Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Gift America Needs Most: Manufacturing

by Leo W. Gerard, Dec 22, 2009

In Columbus, Ohio, a 5-year-old girl jumped onto Santa’s lap last month and asked if he could give her dad a job as an elf.

Mike Smith, who works the Santa station at the Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, asked why, the Wall Street Journal reported. The little girl in the Dora the Explorer sweatshirt responded:

Because my daddy’s out of work, and we’re about to lose our house.

Happy Holidays, America!

The gift this country needs most this holiday season is an economy built on a solid foundation, one that will provide middle class, family-supporting jobs now and into the future.

That present would not be another version of Monopoly for Wall Street wannabees. It would not be Barbie-goes-to-the-mall-credit-cards for youngsters in families already maxed out on their plastic and their mortgages.

The metaphorical gift our economy could really use is an Erector Set—a strong steel construction kit from which the intrepid manufacture airplanes, automobiles, robots on motorized tracks, backhoes, helicopters, skyscrapers, cranes, even working Ferris wheels.

That’s because, most of all, this economy needs manufacturing. Enthralled by the glitz, glamour and bogus bonuses of Wall Street, we’ve allowed multinationals to export our grit and grimy factories overseas. Factories that made clothing, sports shoes, large appliances, tires, glass and so much more in big and small U.S. towns—now transferred to China and Indonesia and India, lured not just by cheap labor, but also by lavish government subsidies and absent environmental regulations.

Manufacturing, the basis of any strong economy, has continuously declined as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product since its World War II peak, when it was 28.3 percent. Its new low is less than half of that—12 percent.

Here’s the most obvious difference between an economy based on manufacturing and one based on Wall Street: You can hold the handlebars of a Harley-Davidson in your hands, but just try grasping a derivative.

The paper traders on Wall Street bundle mortgages into exotic financial instruments called derivatives, sell those, buy pseudo-insurance to secure them, then engage in legal betting on whether the “instruments” will soar or fail. This kind of activity caused the financial collapse in 2008. Frankly, beyond being incredibly risky, these transactions don’t create true wealth; they just generate big bonuses.

In manufacturing, an entrepreneur takes raw material and adds energy, ingenuity, tools and labor to create a product, like steel, that has real value and can be sold on the market to someone who needs it to combine with other materials to make finished merchandise like motorcycles or refrigerators. And those manufactured items are durable and valuable.

In the process of manufacturing, many people are employed—to get the raw materials, whether it’s limestone or iron or trees, to transport it to a factory, to generate electricity to run the factory, to transform the raw material at the factory, to deliver the product to the buyer, to pave the roads and build the bridges and repair the railroads necessary for all that transportation, to design the highways and factories and overpasses, to feed all the workers lunch.

Tragically, the Great Recession caused by Wall Street has hit manufacturing hard. While unemployment is at a 25-year high of 10 percent, the unemployment in manufacturing has run a couple of percentage points higher than that. More than 2.1 million manufacturing workers have been thrown out of their jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

These workers are the parents of children in Dora the Explorer sweatshirts who are asking Santa for elf jobs.

These are the workers who have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments—although almost half are suffering from depression or anxiety, a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults showed.

These are the workers who told the pollsters that the frustration and stress of unemployment has provoked conflicts and arguments with family and friends.

These are the workers who have lost their homes or have been threatened with eviction or foreclosure, who have difficulty paying bills and have resorted to borrowing money from friends and relatives. These are the workers profiled by Anne Hull of the Washington Post in a story that began by describing desperate laid-off Warren, Ohio, residents in a pawn shop:

At campaign time, they are celebrated as the people who built America. Now they just want to know how much they can get for a wedding band.

These are workers selling their precious keepsakes to survive 15 percent unemployment in an area along the Mahoning River that once was the world’s fifth-largest steel producer—until it lost 50,000 of those family-supporting manufacturing jobs and another 11,500 middle-class jobs at the Lordstown General Motors plant, all in a decade.

These workers could be holding good, steady factory jobs if the United States had implemented a manufacturing strategy, the way China, Japan, Germany, even the Netherlands, did long ago.

Just last week, the Obama administration offered a gift to all those who believe in manufacturing. It is that strategy for America. Its formal name is the White House Plan to Revitalize American Manufacturing.

