protecting current beneficiaries, ensuring that it's there for future generations. There are ways that involve, for example, slightly raising the [payroll] cap. I think it's a pretty sensible thing to do. What I've said to [Republicans] is, "I am prepared to sit down with you, the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill sat down together. And make very modest adjustments that extend the life of Social Security for 75 years." We can do that again. But it's going to require us not playing politics with Social Security. All of us must understand that millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty because of Social Security. It is the linchpin of our social safety net. We can't privatize it. We don't want it to be subject to the winds in the stock market. We want it there for people over the long run.
 
GM pension changes leave retirees' money unprotected, group says
 
The General Motors Retirees Association is protesting GM's plan to buy out pensions of up to 42,000 U.S. salaried retirees and move other retirees to an annuity program controlled by Prudential Insurance Co. of America.
 
The association calls GM's decision "galling" and says it threatens retirees' financial security. In a letter to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, signed by association president Jim Shepherd of Scottsdale, Ariz., and posted on its website, the group asks GM to reverse course."By eliminating this large class of salaried retirees from the pension plan, you are abandoning the hard-earned benefit of an ERISA-protected pension promised to thousands upon thousands of GM retirees in return for their commitment and loyalty," the letter reads. "This surpasses basic unfairness; indeed, it is sheer irresponsibility and greed."
 
ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the 1974 federal law that sets standards for private-industry pension plans.
 
GM Friday called the plan "good for retirees." The automaker announced this month that it would offer lump-sum buyouts to salaried retirees who retired between Oct. 1, 1997, and Dec. 1, 2011, and off-load its U.S. salaried retirees' pensions to Prudential Insurance Co. of America.
 
In total, 118,000 U.S. salaried workers will be affected, including 42,000 who have been offered buyouts. Those that don't take them will have their pensions moved to the annuity Prudential will manage. The moves are expected to trim GM's pension liability by $26 billion.
 
The association says retirees lose in both cases, because the plan puts pension assets at risk and leaves retirees without coverage under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal agency that protects pension benefits in private-sector plans. Once GM transfers pension assets to Prudential, the PBGC coverage goes away.
"Ninety-nine percent of the emails that I'm getting agree with the letter," Shepherd, a retired GM fleet account executive, said in a phone interview Friday.
 
"The most frequent phrase is 'GM threw me under the bus.'" On Friday, Cindy Brinkley, GM's vice president of global human resources, sent Shepherd a letter via email. In the letter, the automaker said it believes the changes will provide salaried retirees with more choices and greater protection for retirement benefits.
"We believe that these changes are good for retirees … and for the company, which will see its pension obligation reduced significantly," wrote Brinkley. "Strengthening our balance sheet will allow GM to do something we haven't done in decades — focus our attention and resources on being the best carmaker we can be. That is good for everyone with a stake in GM's success."
 
Shepherd said of 200 emails he received Thursday and Friday, only one person was happy to be offered a lump sum; the choice between taking a lump sum and continuing with regular pension payments is voluntary.
Shepherd said some are concerned that there is no guarantee of protected funding with Prudential. Many are cautious, given the past collapse of investment banks such as Bear Sterns.
 
Roman said insurance regulations protect annuities, though coverage varies by the state each retiree lives in. For example, Michigan's maximum annuity protection is $250,000.
 
GM praised Prudential's record in the retirement business. GM noted that Prudential is an investment-grade company, and GM is not. Prudential must use a separate account to make benefit payments to GM retirees. And those assets would not be subject to claims of general creditors should Prudential fail and file for bankruptcy, the automaker said.
 
If the GM salaried retiree annuity funding were to drop, Prudential would use funding from its general account to continue making annuity payments to GM retirees, adding another safeguard, GM spokesman Dave Roman said. "The plan will be fully funded when it moves to Prudential," Roman said.
 
GM has received some retiree questions through call centers and emails. The company has scheduled more than 75 meetings for retirees across the country, Roman said. He said GM won't update how many of the 42,000 retirees take the lump sum until after their decisions, which are due on July 20. GM will spend between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion cash in the pension deal.
 
