The SMART Transportation Division’s Legislative Office in Washington has announced a contest for SMART TD members, with a three-day, two-night, all-expenses-paid trip to our nation’s capital as the grand prize.
The SMART TD member who raises and returns the largest amount of UTU PAC fund contributions between July 1 and Labor Day (Sept. 2) will receive the trip, which includes: two round-trip airline tickets to Washington D.C.; two night’s lodging; a special tour of the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and Union Station; access to the Smithsonian and other museums; dinner with the National Legislative Office leadership; SmarTrip METRO passes, and a Congressional office visit with members of Congress.
Second prize is a SMART TD watch.
To enter, members must notify the National Legislative Office at (202) 543-7714 or at the PAC table at the SMART Transportation Division regional meetings that they want to participate in the UTU PAC contest. Members must be registered to win.
To win, participants must raise and return the largest amount of UTU PAC fund contributions by getting as many members as possible to join UTU PAC or to upgrade their current UTU PAC contribution level prior to Labor Day 2013.
The minimum individual contributions to count for a member’s UTU PAC tally is $10 per month. PAC forms must be returned to the International Offices in North Olmsted, Ohio, prior to Labor Day. Business reply return envelopes will be supplied to all participants. Winners will be contacted by the National Legislative Office.
State legislative directors and International officers are not eligible to win.
Whether we like it or not, union busting is a part of our world history. Unions have always fought against big business, government and those that would trample the everyday union worker.
The union busting that occurred last year in Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona and other states continues today, with local and state governments trying to push through right-to-work (for less) legislation.
The death of the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher makes us remember that union-busting is not just here in the United States, but is a world-wide issue. During her time in office from May 1979 to November 1990, Thatcher’s legacy of union busting was world renown. She was able to pass legislation to take away the rights of the union worker like none other was able to do before her.
Last year, Gov. Scott Walker tried to take a page out of Thatcher’s notebook when he tried to put through union-busting legislation in Wisconsin. Many were shocked when they heard about the legislation that Walker was trying to pass. Other states were quick to follow Walker’s example and tried to push through their own right-to-work and union-busting laws. This was our wake up call to come together in solidarity and fight like the unions fought in the days of Thatcher’s reign.
We must not allow ourselves to become complacent. For it is when we become complacent and stop keeping watch over our rights that we open ourselves up to our enemies’ strikes against us.
We must be diligent in our watch and stay informed about those who want to take away our rights as workers. One way to do this is to contribute to the UTU’s PAC fund. This fund enables us to stay alert and fight the legislation that would harm the middle-class worker and take away our hard-won rights.
Let Thatcher and Walker be reminders to us that we need to band together as unions in solidarity and continue to stay alert to fight against union-busting legislation.
Public transportation funding, transportation jobs, workplace safety, Railroad Retirement and Medicare are under a mean-spirited and sustained attack by congressional conservatives who are trying to muscle their agenda through Congress prior to the November elections.
The UTU and Sheet Metal Workers International Association – now combined into the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) – along with other labor organizations, public interest groups, congressional Democrats and moderate Republicans are working on Capitol Hill to block these attempts, which could be devastating to working families.
UTU National Legislative Director James Stem and SMWIA Director of Governmental Affairs Jay Potesta outlined the conservatives’ agenda that has surfaced in proposed congressional transportation reauthorization and budget legislation:
* Cut $31.5 billion in federal transportation spending, which would threaten some 500,000 American jobs.
* Eliminate federal spending for Amtrak and expansion of intercity rail-passenger service and high-speed rail, with a direct impact on jobs associated with that service.
* Gut federal spending for the Alaska Railroad, which would force elimination of scores of train and engine workers represented by the UTU.
* Delay implementation of positive train control, which is a modern technology to reduce train accidents and save lives and limbs.
* Eliminate federal spending for expansion of local and regional transit service as Americans scramble to find alternatives to driving in the face of soaring gasoline prices. The federal spending cut would prevent the return to work of furloughed workers from budget-starved local transit systems and likely cause layoffs of still more transit workers.
* Encourage privatization of local transit systems, which would open the door for non-union operators eager to pay substandard wages and eliminate employee health care insurance and other benefits.