For that 5-year-old girl in the Dora the Explorer sweatshirt. For her furloughed father and her family. For the future of this country, let’s give ourselves the gift of a future constructed on a solid economic foundation. Let’s implement that plan to revitalize American manufacturing immediately. Millions of unemployed workers can’t wait.

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

On Senate Passage of the Health Care Bill

“The Senate health care bill is far from perfect. I am deeply disappointed it does not include a public option to help keep down costs and I also don’t like the deal making that secured votes with unjustifiable provisions. I will work to improve the bill, including restoring the public option, when the final version is drafted.

“But, while this bill could and should have been much stronger, it includes very important provisions for Wisconsin that I worked to include. The bill will bring more Medicare dollars to Wisconsin by improving the unfair reimbursement formula that has siphoned money away from the state for years, and by rewarding the high-quality, low-cost care practiced at places like Gundersen Lutheran and the Marshfield Clinic. Wisconsin taxpayers also win because we will see a boost in Medicaid funding, so our state isn’t harshly penalized for its leadership in expanding coverage. The bill also ends discrimination by insurance companies against people with preexisting conditions, expands coverage to 30 million more Americans and reduces the deficit by an estimated $132 billion. Despite the bill's flaws, it does meet the test of real reform, and the cost of inaction was much too high.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Four Good Reasons to Call a Budget Counselor Now

by Gerri Detweiler
The Union Credit Doctor

Just as it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you not feeling well for any length of time, it’s a good idea to talk with a budget and credit counselor to get relief from financial stress before it develops into something more serious.

Here are four reasons to call a counselor sooner rather than later:

1. Get a New Attitude: Even if you’ve gone over your expenses with a fine tooth comb, a budget review may turn up some new ideas for trimming expenses. Counselors can share creative ways to meet your needs while spending less.

2. Talk Money With Your Honey: When it comes to financial habits, opposites often do attract, and that can lead to sometimes serious disagreements about money. Talking with a counselor can bring an objective and impartial point of view to this often emotional subject.

3. Build Stronger Credit: About a third of your credit score is made up of the debt you carry and, in particular, how much of your available credit card lines you are using. If you carry high balances on one or more of your credit cards, your credit scores have likely taken a hit. Credit counseling can help you pare down your debt, and as a result, you may see your credit improve over time.

4. Beat the Crowds: Credit counselors gear up for their busy season after the holidays when bills start rolling in. By late January, counselor’s phone lines are ringing off the hooks.

Union members and their families are eligible for a free budget and credit counseling session through the Union Plus Credit Counseling Service. Visit or call 1-877-833-1745 to speak to a counselor over the phone. In-person appointments are available in 120 locations nationwide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

President Newby will be on "Fox and Friends"

(check your local Fox TV station) at 6:50 a.m. Thursday (December 17) talking about our "Labor History in the Schools" bill which Governor Doyle signed last Thursday. Opposition: Michael Dean, attorney with the First Freedoms Foundation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Endorses Tom Barrett for Governor

Milwaukee – The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO today announced its endorsement of Tom Barrett for Governor of Wisconsin in 2010.

”Tom Barrett is focused on creating new, family supporting jobs in Wisconsin, and as Governor, he will make that the state’s highest priority. He recognizes that working people in Wisconsin – their skills, their commitment, and their experience – are assets that will help us build a new, strong economy,” said Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby.

As mayor, Tom Barrett has demonstrated a willingness to listen and cooperate with people from all walks of life. That approach has led to better policies and better outcomes for all working people.

“I am proud to stand with the working men and women from all across Wisconsin as we build on this state’s economic strengths,” Mayor Barrett said of the endorsement. “We have faced remarkably tough economic times recently, and too many hard working people have been pushed out of jobs. But I continue to believe this state’s greatest days are ahead of us. I will provide the leadership Wisconsin needs to make certain everyone benefits from our future success.”

As the statewide coordinating council for AFL-CIO unions in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO determines union policy on state issues, speaks for working men and women on matters of public concern, provides services to local unions, and coordinates political and legislative action with its over 1,000 affiliated unions which represent over 250,000 members in the state.