Strengthening Social Security
 
Americans have been paying into Social Security for more than 75 years and collecting earned benefits when they retire. Without any changes, Social Security will be able to pay 100 percent of benefits for the next 20 years. After that, the program will still be able to pay 75 percent of promised benefits. However, with gradual and modest adjustments, we can ensure that future generations will receive the benefits they've earned.
 
Social Security should continue to guarantee that Americans who work and pay into the system receive benefits based on what they earn and contribute.
 
Social Security benefits should keep up with inflation and last for as long as an individual lives.
 
Social Security must be put on stable financial ground, but any adjustments to the program should be implemented gradually so people can plan for their futures and any changes do not impact those in or near retirement.
 
We must protect benefits for people who count on them most, including surviving spouses and families, low-wage workers, and individuals who become disabled and can no longer work.
 
Social Security should be kept separate from the rest of the federal budget.
 
Why Social Security matters
 
Social Security's guaranteed benefits are a rock-solid commitment to American families. Companies can go out of business. Pension plans can be terminated. The stock market can take a nose dive. But Social Security benefits are there in good times and bad.

Americans earn Social Security's guaranteed retirement benefits by making contributions out of every paycheck throughout their working lives. To demonstrate the significant value of Social Security retirement benefits, consider this: You would need to have saved $386,000 as of January 2012 to buy an annuity (a kind of investment product that guarantees to pay you a steady stream of income) that would pay out an amount equal to the average monthly retirement Social Security check of $1,228.

Social Security benefits are fundamental to the economic security of most older Americans. Today, more than half of all Americans age 65 and over rely on Social Security for more than 50 percent of their family income. Nearly one in four relies on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their family income.
For most retirees, their Social Security benefits and total income are relatively modest. The average annual Social Security retirement benefit is roughly $14,700 a year, and about half of seniors have an income of under $20,000 a year.

But Social Security is much more than a retirement program. Among the nearly 55 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits in 2011 were disabled workers and their families, and the spouses and dependents of deceased workers.
 
Personal investments, pension and 401(k) accounts, and individual retirement accounts are all important parts of retirement savings, but Social Security is the guaranteed base of retirement security for most Americans. We need to make the modest adjustments necessary to strengthen it for both current and future generations.
To tell Washington how you would strengthen Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations
 
Myths about Canada’s Health Care System
 
Myth #4: Canada has long wait times because it has a single-payer system.
 
The wait times that Canada might experience are not caused by its being a single-payer system.
Wait times aren’t like cancer. We know what causes wait times; we know how to fix them. Spend more money.
Our single-payer system, which is called Medicare manages not to have the “wait times” issue that Canada’s does. There must, therefore, be some other reason for the wait times. There is, of course. It’s this: In 1966, Canada implemented a single-payer health care system, which is also known as Medicare. Since then, as a country, Canadians have made a conscious decision to hold down costs. One of the ways they do that is by limiting supply, mostly for elective things, which can create wait times. Their outcomes are otherwise comparable to ours.
 
Please understand, the wait times could be overcome. Canadians could spend more. They don’t want to. We can choose to dislike wait times in principle, but they are a byproduct of Canada’s choice to be fiscally conservative.
 
Yes, they chose this. In a rational world, those who are concerned about health care costs and what they mean to the economy might respect that course of action. But instead, they attack the system.
 
Myth #5: Canada rations health care; the United States doesn’t.
 
This one’s a little bit tricky. The truth is, Canada may “ration” by making people wait for some things, but here in the United States we also “ration” — by cost.
 
An 11-country survey carried out in 2010 by the Commonwealth Fund, a Washington-based health policy foundation, found that adults in the United States are by far the most likely to go without care because of cost. In fact, 42 percent of the Americans surveyed did not express confidence that they would be able to afford health care if seriously ill.
 
Further, about a third of the Americans surveyed reported that, in the preceding year, they didn’t go to the doctor when sick, didn’t get recommended care when needed, didn’t fill a prescription or skipped doses of medications because of cost.
 