* Remove any requirement for shuttle-van operators, whose vehicles cross state lines, from paying even minimum wage or overtime – a proposal, which if enacted, could lead to applying that legislation to interstate transit operations.
* Eliminate Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits that exceed Social Security benefits even though railroads and rail employees pay 100 percent of those benefits through payroll taxes, with no federal funds contributing to Tier I benefits that exceed what is paid by Social Security.
* Replace direct federal spending on Medicare in favor of handing out vouchers to be used to purchase private insurance, which will undercut the viability of Medicare.
* Provide large tax breaks to millionaires and preserve tax breaks for Wall Street hedge funds that cater to the wealthy, while cutting by two-thirds federal assistance to veterans and public schools.
The UTU member-supported political action committee (PAC) is helping to fund election campaigns by labor-friendly candidates, and a labor-wide “get out the vote” drive will go door-to-door across America in support of labor-friendly candidates in advance of November elections.
In the meantime, UTU and SMWIA legislative offices will continue their education campaign on Capitol Hill, visiting congressional offices to explain the economic devastation the current conservative agenda would impose on working families.
WASHINGTON – While organized labor has more friends in the Democratic Party, and carriers have more friends in the Republican Party, there are many Republicans who are friends of organized labor – and the UTU’s bi-partisan approach to politics recognizes this.
One special Republican friend of the UTU is Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, who serves on the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, where Amtrak and transit funding is determined. Roll Call newspaper, which reports on all things Congress, recently called LaTourette, “The top GOP ally of organized labor in the House.”
Said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) of LaTourette: “People from both sides of the aisle often line up to talk to him because they value his insight.”
Recently, LaTourette teamed with Rep. Rus Carnahan (D-Mo.) to introduce legislation allowing transit agencies to use some of their federal funding earmarked for new equipment, for operations instead, which would allow cash-strapped transit agencies to maintain service and keep drivers, who otherwise faced layoffs, on the job.
LaTourette also has been an advocate for consistent and reliable Amtrak funding; and earlier this year, he led 15 other Republicans to stand in opposition to an attack by the Republican leadership against the National Mediation Board’s changed rule making union representation votes more democratic.
As we approach the 2012 election year, the UTU PAC will stand by all our friends seeking reelection or election to Congress and state office, regardless of political party affiliation.
The UTU PAC works for and helps candidates we feel are capable and knowledgeable, and who recognize the problems that affect airline, bus, rail and transit workers.
For more information on the UTU PAC, and how UTU-member participation in the UTU PAC helps to protect your economic security and safe working conditions, click on the following link:
A coalition of labor unions and community groups didn’t take back the Wisconsin state senate from anti-union extremists Tuesday night, Aug. 9, but voters enraged over the extremists’ political agenda did unseat two of the six senators targeted for recall.
“Seeing that we were outspent three-to-one, that recall elections are rare in American politics and that our effort to change the face of the Wisconsin legislature only began a few months ago, contributors to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund can be proud of the accomplishment of unseating two extremists, and, especially, the message the recall election sent anti-union politicians nationwide,” said UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch.
The Wisconsin recall effort began after political extremists in that state legislature voted to curtail public-employee bargaining rights as a first step toward weakening labor-union power.
An anti-union agenda by political extremists in Ohio similarly energized labor and community groups there, culminating in a successful petition drive that puts the political extremists’ anti-union legislation to a direct voter referendum in Ohio in November.
And in Indiana, political extremists abandoned their effort to curtail public-employee collective bargaining rights after the pushback by labor and community groups began in Wisconsin and Ohio.
In all cases, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund played an effective role.
In Madison, Wis., Tuesday, a voter told the Capitol-Times newspaper, “I think the fact that this election is going on right now is a victory in and of itself. We put [the anti-union lawmakers] on the hot seat. I would have liked to have seen us run the table on them, but this is okay for now.”
The UTU’s political consultant, Dean Mitchell, noted that the Wisconsin recall elections are a “test run for organized labor in expanding and improving its get-out-the-vote message and efforts ahead of the 2012 presidential election, where Wisconsin will be one of the swing states. The UTU can be proud that the two senators successfully recalled are from the two voting districts in the state with the most UTU members registered.”
