FAST TRACK MASQUERADING AS ‘ANTI-TERROR’ MEASURE
As the country mourned the devastating loss of life on Sept. 11, the labor movement mobilized against an anti-worker attack being made on the public policy front, under the guise of fighting terrorism. As this was written, proponents of “Fast Track” were preparing to introduce a bill and bring it to a quick vote, arguing that free trade is a vital component of the fight against terrorism.
Fast Track (also called “Trade Promotion Authority”) would turn the power to negotiate international trade agreements over to President Bush and would drastically limit input from Congress and the public. Under Fast Track, Congress is limited to just 20 hours of debate and can make no amendments to trade agreements.
Since Fast Track will set the terms of U.S. trade and investment policies for the next five to ten years, it needs to be debated thoughtfully and thoroughly. Its opponents argue that trade legislation must include protections for workers and the environment. While responsible and fair trade would certainly be a vital component in eliminating worldwide poverty, the unrestricted trade provided for in the fast track proposal would have the opposite effect. Many in the labor movement believe that the inability of poor countries to retain wealth creates vast armies of poor people who are susceptible to appeals from fundamentalists and extremists. What is needed, they contend, are trade and economic policies that create a fairer distribution of global resources.
Local 802 urges members to call the AFL-CIO’s toll-free Congressional Hotline at 1-800-393-1082. After entering your zip code, you’ll be connected to your Congressional representative. Ask to speak to the staff person who deals with trade and urge your representative to vote no on “fast track.” Be sure to give your name and address and ask for a written response to your call.
PROPOSED AIRLINE POLICY WOULD HURT MUSICIANS
Negotiations are now taking place in the Senate Transportation Committee aimed at amending the Aviation Security Bill (S-1447) to eliminate carry-on baggage from all commercial flights. This would have a negative impact on most professional musicians, who often must carry their instruments aboard aircraft. Many instruments are antiques, are quite valuable, are extremely sensitive to climate changes, and must be stored properly so there is no damage due to turbulence. Stringed instruments, in particular, are extremely delicate and cannot withstand the treatment they would receive from the commercial airlines’ baggage-handling mechanisms. Many musicians tour for a living and would be unable to maintain their busy schedules if their instruments could not travel with them.
Local 802 urges you to write Senate Transportation Committee member Sen. Hilary Clinton, and ask her to oppose legislation that would eliminate the ability to bring musical instruments as carry-on baggage on commercial flights. Her address is 476 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.
“I LOVE NY” TAX DEDUCTION ACT
Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Thomas M. Reynolds of New York have introduced legislation that would allow individuals to deduct up to $500, and families up to $1,000, from their income taxes for money spent for New York City restaurants, lodgings and entertainment outlets. All American income taxpayers would be eligible to take advantage of this deduction, whether or not they itemize taxes.
This proposal is intended to provide a badly needed economic stimulus for New York City and the entire region. Specifically, the one-year temporary act would allow taxpayers to deduct up to 50 percent of restaurant, hotel/motel and entertainment expenses in New York City, up to $1,000 on a joint return. These deductions would apply to federal income tax liability for the year 2002. For more information, contact Rep. Maloney’s office at (212) 860-0606.
STATE LEGISLATURE CONDEMNS TERRORISM
On Sept. 13, the New York State Legislature passed a joint resolution condemning the ruthless acts of terrorism committed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and upon the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, American Flight 11, American Flight 77, and United Flight 175, and mourning the tragic loss of life and injury to innocent Americans.
The resolution also thanked those who courageously responded to the Sept. 11 tragedy and offered their help, and resolved that those who threaten the peace of our nation will be found and brought to justice.