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February 22, 2008

Why hike wages when taxpayers can borrow their own money?

On mountaintops or at work: no risk, no reward

Construction unions reverse declines in membership

High praise for union work at new Royal Oak high-rise

State utility deregulation law blocks billions in Michigan construction

Granholm makes push for energy alternatives

News Briefs

 

Why hike wages when taxpayers can borrow their own money?

By Jim Marcinkowski

Financial columnists and the media in general have nothing but high praise for the "big-time benefits" working people will receive as a result of the federal economic stimulus package. But after seven straight years of so-called "free market" and "free-trade" legislation, labor outsourcing and corporate tax havens, only multi-national corporations have profited.

The U.S. has been left with a record trade imbalance and Michigan with the highest unemployment rate in the nation. I for one don't share the excitement over how the average family is now supposed to be "stimulated" to the tune of about $1,800.

In the last seven years, Michigan lost more than 336,000 jobs, while tuition and fee hikes at state universities have exceeded the rate of inflation. Gasoline prices have doubled and we are paying more for food items, both basic living expenses that have been conveniently excluded from the government's fanciful calculation of the nation's inflation rate.

If you happen to have a job, you are paid less and expected to work longer hours. If you can only afford a cheap vacation, the privilege of sleeping on the ground at one of our nearby state parks will now cost you $220 a week!

The few hundred dollar "stimulus" most will receive is akin to the short-lived excitement of blowing that extra $20 bucks in the casino hoping to win a million, only to climb back into the 1995 Chevy and head back to a soon-to-be-foreclosed upon home, to scan the want ads for an $8 per hour job in our new "service" economy.

Then again, perhaps I have it backwards and the point of the "stimulus" package is to stimulate business, meaning working class people need to buy more from business to keep the economy running. Amazingly, nearly all economists, in agreeing with the stimulus package, are buying into the central idea that what the country needs is more spending by the average consumer.

It is also important to note what most serious economists are NOT calling for: Emergency tax cuts for the rich so they can kick-start the economy? No. More tax breaks for big business so they can compete? No. Legislation to enact universal health care to relieve American businesses of this burden? No. The elimination of the evil inheritance tax? No. Fast-tracking of more so-called "free trade" agreements? No.

As the saying goes, the silence on these issues is deafening! (The only exception of course is the President, whose State of the Union message showed that he's still living in his own imaginary world).

If the entire country now agrees that it is consumer spending that is needed to fix the economy, then the door swings wide-open to ask simple questions that reveal some pretty basic economic policy contradictions.

There are certain fundamental truths that are beyond debate:

  • The U.S. is now facing the largest economic challenge since perhaps the Great Depression.
  • The U.S. is the largest consumer economy in the world.
  • Real wages for the average worker have been falling for the past 30 years.
  • During that same period of time, corporate profits have skyrocketed and the national economy (read wealth of the country) has more than doubled.
  • Union workers get paid more than non-union workers.

And now, perhaps most striking:

  • Putting a mere $1,800 in the pocket of a family of four or $600 in the pocket of an individual is enough to significantly impact the entire country's economy.

Wow! What happened? All of a sudden the Average Joe is needed to save the American (some would say the world's) economy! The resulting policy contradictions are stunning.

We have all heard the argument that raising the minimum or paying union wages, two measures that actually place more money in the pockets of working families is bad for business. But apparently it is good thing if the government does so.

Big business and their compatriots on the right detest government hand-outs or bail-outs for people. Apparently, they don't see a problem when big business is the recipient of such largesse. The logic underlying the argument that the stimulus money should go to those most likely to spend it quickly is an admission that the proposed $150 billion will just as quickly end up right back in the pockets of big business.

We have suffered at least of decade of declining wages, an unprecedented loss of jobs and discretionary spending, and a general lowering of the living standard of middle class workers. The American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and other pro-multinational corporation mouthpieces have been relentless in their pursuit to systematically dismantle the middle-class, all in the name of unchecked profits and greed.

Now that their profits are at stake, the lobbyists for big business, in tandem with the Wall Street profiteers, corporate raiders, mortgage pirates, and all those who have squandered, sold-off and otherwise stolen from the American Dream, are now seeking government help because the economic policies they foisted on this country are not working. If that's the case, then big business is a little late in coming to the party with their not-too-profound realization that they actually need a middle class with purchasing power to buy their products!

And how are we, the taxpayers, going to pay for these misdeeds and bail-out big business? As it stands, the U.S. is going to borrow $150 billion from the Chinese, adding to our national debt of $9 trillion so "stimulated" Americans can spend $150 billion more on goods imported by big business from China.

You gotta love this country!

(Jim Marcinkowski is an Oakland County attorney and retired member of Teamster's Local 214. He is a former CIA officer, a former Republican, and was the 2006 Democratic Candidate for Congress in Michigan's 8th Congressional District).