UTU National Legislative Director James Stem said the extremist agenda in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states to privatize schools and weaken labor unions mirrors the efforts of extremists in Congress to fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security, privatize Social Security and Medicare, eliminate Amtrak and destroy organized labor.
“The situation in Wisconsin allowed the UTU and other labor organizations to fine-tune our communication strategies,” Stem said. “We are very proud of the manner in which our active and retired members responded to our efforts. The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC will continue to spearhead our efforts going forward to protect our collective bargaining rights and defend against these brazen attacks on the middle-class.
“We owe temporary Gov. Scott Walker a debt of gratitude for waking up the middle class to the battle being waged against them,” Stem said. “We will use the lessons learned in the Wisconsin recall to improve our efforts and communications in Ohio and in presidential and congressional elections in 2012.”
NEW YORK — If we don’t vote our paychecks and help to elect labor-friendly candidates, then lawmakers seeking to reduce union-member wages and benefits and weaken workplace safety laws and regulations will be the ones controlling state and federal legislative bodies, UTU Assistant President Arty Martin warned members at the UTU’s eastern regional meeting here.
In dozens of state legislatures, political extremists have introduced legislation to eliminate or curtail collective bargaining rights and otherwise reduce the ability of unions to represent working men and women, Martin said.
And in Congress, political extremists are pushing an agenda to weaken workplace safety regulation, fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security, privatize Social Security and Medicare, and privatize Amtrak as an initial step toward eliminating all federal subsidies for rail passenger service, Martin said.
Many of these political extremists, said Martin, came to office with support of union members who focused on emotional ballot-box issues apart from job security and workplace safety. “These issues are important to many of our members, but the most important issues are our jobs and the ability to return home safely from work,” he said.
He used Ohio and Wisconsin as two examples. In both states, anti-union legislation was passed by state legislatures and signed into law. When union members realized that the rug had been pulled out from under collective bargaining rights, and that the political extremists supporting the bills had an even broader anti-union agenda, the lights went on in union households.
In Ohio, UTU members, other union members and other concerned citizens collected some 1.3 million signatures in a petition drive to put that state’s anti-union legislation on hold pending a voter referendum on the bill this November.
And in Wisconsin, UTU and other union members collected sufficient signatures in multiple petition drives to force recall elections of many anti-union state senators who supported the legislation curtailing collective bargaining rights.
Martin urged UTU members to contribute to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, which is fighting anti-union legislative efforts in various states, and to become more involved in the UTU PAC, which supports union-friendly candidates for state and federal office.
MADISON, Wis. – A divided state supreme court here June 14 ruled in a 4-3 decision that the state’s controversial law revoking collective-bargaining rights for public employees may go into effect – overturning an injunction issued by a lower court.
This is important to UTU members for two reasons:
Political extremists in other states and in Congress will be emboldened by this decision, and that means a more concerted attack to fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security; privatize Social Security and Medicare, ending those programs as we know them; eliminate federal funding for Amtrak as a first step toward shutting it down; abolish income protection in railroad mergers, line sales and abandonments; and decimate workplace safety regulations and income.
The Wisconsin state supreme court decision would have gone the other way had a labor-friendly challenger to the incumbent won that seat on the court in a recent election. The challenger, written off early as unelectable, came within a few thousand votes of victory only because the state’s attack on collective-bargaining rights so enraged Wisconsin voters. Those voters became enraged because of a public outcry fueled by labor-union activism made possible by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and similar programs initiated by other labor organizations.
In fact, labor-union activism in Wisconsin generated such substantial support that many of the lawmakers who voted to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights now face recall elections this summer. The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund will assist in educating Wisconsin voters and helping to energize them to go to the polls and cast votes to recall those lawmakers.
If the recall is successful, it is possible that the law will be changed by a more moderate Wisconsin legislature where many lawmakers who supported the anti-union measure are now rethinking their votes in light of the public outrage. In the Wisconsin House, language is being prepared for insertion in a budget bill to reinsert the collective bargaining language that was stricken under the leadership and bullying of political extremists.
