Economic crisis, workers fight back

Cartoon by Mikhaela

This is a cartoon by Mikhaela in the USA.

The economic crisis continues.

Alcoa lays off 15,000, US economy moves toward depression: here.

General Motors cashes in on Australian car industry fund: here.

Latvia bailed out by IMF and European Union: here.

Eyewitness report of metal factory occupation in Turkey: here.

5 thoughts on “Economic crisis, workers fight back

  1. U.S. troops find job stability in war
    Many U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan feel they are better off extending their tours rather than returning home to face job uncertainty.
    McClatchy News Service

    DELARAM, Afghanistan — Around the barren military base, which sits at the crossroads of the Taliban’s poppy trade route, news arrives slowly.

    A single issue of the U.S. military’s newspaper arrives by airlift about every two weeks. While on patrol in remote villages, Afghans sometime shout at the Marines in Russian to go away, unaware that the troops are promoting democracy. Most Marines here said that they didn’t know about President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks, including his decision to keep Robert Gates as their secretary of defense.

    However, the domestic economic meltdown has reached even here. The National Guardsmen who serve with the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Corps Regiment, based here, say they fear that their jobs won’t be there when they return.


    With uncertainty at home, some are doing what they once considered unthinkable: extending their tours. They say they would rather tackle a resurging Taliban than a struggling economy.

    Among them is Sgt 1st Class John Russell, 45, of Royal Oak, Mich., who works alongside the Marines who are based here.

    Russell, a 22-year National Guard veteran, has extended his tour of duty here, hoping that the economy will turn around while he serves. He left his job as a manager at a car dealership in Carmel, N.Y., where he sold General Motors, Ford and Chrysler cars.

    This is his fourth deployment, but the first one that he fears will leave him with no job to return to. When he finishes in May, he will have served 17 months.

    ”By May, how much more will it change? What will I come home to?” Russell asked.

    Russell trains soldiers of the Afghan national army. Daily, he walks to the Afghan side of the base, an even more barren section that the troops often call ”the dark side.” From within its confines, Russell trains the soldiers in everything from how to shoot to how to run a base.

    U.S. officials have said the Afghan army will double to more than 120,000 soldiers by next year, a tacit acknowledgment that foreign troops alone cannot assure the country’s security. So it falls to the coalition forces to build an army as quickly as possible.

    That was never Russell’s goal. Married and with sons aged 15 and 7, he deployed last January in part, he said, because the economy was getting worse. Car sales were down, and he was having trouble making his mortgage payments.

    He extended his tour in the fall, just as financial institutions were begging for a $700 billion bailout. ”It was a lot of scary talk about a lot of companies breaking down. . . . At the dealership, they said things were slow,” down to 60 cars a month from a peak 110. “Everything convinced me extending was the right thing to do.”

    With 20 years of service, Russell gets a base pay of $47,830 a year as a sergeant first class — and no bonuses.

    These days, what little news he hears is bad. Curious, he once looked at a news site on the Internet and learned that GM was on the verge of bankruptcy. He thinks that Chrysler might not make it. His wife sends him updates as well as hints about his future career. ‘I think a lot of it is her telling me, `You need to find something else.’ ”

    Until he does, he keeps serving. Next month, he’ll begin training police officers.

    ”I do it for my country. I believe it’s for the good of my country, but I miss out on a lot of good times with my kids and wife,” Russell said.

    Russell, of the Army National Guard’s 427 Brigade Support Battalion in its Logistics Task Force, joined the Army National Guard out of college, in part because he didn’t know what he wanted to do.


    He started selling cars in 1994. For seven years, he sold 20 cars a month on average at a dealership that sold about 110 a month; for five of those years, he was the salesman of the year. He was called up just once, for nine months in Bosnia, but he was confident that his job would be there when he got back.

    In 2001, when he became a sales manager, sales were down slightly. He was called up again, this time to protect New York’s subway system in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

    In 2004, he deployed to Iraq for 15 months. As he left, he worried: ”How was I going to come back to work? Would they be understanding?” They weren’t. On returning in May 2005, he was put in charge of used cars and worked as a finance manager.