Finally, about one in five of the Americans surveyed had struggled to pay or were unable to pay their medical bills in the preceding year. That was more than twice the percentage found in any of the other 10 countries.
And remember: We’re spending way more on health care than any other country, and for all that money we’re getting at best middling results. So feel free to have a discussion about the relative merits of the U.S. and Canadian health care systems. Just stick to the facts.
 

June 15, 2012
Jun 08, 2012

 

One Day Longer
 
So we weren’t successful removing a governor that is directly tied to the rich and powerful. We tried and failed, this time. One thing I learned a long time ago is fame and popularity is fleeting. Walker will fall and we will be left standing. We were successful in Racine where John Lehman appears to have reclaimed his seat in the senate pending a recount. The soft middle of this state has been fooled by the crap the republicans were selling. In time they will come to realize that the issues and programs that are important to them will be under attack and then they will cry out. Hopefully somebody will be listening. All of us that are trade unionists understand that we will prevail. Unfortunately justice sometimes takes longer than we would like. Keep hope alive!
 
Walker’s $50 Million Doesn’t Sway Union Voters
 
We were up against Goliath, outspent 8 to 1, and although Gov. Walker’s millionaire and billionaire backers have bought this election – we made our voices heard.  Now, we show a nation that we will never stop fighting for the rights of working people. 

The coalitions, networks and grassroots tactics we have forged over the last 16 months will continue to provide the foundation for fighting back against corporate greed and power. 

An important distinction that many media outlets have failed to discuss is the difference between union households and union voters. 

The AFL-CIO conducted an exit poll of union members which showed that union members overwhelming voted for Tom Barrett.  Here are some of the results:

*    75% of union voters voted for Tom Barrett   
*    76% of union voters felt Scott Walker has divided the state, put wealthy and large corporations first
*    74% of union voters felt out of state spending influenced the election
*    84% of union voters felt out of state spending benefited Scott Walker

These are important figures to remember moving forward.  They show that union members understand the implications of Citizens United are well education on the issues important to working people and vote in their economic best interest. 

Union voters also showed that we are a force to be reckoned with, compromising 33% of all votes in Tuesday’s election.  And although Gov. Walker was the most well-funded politician in state history, we weren’t fooled by his millions. 

Going forward we are going to continue to advance an agenda for the 99%.  We are going to continue to organize, mobilize and make our voices heard in new and creative ways.  Tuesday’s recall election will be a spring board for a national discussion on Citizens United and the corporate takeover of American democracy.

Brothers and sisters, we all poured our hearts and souls into this election and while we did not recall Scott Walker, we reclaimed the State Senate and proved that working people will stand up and fight for our rights.
 
G.M. & Ford Pension buy outs
 salaried non bargaining unit retiree
 
General Motors Co. said Friday it will offer lump-sum pension buyouts to about 42,000 salaried retirees and offload its salaried retiree pensions to Prudential Insurance Co. of America — moves that will reduce its pension liability by $26 billion.
 
The announcement follows a similar offer from Ford Motor Co., which said Thursday it will offer pension buyouts to 98,000 qualifying white-collar retirees and former workers.
 
GM salaried retirees who are offered the lump-sum choice have until July 20 to make a decision. Payouts will come in September for those who take it. The lump sum payment will be based on factors including age, years of employment and current pension amount.
 
The Detroit-based automaker said it will spend $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion cash in the deal. That includes $1 billion cash used to fully fund the plan before transferring assets to Prudential, and another $3 billion to $3.5 billion to buy the annuity or contract from Prudential.
 
"We've made a big step forward," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said, adding it helps "toward our objective of de-risking our pension plans and will further strengthen our balance sheet and give us more financial flexibility going forward."
 
This is the latest effort by GM to reduce the world's largest pension obligations. The move will reduce GM's worldwide pension liabilities from $134 billion to $106 billion — and cut its salaried pension obligation from $36 billion to $10 billion.
 