Additionally, in Ohio, where the legislature passed a state law similarly curtailing public employee collective bargaining rights, the measure is now on hold and headed for a voter referendum in November because of labor-union activism made possible by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and similar programs by other labor organizations.
Voters across the nation are recognizing the threat posed to working families by political extremists intent upon dismantling government and turning back decades of progressive legislation.
Hundreds of UTU members and retirees, along with UTU locals and general committees, have made generous contributions to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.
More is needed. The Collective Bargaining Defense Fund is accomplishing what it was established to do.
Meanwhile, the UTU PAC is in need of additional contributions to help labor-friendly candidates challenge and defeat extremists in congressional and state elections in November 2012.
For more information on the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:
UTU members are stepping up to the plate in the fight to preserve collective bargaining rights, Amtrak, workplace safety, Railroad Retire
ment, Social Security and Medicare by mounting a counter attack on political extremists intent on destroying organized labor and all it has achieved for working families.
Hundreds of active and retired members — individually and through their locals, general committees and state legislative boards — have contributed to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC.
A $10,000 contribution to the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund was made by Amtrak General Committee of Adjustment 769 and delivered by General Chairperson Roger Lenfest.
In Arizona, , the 292 members of UTU Local 113 in Winslow recently almost doubled their monthly PAC contributions. “They have a lot of pride and they talk about the UTU PAC at every meeting,” said State Legislative Director Greg Hynes. “All the officers of this local are dollar-a-day PAC members or more — and some contribute $50 monthly.”
Three of Local 113’s officers made clear why they are active in the UTU PAC:
Alternate Delegate Chris Todd: “PAC is our political voice. Without it we’re just rolling the dice on our future.”
Local Chairperson Jim Polston: “I was able to convey to our membership the importance of PAC. Once you do that our members are proud to help out.”
Treasurer Mike Branson: “I contribute to our UTU PAC because without action there would be no union.”
In the wake of UTU members — in solidarity with brothers and sisters from other labor organizations — demonstrating against state legislative action to destroy organized labor, anti-labor bills have been slowed and education of the electorate and the media has generated public outrage.
In Wisconsin, six state lawmakers who led the fight to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights now face a recall election; and an injunction against implementation of the legislation was ordered by a state court, with the law now facing state supreme court review.
In Ohio, a petition drive led by union members placed a similar law as Wisconsin’s on hold pending a voter referendum this fall.
The UTU Collective Bargaining Fund is providing assistance to UTU members who are engaging in demonstrations and other voter outreach activities nationwide.
The UTU PAC, meanwhile, is helping labor-friendly state legislative and congressional candidates prepare to mount challenges against political extremists who have declared war on working families and organized labor.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that since 2009, 729 anti-labor bills have been introduced in 48 separate states. In Congress, a bill is pending to invalidate a National Mediation Board ruling that representation elections be decided on the number of votes cast, without counting those not voting as having voted against union membership.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision known as “Citizens United” opened the door to unlimited political donations by corporations for political advertising that will accelerate attacks on organized labor. While labor unions cannot match such donations, labor-union PACs can make a difference on behalf of labor friendly candidates; and our primary strength is in getting out the vote — and then casting ballots — on behalf of labor-friendly candidates.
It is well established that union families are more likely to vote in elections, and the combination of PAC contributions to labor friendly candidates, voter outreach by union members and union families casting votes for union-endorsed candidates is a powerful response to corporate interests and their candidates whose intent is to destroy organized labor.
For more information on the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the link at the end of this article, and please consider increasing your UTU PAC contributions. If you are not yet a UTU PAC member, please consider joining.
As President Mike Futhey has said, “If you believe in something strong enough, you fight for it. Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger than ever.”
The attack on public-employee collective bargaining rights by right-wing extremists is intended to destroy labor unions.
Union busting is something expected in the private sector; that’s why we have laws to level the playing field, with most differences settled at the bargaining table or in neutral arbitration — not through management dictatorship, as in Wisconsin and other states.
Should right-wing extremists succeed in destroying public-sector unions, the assault will spread to the federal government workforce and then the private-sector.
