$200K union-dues embezzlement earns wrist-slap

The attorney told the Multnomah County (OR) judge about his client's bum knees, her depression, her insomnia and the powerful addiction to gambling that led her to steal more than $200,000 in teachers' union dues.

Cheryl Ann Cooper - an accounting teacher at Reynolds High School before she resigned last year - is so remorseful that she's already paid back more than $100,000, attorney Mike Greenlick said. Cooper apologized profusely to the judge, then turned to teachers in the courtroom's audience and started sobbing.

"I honestly don't know how many ways I can say that I'm so sorry," said Cooper, 55, who had been a teacher for 21 years. Judge Richard Baldwin was swayed by Cooper and her attorney's remarks. Although Dennis Shen, the prosecutor, argued Friday that Cooper should spend 19 months in prison, Baldwin sentenced her to five years on probation. She was convicted of five counts of first-degree aggravated theft.

A 2005 review by The Oregonian found that Oregon embezzlers - especially first-time ones who take less than $100,000 - often get lighter sentences compared with other criminals. In 2002, about four out of five of those convicted of first-degree theft, which includes embezzlement, got probation. Those who were sent to prison averaged a 12-month sentence.

Cooper didn't have a criminal history. She had been treasurer of the Reynolds Education Association since 1999 and was accused of siphoning away money from November 2000 to March 2006. She resigned in April.

Shen, a deputy district attorney, argued that the justice system should be consistent and that, in his experience, people who have stolen as much as Cooper typically spend more than four years in prison.

He acknowledged that Cooper case's was a little different but said that Cooper should receive at least some prison time to deter others who might be considering such a white-collar crime.

"I think we need to send a strong message ... (to) someone who regularly reads the paper and sees what happens to someone who steals a large amount of money," Shen said.

But in arguing for no prison time, Greenlick told the judge that Cooper was very different from other embezzlers because she'd sold her house and cashed out her retirement fund so she could start paying the union back.

"What you very often see is people throw up their hands and say 'Sorry, I don't have the money,'" Greenlick said. "Most people say 'I'll pay $100 a month.'"

He said that Cooper has been paying the union $1,000 a month from her state pension and that Cooper will double the amount when her Social Security disability payments start arriving.

If Cooper is sent to prison, she would lose her Social Security and the union will have to wait longer to get its money back, Greenlick said.


Blackmail succeeds, layoffs rescinded, taxes hiked

The state Legislature agreed early Monday to raise the income tax and expand the sales tax to services in a historic deal with the governor that quickly ended a partial state government shutdown.

For just over four hours early Monday, fewer state police were on Michigan highways, campgrounds were closed, road construction projects and lottery sales were stopped, and more service interruptions were on the horizon for later in the day until the final pieces were sent to Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Applause broke out in Granholm's office at the Capitol as soon as the final vote was announced at 4:18 a.m. The deal prompted Granholm to call off the partial shutdown of government that began at 12:01 a.m.

“This budget agreement is the right solution for Michigan,” Granholm said in a statement. “We prevented massive cuts to public education, health care and public safety while also making extensive government reforms and passing new revenue. With the state back on solid financial footing, we can turn our focus to the critical task of jump-starting our economy and creating new jobs.”

Granholm signed a 30-day extension of Michigan's budget that technically expired at midnight. The continuation budget keeps government running.

The Legislature agreed to raise Michigan's income tax rate from 3.9 percent to 4.35 percent and expand the 6 percent sales tax to some services. Granholm signed both measures. Structural changes to state government - including the management of teacher and other public employee benefits - also are part of the package.

The tax increases should erase most of a projected $1.75 billion deficit in Michigan's next budget. The final budget for the new fiscal year will include $440 million in spending cuts, including no inflationary funding increase for public universities and community colleges, Granholm said.

The Republican-led Senate finished passing the package at the end of a draining, marathon session that covered parts of three days. Members of the Democratic-controlled House stopped voting and left the chamber before 4 a.m. since the only key vote related to the deal remained in the Senate.

“Nobody wanted a shutdown. I think that is true across the board,” said Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Granholm.

Michigan already has the nation's highest unemployment rate - 7.4 percent in August - and just went through a two-day strike involving the United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. Disrupting services from state parks to road construction risked further upsetting an already unsettled public.