Obama Executive Order on Labor Management Forums: Deadline Dates and Requirements

No, is not a typo. Government adores an acronym. So will the President's new National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations be called the "en-co-flemer"? What else could it be? In any event, March 9th is the deadline for Agencies to submit the following: [Full Story]

Source: FedSmith

NARFE Concerned About Proposal to Have OPM Administer “Public Option”

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President Margaret L. Baptiste announced today that NARFE is concerned about a compromise proposal being considered in the Senate’s health care reform bill that would have the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administer a health care delivery system consisting of at least two national, private nonprofit insurance plans or a government plan. Baptiste said that NARFE specifically opposes a component of the proposal that would require Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plans to offer coverage though the OPM-administered public option, if the personnel agency cannot otherwise find at least two carriers willing to offer nationally available plans.

“Most organizations are successful when they focus on their core mission like a laser beam,” Baptiste said. “OPM should be in the business of attracting the best and brightest to federal service, if our nation is to effectively grapple with an unparalleled economic upheaval, two overseas wars and homeland security. OPM’s role as the government’s HR office is too important to dilute with the massive undertaking of creating and administering a new health care system for millions of Americans.

“While NARFE supports access to comprehensive health care for all Americans, we are concerned that an OPM-administered health care system is being proposed as a political solution to a legitimate national problem,” she said. “It would make better public policy to have the Department of Health and Human Services manage this new program since one of their fundamental responsibilities is to administer large health care systems for diverse communities of coverage.

“In addition, we are troubled that this proposal could compromise the integrity of the FEHBP, which is an earned employer-sponsored worker and retiree benefit. For that reason, we insist that the FEHBP and the proposed OPM-administered plan be negotiated and managed separately to ensure that FEHBP continues to offer federal workers and annuitants comprehensive coverage with affordable and predictable premiums. For example, NARFE opposes part of the proposal that would require FEHBP plans to offer coverage in the public option because the mandate may encourage some insurance carriers not to participate in either program. As a result, competition and choice, which are hallmarks of the FEHBP, would be undermined.

“Above all, any proposal to have OPM administer a public plan must guarantee that federal workers and annuitants who like the health insurance coverage they currently have through the FEHBP are allowed to keep it, just like other Americans who are covered by employer-sponsored health plans.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Department of Labor to ReconsiderBush’s Last-Minute FMLA Changes

APWU Web News Article #145-09, Dec. 10, 2009

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced [PDF] Dec. 7 that she is reviewing changes made early this year to regulations governing the Family and Medical Leave Act. The announcement has set off speculation that the Department of Labor will overturn revisions implemented at the very end of the Bush administration.

APWU members may recall that just four days before President Bush left the White House, he implemented several regulatory changes to the FMLA, some of which have caused problems for workers, including postal employees. The APWU was among several workers’ advocacy organizations that fought the imposition of the new rules.

Included among the changes were a narrowing of the definition of a “serious health condition,” requirements for additional medical documentation, requirements that medical evidence be provided more frequently, and permission for employers to contact an employee’s healthcare provider directly, without the employees’ knowledge or permission.

“We hope the Department of Labor will reverse policies that were pushed through just before President Obama took office,” said APWU Legislative & Political Department Director Myke Reid.

APWU President William Burrus wrote to Solis in June, saying that the Bush FMLA rules “weakened the law and made it more difficult for workers to exercise the right the legislation was designed to protect.”

The expected “new” regulations will be developed and published by November, Reid said, and the APWU’s concerns again will be shared with the Department of Labor. “Eleven months may seem like a long time, but notice must be given and a 60-day ‘comment period’ is required. We are optimistic that the subsequent review will work in our favor.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Will Read the Bedtime Story When Mommy Leaves for Afganistan

It's that time of the year again when Postal and Federal Employees can contribute to their favorite cherites via Payroll Deduction. Please consider contributing. If every postal employee would donate just $1.00 per pay period we would have a very succesful campaign.

Click here to find the answer: Who Will Read the Bedtime Story When Mommy Leaves for Afganistan?


Official notification is hereby given that the Convention of the APWU of Wisconsin will convene on Thursday April 29, 2010 and continue through Saturday, May 1, 2010. It will be held at the Radisson Paper Valley in at 333 W. College Avenue in Appleton, WI . The Hotel is located in Downtown Appleton and reservations MUST be made by March 15, 2010 to reserve your room.

