Autumn 2004

The Most Important Election
of Our Lifetime

Throughout this newsletter, we focus on the November 2 elections -- on how important it is to register to vote and to take the time to vote. In all my years as a union member and officer, I have never witnessed an election more important to workers in general, to their families, and to members of the Teamsters union.

Here are just a few of the issues that should inspire you to do the right thing on November 2.

Health Care

Each year more workers lose their health coverage; today, more than 42 million people in the U.S. are uninsured. Who pays for their coverage? You and me. We pay higher taxes and increased benefit copayments to subsidize irresponsible companies like Wal-Mart, who provide almost no coverage.

This is why voting YES for Proposition 72 is so important. The cost of health care is escalating faster than ever before and covering that cost is eating up almost all of the money we are able to negotiate in our union contracts.

The Bush Administration has done nothing to solve this problem and they have no plan to do so. Bush’s so-called Medicare Reform is a sham. His prescription drug discounts are inadequate, and the plan actually prohibits the federal government from negotiating for lower drug prices! If Bush wins, health care, as we know it, is in big trouble.

Pensions

At the Republican Convention, Bush stated that pension plans like yours are a thing of the past! His exact words were "Many of our most fundamental systems...health coverage, pension plans, worker training -- were created for the world of yesterday, not tomorrow." Make no mistake, he plans to fundamentally change how these bedrock programs are delivered.

Bush recently signed into law pension legislation designed to help big single-employer pension plans. The law specifically cuts out multi-employer plans from protection because those are the union plans. This is yet another blatant attempt to undermine your retirement and your union.

Your Local 853 pension plan is in good shape, but many plans around the country need legislative relief. Unions need someone in the White House who believes that pensions are important. If Bush wins we may have very serious problems protecting the integrity of our pension plans.

Social Security

For most union members, Social Security will be a welcome supplement to their union pension and 401(k) plans. But for many people, Social Security is all that they have.

Bush wants to privatize Social Security and give each individual the responsibility to invest their Social Security funds and trust that enough will be left when they are ready to retire. I believe this scheme is designed to benefit his friends in private investment companies who stand to make billions of dollars off of our hard-earned Social Security dollars.

It’s nice to know that if Bush wins, the rich will get richer. Unfortunately, the middle class and the poor will get poorer as a result.

Worker Rights & Union Protection

Bush has already made the National Labor Relations Board an employer haven. He instituted reporting rules for unions that are far stricter than those imposed on corporations -- solely for the purpose of reducing union strength. And he banned Project Labor Agreements for federal projects; these are the best tool our construction members have.

Bush has openly declared war on working people during his first term. If he wins a second term, I have no doubt that he will attempt to finish the job.

Of course, I won’t tell you who to vote for -- I believe each candidate’s record speaks for itself. Please make sure you, everyone in your family, and any friends and neighbors that you can persuade, register to vote, and then go to the polls on Election Day, November 2.

Fraternally,
Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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