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KC Labor Newsletter
The Week In Review, Sunday, January 18, 2004 

More Bad news For Retirees

The Pension benefit Guarantee Corporation announced this week that its deficit has hit an all time high of 11.2 billion dollars. These financial woes are driven by an increasing number of bankrupt pension plans, from such companies as Bethlehem Steel and US Airways, and record-low interest rates, officials said.

Employer Health Care

Unhealthy retirement

Steelworkers Settle Two Long Disputes
Oregon Steel
More than six years after being forced out on strike over unfair labor practice issues the United Steelworkers has a tentative agreement with Oregon Steel’s CF&I Steel subsidiary in Pueblo, Colorado. While all details have not yet been made public the deal is said to include:

Remedies for outstanding Unfair Labor Practices, including substantial back pay and complete amnesty for all conduct during the labor dispute.

Returning workers to their "rightful place" in the mill, the positions they held before the strike.

Pension improvements, including pension credit for the entire period of the labor dispute and for service with predecessor companies.

Weldun International, Inc
Following a 12-year legal battle, 29 workers who were illegally discharged for attempting to form a union with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) at Weldun International, Inc. in Bridgman, Mich., will receive $1.2 million in lost wages and benefits.

Another Vote Slated At Tyson
Last Sunday UFCW Local 538 strikers at Tyson's (formerly IBP) plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin rejected a company offer. Now it has been announced that another vote on an “amended” employer proposal will be taken before the end of January. The plant's 470 workers walked out Feb. 28, 2003, after failing to reach a deal with Tyson, the world's largest supplier of beef, chicken and pork. The company was seeking a four-year wage freeze, a reduced wage scale for new workers, elimination of the profit-sharing plan, cuts in vacation, sick leave and pension and a bigger bill for less comprehensive health care coverage. The company has hired a substantial number of scabs. Apparently the UFCW is fearful that a decertification election—with scabs voting—would be held as soon as the strike passes the one year mark.

Boeing Out To Oust SPEEA
On the eve of contract negotiations Boeing management has used its stooges to file to decertify the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace at its Wichita plant. The company has retained a notorious union-busting law firm,
Baker Hostetler. SPEEA has replied by filing an unfair labor practice charge.

Oregon Steel, Weldun, Boeing, and Tyson are good examples to take up at the coming conference, Worker Rights At Home and Abroad.

And Now Women's ‘Liberation’ In Iraq
From Friday's Washington Post:

For the past four decades, Iraqi women have enjoyed some of the most modern legal protections in the Muslim world, under a civil code that prohibits marriage below the age of 18, arbitrary divorce and male favoritism in child custody and property inheritance disputes.

“Saddam Hussein's dictatorship did not touch those rights. But the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council has voted to wipe them out, ordering in late December that family laws shall be ‘canceled’ and such issues placed under the jurisdiction of strict Islamic legal doctrine known as sharia.

“This week, outraged Iraqi women -- from judges to cabinet ministers -- denounced the decision in street protests and at conferences, saying it would set back their legal status by centuries and could unleash emotional clashes among various Islamic strains that have differing rules for marriage, divorce and other family issues.”

Honoring Dr King
Tomorrow we will again run our annual feature, Honoring Dr King and His Labor Connection

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