GM will retain U.S. hourly pension plans with $71 billion in liabilities and $61 billion in assets. "Clearly, pension has continued to be a significant issue for General Motors," Ammann said. Ammann would not directly answer whether GM plans to make a similar offer to its U.S. hourly retirees. He declined to talk about discussions with the UAW about hourly pensions. "We're going to continue to look for opportunities down the road," he said.
 
UAW officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
 
GM will transfer $29 billion in assets from its salaried pension plans to Prudential in the move and said it "sets precedent for additional actions."The company expects to take special charges of between $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion in the second half of this year; the ongoing annual impact to its earnings will be a decrease of about $200 million, as a result of a drop in pension income.
 
Company officials also said the action is an important step toward regaining investment grade credit ratings.
Fitch Ratings said Friday that it views the moves as "incrementally positive to GM's credit profile," but it didn't change its ratings on the automaker. Fitch called the pension moves a "positive step in reducing the risk of future volatility in the company's cash pension obligations."
 
Moody's Investors Service also left GM's credit rating unchanged, saying the actions cancel each other out.
Bruce Clark, senior vice president at Moody's, said the deal comes at a cost for GM. When all is said and done, the company's total underfunded pension liability will be reduced by only $1 billion," he said in a statement.
Other analysts say the move will help GM in the long haul.
"We view this announcement favorably as it reduces GM's risk and improves their flexibility," wrote Joseph Spak, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets LLC, in an investor note. "Moreover, we believe this sets a template to deal with the larger U.S. hourly worker pension obligation."
 
GM is offering buyouts to about 42,000 of its 118,000 salaried retirees and beneficiaries. Those eligible retired from GM on or after Oct. 1, 1997, and before Dec. 1, 2011. The automaker doesn't plan to offer lump sum buyouts to U.S. salaried workers who retired before 1997.
 
GM will buy a group annuity contract from Prudential Retirement, and Prudential will pay and administer future benefit payments to most of the remaining U.S. salaried retirees. As a result, GM won't be responsible for any current salaried pension retirees after the deal closes by year's end. The Detroit-based company also will establish a new pension plan for active salaried employees and terminate its current salaried pension plan.
GM's pensions grew worldwide from $22.2 billion underfunded to $25.4 billion. U.S. pension underfunding increased from $11.5 billion to $13.3 billion. The company has the world's largest pension plans with nearly $110 billion in assets.
 
In February, GM said as part of its strategy to "de-risk" its pension plans; it anticipated a more conservative growth in its investments. GM earned 8 percent on pension investments in 2011 and expects to earn 6.5 percent for its hourly pension plan and 5.7 percent for the salary pension plan.
 
GM said earlier it is freezing its salaried pension plan, which will mean salaried workers will stop accruing additional pension benefits after Sept. 30. Active plan participants will receive additional contributions to its 401(k)-style plan and an extra week of vacation. That change affects 19,000 salaried employees hired before 2001 who still receive traditional pensions, which provide retirees with a fixed amount of money each month for the rest of their lives.
 
As part of its new contract with the UAW reached last year, it barred new hourly workers from receiving defined benefit pensions. But the UAW said GM sought cuts in hourly pensions for older workers. The UAW rejected it. GM froze its cash balance pension plan for entry-level employees on Jan. 2, and expects to terminate it in June. Participants in the plan and all employees hired after October 2007 will participate in a defined contribution plan, GM said.
 
No Pension buys outs at Chrysler
 
The chief executive of Chrysler Group LLC said there was "no need" for the No. 3 U.S. automaker to follow its larger U.S. rivals in offering white-collar pension buyouts.
 
"There's no need for us to do it," CEO Sergio Marchionne said of the buyouts during a visit to a Fiat dealership in Austin on Monday. He did not expand on his comments. 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.
 
Chrysler ended 2011 with a nearly $32 billion pension obligation and its pension plans were underfunded by $6.5 billion, according to its annual filing. The company's market value was around $7.5 billion at the end of 2011. Chrysler has just over 130,000 retirees. About 30,000 are former employees who were paid an annual salary while the rest are retired hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers union.
 
