Richard Cucarese Archive

Is It Time for Labor to Return to Its Socialist Roots?

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“I have raised hell all over this country.  You don’t need a vote to raise hell!  You need convictions and a voice!” – Mary Harris (Mother) Jones

Since its inception, the American labor movement has had a progressive, socialist voice aiding in its efforts to produce agreements with corporations that have included health care, pensions, strongly worded language on worker equality, civil rights issues and many more important benefits which some of us still enjoy to this day.

As the decades ensued, socialist ideals like those instituted by noted, founding member of the IWW and five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for President, Eugene V. Debs, came under heavy fire from red-baiters, such as the late Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

And as some of those same ideals, enjoyed by millions of American union workers and their families were deemed “un-American” ways of thinking, and as the country, pushed over the years to a much more neo-liberal (aka neo-conservative) leaning philosophy, began to take on a more unabashed, nationalistic tone, the voices of socialist union leaders were banished to the dust bins of history under the ever present oversight of scurrilous government watchdogs, such as the House Un-American Activities Committee.

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The Call for a General Strike

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

It’s been only a few weeks since Labor pushed back against the longest, most punishing government shutdown in recent history, but sadly, over the jubilant cheers of victory, the ominous drumbeats of Congress warring in the trenches could be heard again, leaving 800,00 AFGE members pondering if they’ll be furloughed once more.

President Trump’s decided that the ‘Wall to Nowhere’ will be the hill to die on in this inane battle of attrition, government workers livelihoods be damned.  Keeping this in mind, the ominous question should be how much longer will it be before Trump and the entitled imperialists of D.C. realpolitik turn their sights towards millions of American workers, over 40% of whom, according to CBS News data, are one missed paycheck away from poverty?

As we suffer under the grim reality of decades long wage stagnation, no calls for a realistic minimum wage increase to keep the One Percent’s vulture bankers from our doors, nor a social program of Medicare For All, easing the burden of burgeoning medical costs overrunning the populous meager discretionary incomes, the powers that be seem more than willing to shutter government again, leaving scores unemployed, airport safety and security in perilous shape and costing the taxpayers $3 billion to do so.

And while Congress apparently shows no guilt spending an inconceivable $1.45 trillion dollars for 2018/19, to voluntarily spill blood in every conceivable corner of the globe promoting crony capitalism, strong armed acquisition of natural resources and the continuation of imperialistic follies, the long suffering American worker is left sifting through the rubble, limping through countless miles of crumbling infrastructure, closed factories, failing schools, bankrupting college loan payments, mass shootings and scores of broken dreams, leading to shortened life expectancy, drug overdoses and suicides.

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Labor Brought an End to the Shutdown

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With the outlook growing bleaker by the minute for over 800,000 Federal Employees who remained furloughed or deemed essential and working without pay for weeks, a rare sense of elation occurred, if albeit temporarily when the U.S. Government opened for business again on January 25th after the longest shutdown on record.

And although a few media outlets gave coverage to the plight of AFGE members and their valiant efforts to flood Congressional phone lines and the streets of Washington D.C. with their Labor allies, it fell far short of the expanded coverage given to members of Congress who gregariously championed their paltry efforts in front of the spotlights glare.

Although Speaker Pelosi was the face of the battle on television screens around the world, this victory is not hers or Congress’ to own; victory belongs to Labor, especially since, at best, they’re paid minimal lip service by the majority of our nations elected officials.

While some may say this is sour grapes and splitting hairs, it really isn’t when you consider that Labors’ efforts to create a more autonomous workplace, barely registers a blip on the radar of the mainstream media as well and when a network voice champions us, it’s almost immediately drowned out, shifted away from its prime-time slot and eventually rendered useless by corporate apparatchiks.   

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Yellow vests and general strikes

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“The enemies of the country, and of freedom of the people, have always denounced as bandits those who sacrifice themselves for the noble causes of the people.” ~ Emiliano Zapata

In November of 2018, the rallying cries of the proletariat emerged. Protesters demanded that those in power address the grievances of the working class, the working poor and the forgotten masses, who carry the burden of funding the ventures of capitalist corporatists and their special interests.

This is not American streets exploding into rage against the powers that be not seen since 1968. It is, instead, the “Yellow Vest” movement of France, and now Belgium as well. It has taken over the mantle of dissent, which used to exist on our shores.