In addition on the afternoon of Thursday, April 29, 2010 a training seminar will be held in conjunction with the convention. Please phone the hotel at 920-733-8000 to reserve your room as soon as you can.

Again this year a new part of our constitution will go into effect. In past years the convention was concluded with the banquet on Saturday evening. The banquet is always a nice time to reflect on the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of our Union. Unfortunately a number of Brothers and Sisters left after the convention recessed on Saturday afternoon and missed the camaraderie of the banquet. This year the banquet will be held on Friday night and the fee for the banquet will be included with the registration fee.

Some of the governing portions of the State Constitution appear below.


Nomination and election of all Officers of the APWU of Wisconsin will take place at this convention.

On the afternoon of the opening day of the Convention, the Chairman of the nominations committee shall declare the convention open for nomination for all offices and the Convention City at which the next Convention is to be held. Article VI Section 7,(2).

The nomination shall proceed in the following order: 1; General President, 2; Secretary-Treasurer, 3; Director of Legislation, 4; Director of Human Relations, 5; Director of Education and Organization.

The election of officers shall take place on the afternoon of the second day of the convention. Article VI Section 7 (4).


Credentials will be mailed out by the Secretary - Treasurer by February 21, 2010. They shall be properly signed, returned and in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer by April 1, 2010 so that committee assignments can be made by the State President, and committee members can be properly notified.


The voting power of the members of the American Postal Workers Union of Wisconsin , AFL-CIO, at State Convention shall be as follows: Article V section 1:


The convention can at its pleasure give visiting Members at Large a vote; providing not more than three Members at Large attend the Convention. If more that three attend, the Chairman of the Credentials Committee with the consent of the Convention, shall apportion one-third vote to each Member at Large. Article V Section 2.

Voting delegates shall be based on the average amount of per capital tax paid by each local/area local during the two (2) preceding calendar years of the convention year. Any local whose charter has not been in existence for this period, shall receive voting delegates based upon the average per capita one month previous to the month the convention is held. Article V Section 5.


All resolutions to be presented at the Convention must be in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer at least four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention in order to be printed in the Convention Book. Article VI Section 5. ALL RESOLUTIONS MUST BE IN THE SEC/TREAS HANDS BY APRIL 1, 2010.

All proposed Constitution changes must be in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer at least four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention in order to be printed in the Convention Book. Article VI Section 8. ALL CONSTITUTION CHANGES MUST BE IN THE SEC/TREAS HANDS BY APRIL 1, 2010.

All Officer’s reports shall be ready and in the hands of the Secretary-Treasurer four (4) weeks prior to the opening of the Convention. Article VII Section 8.


ALL LOCAL DELEGATES MUST BE ELECTED BY SECRET BALLOT VOTE OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP, UNLESS YOUR LOCAL CONSTITUTION PROVIDES FOR AUTOMATIC DELEGATE(S) TO A CONVENTION. MAL’S are to get their authorized credentials from the State Secretary-Treasurer. These procedures must be followed or delegates will not be seated.
Education classes will be held on April 29, 2010. The programs have not been confirmed at this time.

The official opening of the Convention will be at 10:00 AM on Friday, April 30, 2010, the convention will close with a the installation of officers on Saturday May 1. 2010.

Now is the time to start preparing any resolutions that you wish to submit to the convention for consideration by the delegates in attendance and to be forwarded if acted on to the National APWU convention.

Please bring any COPA donations from your local to the convention.
Dale Anderson
American Postal Workers Union of Wisconsin

Help One of Our Own

email sent from APWU of WI President Steve Lord:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Attached to this email you will find a letter from SPC Erik Mckenna. He is the son of our brother Paul Mckenna the Milwaukee Area Local President. I know from time to time you get requests to help our young men and women in the military. Here is a chance to help a service member of our own APWU of Wisconsin union family. I hope I can count on your local or members of your local to help with some of the items in the letter. Some of the items are higher ticket items that your local or members of your local would like to contribute money to help buy. If you are willing to help please post this letter on your union board and bring it up at your next local union meeting. If you have items or dollars to contribute please call me at 920-426-5285. Thanks in advance for your help.

Steve Lord, President
APWU of Wisconsin