But Boyd said the months-long debate over Michigan's new budget is about defining the state's future and making sure enough money was available to support education, public safety and health care.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said he was disappointed that taxes are going up but added that Republicans successfully pushed for spending cuts and government restructuring changes.

“It's been a long, long couple of days,” he said. “We're coming out of this having been through a lot and I think we're better for it.”

Without a budget deal in place, 35,000 of the state's roughly 53,000 workers would have been barred from going to work Monday morning and all state services except those needed to protect health and safety would've halted.

Employee paychecks would have been reduced to reflect any hours missed because of a shutdown, but Granholm asked them all to report to work as usual Monday. The state last withheld some employee paychecks in 1959, when a cash-starved state budget resulted in what became known as the Payless Payday crisis.

“It's always tough in a recession to look at doing a revenue increase,” said House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford. “But I think it was clearly unavoidable. We also need reforms, and we are getting substantial reforms as part of this agreement.”

Some of the toughest votes were for tax increases, especially in the Republican-led Senate.

The Senate split 19-19 twice, forcing Lt. Gov. John Cherry to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the income tax bill and expanded sales tax to cover some services.

Four Republican senators voted for the higher income tax - Patricia Birkholz of Saugatuck, Tom George of Portage, Ron Jelinek of Three Oaks and Gerald Van Woerkom of Norton Shores. Democrats Glenn Anderson of Westland and Dennis Olshove of Warren voted against the income tax increase.

Three Republicans senators - Jelinek, Valde Garcia of Howell and Wayne Kuipers of Holland - voted to expand the sales tax to services. Anderson was the lone Democrat opposing the sales tax expansion.

The House passed the income tax measure 57-52. Democrats hold a 58-52 edge in the House, but three Democrats - Martin Griffin and Michael Simpson of the Jackson area and Lisa Wojno of Warren - voted against it. Two Republicans, Chris Ward of Brighton and Ed Gaffney of Grosse Pointe Farms, voted in favor of the proposal.

No House Republicans voted for the bill placing the 6 percent sales tax on services - a proposal stiffly opposed by the business community. All Democrats did, except for Reps. Marc Corriveau of Northville and Kate Ebli of Monroe, who voted no.

The sales tax would not apply to tickets to sporting and entertainment events or accounting services. But businesses and consumers would pay the tax on ski tickets, administrative and investment services, consultants, warehousing and storage, interior design, commercial landscaping and janitorial services, among other services.

Raising the state's income tax to 4.35 percent will raise an additional $765 million for the state. The income tax bill is written so the rate will gradually drop back to 3.9 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Extending the sales tax to some services starting Dec. 1 will bring in an estimated $614 million for the 10 months remaining in the fiscal year at that point, or about $750 million annually, state Treasurer Robert Kleine said.

Rep. Craig DeRoche of Novi, the top Republican in the House, said he didn't want a government shutdown or higher taxes.

“I think it sets back Michigan's economy,” he said.

The House and Senate also approved a controversial measure that would change the way some teacher and state worker health benefits are determined - a tough vote for many Democrats and some Republicans because it will affect an insurance affiliate of the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union.

Political posturing over votes, with an eye toward the 2008 and 2010 elections, slowed down the process of getting a deal in place. Some vulnerable Democrats had resisted voting for a tax increase, while some Republicans worried they could face recalls if they supported a tax increase.


Teachers union strikes, scabs to be tested

Members of the Harrison Hills (OH) Teachers Association voted overwhelmingly to reject a final contract offer by the Board of Education — and to proceed with a teachers’ strike — but Superintendent Jim Drexler said school will be open as scheduled today.

Although classes are to be in session, it is expected all extracurricular activities involving teachers — including football practices and games, as well as other sports — will be canceled for the duration of the strike.

Teachers association spokeswoman Linda Rusen said the union and board met for a final round of negotiations at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Steubenville, where teachers rejected the board’s offer. “We will be setting up picket lines at all the schools in the district beginning at 5 a.m., Monday and will be there for the entire work day,” Rusen said.

The vote to strike was “overwhelming,” Rusen said, noting an official count was not taken because strong support was apparent. “We are prepared to hold out as long as necessary until we receive a fair contract offer from the board,” she said.