Americans have bee lulled into a false sense of security that our government would always have our best interests at heart. In the meantime, that government has beaten down workers with Free Trade deals promoting outsourcing, union-busting laws, and civil and voting rights restrictions. All of this has suppressed wages and pitted classes, genders and races against each other.

After decades of stagnant wages, nearly 48% of working Americans are one to two paychecks away from poverty or homelessness, and close to 40% of homeless adults work, but do not make enough to pay the exorbitant rents to allow themselves or their families shelter.

That being the case, it’s a wonder that America is not the vanguard the Yellow Vest movement. 

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U.S. Steel’s CEO is Playing a Dangerous Game of Chicken with the Markets, Steelworkers and America

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With the dog days of summer upon us, many people spent their Labor Day cooling off in pools, heading to the beaches, or just relaxing in the shade without any thoughts of work entering their minds. 

But for approximately 16,000 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union employed at the mills of the U.S. Steel Corp., the holiday took on a brand new meaning as they prepared themselves for the possibility of the largest work stoppage in the domestic steel industry since 1986. This was in response to U.S. Steel coming to the bargaining table that weekend with a contract proposal nearly as regressive and damaging than ones offered just weeks earlier.

Just three years ago, U.S. Steel was on the verge of bankruptcy, a situation caused by a mixture of bad business decisions, poorly timed austerity measures and illegally subsidized, underpriced Chinese steel dumped onto world markets.

 It was at this time that the Steelworkers agreed to freeze wages over three years and give up the guarantee of a 40-hour work week, reducing it to 32, in the hopes that when the company rebounded, it would reward the work force in the next round of contract talks.

In the ensuing years, U.S. Steel did flourish. This was due to the labor of its dedicated and skilled workers, as well as tariffs imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump.

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It's Time to Get Real about U.S. Steel

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Contract negotiations can be a tenuous experience, to say the least.  And at this time in American history, as a Union, you never know what you’re walking into when dealing with a corporation whom you hope is behaving on a level of trust for its workers.

In the case of U.S. Steel, who at best has a checkered history at the negotiating table, this round of negotiations has proven where they stand with Steelworkers who toil in their mills. 

In 2015, with the company teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and their stock plummeting, the Steelworkers (USW) held fast to preserving many benefits procured during seventy years of contracts with U.S. Steel, but realizing as well that they would have to make sacrifices when it came to wages; thus, freezing them and conceding the 40-hour work guarantee, reducing it to 32 hours over a three-year period.

In good faith, the USW stepped up to the plate to help the corporation reach some semblance of financial stability while continuing to stump for the industry, requesting that the Obama Administration levy tariffs on certain steel products which were being dumped on our shores by China below production cost. 

The USW continued to fight vehemently against the disastrous, 12-nation TPP trade agreement, which, if passed, could have been the death knell for steelmaking in America.

Under the Trump Administration, the Steelworkers increased national awareness, aiding the efforts to squash the TPP, levy more tariffs through the findings of Section 232 against an insolent Chinese government looking to corner the world steel market.

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Make Unions Militant Again

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

It’s never been glamorous to be a coal miner, truck driver, steelworker, waitress, janitor or the like, but over the past four decades, it’s been quite an effort to financially survive in these professions.

In earlier times, one way Americans could assuage the combative efforts of corporations that denied them the ability to enjoy a better life was to seek membership in a union, thus ensuring their chances for safer working conditions, better wages, benefits and rights through collective bargaining.

And while in many cases this created a rising, more affluent working class than America had ever witnessed, corporate America, with the assistance of Wall Street, Washington, their powerful lobby groups and certain members of the judiciary were setting the wheels in motion to crush labor’s strides with a tsunami of damaging legislation.

Think tanks were created and out of the bowels of back room meetings emerged The Powell Memo, the World Trade Organization, the insidious beginnings of free trade agreements and the crushing of collective bargaining under the guise of the falsely-friendly sounding Right-to-Work laws.

When the dust settled, labor’s grand accomplishments, which had once been a shining example of how democracy with a mixture of solid, progressive ideals could work, were left in tatters.

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Never Fear, the Free Traders Are Here…Again

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Shuttered plants, shattered lives, broken dreams.  Over the past forty years, this could be the descriptive assessment of millions of American factory workers’ existences.  And while some have fared worse than others, America’s steel and aluminum workers have certainly seen their share of depressingly hard times, resulting in vastly dwindling numbers.

