Tuesday, March 19, 1996

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  • Impact of NAFTA on Midwest Industrial States

    Sarah Anderson, Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, talks about how NAFTA has influenced trade deficits and job loss. She focuses on the four Midwestern States where Primaries have just been held: Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, using NAFTA’s "Transitional Adjustment Assistance Program" as an indicator of worker displacement. In these four states, workers from 87 firms have applied for the employment retraining. Many of these are union workers who may now be forced to take non union jobs with lower benefits, fewer hours and less pay.
    Research put out by the Institute for Policy Studies has often been used by presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan to attack the Clinton Administration for its pro-NAFTA stance. The Institute, in conjunction with the Alliance for Responsible Trade, has drafted a statement distancing their position from that of Buchanan, and believe that there is room in the trade debate for others besides Protectionists like Buchanan and the Free Traders like Clinton. They propose a trade agreement that would hold large corporations accountable for their actions and make them follow a Code of Conduct to protect workers and the environment.

  • Labor Unions Strikes Fail to Register on Candidate Agendas

    United Auto Workers employed by General Motors in Dayton, Ohio continue to strike, despite the efforts of negotiators. The strike began three weeks ago over the issue of outsourcing. 150,000 GM workers at more than 20 GM plants throughout North America are participating in the strike. Dave Shores, a member of UAW Local 696 and a GM employee of 20 years, says that present and future jobs lie at the heart of the issue. Current workers are bogged down with overtime, and as a result, injuries on the job are rising. Meanwhile, outsourcing to other companies is a constant threat. While worker support for the strike is high, it is starting to take a toll on their families. Almost no politicians have acknowledged the strike in their election campaigns, and the striking families say they do not expect to receive their support.
    In Michigan, the Detroit newspaper strikes move into their ninth month. With the aid of replacement workers, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press continue to be published. Strikers, meanwhile, have begun publishing their own paper; The Detroit Sunday Journal. Norman Sinclair, the journal’s Editor, says that job security and wages are underlying issues in the strike. Anne-Marie Zenimer, a Teamster who works with distribution of the paper to its 300,000 subscribers, says that the community and local politicians have been very supportive. However, media coverage of the strike has been weak, and so far no presidential hopefuls have stopped along their campaign trails to address them, although Clinton offered a "thumbs up" from his motorcade.

  • Presidents and Picket Lines; A Historical Perspective

    Presidents and presidential hopefuls have handled striking workers throughout American history with variance. Ronald Regan, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman are mentioned as famous strike-breakers; while Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas, Jesse Jackson, Tom Harkin and Pat Buchanan are referenced as union supporters.

  • Former Chicago Gang Members and 21st Century Vote

    Salim Muwakkil reports on 21st Century Vote, an organization created by former members of Chicago’s largest street gang, Gangster Disciples. Wallace "Gator" Bradley, a former gang member turned community leader, praises the group for offering a more productive way for disenfranchised youth to channel their energy and take part in the political process. However, the police and mainstream media claim that the organization is simply an illegitimate front allowing the Gangster Disciples to gain more influence. Bradley defends 21st Century Vote as a group sincerely working to bring a stop to gang violence from the inside out, and steer young people away from crime. He views denouncement of their efforts from politicians and others as an obstruction to progress.

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