Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
August 28, 2005

With this catch-up column, coming only a couple of days after our last Review, we hope to get back on a regular weekly cycle.

Northwest Strike Update
Initial media reports indicate at least a thousand attended the Saturday support rally in the Twin Cities, including a number of political office holders and candidates. We now have a strike support page up on the site that we will update regularly.

Apparently the PayPal link for online donations to the strike fund we mentioned earlier is not working. Checks made payable to "NWA Strike Committee Account" can be sent to: NWA Strike Committee, 67 Water Street, Suite 208A, Laconia, NH 03246.

After an e-mail poll, the KC Labor Party today authorized the following support statement:

The Kansas City Labor Party expresses our solidarity with your struggle at Northwest Airlines.

We know this strike was forced on you. No self-respecting union could agree to voluntarily surrender a majority of their jobs and accept draconian wage cuts for those spared the axe. Though this carrier claims to be broke they managed to put together many millions of dollars to hire, train, feed and house hundreds of scabs well in advance–along with "security" goons to confront peaceful strikers.

We also know that the Railway Labor Act, like its even more evil twin, the Taft-Hartley Act, makes the most effective strike tactics "crimes." We are dedicated to decriminalizing the basic human rights of working people to use their collective economic power and appeals for solidarity to defend their living standards, working conditions, and human dignity.

Our members will, of course, boycott Northwest Airlines as long as you request us to do so. We will ask the unions, and other organizations we are part of to support your struggle. We will publicize your efforts to the widest audience we can reach.

Unfortunately, we do not have the financial resources of the major political parties. We are sending a fifty dollar contribution as a token of our support through post office mail. We hope that our other efforts will lead to more substantial contributions from other worker organizations.

Best of luck in your fight–which is a fight for all of us.

Bring Them Home Now Tour
When President Bush finally ends his long vacation in Crawford, Texas the residents at Camp Casey, rallied around Cindy Sheehan, will break camp to follow him back to Washington. But they are not rushing there. Instead they will be going in three caravans stopping in many communities along the way, concluding their journey at the September 24 March On Washington. Each contingent will have representatives of Gold Star Families For Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans For Peace. Kansas City is slated for a stop this coming Thursday, September 1. As soon as details are known the event will be publicized on the KC Labor Against the War site.

There But For the Grace...
Jordan Barab reports in Confined Space that a division of WR Grace has been inducted into the "Star" Voluntary Protection Program, considered "prestigious," by OSHA. Jordan reminds us, "Seven of Grace's current or former executives and department heads were indicted last February for attempting to hide the fact that asbestos was present in vermiculite products at the company’s Libby, Montana plant. Approximately 1,200 residents of Libby had been identified as suffering from some kind of asbestos-related abnormality. And that's not all. The asbestos laden vermiculite was processed at factories all across the country, exposing workers and contaminating communities like Hamilton, NJ and then they lied about cleaning it up."

Poor Auto Bosses Ask, ‘Brother, can you spare five bucks an hour’?
Delphi, the spun-off parts maker for General Motors, opened negotiations with the UAW Friday pleading poverty and demanding concessions. They not only want a five dollar an hour wage cut but also insist on changes in work rules and slashed benefits that would redistribute a total of about 2.5 billion dollars from the pockets of their workers back into company coffers. If the union doesn’t roll over they threaten bankruptcy a la United Airlines. Meanwhile Delphi’s deadbeat dad, GM, is demanding concession relief from the UAW as well. Both have current contracts that don’t expire until 2007.

A Correction
In my last column I reported that Rep Dennis Moore (D-KS), one of the Cafta 15, was slated to be a speaker at the Kansas City official Labor Day rally (held yesterday.) I based this on publicity I had seen, including on the Firefighter’s site as late as the day before the rally. I have since been informed that the labor council withdrew Moore’s invitation because of his Cafta vote.

Coming Soon
I spent most of last week in Chicago as a guest at the national convention of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE). Unlike most labor movement events I’ve attended in recent years I actually felt better at the end than when I arrived. I’m working on a substantial article about this remarkable union that I hope to post soon.

News Returns Monday
Honeymoon’s over and it’s back to the routine of posting the Daily Labor News Digest, Monday-Saturday, by 7AM Central, starting again Monday, August 29.

Need RSVPs
If you are in the Kansas City area please join us at the Labor Party Labor Day cookout and get together on Labor Day Monday. RSVP, and get more information by calling Tony Saper at 816-221-3638 or me at 816-753-1672.

That’s all for this week.

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Past Weeks In Review