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Feb. 17, 2012
Posted On: Feb 19, 2012

 

Unions-The people that brought you the weekend!
Scott Walker-The guy that makes you work the weekend!
 
One year after Gov. Walker told who he believed to be David Koch that he “dropped the bomb” on Wisconsin workers, Gov. Walker is traveling the country with stops in Naples, Florida and Washington D.C this week in an attempt to drown out the voices of Wisconsin working people with an influx of out-of-state dollars. 
 
Despite six months of job loss and an unfulfilled promise to create 250,000 new jobs for Wisconsin, Gov. Walker deems it necessary to leave the state. 

“With six straight months of job loss in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker has plenty of work to do at home,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  “Yet Gov. Walker continuously chooses to leave the state to garner the support of powerful special interest allies in an attempt to drown out the voices of the people in Wisconsin.” 
 
While Gov. Walker is hobnobbing with the country’s elite, people who work for living, small businesses and entire communities across Wisconsin are struggling to make ends meet,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  
 
We know Walker's on the road again, thanks to protesters

Wisconsin's governor is once again on the road. And because of his conservative policies, particularly his stance on public unions, he's again facing protesters. This time roughly 200 protesters tracked down Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday prior to a speaking engagement at a luncheon hosted by the James Madison Institute, a conservative Florida-based think tank, according to the Naples Daily News. Walker's run-ins with protesters are becoming commonplace. Here's a sampling: He was met by members of the "Redneck Party" back in October prior to a keynote address for the Williamson County (Tenn.) Republican Party's annual Reagan Day dinner.
A month later he was heckled by union members in Arizona while attending a fundraiser at the Goldwater Institute. Who can forget Occupy Chicago's "union busting is disgusting" chant that greeted him Nov. 3 at a breakfast at Chicago's Union League Club?
 
Walker's governor's office does not send out press releases when he's headed out of town on campaign or personal business. So it's often social media that alerts us to his whereabouts, usually related to protests against him. But Walker should face a much friendlier crowd Friday night when he is a keynote speaker at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. The event is jam-packed with workshops on all the hot-button topics important to conservatives, from "Why Obama Care is Wrong for America" to "Advancing Conservatism On Your Campus." Another of the workshops is entitled "Return of Big Labor: What Can We Learn from Wisconsin & Ohio?"

The event, which starts Thursday, will feature all the country's big-name Republican players, including Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as that night's keynote speaker. Other speakers include presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Walker is the keynoter at the Ronald Reagan Banquet, sponsored by Judicial Watch. Even Sarah Palin is making an appearance, as the closing speaker Saturday.
Assault on Voting Rights
 
A strategic campaign to deny voting rights to African Americans and Latinos is well underway, according to a report issued Monday by the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The report, “Defending Democracy,” finds evidence of a coordinated movement to undo the political gains of the 2008 election and reverse the nation’s half-century of voting-rights progress. The block-the-vote effort, funded by wealthy conservatives, includes more than 40 different legislative proposals and involves millions of dollars. The report’s sponsors say the document is intended not only to alert and inform voters but also to call them to action. In a joint statement, both groups urged their supporters to join them in a “quest to preserve and protect” voting rights for all Americans.
 
After Obama’s thunderous victory provided a dazzling display of multicultural ballot-box power, oppositional forces began working to return the electoral atmosphere to its pre-Civil Rights depths. If they succeed, the impact of voting would be drastically diminished and corporations and their allies would gain even more freedom to operate outside the limits of government. In this context, the block-the-vote campaign can be seen as a dry run for an entirely new form of sovereignty. The shift from citizen-powered democracy would enable the rise of a new type of political animal that the New York Times has dubbed “the policy-making billionaire.” Whereas some tycoons have asserted their policy-making impulse via aggressive philanthropic projects in such areas as job training and public health initiatives, others have pointed their wallets toward schemes designed to undermine the very infrastructure of our republic. Of the latter, the most active are David and Charles Koch, billionaire heads of Koch Industries. In addition to running the nation’s largest privately held company, the Koch brothers have funneled millions into think tanks, the Tea Party and other groups animated by a virulent distaste for justice, compassion and equal opportunity.
 
In eloquent prose bolstered by judiciously chosen research, “Defending Democracy” urges progressive-minded Americans to act now before it’s too late. Their success depends on generating sufficient momentum to overcome an opponent that is already off and running. It also requires a far-reaching plan that is both future-oriented and sensitive to the lessons of the past
 
New Era, New Tactics
 
In previous decades, opponents could freely employ poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, intimidation and lynching as weapons to prevent minorities from voting. The modern era’s discouragement of overt racism requires the use of cunning, more insidious maneuvers. The most chilling passages in “Defending Democracy” are those providing details of the new tactics.
 
According to the report, the block-the-vote operations target states in which minority voters have demonstrated significant influence or where Census figures indicate substantial population growth among communities of color. Attacks on voting rights include proposals to enact photo-ID requirements (bills have been introduced in 34 states), attempts to challenge the core protections of the Voting Rights Act, efforts to curtail or eliminate early voting, absentee ballots and voter-registration campaigns, and enacting laws denying felons the right to vote.
 