On the campaign trail and during his first tumultuous, scandal-filled year in office, President Donald Trump promised to do something about the inequities on steel trade, especially with China, who has used end around tactics to funnel steel products through other trading nations such as Vietnam and also artificially lowered the price per ton of steel, allowing the dumping of cheap, substandard steel and aluminum onto America’s shores.

Initiating a Section 232 Investigation into the national security threat of losing such vital industries, Trump and his team are finally ready to take action with a possible 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% slap on imported aluminum products.

After inactively broaching the severity of imports to the sector with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for many months past their promised target date, the only hope is that the president didn’t take too long in relieving the pain of 17% increases in steel imports, plant closings or layoffs during this time period.

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The Art of the Deal is More the Art of the Dupe

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“Buy American, hire American.”  It’s become President Donald Trump’s sing-song mantra. It’s key to his “Making America Great Again.” It’s part of his waxing nostalgic about how he’s the true master of the art of the deal. It’s key to his tales of storming through the boardrooms of corporate America, causing CEOs to cower in his presence as he mandates that American jobs be preserved, and even expanded, or else there will be hell to pay from him in defense of the long-suffering American worker.

To a weakened working class, it raised hopes that there would be a voice in Washington to resurrect of our beleaguered industrial might. It evoked senses of optimism that there would be no more one-sided, mega trade deals which have decimated our industrial landscape.

But do President Trump’s words hold truth?  From the way he’s backpedaled, and basically shown his hand as being nothing more than a great manipulator, the outlook for the American worker returning to the days of solid employment, strong wages, pensions and exemplary benefits is poor.

Take a look at Buy American for infrastructure.  President Trump came storming into office saying he would tear up any deal, past, present or future, not including a provision requiring American steel, from the point of melting until the finished product is delivered.

Then he agreed to allow foreign steel in the recently approved Keystone XL pipeline.

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The Time Is Now: Let’s Put an End to the TPP Once and For All

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”

These lines were written almost a century ago by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, in her poem titled “Protest.”  With many social issues being ignored in our nation at the moment, the words still ring true to the ears of the disenfranchised. Ms. Wilcox’s words also hold weight with an issue that can galvanize Americans of all ages, gender and races: the fight against TPP Free Trade Agreement.

There is still talk of President Obama and the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress attempting a ‘backdoor’ vote on the 12-nation deal, which appears to do nothing more than infringe on the sovereignty of all nations involved, not to mention the catastrophic impact it will inflict on an already fragile environment, human rights issues, and the loss of over 500,000 jobs in the United States alone.

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The League of Un-Extraordinary Gentleman (and Ladies)

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Labor Day weekend is once again upon us, our last gasp of summer, as we ready ourselves for the return of the school year, the end of summer and a new football season, with all its promise and hope of a fresh start for our favorite teams.

What we don’t normally think about is the concept of Labor Day and the fact that this holiday was distinctly brought about because of the great strides and sacrifices labor unions made for the American people.

What also seems to be forgotten are the lame duck sessions of Congress, one of which will be starting very shortly.  President Barack Obama apparently will still be on his crusade of trying to make the American public believe that one sided, job killing, non-labor friendly, human and environmental rights crushing, mega-free trade agreements are in the best interests of the nation, as he tries to ram legislation for the passage of the TPP Trade Agreement through as soon as possible.

Let’s take a quick look at how our last trade agreement with Korea has fared.

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Millennials and the Deconstruction of the Two Party System

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

The unending folly of our presidential election recently had some eye opening revelations when certain factions of delegates on both sides called for a major revamping of both parties when their conventions took place in July.  Although protests at the RNC in Cleveland were sparse, there was still an ongoing tension between the old guard, the Tea Party and the Frankenstein, nightmare candidate come to life, Donald Trump, who remarkably thought that making America great again is done by running the narrative that the country is in dark dangerous times.  What he fails to mention is that if the country is on course for caving into the abyss, it’s been exacerbated by the 1% of which he’s a card carrying member.

Notwithstanding the calamity in the GOP, the DNC certainly had nothing to gloat about either as they and the mainstream media did everything in their power to squash the contentious nature inside, nor cover the discord taking place outside the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, erecting over four miles of barricades to keep thousands of protesters at bay and making sure that press coverage was nearly nonexistent.  Many in the crowds outside of the arena believed Secretary Clinton and the DNC Chairperson, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, were the chief orchestrators of these instances. 

