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UAW 2013 Community Action Program (CAP)

The 2013 UAW National Community Action Program (CAP) book.
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A message from Bob King

Our solidarity and activism remain the core strength of the UAW.

In 2012, we were more active than ever, winning organizing drives, defending worker rights, and working to educate and mobilize our members and retirees in a successful effort to re-elect President Barack Obama and several pro-worker legislators to Congress.

But a little more than a year ago when the second session of the 112th Congress convened, the White House and legislative branch were politically divided. Republicans had a majority in the House, and Democrats controlled the Senate and presidency. Much of 2012 was peppered with partisan bickering and posturing before the November elections.

Despite partisan gridlock, President Obama and congressional Democrats tried to advance measures to create jobs and improve worker rights. But these efforts were continually blocked by GOP filibusters in the Senate.

Congressional Republicans pushed misguided budget and tax measures that would have undermined Medicare and Medicaid and slashed spending on vital domestic programs, while providing huge new tax breaks for corporations and the rich.

Fortunately, Senate Democrats were able to defeat these reactionary initiatives. When House and Senate Democrats countered such proposals with legislation that would have continued tax cuts for the middle class, congressional Republicans blocked these measures and insisted on a continuation of tax breaks for the rich.

Indeed, the 2012 election was historic – one in which Americans reaffirmed our commitment to progress and stopped wealthy special interests from hijacking our country. On Nov. 6, we re-elected President Obama, a strong advocate for our union and all middle-class Americans, to a second term. We also made significant gains for working families in the Senate and picked up crucial seats in the House. Through our union’s collective ground game of phone banking, door knocking and conversations in the workplace, we built and turned out a winning, progressive electoral coalition.

President Obama’s re-election and the retention of Democratic control in the Senate ensured that the defining achievements of his first term would not be reversed. Americans can continue to count on the Affordable Care Act’s expansions of health care coverage and protections against insurance industry abuses.

After the election, Congress held a lame-duck session which largely focused on the so-called “fiscal cliff.” On Jan. 3, President Obama averted the “fiscal cliff,” scheduled to occur at the beginning of 2013. The president signed H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, into law – after long and heated negotiations between Democrats, the White House and congressional Republicans.

For the first time in 20 years, the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans was raised, and current middle-class tax rates were permanently extended. The legislation ended the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy, families making over $450,000 a year (and individuals making $400,000 a year). The law extends unemployment insurance for an additional year without any strings attached or offsets, and there were no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. We were successful at staving off increasing the Medicare eligibility age.

As always, the UAW has worked over the past year with other unions and progressive allies on a wide range of legislative issues, including measures related to worker rights, jobs, health care, taxes and the budget. There are signs that economic growth is accelerating, which will lead to more hiring in the auto industry and throughout our union. President Obama insists on a balanced approach to the federal budget, and maintains his commitment to lower taxes for the working families that drive our economy. The housing sector is starting to pick up, and Europe continues to work through its economic problems.

But we cannot rest.

The 2010 midterm elections showed Americans some hard lessons about what the Right is really concerned about: protecting the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. To those of us in the labor movement, this wasn’t a surprise. Nor were the subsequent state battles in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, where corporate-backed Republican governors and legislatures passed or tried to pass all types of anti-union, anti-middle-class bills. Their intent was to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, shred project labor agreements, push right-to-work (RTW) (for less) laws and privatize public services. Michigan is now a RTW state.

The UAW has important work to do in 2013 to make sure our political system responds to the needs of working families, and to organize in the auto industry and other sectors of our union. This will build the power we need to bargain good contracts for our members.

We thank you deeply for what we have accomplished together this past year.

We ask for your continued participation in your union and community as we work to build a brighter future for UAW members and all working families.

If nothing else, the last four years have taught us that winning an election is not enough. We cannot sit back and count on our elected members of Congress to fight our battles for us.

Indeed, it’s never too soon to start thinking about 2014. 

We must -- and we will -- keep the pressure on.