“Fighting to Keep Good Jobs for American Workers”
By Region 8 Webmaster and Local 2195 Editor John Davis

“Fighting to Keep Good Jobs for American Workers” is the theme of the 2004 UAW Community Action Program Legislative Conference, and it is a fight indeed. This idea was evident from the opening moments as National CAP Director Richard Long called the conference to order at 5:00 PM on Sunday, February 01, 2004 at the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington, D.C. A total of 1498 delegates from all across the country have assembled in our Nation’s Capital to discuss the issues facing America’s working families. Keeping good jobs for those families is at the top of a laundry list of issues facing labor and working families. Health care, education, worker’s rights, unfair trade agreements, and the loss of the manufacturing sector are wreaking havoc on working families. Make no mistake; it is a fight – a fight that we cannot afford to lose. It is a fight whose first battle will be reclaiming the White House.

The Bush Presidency has from the onset been a direct threat to working Americans. Three year into President Bush’s term the numbers are a sobering revelation of where his prioritizes lie. Republican’s favorite slogan is the “Democrats only know tax and spend.” However, this is just one of many instances of an adminstration that has said one thing and did the other.

The past three years have seen the greatest fiscal turnaround in our nation’s history. At the conclusion of President Clinton’s term there were budget surpluses left in the country’s budget. Not only have those surpluses evaparted, but we saw a deficit of $374 billion dollars last year. In addition, the U.S. is projected to grow the national debut between $400 and 650 billion dollars a year for the next ten years, resulting in a national debt of $5 trillion dollars.

The Bush administration blames the fiscal downfall on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This act has played a role in the reversal of fortunes in our budget situation. However, the bulk of the losses are directly tied to the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. Projections have these give backs to wealthy at $3 trillion dollars over a ten year span. The 2004 cost of the tax cuts are more than three times the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and homeland security cost combined. As a result of these budget deficits, the Bush Administration has set about slashing funding to vital domestic programs. Social Security, education, Medicare, and veteran’s care are examples of programs that have seen the axe in their funding dollars.

President Bush has stated that the tax cuts were necessary to stimuate the economy. However, the truth is that more than 3.3 million jobs have been lost during the Bush Administration, with over 2.5 million of those coming within the manufacturing sector.

So why hasn’t the tax cuts improved the economy? That is simple – it has been the distribution of the tax cuts that have prevented any economic growth. The top 1 percent of taxpayers received more than a third of this tax benefit. The 2003 tax cut bill alone meant savings of more than $100,000 in a single year to millionaires while working families received a $400 child credit. If the idea of a tax cut is to encourage spending, then the Bush Tax Cut can be compared to pouring water in a bucket that is already full.

To add insult to injury, the Bush Administration is currently proposing another round of tax cuts to corporations that includes incentives to move production and jobs out of the country.
The Bush Presidency is the first since Hubert Hoover to have lost jobs. His legacy includes an average job loss of 200,000 a month since he took office. Currently, the President is proposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas to expanding NAFTA to the entire southern hemisphere. In addition, plans call for trade deals with Taiwan and the Middle East. However, no one could ever accuse the President of not being able to multi-task. While he paves the way for corporations to run out of the country with jobs in exchange for tax breaks, he has also been hard at work attacking U.S. worker’s rights. Again the current administration has been hard at work eliminating OSHA ergonomics standards, cutting pollution standards, eliminating work rules, denying the right to organize to 250,000 federal workers and slashing funding to displaced workers.

The event of modern medicine has been a blessing to man in the 20th century. However, the greed of pharmaceutical companies has placed a barrier on these modern miracles. Health care is a right, not a privilege and everyone should be able to share in these modern day marvels. But, the Bush Administration’s answer to the problems of the rising cost of health care is to shift the operation from Medicare to the private sector with virtually no benefit for working Americans. In the past calendar year over 1,000,000 additional children have slipped below the poverty line, with another 1,000,000 Americans joining the ranks of the uninsured.

America’s working families are well aware of the major issues this election year. The issues are health care, education, worker’s rights and a promise of the future. Each of these issues are directly tied to jobs; jobs that pay a living wage and provide the security through a benefit package that guarantees the necessary health care to make certain that our children are provided for.

Yes, this is definitely a fight – a fight to keep good jobs for America’s workers. This is what the 2004 CAP Legislative Conference is about. The odds have been stacked against and this could be a last stand for America’s working families. It is not too late to turn things around so we have a future and our children have a future, but the line must be drawn now. No longer can wait on someone else to fight the battle for us, for the war is at our doorstep. It is time to come together to make a difference and that starts at the polling place. History tells us of those millions of lives that have been lost to preserve our right to vote. When we fail to cast our ballot, then we fail to honor those sacrifices. UAW pioneer Walter Reuther often stated, “The bread box and the ballot box are tied together.” He also stated that it doesn’t matter what you win at the bargaining table, if they are allowed to legislate it away within the halls of Washington.

This last fight must be fought in the halls of Washington. It is time to remind our elected officials who they represent and why. We should also send them a message that if they don’t represent us, then come this fall we wont represent them. Join the fight – the fight to keep good jobs for American workers. The first step of that fight is reclaiming the White House.

The 2004 National CAP Legislative Conference will resume at 8:45AM on February 02, 2004. Region 8 member Vivian Crane of Local 1413 will begin the day by offering the invocation. The schedule includes an opening address by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, followed be presentations by the Legislative Department and a Media Panel discussion. Each Region will break away for lunch with members of their Congressional members, with Radio Host Jim Hightower and Berkeley University Professor of Education Harley Shaiken.

Click Here To Read About President Bush's Say One Thing Do Another Habit

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