Spring 2004

The Most Important Election
of Our Lifetime

Have you ever thought, "I’m not going to vote. Why bother? All the candidates are the same and whoever I support never wins, anyway." If ever there was a time when that attitude was just plain wrong, now is the time.

Several candidates and issues will be on the November ballot that have a direct impact on our way of life, our jobs and our union. You, as a union member, have an opportunity to vote for your interest and win back some of the many take-aways we’ve lost over the last four years. Or you can leave it to others -- who’ll vote their own interest.

You may be wondering why I’m concerned about November when it’s still spring, and you’re just now setting vacation plans and contemplating how best to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s because I’m working with the leadership of Local 853 to find ways to motivate each of you to get involved. We all hope you have a good, relaxed summer so that you’re energized and ready to get active on the key election campaigns that we must win in 2004.

Our top three campaigns this year are to kill the repeal of SB2 with a YES vote on Prop 72, the U.S. Senate Campaign (Boxer vs. Jones) and the Presidential Campaign (Kerry vs. Bush). Due to the new campaign finance laws, I can’t actually put our endorsements on the website. But if you’re a member of Local 853 and haven’t seen our newsletter, I encourage you to call our office for a copy.

Each of these races is important to you -- as a union member and a worker -- in this state and country.

Campaign 1:Yes on Prop 72

In 2003, the legislature passed and Governor Davis signed SB2 -- The Health Insurance Act of 2003. This law, set to go into effect in 2006, requires all California employers with 50+ employees to provide health care coverage.

You may ask, "Why is his important to me, a Local 853 member? I have health care because of my union contract." The reason is that our union employers are getting slammed with ever-increasing health care costs and that impacts every contract negotiation we enter into.

Right now, as much as 38% of the cost of our plans can be attributed to the growing number of uninsured workers. This means that our employers are not only paying for your health care, they also underwrite the mostly non-union companies that aren’t covering their own workers

Passage of SB2 was historic, setting an example for the rest of the country. Unions saw this law as a first step toward a much needed national health care plan. We can save SB2 by voting YES on Prop 72.

But not surprisingly, several big businesses would prefer to keep their unfair competitive advantage. Wa l - M a r t , McDonalds, and others spent millions of dollars to put an initiative on the ballot to repeal SB2. They plan to spend $15 million more by November on a media campaign.

This will be a tough fight, but it’s one we can -- and must -- win. Unless SB2 takes effect, health care costs will continue to eat up all the money we can possibly negotiate with our employers.

Campaign 2: The U.S. Senate Campaign

It’s not all about the man at top -- the U.S. Senate and Congress play a critical role in passing the laws and budgets that impact our lives. Issues like the Employee Free Choice Act which promotes the right to organize unions, and pension protection bills are before the Senate now. We can elect someone who will support unions and your economic interests or someone who supports big business above all..

Campaign 3: The Presidential race

Look at the issues and you be the judge. Do you want a President who promotes policies that lose millions of jobs; who supports the export of U.S. jobs overseas; who attacks overtime pay and who weakens job safety standards, or do you want a candidate who will put jobs and health care first?

How to get involved

Your political coordinator, shop steward, and business agent will literally be bugging you to register to vote, fill out an absentee ballot request, and get enrolled into DRIVE. Every time I speak to a group of you, you will hear this theme. These issues are too important to YOU, for me to let them go.

Fraternally,
Rome A. Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer

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