PITTSBURGH, Penn.: Goodyear talks break off

Negotiators for 19,000 active rubber workers and 22,000 retirees at Goodyear Rubber Company are not cutting their own throats. On June 28, leaders of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) representing rubber workers rejected a final proposal from the company that would have resulted in mass layoffs, plant closings and destruction of health care for active and retired workers.

The union charged that the company has a bloated management structure and no plan to restructure its staggering debt. Rubber workers should not suffer because Goodyear cannot seem to manage its affairs, the union argued.

“The company claims it needs cost savings, but it made no commitment to reduce the substantial waste in its operations,” said USWA Vice President Andrew “Lefty” Palm. “Also, they have no plan to cut out any of the excessive layers of fat that exist throughout their management system, from the highest levels in the corporate offices right down to the shop floor.”

The union presented a business plan that it says would increase efficiency and control skyrocketing health care costs.

The contract expired July 6 but workers are continuing to work under the existing contract.

PHILADELPHIA, Penn.: Stop war, repression!

A huge balloon of George W. Bush feeding the Bill of Rights into a paper shredder greeted the thousands of Philadelphians as they entered Franklin Square on July 4 to demand an end to U.S. wars at home and abroad.

The rally, which began with chants demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African American writer and journalist on death row, was part of a day-long protest that included a lively march through Center City. As drums kept beating, the crowd chanted, “Stop the crazy son of a Bush! Stop the war now!”

Tom Cronan, president of State, County and Municipal Workers District Council 47, said that it “had taken only three years” for Bush to create massive unemployment, the largest military budget in history, and a deficit that will eliminate social programs. “It’s time to change the political landscape,” he said. “Let us march to the polls on Nov. 5, 2004, and push Bush out of the White House and into the dog house.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. & OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.: Defending the Bill of Rights

Hundreds of thousands celebrated the Fourth of July at Nashville’s Riverfront Park and cheered a dramatic performance by members of the Nashville Peace and Justice Coalition (NPJC) that skewered the Bush administration’s Patriot Act and its assault on the Bill of Rights. The group started the day with street theater at the entrances to the park, which the police halted. Dave Matthews, organizer for NPJC, appealed to the gala’s director who not only permitted the performance to continue on the street but gave the group access to the “controlled area” where other musicians and actors held center stage for one of the city’s largest events.

On June 16, Oklahoma City became the 133rd county, city or town to enact a resolution condemning the Patriot Act as contrary to the federal and state constitutions and barring their police department from conducting investigations that violate civil liberties. Oklahoma City is now a “Civil Liberties Safe Zone.” Such zones currently cover 16 million people in 26 states.

CHARLESTON, W.Va.: Vigil against anti-Semitism

The Fourth of July weekend saw an ugly attack on one of Charleston’s oldest temples, Temple Israel. Sometime over Saturday night vandals spray painted anti-Semitic obscenities in foot-high black letters across the temple’s façade. By Sunday night, members of the Unitarian Universalist congregation and others joined Jewish families encircling the temple and held an all night vigil.

Police are investigating.

“I raised my children not to be ashamed, but to be proud of being Jewish,” said temple member Susan Allen. “I am not going to stop now.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: Public school giveaway halted

Superior Court Judge Trena Burger-Plavan ruled on June 23 that the Board of Education could not turn Sacramento High School over to the non-profit St. Hope Corporation without the consent of at least 50 percent of its teachers. The suit was brought by a group of teachers and parents opposing the non-union, religiously-oriented St. Hope charter plan.

In order to avoid the state requirement for establishing charter schools in existing institutions, the board had voted last January to close “Sac High” in June and then re-open it in the fall as a “start-up” charter school. However, their stated reason for the closure was to avoid takeover by the state because of the school’s failure to raise student test scores.

Although School Superintendent Jim Sweeney specifically blamed the teachers and their union, the Sacramento City Teachers Association, for this failure, a state audit report places the responsibility instead on the school’s administration.

At a recent Board of Education meeting, the parent-teacher committee, Take Back Our Schools, announced a recall effort against the four school board members who voted to close the school, the second oldest high school west of the Mississippi.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Rosita Johnson and Gail Ryall contributed to this week’s clips.

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