Drexler did not return calls seeking comment Sunday, but he did issue a press release.

“Unfortunately, the union chose to strike instead of choosing other options that would have kept teachers in their classrooms with their students,” Drexler wrote.

According to Drexler, the district’s schools will employ qualified substitute teachers in the classrooms throughout the strike, and attendance will be taken.

Information on the district’s Web site defines qualified substitutes as those who will “meet the requirements set forth in the Ohio Revised Code and by the Department of Education.”

The district maintains the substitutes must pass criminal background checks to be eligible to teach in the district.

Drexler said school bus routes and cafeteria services will remain open and will operate as usual in the event of a teachers’ strike.

According to the release, the board’s final offer would have provided teachers a 2.5-percent base salary increase for the 2007-08 school year and a 3-percent increase for 2008-09.

It also would have required teachers to pay a maximum of $49 a month toward insurance premiums.

Rusen declined to discuss the terms of contract proposals on behalf of the association, which represents about 140 teachers and related certified staff.

Negotiating teams for the board and union also met for seven hours Friday but teachers’ salaries remained a point of contention. Following that session, Rusen said Drexler in his contract received “extravagant compensation,” including a 22.5-percent raise over three years as well as "comp time" for after-work negotiations sessions. She maintains this action means the board could afford to give a “fair settlement” to the teachers, who have been working without a contract since June 30.

However, information released by the board indicates Drexler received only a 7.92-percent raise in his contract for the years 2007-10.

It was also expected Sunday that all Harrison Central Huskies athletic games and practices would be suspended.

According to the district’s Web site, extracurricular activities “will continue if coaches and advisors report to work ... if coaches and advisors do not report to work, all such activities will be canceled.”

Justin Kropka, head coach of the Harrison Central High School football team, could not be reached for comment late Sunday.

The Huskies — sporting a 4-2 record — are scheduled to face the Buckeye Local Panthers in Yorkville on Friday.


Nurses strike against hospitals in KY, WV

More than 800 Appalachian Regional Healthcare registered nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Last week, the company gave what it called its "last, best and final offer" to the Nurses Association. It promised an initial 2% pay raise that would increase to 3% over 4 years. It also included flexible schedules to allow registered nurses to choose either 10 or 12-hour shifts.

The contract was rejected by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. Since then, ARH has not indicated any interest in furthering the weeks-long negotiations. Nurses say their main sticking point is that they're understaffed and overworked.

Kathy Ford, president of the Kentucky Nurses Association, said, "It will take (the company) actually sitting down and listening to our concerns about staffing and about manditory overtime. That's not a whole lot."

Tim Hatfield, Community CEO of Williamson ARH, said the strike will not affect health care for the region. "I really don't see a change in any type of quality of care," Hatfield said. "We have placement workers, plus some management who have previous experience of being a registered nurse. So we'll be in good shape when 12:01 rolls around."

Now that 12:01 has passed and nurses are on the picket lines, both sides appear to be in it for the long haul. The company has given its "last, best and final offer," and the union says it is simply not good enough.

ARH has nine hospitals across Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, including facilities in South Williamson, Kentucky and Beckley, West Virginia.

Earlier this year, United Steel Workers union members at ARH went on strike for 25 days before finally agreeing to a 3-year contract. That strike included licensed practical nurses, but not registered nurses. The contract was eventually approved by nearly 80% of the union workers.


County supervisor shifts to SEIU full-time

A busy work schedule has forced another Fond du Lac County Board supervisor to resign. Todd Schmitz said Friday that he is leaving the board. He represented District 26, which includes Ward 5 in the city of Fond du Lac (WI).

Schmitz is the third supervisor in less than a month to depart from the board. Jennifer Saul, former supervisor for District 32, resigned earlier this month due to personal and work conflicts. Robert Tank, who represented District 12, left within days of Saul's resignation. He said he quit for personal reasons.

Schmitz said work influenced his decision. He frequently travels to Minneapolis to fulfill his duties with SEIU Healthcare, a division of the largest and fastest-growing union in the United States, he said. Being out of town so much makes it difficult to attend board and committee meetings, he said.