Marchionne, who is also CEO of Italian automaker Fiat SpA (MIL:F), has been at the helm of Chrysler since the U.S. automaker emerged from the brink of collapse before its U.S.-funded bankruptcy in 2009. At that time, analysts said Chrysler would hold Fiat back, but in the last three years; the U.S. automaker has been Fiat's main source of strength as Europe's auto market weakens. Chrysler sales in the United States have jumped about 30 percent while the overall U.S. auto market has risen 13.4 percent during the first five months of the year.
Fiat has delayed the launch of its Bravo and Grande Punto cars to 2014. By contrast, Marchionne has not slowed spending on vehicle development in the United States.
 
"I have not slowed down one single dollar of spending in the United States," Marchionne said. "As a matter of fact, I've probably accelerated it in the last six months."
 
A sharp slowdown in jobs growth last month raised fears on Wall Street that the U.S. economic recovery may be foundering. Marchionne said the pace of the economy is slow, but there would not be an economic contraction. "If I have any concerns about the U.S. it's the potential impact coming from Europe, but it's not from internal issues," Marchionne said.
 
Myths about Canada’s Health Care System
 
Myth #2: Doctors in Canada are flocking to the United States to practice.
 
Every time I talk about health care policy with physicians, one inevitably tells me of the doctor he or she knows who ran away from Canada to practice in the United States. Evidently, there’s a general perception that practicing medicine in the United States is much more satisfying than in Canada.
Problem is, it’s just not so.
 
The Canadian Institute for Health Information has been tracking doctors’ destinations since 1992. Since then, 60 percent to 70 percent of the physicians who emigrate have headed south of the border. In the mid-1990s, the number of Canadian doctors leaving for the United States spiked at about 400 to 500 a year. But in recent years this number has declined, with only 169 physicians leaving for the States in 2003, 138 in 2004 and 122 both in 2005 and 2006. These numbers represent less than 0.5 percent of all doctors working in Canada.
 
So when emigration “spiked,” 400 to 500 doctors were leaving Canada for the United States. There are more than 800,000 physicians in the United States right now, so I’m skeptical that every doctor knows one of those émigrés. In 2004, net emigration became net immigration. Let me say that again. More doctors were moving into Canada than were moving out.
 
Myth #3: Canada rations health care; that’s why hip replacements and cataract surgeries happen faster in the United States.
 
When people want to demonize Canada’s health care system — and other single-payer systems, for that matter — they always end up going after rationing, and often hip replacements in particular.
 
Take Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, for example. A couple of years ago he took to the House floor to tell his colleagues: “I just hit 62, and I was just reading that in Canada [if] I got a bad hip I wouldn’t be able to get that hip replacement that [Rep. Dan Lungren] got, because I’m too old! I’m an old geezer now and it’s not worth a government bureaucrat to pay me to get my hip fixed.”
 
This has been debunked so often, it’s tiring. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for example, concluded: “At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year [2008] ... were on patients age 65 or older.” And more than 1,500 of those, it turned out, were on patients over 85. The bottom line: Canada doesn’t deny hip replacements to older people

June 8, 2012
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.
 

April 27, 2012
Apr 22, 2012

 

Local 72 Palmen Motors Technicians
 
The Palmen Motors Technicians, who are part of Local 72, successfully negotiated a new three year labor agreement with the Palmen motors group. Contract ratification occurred on Wednesday April 18, 2012 with a vote of 22 yes and 0 no it was apparent that the agreement was a fair for both sides. Congratulations to the Palmen Motors UAW bargaining committee led by Ron Stollings and servicing Region 4 representative John Drew. The solidarity the membership had with the bargaining committee I’m sure played a strong part with negotiating a solid labor contract. Good work!
 
 Kenosha Election Results
 
Congratulations to all of you who voted in the April 3, 2012 election. State wide vote totals were in the 25% area considerably less than the 35% that was predicted.
 
