Fighting For


2006 UAW CAP Conference February 5-8, 2006
By Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

The International UAW will be holding the 2006 Community Action Program Conference February 05-08, 2006 in Washington, D.C. The conference will concentrate on the issues facing working families all across this country. Over 1400 delegates are expected to participate in the conference. The UAW Region 8 website will be updated daily during the conference to keep our membership up to speed on the issues being discussed. Log on each evening during the conference for a report from the days activities.

Working families are currently under assault at every turn. Escalating cost of living and declining wages are putting the squeeze on working class families everywhere. GM and Ford both announced massive restructuring that will result in the loss of 60,00 jobs between. Delphi, Tower Automotive and Collins & Aikman Corporation all filed bankruptcy last year. Other manufactures such as Dana, American Axle and GKN are closing factories or seeking wage cuts. At the same time many of these corporations are spending billions on overseas operations and making preparations to move more and more jobs offshore to low wage countries at the expense of America’s working families.

Health care continues to be an issue in this country. Of the of 40 industrialized nations, the United States ranks toward the bottom in availability of health care. Over 40,000,000 working Americans have no health care and millions more are under insured. Each year billions of our tax dollars are spent developing new drugs that are instantly out of reach by many Americans due to the exorbitant prices demanded by the pharmaceutical industry. We import billions and billions of dollars worth of goods from other countries each year, but America’s working families are constantly facing roadblocks on importing lower cost prescription drugs from Canada by our government. In his State of the Union address the President touted his “Health Savings Account” idea. This will do nothing but shift health care cost to the individual and away from employers. Lower service and higher cost will further push the number of Americans without any health care coverage.

There was a time in this country when a working person could count a pension when they retired but those days are fading fast. The concept of 401K accounts rather than vested pensions has helped to eliminate a person’s ability to retire. The continued manipulation of the stock market by the wealthy has resulted in thousands losing their hard earned money to Wall Street robber barons.

The only thing the U.S. has exported with these so-called “free trade” agreements has been jobs. There have been over 3,000,00 manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico alone since NAFTA was enacted. As a matter of fact, one in six manufacturing jobs have been lost in just ten years. However, the damage doesn’t stop there. Having the threat of moving out of the country has enabled corporations to lower the wages and benefits of the jobs they have kept here. From 1946 to 1973, there was an 80% gain in median wages. But from 1973 until 2000 the U.S, median wage has remained basically flat. Many will argue that from 1993 to 2001 U.S. exports to Mexico rose 144%. While that is true, it should be noted that 60% of those exports to Mexico are automotive components that are being assembled in Mexico and returned for sale to the United States. During the same period, Mexican exports to the U.S. rose 244%, with 70% of all vehicles being assembled there built for export here.

The spin-doctors who sold NAFTA to the country made guarantees that Mexico would only be exporting cheap items such as t-shirts while we would be exporting value added products such as computers. Ten years on the numbers tell a completely different story. Mexican exports of computer equipment has risen 1077% since NAFTA and automotive parts and vehicle exports have risen 294%.

We are only now beginning to feel the full affect of NAFTA twelve years down the road. Permanent trade relations with China are just now beginning to make an impact and CAFTA hasn’t even got started yet. Now the President wants a free trade deal with Thailand that would surely finish off the working class Americans for good.

The time has come to make a stand. America’s working families cannot continue to survive under the constant barrage of corporate slanted government. Walter Reuther used to say “it doesn’t matter what you win at the bargaining table if they can legislate it away in the halls of Congress.” Today this is truer than ever. We must hold our elected representatives accountable for the votes and educate them on our positions. It is time to take back America so working families have a chance to participate in the American dream.

Remember to log on to the UAW Region 8 website each evening from February 5-8, 2006 for an update on the conference and our issues.

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