Fight Back! interviewed Gregg Shotwell, a worker from the Delphi auto parts plant in Coopersville, Michigan, and a founder of Soldiers of Solidarity, an organization of rank-and-file members of the United Auto Workers (UAW). This interview deals with a number of critical issues, including the role of the UAW leadership and the need for a united resistance on the part rank and file workers.
San Jose, CA – On Friday, Oct. 3, the House of Representatives voted to approve Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson’s $700 billion bailout plan and then left town to campaign for the election. Despite government reports showing that almost half a million people applied for unemployment insurance benefits in one week alone in September and that the economy had lost 159,000 jobs, Congress did not extend unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed. This inaction will cause almost 800,000 jobless workers to lose their benefits this month.
San Jose, CA – On Dec. 6, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America reported that home foreclosures and late mortgages rose to record highs in the July to September period. The next day, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paulson announced a plan to aid home-buyers. While consumer advocates criticized the plan for being too little, too late, Wall Street liked the plan, which would let banks off the hook, and sent stocks up.
San Jose, CA – As Congress wrapped up its business for the holiday break, the Republican leadership sent a big lump of coal to millions of unemployed workers. By refusing to renew the federal extended unemployment benefits program, jobless workers whose six-month state unemployment benefits ran out after Dec. 21, 2003 will no longer be able to collect thirteen more weeks of unemployment benefits. This will affect about 90,000 workers each week.
San Jose, CA – In late September the Census Bureau reported that, for the second year in a row, household income fell, the number of poor rose, and more Americans lacked health insurance. Household incomes, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.1%. 1.7 million more people fell below the government’s official poverty line in 2002. In addition, 2.4 million more individuals went without health insurance than the year before.
San Jose, CA – In May, the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%, the highest level in nine years. Businesses have cut more than two and a half million jobs since the recession began in March of 2001. This drop in jobs is the longest since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With so many of us out of work, it is taking longer and longer for the unemployed to find jobs. It now takes an average of almost five months to find work, the longest period of time in almost twenty years.
San Jose, CA – With the continuing decline in the stock market, private pension plans in the United States are now short $300 billion of the amount needed to pay future promised benefits. In addition, state and local government pension plans have also lost almost $300 billion over the last two years, leaving them with a $180 billion shortfall. These deficits, along with decline in workers’ 401(k) retirement accounts and company cutbacks in retirement health insurance, mean even more insecurity for present and future retirees. To make things worse, Bush and some state governments want to replace current pension plans and social security with private investment accounts.
Poor and working class communities, already hit hard by layoffs and shorter work hours from the recession, are about feel more pain as state and local governments cut health care, education, and other social services that our families need.
There's not any doubt that executives at corporate giant WorldCom are guilty of fraud. By claiming that $3.8 billion in expenses were “investments,” they were able to tell investors that they had an extra $3.8 billion in profits. But games with accounting were the least of their crimes. 17,000 workers are losing their jobs. For the laid off, more than a few homes and dreams will be casualties of WorldCom's callousness. WorldCom employs about 80,000 people. More job cuts will take place in coming months. Pensions are gone. Families are left without health care. Life savings are wiped out.
San Jose, CA – In February, President Bush sent Congress his budget proposal wrapped in a red, white and blue American flag. The winners? Wealthier Americans who will get almost $600 billion more in tax cuts over the next ten years (on top of the $1.5 trillion tax cut passed last year) and the military, which will have $550 billion more to spend over the ten year period.