A hearty congratulation’s goes to Mayor Keith Bosman for winning his election with more than a 2 to 1 margin of victory. I’d have to say Kenosha has got a great mayor and all of you who live there ought to be proud. Mayor Bosman exemplifies everything you want in a mayor and more. I know he will continue to do a tremendous job and lead Kenosha forward. 
 
In the aldermanic races for the city of Kenosha our C.A.P. endorsed candidates got overwhelming support sweeping twelve out of fourteen districts. Congratulations to all of them with a special congratulations going to our own Tod Ohnstad from district #6. Tod was elected to his second term and he does a great job of representing us and the 6th district.
 
 Also, a very special congratulation’s is in order for Local 72 Retiree Chair Curt Wilson on his victory in district # 13. I’m sure Curt knocked on every door and talked with everyone in his district. Those who voted for him showed confidence in his ability to help everyone. For those who did not, Curt will do everything he can to make believers out of them. The people in district #13 are getting a seasoned veteran that can and will make things happen. 
 
Our C.A.P. endorsed candidates for county board supervisors in Kenosha were able to take five out of ten races, congratulations to all. The districts where we lost were very competitive. Congratulations to our own Mike Underhill from district #20. Mike was elected to his second term and I know he will do all he can for his district.    
 
  Brothers on the Line
 
This award winning documentary about the rise of the UAW by Victor Reuther's grandson, Sash was shown on March 30, 2012 at Monona Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin. The documentary was powerful, moving and very emotional for all of us in the UAW. There were about ninety people at the screening in Madison and it has been shown only in one other state and that was Detroit. I can’ tell you how much I enjoyed the interviews with Victor Reuther and Doug Fraser along with the film footage from the Ford plants and other factories. I never wanted the film to end. It took Sash Reuther four years to produce this film and we all could see that it is more than an historic document it truly defines the UAW. The UAW is more than just a labor union; the UAW is all about social justice. Hopefully Public Broadcasting Station (P.B.S.) will pick up this historic document and distribute it. Once it has been show it through P.B.S. it will be available on DVD. I don’t go out to see movies much, in fact the last time I went to see a movie in a theater was 1972 when the God Father first came out. I got an e-mail from John Drew that this documentary was going to be shown I’m glad my wife Kathy and I went. With any luck at all you will have another opportunity to see this great film. Don’t let it pass you by, it’s a must see for everyone in the UAW.
 
The Republican sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service
 
 In 2006, the Bush White House and Congress whacked the post office with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — an incredible piece of ugliness requiring the agency to PRE-PAY the health care benefits not only of current employees, but also of all employees who'll retire during the next 75 years. Yes, that includes employees who're not yet born!
 
No other agency and no corporation have to do this. Worse, this ridiculous law demands that USPS fully fund this seven-decade burden by 2016. Imagine the shrieks of outrage if Congress tried to slap FedEx or other private firms with such an onerous requirement.
 
This politically motivated mandate is costing the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year money taken right out of postage revenue that could be going to services. That's the real source of the "financial crisis" squeezing America's post offices.
 
In addition, due to a 40-year-old accounting error, the federal Office of Personnel Management has overcharged the post office by as much as $80 billion for payments into the Civil Service Retirement System. This means that USPS has had billions of its sales dollars erroneously diverted into the treasury. Restore the agency's access to its own postage money, and the impending "collapse" goes away.
 
America's postal service is a true public service, a grassroots people's asset that has even more potential than we're presently tapping to serve the democratic ideal of the common good. Why the hell would we let an elite of small-minded profiteers, ranting ideologues and their political hirelings drop-kick this jewel through the goal posts of corporate greed? This is not a fight merely to save 32,000 post offices and the middle-class jobs they provide — but to advance the big idea of America itself, the bold, historic notion that "yes, we can" create a society in which we're all in it together.
  
 Watch Out for Social Security Scams
3 big ones try to separate benefit recipients from their money
 
With about 55 million people receiving Social Security benefits, it's no wonder there are lots of scams aimed at separating them from that money.
 