Both parties have become reprehensibly complacent, whittling their constituencies down to niche groups laser focused on one dimensional issues, while consistently pandering to the lobbyists of big business, Wall Street and the banks.   This has left massive swaths of the population to fend for themselves while Congress passes merciless legislation, such as the free trade agreements, which have pillaged our manufacturing base and sent millions of Americans into the ranks of the impoverished or worse.

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A Crisis Of Confidence

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With America getting deeper into the folly of the political fracas taking place on every level from the Presidency down to open House seats, our leaders on both sides of the aisle have dropped the ball once again on what is truly the biggest issue on every voting aged American’s mind.  That would be the issue of jobs, or the lack thereof.

Even though President Obama has crowed about rosy jobs figures, he fails to mention that most of the jobs created were low wage, service sector jobs, which have very little impact on aiding the ever growing plight faced by the vastly disappearing American middle class.  In fact, the President’s pledge of 1 million jobs in the manufacturing sector during his second term has crashed and burned with a resounding thud. 

We can point fingers all we want to about stalemates in Congress and the maneuverings of the lobbyists on the Hill but we, the voting public, have to shoulder just as much of the blame.  We’ve laid at the altar of D.C. and Wall Street, enticed by their slick promise of fast money in glossy 401K plans, while at the same time letting them pillage and parcel our own jobs out of the country with a villainous brand of managerial capitalism never before seen in this country, let alone the world.

We’ve sat by in pure apathy while having our own politicians sell us out, promising us that Free Trade is a great thing for all of us.  Being spoon fed the narrative even more by the barons of The Street, we watched millions of family sustaining jobs disappear from our towns and cities, while close to 65,000 factories were shuttered in the last decade alone.

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Put Some Teeth in America’s Weak Trade Policy

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With much of the focus in the 2016 presidential race on jobs, or lack thereof, it may be a sensible time to bring the looming specter of China’s overcapacity issue to the forefront of the debate.  Even though the Obama administration has attempted to thwart China’s overcapacity in the steel, aluminum, and paper industries, the damage is irrevocable and reprehensible, placing hundreds of thousands of American livelihoods in harm’s way. 

The tariffs placed in the path of the Chinese steel onslaught have once again come too little, too late.  Our courts, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and our own politicians put roadblocks in the way of American corporations and the labor movement to hit the brakes on this rapid destruction of the industry. The burden of proof for pain and suffering must be proven by our system, and it comes with a cost.

The Steelworkers have lost almost 13,500 jobs in the past year alone due to China’s flooding of the world markets with inferior, inexpensive steel products.  U.S. Steel alone has had to idle operations at its Granite City, Ill., operations, shuttering the majority of its Fairfield Works in Alabama, and has significantly reduced mining in Minnesota.  Add to the list ArcelorMittal’s plate and sheet mills in Conshohocken, Pa., and a multitude of others around the country and the dismal picture of the industry is laid bare for all to see.

The fragile state of American manufacturing is illuminated with the ongoing onslaught of currency manipulation and a $365.7 billion dollar trade deficit with China alone.  Try not to forget that this isn’t the only conflagration we’re trying to tame because we’ve not even talked about the mega-deal the Obama Administration is still trying to pass with the 12-nation, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. 

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Next Stop…Infrastructure Collapse

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Washington D.C. is snarled with traffic on a cataclysmic scale.  All local authorities and emergency units are stretched to their limits dealing with the overflow of vehicles heading into and out of the nations’ capitol.  Schoolchildren are left stranded with no way to attend school and frustrated parents must either call in late to work or call off because the city is literally brought to a standstill.

Does it sound like the scene from an action movie or thriller when a city is brought to its knees by a terror attack or a natural disaster?  Fortunately for the residents of Washington D.C. and its suburbs, it was not that tragic an issue; but it is one that is nonetheless frustrating and could possibly lead to national security issues in the near future.  It is the state of our crumbling infrastructure.

For a 29-hour period, the D.C. Metro Rail System was completely shut down for emergency maintenance and safety checks, due to frayed cable systems being detected in various subway stations along the line.  Safety issues last year led to a part of the system engulfing subway cars in thick, acrid smoke and leaving one commuter dead.  The Metro debacle is the latest of many issues facing the whole country as our leadership refuses to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill which would create sustainable jobs for decades to come.  Let me repeat that last part: for decades to come.