In my 45 years as a proud union member and officer, I have never witnessed such blatant attacks on working families.
The source of the attacks is corporations, financial institutions and wealthy investors bankrolling right-wing extremist lawmakers. A Supreme Court decision virtually removing caps on corporate political donations certainly helped the effort.
Many right-wing candidates use emotional issues such as gun control, school prayer and abortion to stir the emotions of union members, recruiting many to inadvertently participate in destroying the right of collective bargaining and, eventually, the economic security unions provide working families.
If labor-union survival and the economic survival of working families is going to be preserved, we in organized labor must respond to the attacks on our collective bargaining rights.
We must maintain our right to join a union, our right unify and our right to make political donations (if we so choose) through payroll deduction to those politicians supporting workplace democracy.
We cannot match the level of donations of the huge corporations and others financially backing the attacks on labor, but we have something our enemies don’t have — millions and millions of members who can vote for labor-friendly candidates.
The UTU Political Action Committee (UTU PAC) helps identify labor friendly candidates, helps finance their election campaigns, and helps to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates on Election Day.
Please consider joining this voluntary effort and contribute to the UTU PAC. If you already are a member, please consider increasing your contribution. Our job security and the economic security of our families hang in the balance.
Let’s not forget that the attacks on labor we are witnessing today have not been seen in generations, and what is happening in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere today are only the beginning if we don’t stand in solidarity to protect the rights labor fought so long, so hard and at such a great cost to achieve.
What do the Nov. 2 congressional election results mean for UTU members and their families?
Consider these facts that are not always obvious:
While it is true that organized labor has more friends among Democrats, many of the Republicans elected Nov. 2 are friends of working families, and they received UTU PAC support and were on our voting recommendations list.
The UTU is a bipartisan union, historically and consistently looking beyond party labels to reward each and every friend of working families.
Among our Republican friends, for example, are Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Republican Sen. Hatch is one of the strongest congressional defenders of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), while Republican Rep. Young has been one of the UTU’s most ardent supporters in the House of Representatives.
One of the most important congressional committees to UTU members — airline, bus and rail — is the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where most legislation affecting the transportation industries originates. Among Transportation & Infrastructure Committee members, more than 66 percent — Democrats and Republicans — who were endorsed by the UTU won re-election Nov. 2.
In all congressional races Nov. 2, more than 60 percent of UTU endorsed candidates won election or re-election. Imagine if you could win a poker hand more than 60 percent of the time, or hit safely six of 10 times at bat as a major league ballplayer.
Despite the change in party control in the House of Representatives, UTU recommended candidates are still a majority, meaning the UTU National Legislative Office can continue to work successfully on issues that matter to our members — job security, safety, health care and retirement benefits, as well as adequate public funding for Amtrak and public transit.
Key regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, National Mediation Board, and National Labor Relations Board, will continue to have labor-friendly majority control.
The UTU’s GOTV — “get out the vote” — effort this election year resulted in thousands of UTU members and families, who were not previously registered or hadn’t voted in the previous (2006) non-presidential election, registering to vote and casting ballots in congressional races.
In states where early voting is permitted, preliminary polling by GOTV shows that as many as 20 percent of UTU members and spouses who cast an early ballot had not voted in the 2006 non-presidential election. This proved important in close races.
On behalf of the UTU, GOTV — in partnership with UTU state legislative directors and the UTU Auxiliary — made more than 210,000 unique member contacts in 28 states via the postal service, e-mail and telephone calls, urging UTU members and their families to register to vote and to vote in this election.
By encouraging a higher percentage of UTU members to register to vote and to vote, we demonstrate to candidates the power of UTU endorsements — and, especially, that in close races, a UTU endorsement has great value to a candidate.
Candidates remember their friends in the same manner organized labor remembers its friends.
As the proverb says, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes a difference.” What the UTU PAC and GOTV demonstrate to candidates of all political stripes is that the UTU is a friend worth having.
The UTU has always had a great legislative program, but what we have accomplished this election through GOTV sets a new standard and benchmark to measure future advances.
When the new Congress is seated in 2011, we will be working closely with our old and new friends to continue advancing the UTU legislative agenda on behalf of our members.