Here are three big ones:

1. "We're updating our records."
In a common ploy, identity thieves pose as Social Security Administration employees who are making sure files are accurate. By phone, email or letter, they ask for your personal data — Social Security number, birth date, mother's maiden name, bank account number — information that can be used to steal your identity and your money.
 
Reality: Legitimate SSA reps don't contact you by email, but may reply to you by phone or letter if you've applied for benefits. Before providing any information, call Social Security yourself at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local SSA office to verify that the contact is real.
 
2. "We'll get you a bigger check."
Beware of anyone who offers to help you snag additional benefits for a "filing fee."

Reality: The SSA does not charge filing fees. If you feel you're due a higher benefit, you can file an appeal yourself, at no cost. It can be a complicated process, so you're allowed to hire someone to help you — but you should find that person yourself. Social Security regulates what these people can charge; representatives may face prosecution if they charge more.
 
3. "You've got a special tax refund coming."
Scammers say by filing a new income tax return, you can get a lump sum of about $3,000 to compensate you for the lack of Social Security COLA increases in the past two years.

Reality: You'll be charged $30 or more to file new tax forms, and you'll get no refund. But you'll have given away a trove of personal information
 
UAW activists to join coalition in Troy, Michigan
against attacks on working-class families
Michigan and Wisconsin governors called out as 'co-conspirators against the 99%'
 
UAW members, leaders and other activists will join a broad community coalition in a peaceful protest against continued attacks on working-class families and to oppose Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's appearance at a fund raiser hosted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder at the San Marino Club here on April 17, 2012.
 
The demonstration is targeted at the governors' shared agenda of cutting taxes on the wealthy while shifting the tax burden to the middle-class workers, as well as slashing social services for the poor and stripping voters of their rights. Protesters will also deliver a subpoena to Snyder and Walker, both Republicans, calling on them to account for their actions.

"We have to rise up collectively and demand change in our state government and their proposed anti-worker legislation. We must demand a more inclusive society for our children and generations to come. There is power in our numbers, and the 99% spring movement is rooted in our history of fighting for the dignity of all workers," said UAW President Bob King.
 
"By the end of the 99% spring training, tens of thousands of activists will be ready and able to carry out nonviolent direct actions all across the country. The torch of justice has been passed to us, and we bravely take up the battle to combat the inequalities that have been placed on the backs of working families."   This collective, nonviolent direct action is the first of many that activists from the 99% spring movement, a coalition of grassroots organizations including the UAW, will be part of in a long-term effort to expose the exploitation of the poor and middle-class workers.
 
Tod Ohnstad for Assembly
 
I got a phone call from John Drew on Wednesday April 11th explaining that Brother Tod Ohnstad, alderman of the 6th district was going declare his candidacy for the 65th State Assembly seat. I am amazed and pleasantly surprised that he would take on the challenge and another campaign. Tod has always had a very strong sense of right and wrong along with a ton of commitment to the people he has represented over the years. I’m absolutely positive that the people of the 65th state assembly district would have a representative that would always put their interests first and would not be indebted to anyone else. Everyone in the 65th district should be excited about Tod entering the race.
 
Solidarity in Springfield! Thousands Protest Walker in Illinois
 
A spirited crowd of over 4,000 rank-and-file union members and community supporters demonstrated against the extreme agenda and failed record of Gov. Scott Walker earlier today in Springfield, Illinois.  Gov. Walker is in the capital city today to address the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.  After his talk he will be flying to a GOP dinner in Troy, Michigan where the UAW and other working families are expected to protest his appearance
 
Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, addressed the crowd in Springfield bringing a message of solidarity from Wisconsin workers.  “It is amazing to see over 4,000 working people standing together in Springfield, Illinois today to tell Gov. Walker that his job-killing agenda of union-busting, cuts to health care and education and rolling back women’s equal pay protections are the wrong way for any state in the nation.  The energy and excitement here in Illinois is providing fuel for the people of Wisconsin as we undertake the historic effort to reclaim our democracy by recalling Gov. Walker on June 5.” 



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