Infrastructure around the nation is in shambles due to lack of funding.  Our national and local governments have developed a ‘kick the can down the road’ approach, leaving millions of our citizenry in peril as they make the daily commute over bridges, overpasses, and into tunnels and subway systems that are in complete and utter disarray.

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TPP: The Elephant in the Room

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With the constant talk of the Presidential race and debates taking up the majority of the media outlets’ time, the focus has been arbitrarily taken away from an issue of major importance – the proposed TPP.  President Obama is looking to make this a piece of landmark legislation before the end of his Presidential term, but it may come with deleterious results to American workers and their families.

Free trade deals have produced massive job losses in America’s past.  NAFTA’s passage produced the offshoring and closure of many plants, such as the Maytag plant in Galesburg, Illinois.  Reporter Peter Cole wrote about the tragic demise of the town after 2,000 good union jobs were lost.  The ripple effects are still being felt in the town, almost 22 years later.  U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman has touted the 12-nation TPP as a deal that would reap benefits to the country surpassing the achievements of the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

If job loss and trade deficits are achievements, Mr. Froman is right on the money.  Between the years of 2011-2014, approximately 75,000 jobs have been lost, and there has been a 79.3% of growth in the total U.S.-Korea trade deficit.  As is the norm in these seemingly one-sided agreements, U.S. manufacturing has taken the exorbitant hit.  Reports from groups such as the Tufts University Review have estimated that passage of the TPP will cost Americans 448,000 more jobs, most of them coming in manufacturing as well.  The passage of Fast Track last year will also give Congress no chance to change the agreement, leaving the lawmakers only with the decision to vote for or against it.

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Flint Poisoning Shows How Crucial It Is For America To Invest In Infrastructure

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

There is a crisis in Flint, Michigan.  The once iconic auto making city has been reduced to a shambles because of poor economic policies.  To make matters even more precarious, the infrastructure of the city is beyond the point of any simple repair.  With a massive loss of tax revenue, emergency managers have put in place austerity measures that have proved fatal, such as using the polluted Flint River for the city’s drinking water.

The city’s 100,000 residents, most of who live below poverty level, have now received the ultimate blow; the water they rely on to live has been poisoned by high levels of lead.  The Atlantic has reported on how children in the area are suffering from various health and psychological issues due to consumption of lead from their drinking water. 

State government has been almost non-existent during this crisis and some local pastors have written to authorities that the populace is on the brink of civil unrest.  Beyond all of this tragedy, there are questions to be asked of our local, state and Federal government.  How many more Americans have to be poisoned before we realize that our infrastructure has failed us?  How many more Americans have to risk travel for work or leisure across unsafe bridges, overpasses and highways?

How many more of us have to live in towns where ancient underground gas lines are failing at an alarming rate?  The American citizenry has been warned of failing water systems which haven’t been repaired for countless decades, dams that are crumbling, faulty rail lines causing derailments of passenger and cargo trains.  Add to this the horrendous state of our port systems, airports, and our antiquated power grids which can leave whole cities in darkness upon epic failure.  You soon realize why we need a comprehensive plan of attack.

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Union Workers Should Think Before Supporting Donald Trump

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“Make America Great Again.”  The slogan from Donald Trump’s campaign has been embedded into the national psyche for quite a few months.  Now that we are getting closer to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, let’s delve into what Mr. Trump’s “greatness” may mean for the American worker, especially union members and their families.

Before attaining his media celebrity in the past decade, Mr. Trump was already well known worldwide for developing luxury tower residences mainly in Manhattan.  He also had holdings and interests in casinos, an airline and the now defunct USFL (football league).  While much has been made of his business prowess and also his failures and bankruptcies, not much has been told of his relationships with the workers in his casinos or the tradesmen and women working on his towers.

Mr. Trump has displayed both positive and adversarial relationships with unions.  He has used union tradesman in the building of his New York towers, mainly due to the close relationships he formed with deceased Building and Trades Council President, Ed Malloy. While this has created some employment for the trades, he has also used undocumented workers in the demolition of the old Bonwit Teller Building, which paved the way for TrumpTowers on 5th Avenue.  Members of Local 95 House Wreckers Union filed suit against Trump in Manhattan Federal Court in 1983, when he and a subcontractor used some 200 undocumented laborers from Poland to demolish and clear the site, paid them substandard wages and worked them excessive hours.  