He added that he has served for six years and enjoyed his time with the board. However, time restraints have forced him to choose between working with SEIU Healthcare and representing his constituents. "The citizens deserve someone who can do the job," he said.

The upcoming County Board reduction did not affect his decision but still saddens him, he said. Schmitz believes people will lose representation and democracy next year when the County Board will be reduced from 36 to 18 districts.

County Executive Allen Buechel said he also doesn't believe the reduction has driven more supervisors to leave the board. Having three resignations in such a short time period is not unusual, he said. The County Board goes through periods when no one resigns. However, an influx of departures will suddenly occur because supervisors encounter hefty work or personal schedules, he said.

"It's not that people are saying, 'That's it. I'm out of here,'" he said.


Union opposes new hospital investment

Baraga County Memorial Hospital administration got the go-ahead Wednesday to explore the construction of a new hospital facility and to look into moving the hospital’s long-term care beds to Bayside Village. The hospital’s board of trustees held a special meeting at the Lakeside Inn in Baraga, choosing the venue in anticipation of a large public turnout. That was the case, with standing room only.

The board voted to send a letter to state regulators signaling the hospital’s intent to construct a new facility and to move long-term care operations to Bayside Village, Baraga County’s nursing home. Hospital Administrator John Tembreull said the current facility on Main Street in L’Anse is antiquated. He said replacing rather than renovating that building is a more cost-effective way to achieve the hospital’s goal of expanding specialty clinic space and consolidating general practice physicians within one facility.

“As we looked at the building and the changes that needed to be made, basically the studies found that it was cheaper to go in and build new than to renovate,” Tembreull said.

Filing the letter of intent authorizes hospital administration to seek financing and look for property for a new building. The board’s decision to move long-term care beds to the county’s nursing home facility, Bayside Village, proved more controversial. Tembreull said the move would save the hospital money because of the way Medicare payments are structured. “The hospital pays a penalty for having the nursing home attached and that’s eliminated if the beds are no longer attached and are operated by Bayside,” he said.

But hospital employees are concerned about full-time jobs with benefits getting lost in the transition. Non-certified employees at the hospital — including dietary, laundry, housekeeping workers and nurses’ aids — are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2088.

“We are disappointed,” union President Bridget Collins said. “We don’t want all the beds moved down there. It’s a lower reimbursement rate down there and it’s a lot of jobs we’ll lose with benefits if we go down there.”

Shana Alderton, a state representative from AFSCME Council 25 in Marquette, said the move could result in the loss of 41 jobs at the hospital.

Tembreull said the board’s decision to send the letters of intent does not obligate them to any course of action.

“The board at this point is not actually committed to doing any of it, but it does get us started down the road as far as putting pieces together,” Tembreull said.

Alderton said the union hopes when the board does decide on a final course of action, it will choose not to move the long term care beds to Bayside.

“Our hope is that they will proceed with the new hospital if they so choose, but that they would maintain the long-term care in the hospital,” she said.


Will U.S. defend ERISA from AFL-CIO?

The SEC is debating a change in the proxy rules for corporate shareholders, and to understand the perils look no further than the new AFL-CIO campaign to strongarm business into providing "universal health care." Big Labor is trying to use its proxy leverage to sway business into endorsing a political goal that may be contrary to shareholder interests.

It's no surprise that unions would back the Democratic agenda for government-run health care. What's new is that labor won't do this only through the political process. According to an article in Financial Week that quotes Dan Pedrotty, the director of the AFL-CIO's office of investment, the union plans to try to influence - really, intimidate - corporate boards with proxy fights. It also intends to ask companies to file reports on political contributions by directors and executives, especially those who support candidates who oppose universal care.

These threats should raise eyebrows at the U.S. Labor Department. The 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act - or Erisa - requires that union officials who administer pension funds do so in a way that protects and enhances retiree assets. Labor Department guidelines allow shareholder activism, but only as long as there is a "reasonable" expectation that pension-fund actions are "likely to enhance the value of the plan's investment in the corporation."

American businesses are already struggling with rising health care costs. If they are suddenly forced by proxy resolution to spend even more, the cost will have to come out of their bottom lines, and by extension their share price. There is thus no "reasonable expectation" that such policy by proxy would enhance the value of a pension's investment. Quite the opposite.