    He turned in his retirement papers to the Army in late 2007. However, he changed his mind as sales kept falling. By last January, he was getting ready for a deployment to Afghanistan.

    Serving at Bagram Air Field, a major military installation, he could monitor the economic downturn. He e-mailed friends in search of a job in government or the police, but they always wanted him before his deployment was over. By the fall, he was sent to Delaram, which borders Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province, to train the Afghan army.

    Not hearing the news about the economy is perhaps a blessing, he said, because he can’t focus on what’s happening back home. For now, he has stopped looking for work. He said he would try again when he got home. He hears from his friends at the dealership occasionally, and they try to shield him from the news. ”I don’t think they want to give me depressing information. They think I am in a worse place,” Russell said.



    In your left hand you prop the other elbow
    The free hand is like a serpent
    Dancing both sensual and menacing
    Impossible to be at the same time
    A woman and stateless
    Kurdistan is an inherited dream
    Making yourself a proscript
    One day you will be able to go back to Izmir
    You will see the vineyards and the sea
    The adorned balcony of the bride and groom
    Perhaps your brothers will already be free
    Singing poems of Nassim Hikmet
    Your name that does not admit tears
    Will forget the daily sixteen-hour journeys
    Making thousands and thousands
    Of collars and cuffs
    During so many years
    In a Paris textile factory
    And this journey of uprooting
    Will be like a dream.

    © 1999, Myriam Montoya
    © Translation: 2008, Nicolás Suescún


  3. What slump? Fort Riley booming with construction


    The Associated Press

    January 07, 2009

    While the national economy was slumping last year, business at Fort Riley was booming.

    Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, said Tuesday that soldiers, families and the surrounding communities in northeast Kansas can expect much of the same this year as more soldiers arrive.

    ‘It would be an under-exaggeration to say it was a whirlwind that took place here and really, things were moving pretty fast,’ Wiggins said.

    The Army has been expanding operations at Fort Riley since 2006 when the division headquarters returned from Germany, where it was based for 10 years.

    Wiggins spoke with reporters in the division’s new headquarters building, one of dozens of projects completed or under construction in 2008, at a total cost of more than $1 billion. More ground will be broken this year on health care, child care and training facilities on the 100,000-acre installation.

    Fort Riley is expected to see another influx of soldiers in 2009 as the division builds its ranks to close to 19,000 soldiers. Add the soldiers’ families and civilian employees and the number swells to more than 50,000 by 2013, Wiggins said.

    The general said working with seven surrounding counties and 22 cities to satisfy soldiers and families has been an ongoing process. Regular meetings were held in 2008 covering various issues, including health care, education and employment. The Army honored the post for its quality of life initiatives and efforts to reach out to local officials.

    ‘We’re just a part of the community,’ Wiggins said, adding that it took transparency and management of expectations to handle the growth.

    He said one challenge has been recruiting enough health care providers to meet demand at the post and local hospitals, but those efforts were paying off. Fort Riley will be expanding its mental health services in the next year with the $1.2 million renovation project to establish a traumatic brain injury clinic.

    During 2008, thousands of soldiers returned from war and others headed to combat for a year in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Since 2001, 159 Fort Riley soldiers have been killed in combat.

    Included in those units returning from war was the division’s 4th Brigade, which deployed to Baghdad in the winter of 2007 for 15 months. It was part of the surge of U.S. forces sent to Iraq to stem rising violence.

    Now that brigade is preparing for another deployment later this year, though Wiggins said the soldiers don’t know yet whether it will be back to Iraq or to Afghanistan, where the division’s 3rd Brigade _ based in Texas _ is deployed along the border with Pakistan.

    The 2nd Brigade has been in Baghdad since the early fall providing security for upcoming Iraqi elections and working with the Iraqi army and police.

    Before Christmas, the division’s aviation brigade completed its tour in Iraq, transporting cargo and personnel. It returns to a refurbished and expanded Marshall Airfield on the post’s south side. New hangars, administration buildings and barracks have been constructed, while the airfield’s runway and ramps were replaced to accommodate 120 helicopters.


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  5. Pingback: Economic crisis | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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