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The Once Great Nation of America

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

In this past year, the American public has been witness to an almost apoplectic display of government melodrama.  Between threatened government shutdowns, Republican debates filled with more vitriol than substance, and certain Democrats who can’t decide whether their allegiance is to Wall Street or Main Street, you can understand why some in our population are sensing an end of times to our great democratic institution.

The once great industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey is a good example of what was so right with America that went so wrong because of neglect to social and educational issues and a lackadaisical approach to our national economic policy.  Through the mid-19th century until the early 1990’s, Trenton had a rich, industrial history of making iron, steel, rubber and pottery.  Trenton’s steel mills produced wire rope for the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and many others. Iron beams produced in the city were used in the U.S. Capitol Dome construction.

Fine pottery was also produced in Trenton, and its beauty was on display from the table settings atthe White House, to museums around the world. The “Trenton Makes The World Takes” slogan not only publicized theindustrial might of an area which boasted a mainly European immigrant andAfrican American working class population, it displayed the prowess of America.  With a strong tax base and a strong publiceducation system, Trenton, as well as the country, seemed to be on the course for continuous prosperity.

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Avarice, Apathy and the TPP

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

America is once again at a crossroads.  We’ve witnessed the constant dilution of a once strong industrial base. We’ve agonized at the greed of profit over people, as Wall Street and corporate raiders dissected once mighty manufacturers, leading them to bankruptcy courts, their legions of pensioners into the rolls of the impoverished and their workers into the ranks of the chronically unemployed.

Much of this hardship has been caused by off-shoring and the implementation of massive Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s).

America has sought to keep its markets open with free trade “mega-deals” such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and the most recent, Korean FTA (KORUS).  In retrospect, these agreements failed miserably to protect American jobs, the environment, and labor and safety standards in the majority of countries involved.

Hailed as the trade deal of the 21st century, the proposed, 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seems to be heading us down this road again.  The United States, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Malaysia, Peru, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam have all signed on to participate.


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A Glorious Day for Labor

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Morning in America, Sept. 1, 2015.  It is a day which probably started out like any other for millions of working families.  The usual morning routines of making the coffee, having breakfast, a quick shower, and in some cases, getting the children off to school were already in full swing.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the morning was taking on a much different tone.  Thousands of Steelworkers from all over the country were mobilizing at the United Steelworkers (USW) International Headquarters for one purpose: the fight for survival of the American worker.  The focus would be on the troublesome state of contract negotiations between the Steelworkers and U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal and the stalled talks with specialty steel producer Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), who locked out 2,300 Steelworkers.

After rousing words of encouragement from USW International Vice President Tom Conway, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and others, Steelworkers, active and retired, took to the streets of downtown Pittsburgh and began their vocal and lively march towards ATI headquarters in PPG Place.  There, the voices of thousands thundered through the streets as onlookers cheered from the sidewalks and ATI office workers gazed down at the crowds’ fervor. Fran Arabia, president of USW Local 1196 at the Brackenridge ATI mill, spoke passionately about ATI “wants to take everything away from us, and throw us away!” He told the crowd: “We’re not going to let that happen, not today, not tomorrow.  We are on the right side of history, and we are taking a stand for American jobs!”

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The Battle for Prosperity, Over Poverty

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

In September of 2011, a vast movement of people from all age, social and monetary status groups converged on Zuccotti Park in New York City.  Soon afterward, thousands more came to join the rallying cries against the 1% who hold so much of America’s wealth.  The speakers eloquently railed against Wall Street pariahs, bailed out banking conglomerates,corporate theocrats, free traders and many others who control the purse strings in this country.

As demonstrations grew around the nation, and worldwide, the protests gained steam and became filled with a certain sense of vitriol. Certain corporate-backed, main stream media outlets did their best to dispel these protestors as nothing more than old, Vietnam era communists, disheveled and unclean young collegiate anarchists who needed to get jobs, and homeless rabble.  They wanted to strike fear into the viewer that protests of this sort are no good to our capitalist society or the American way of life.

We have witnessed this kind of deceptive behavior by the press before when the moneyed class’ vested interests are being threatened. Listen to a description of the Tompkins Square, New York demonstrations of 1874, as recounted by Steve Fraser in, “The Age of Acquiescence.”

“When thousands of destitute unemployed, many of them homeless, including women and children, gathered inTompkins Square Park, 'Bread or Blood' is what they cried.  They were demanding work or relief in what one labor activist called, 'a folk movement of primitive need.'

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Stronger Together

Stronger Together