Labor Department guidelines also make clear that fiduciaries are barred from subordinating the interests of their plan members to "unrelated objectives." Forcing companies to support federal legislation for "universal coverage," or to disclose the personal political activities of management, is about as "unrelated" to the retirement security of workers as it gets. The late Peter Drucker once called this "pension-fund socialism."

This is also a warning for Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Chris Cox, who continues to consider a "direct access" rule that would give certain shareholders more power in determining the makeup of corporate boards. The biggest supporters of this rule are union-dominated pension funds, which claim this is about greater "shareholder democracy." But as the AFL-CIO's health-care campaign makes clear, the real goal is getting corporate boards to embrace labor's political agenda.

If unions want more generous health-care benefits, they have the right and power to bargain for them with management. The labor movement did that with great success with steel companies, carmakers and airlines, at least in the short run. In the longer run, they've made their companies less competitive by imposing huge legacy costs. But if management agrees to those costs, and shareholders are willing to hold stock in the company, so be it. It's their money.

Pension fund assets, by contrast, belong to the workers, not to the liberal activists at the AFL-CIO or to state treasurers and other politicians seeking Big Labor's endorsement. A direct access rule would only give these minority shareholders greater power to turn boardrooms into a new battleground for policy debates that rightly belong on Capitol Hill, or at union-management negotiations.

This new union political strategy has been revealing itself for some time. In 2004, the California public employees' pension fund (Calpers) withheld its support from Safeway's CEO as payback for his tough bargaining with unions. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, some pension funds threatened to sell their investments in financial firms that supported Social Security reform. And now comes the AFL-CIO, threatening to wreak boardroom retribution on any company that fails to support some version of HillaryCare, or its Barack Obama equivalent.

Union workers might well oppose this agenda, if they understood what was going on. But most of them merely pay their dues and get on with their lives. The Labor Department and SEC have no such excuse. Both should be using the latest AFL-CIO campaign to lay down some limits for union leaders who want to risk their members' retirement money in pursuit of a partisan agenda.


Socialists urge rejection of UAW-GM pact

Auto workers should emphatically reject the total surrender by the UAW and resume the struggle against General Motors. The tentative contract means the destruction of virtually all of the gains won by generations of auto workers. If ratified, it will have catastrophic consequences for active, retired and future Big Three workers.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger has traded the wages, pensions, health benefits and jobs of UAW members for the right to control a multibillion-dollar VEBA trust fund and make himself and his cronies millionaires.

The fact that not one local president voted against the agreement comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the UAW. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that from the standpoint of the workers’ interests, the UAW is dead and cannot be revived.

Rejection of the contract is only the first step. Auto workers should take the struggle out of the hands of the UAW by electing rank-and-file committees to re-launch the strike and formulate demands that defend workers’ jobs, living standards and working conditions. An appeal should be made to Ford, Chrysler and Delphi workers to join this fight, and to auto workers in Canada, Latin America, Asia and Europe who are facing attacks by the same global auto giants.

The defense of workers’ conditions and rights must be developed on an entirely new basis. This means, above all, the building of a new political movement of the working class, independent of the two parties of big business, to fight for a program that starts from the needs of working people, not the profits and stock portfolios of the corporate elite.

Workers should reject completely the claim that the resources do not exist to provide secure, good-paying jobs, decent pensions and full health-care coverage. The problem is that the profit system and the two-party monopoly that defends it subordinate the needs of the vast majority of people to the modern-day robber barons. To change this, workers need their own party fighting for a socialist program based on equality and genuine democracy.

The contract summary distributed by the UAW is a whitewash consisting of half-truths and lies. Its talk about job security is a fraud. Its assurances that the health benefits and pensions of retirees are secure are phony to the core.

Wall Street’s verdict on the deal confirms that it is a sellout of historical proportions. The company’s stock went up 7 percent for the week. The Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday that the contract signals the end of an era when auto workers’ “pay and benefits set the standard for the American middle class.”

The GM contract sets a precedent for all of corporate America. Already Ford officials are complaining that the GM contract does not go far enough in reducing labor costs.