Unsurprisingly, each of those measures disproportionately affects black and Latino voters—and not by accident. “Defending Democracy” traces many of these efforts to legislation drafted by the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The report quotes the founder of ALEC explaining, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Clearly, the 2008 presidential election provided a motivating spark for ALEC and its cohorts. As the New York Times recently noted, in 2008 Obama “won in places where no Democrat had won in a while, including Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana and Colorado. And he won in quite a few states that Democrats cannot traditionally rely on, like Florida and Ohio.” Less than a week after the Times report, the Associated Press noted, “Efforts to restrict early voting have been approved in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.” Its unpatriotic ideology aside, the movement apparently conceals a method behind its madness.
And money, too. Lots of it. 
Financing Unfairness
 
A slippery, shapeless entity with countless tentacles extending into such disparate worlds as health-care, politics, business deregulation and environmental concerns sounds like something out of a space movie or a spy novel. But Koch Industries’ long, powerful reach more than proves that reality is often stranger than fiction.  With resources in the billions stemming from Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups and other products, the Koch brothers use their money to steamroll anybody—or any government—that dares to stand in their way.
 
According to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, the Kochs “have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.”
 
The Kochs carry out their schemes through a variety of innocent-sounding front groups. A partial list includes the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Institute for Justice, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Bill of Rights Institute, the Cato Institute, the Independent Women’s Forum, the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for the Environment and Patients United Now. According to Mayer, “Americans for Prosperity, in concert with the family’s other organizations, has been instrumental in disrupting the Obama Presidency.” What could be more disruptive than preventing millions of potential supporters from casting their ballots in the next presidential election? 
 
Battling Back: The Struggle Continues
 
In the past, Democrats have been as active as Republicans in keeping blacks and other minorities from the ballot box. During the years since Bush v. Gore, however, efforts at disfranchisement have acquired a distinct right-wing aura.  Obama’s presence in the White House seems to have intensified their exertions.
Their activities haven’t escaped notice. Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz heads the Democratic National Committee. She told the Associated Press, “we’re aggressively engaged in making sure that we help voters move these obstacles and barriers that are being put in their way that are essentially designed to rig an election when Republicans can’t win these elections on the merits.”
The right’s frenzied movement echoes the feverish resistance that Southern states mounted against activists during the Fifties and Sixties. And the tactics remain dishearteningly similar. Consider civil-rights hero John Lewis’s description of Selma, Ala., in 1955. He told National Public Radio, “In Selma, you could only attempt to register to vote on the first and third Mondays of each month. You had to go down to the courthouse and get a copy of the so-called literacy test and attempt to pass the test. And people stood in line day in and day out failing to get a copy of the test or failing to pass the test.”
In Lewis’ view, the subsequent protests that he and others organized “created a sense of righteous indignation among the American people.”
 
“Defending Democracy” calls for a similar activist spirit. The report recommends “employing all available tools and advocacy techniques from litigation and political action, to grassroots organizing.” Other suggestions include spreading the word about block-the-vote campaigns to friends and neighbors, expressing dissatisfaction to elected representatives, volunteering at the polls and joining a march for freedom in New York on Dec. 10. Progressives believe that only a forceful, concerted effort can protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act, a document already regarded as fragile by some observers on the left and right. When signing that tide-changing legislation on Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson observed, "The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men."
 
Few have been as dedicated to rebuilding those terrible walls as the forces currently arrayed against voting rights.  As “Defending Democracy” makes clear, to remain silent and do nothing would be the same as handing them the bricks and mortar.
 
Attention All Local 72 Retirees and Surviving Spouses
1099-R and W-2’s in Error  
 
  • At the February 2, 2012 retiree meeting Local 72 benefit representative Ara Mekhsian reported that there were up to 10,000 W-2’s and 1099-R’s sent out to our Wisconsin residents that had an incorrect coding that will be rejected by the state of Wisconsin when the tax payer file their state tax returns electronically. All other information reported on the form is correct. State Street will send out a revised tax form which reflects the correct State Employer Identification Number (EIN), along with a cover letter summarizing the issue. Revised forms and cover letter will be mailed starting Thursday, February 9th. Retirees should use this revised form when filing their 2011 State Income Tax Filing.
 
  • If you have already filed your State Income Tax please note the following: Retirees in Wisconsin recently received a 2011 tax form from State Street which incorrectly reported their State EIN. Wisconsin will solicit anyone that filed incorrectly and request a re-file. If you have further questions, please contact your tax consultant or the State Tax Department. Please note this does not affect the Federal tax filing in any way. 
 
  • All retirees will receive a 1099-R for pensions and a W-2 for Legal Services Imputed income from State Street Bank.
 
  •  For those retirees with life insurance in excess of $50,000 the W-2 that you receive from State Street bank will reflect additional imputed income.
 
  • 2011 retirees, in addition to the 1099-R and W-2 forms will also receive two W-2's Forms from Chrysler Payroll. One for SUB and the other for all other payments they received from Chrysler in 2011 including IPR, Vehicle Voucher, vacation pay, PAA pay, sick leave pay, Employee Appreciation pay, and any other type of pay, with the exception of SUB pay.
 
  • 2011 retiree should have received W-2 forms from Chrysler Payroll. If they have not received them to date they should contact Chrysler Payroll at 1-877-827-7744 to request reprints.
 
  • If a retiree has not received the corrected forms from State Street Bank by Friday-February17, 2012. Benefit Express should be contacted at 1-888-409-3300 for reprints of 1099-R and W’2 forms.
 
Attention all UAW-Local 72
Retirees and Surviving Spouses
 
Please direct all benefits related questions concerning health insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, vision benefits, doctors visits, medical bills and all associated inquires to Local 72 Benefit Representative
Ara Mekhsian at 262-654-8606 extension #14.


 

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