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District 6 Council Wonders:
Where’s the Economic Boom?

District 6 Council Delegates ... District 6 Pres. John Lambiase
Delegates listen to reports from western Pennsylvania, western New York and West Virginia (above). District Pres. John Lambiase chaired the meeting (above right). The council thrilled to ‘Junk Yard Dogs United,’ a skit written by Lynda Timblin, Local 618, with help from Rich Drylie, Local 683. The skit, which celebrated the importance of organizing, included song parodies such as ‘I Get By With a Little Help from UE.’ From left, Rich Drylie, Dave Kitchen, Donna Cramer (seated), Lynda Timblin and Tom Migdal.
Skit: Junk Yard Dogs United

MONROEVILLE, Pa.

Where’s the economic boom? That question appeared repeatedly at the District Six Council meeting here Feb. 20 as speakers pointed to the threats against Social Security, employer attacks on health insurance, on and off again overtime, layoffs and plant closings.

A strong union remains the best defense during boom or bust, delegates agreed. District Pres. John Lambiase, chairing his first council meeting, stressed the importance of locals supporting one another.

A BOOM FOR THE WEALTHY ...
... A BANG FOR WORKERS

The present economy is "a boom for the wealthy and a bang for the union worker," commented Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley in his remarks. "When are we going to feel the positive effects of the expanding economy?" Nationwide, manufacturing jobs continue to be eliminated while the growing economy adds new jobs overall at one-third less than a living wage and with little or no insurance, he said. Meanwhile, 62 percent of the new wealth created goes to the richest 1 percent, Kingsley pointed out.

UE has seen four locals forced to strike since the National convention in August because of employer attempts to worsen health insurance, Kingsley said, and some union members are again threatened with plant closings despite the economic boom. "What has happened to the recovery?" he asked.

The union is fighting for new UE members in neighboring Ohio who face a tough struggle for a first contract from their employer, the Glastic Corp., owned by a major Japanese corporation, the UE officer said.

SOCIAL SECURITY ...
TURN IT OVER TO WALL STREET?

The present economic boom gives the impression that workers would be better off by turning Social Security over to Wall Street. Don’t believe it, warned Howard Harris of the Pennsylvania State University Labor Education Program.

Prof. Harris gave delegates the facts that show the strengths of the present Social Security system and the potential to strengthen it. And he pointed out that while the wealthy will become richer by plundering our Social Security, the 66 percent of retirees who rely on the system for half or more of their incomes will be placed at risk (see: our online workshop about Social Security).

An economics workshop led by Linda Wambaugh and Barney Oursler of the Pittsburgh Living Wage Campaign pointed out that between 1990 and 1995 corporate profits have gone up 75 percent and CEO compensation 95 percent — while workers’ real wages declined by 9 percent. Despite the "boom" 37 million people live below the official poverty line and 42 million Americans have no health insurance, they observed.

Reporting on the recent meeting of the General Executive Board, District Sec. Dave Adams told delegates that the UE leadership is weighing the possibility of staggering the schedule of national union events as part of the continuing effort to balance activities and finances.

Delegates, meanwhile, took the first step towards returning the council to three meetings a year. A second reading and vote is required for this constitutional change to be implemented.

UE News - 03/99


Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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