Contract provisions

* Health benefits

The deal puts an end to company-paid medical benefits for retired workers, something that was won in the 1950s and 1960s. Under the VEBA, benefits will be subject to the vagaries of the stock market and the pressure of big investors to make ever deeper cuts.

The UAW will be transformed into a corporate entity, in control of one of largest investment funds in America. Tens of millions of dollars will go to consultants, investment firms, lawyers and the top union officials.

The union has agreed to higher co-pays and other takeaways, including new restrictions on eligibility for dependents and efforts to lower GM outlays for disability benefits.

A chunk of the assets controlled by the UAW will be tied to the price of GM stock, giving the union bureaucracy a direct incentive to slash the wages and benefits of UAW members in order to push up the value of assets in the VEBA.

* Two-tier wage system

Auto workers will be forced to pay dues to a union that enforces a return to the low-wage, sweat shop conditions of the 1930s. The agreement gloats that wage cuts will be based on the Delphi model, reducing the pay of new workers to $14 an hour and undermining solidarity by repudiating equal pay for equal work.

As many as 24,000 senior workers will be pushed out and replaced by new-hires making half the traditional pay rate. Entry-level production and skilled trades positions will be redefined as non-core, meaning the workers can be paid lower wages and benefits.

* Wage freeze

Base pay for current workers will be frozen. As a result, take-home pay will be ravaged by inflation. The Cost of Living Adjustment, won by UAW workers in 1949, is being abandoned. The first 10 cents of quarterly COLA increases will be diverted to bolster the VEBA and defray company health costs for current workers.

* Pensions

Current workers and retirees’ pensions will be undermined by the diversion of pension funds into the VEBA. New hires will receive no pension. Instead, they will get a 401 (K). This is the first step in the elimination of pensions for all auto workers.

* Jobs

The so-called job guarantees are bogus. GM explicitly exempted three plants from any commitment to new product lines. This means these plants are targeted for sale or closure. As for the rest, GM’s pledges are contingent on new local agreements to impose more brutal speedup, forced overtime and other “flexible” work rules.

The UAW, as the proprietor of the VEBA, will have less incentive to oppose jobs cuts than before, since its income will be less dependent on the size of its dues base.

This betrayal must be rejected. Above all, the political lessons must be drawn. The transformation of the UAW into a profit-making business is the culmination of a long process in which the union has become increasingly antagonistic to the interests of the rank-and-file and ever more the instrument of a privileged bureaucracy that is unaccountable to the members.

This betrayal is rooted in the failure of the entire outlook and policy not only of the UAW, but of the official labor movement as a whole.

The leaders of the unions that emerged from the class battles of the 1930s rejected the building of a labor party by the working class and instead aligned the unions with the Democratic Party. This signified the subordination of workers’ interests to the profit system and the abandonment of any struggle for universal, government-run social programs, such as health care. The UAW purged the union of the socialist and left-wing elements and accepted the economic dictatorship exercised by American capital over the working class.

The UAW responded to the crisis of the US auto industry by renouncing any form of class struggle and embracing the corporatist policy of labor-management partnership. On this basis, it collaborated in the destruction of 600,000 Big Three UAW jobs since 1978.

The global integration of production was the final nail in the coffin of the unions, not only in the US but internationally. Because of their nationalist programs, unions have been transformed from organizations that pressured the companies for concessions to the workers into organizations that pressure workers for concessions to management.

The claim by the UAW bureaucracy that the Democratic Party will carry through a serious reform of the health care system is a farce. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are funded by big business, including the health care monopolies.

The Democratic Congress gives Bush hundreds of billions for the war for oil in Iraq, which will soon consume $1 trillion in addition to the lives of thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The full brunt of this tragic waste of blood and treasure is born by the working class.

A political movement, independent of both corporate-controlled parties, must be built by the working class based on a fundamentally different social principle: Economic life must be organized not to serve corporate profit and private wealth, but rather the needs of working people and society as a whole.

The vast industries upon which modern society depends can no longer be the private domain of corporate executives and Wall Street speculators. The auto industry must be transformed into a public enterprise, democratically controlled by working people.

This is the policy advanced by the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site. We urge auto workers and other workers to contact the WSWS to discuss this program and the building of a new leadership of the working class.


Vancouver, B.C. gov't union strike enters 3rd month

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