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On mountaintops or at work: no risk, no reward

By Mark Breslin

Recently there has been much media attention on the risks, rewards and consequences of mountain climbing. Thus I share a personal story and its relationship to labor-management risk taking and initiative in our industry.

Mount Rainier is a 14,401-foot volcano perpetually sheathed in glacier ice. It is magnificent, awe-inspiring and unforgiving. It is the U.S. training ground for Everest. Many climbers have died. It is the toughest endurance climb in the lower 48 states. In a recent rock fall, our guide broke his nose, jaw, cheek, palate and knocked out seven teeth. Our climb started at midnight and I'm feeling the wind chill. It is 25 below zero.

It is easy to talk a good game around necessary change and personal risk. Our industry is full of people who give me their "we might, we should, we thought about it, we ought to" speeches. Labor and management's circular discussion on frustration and obstacles. Decades and markets lost. The sound of great possibilities unrealized.

I'd like to shake these people. I'd like to tell them that it's not security, safety, money, power or what others think… that opens us to reaching our potential; those are the external measures. Truly it is the self-respect, esteem and fulfillment that builds over time with knowing we are working towards our potential. Most organizations can behave in exactly the same way. But often it is just too easy to pretend, to others and ourselves. Thus, testing for the truth has a price; in our organizations and in the field.

The price of truth comes when the talking stops and the action begins.

It is a blue-black night. I have a harness, helmet, ice axe, headlamp, and solitude. Nothing but thin air, a rope, and a healthy amount of fear. My world is a two-foot circle of light and one more step. Six hours pass. A 40- degree ascent. Crampons kicking into the snow and ice each step. Winds stagger us. Ice crystals sting. At minus-25 the body can only follow the mind.

The three-way partnership of union, contractors and rank and file have their versions of the truth as well. "We've got full employment, we must be good." "No one's complaining, so why worry?" "We are full up with work, why would we bid that?" This type of ignorance may be short-lived bliss; supported by market conditions rather than sound strategy.

None of it serves the end user. Truth be told? Simply put, if we are not absolutely committed to our personal and professional potential, we are not only missing an essential competitive strategy, we are shorting ourselves and those around us. But how will we know, if we all together don't push our perceived limits?

We reach 11,500 feet, the Ingram Glacier headwall. A thousand feet of 50-degree ice. Tiny headlamps of other teams dot the giant glowing glacier far above us. The wind shrieks and we shake with cold and fatigue. The head game of looking up at it hits home. Right there half of the climbers quit; they simply unclip from their team ropes. Though having traveled from Illinois, Montana… around the states, and having spent thousands of dollars they make a decision of perceived limits. Denying their potential without trying. How often have we in labor and management, done this very thing and then worked to justify the inaction?

The phrase "pinnacle of success" implies that the top is a small place, accessed only by arduous trial. This is true.

In this headwall I am struggling. My glove is off for one minute to secure gear and three fingers lose all feeling. This scares me. I bang them against my thigh each step for an hour. We stop. The team in front of us is stalled with an altitude-sick member. We cannot stop behind them or we will freeze and fail. We must abandon the established switchback trail and go past them; 300 ft. straight up 60 degree ice and around.

I cannot do this, I think. Fear turns to doubt turns to the resolve of "no other option." I make the top of the headwall, but cannot talk. I do not talk for the next four hours.

The lessons of the mountain apply to the challenges ahead for union construction. I believe that the purity of the challenge is there and that those willing to commit will see the reward. I think it will be the committed few and not the masses that will deliver our future. Change. Risk. Trial and error. Disregard of peer actions or judgment.

I believe that there are enough great people in labor and management willing to test themselves for the results that will translate to benefits for the contractors, workers and end-users. I believe that it is the arduous circumstance that bonds people to achieve. Perhaps I am a lone voice, but those with a belief in "good enough" or "status quo" need to think about hanging it up for good.

Another thousand feet. We cross a crevice hundreds of feet deep on a ladder. We jump over another dark bottomless crack. Our water bottles are frozen. Chapstick breaks off. We do not ask how far. I just know that quitting is no longer an option.

Legitimate achievement earns respect. And that sums up my personal way of life and business. Associate with a group of committed individuals who will not quit on each other. Live for clear and measurable goals that most think unattainable; or who would not even think to try. Share credit and acknowledgment of success. And plan enthusiastically for the next objective. It is a model that presses the capacity of both the individual and the team.

We all know that our greatest test, that of survival as a union construction industry lies just ahead. Yes, survival of an industry, tradition and legacy does hang in the balance. So as we go forward together, and in reflection of a life lived or job taken on, I'll take exhausted exhilaration or devastating failure over safe complacency every time.

I can see the summit. It seems miles away. One step every 20 seconds. Finally… reaching the top I collapse on all fours. No joy, but a sense of self-mastery. For the first time in hours I turn to look down. I see a golden sun rising above clouds two miles below. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Through doubt and beyond perceived limits, the test is complete. We exchange grim smiles and agree that the climb was the hardest mental and physical challenge of our lives. Together we found that testing for the truth had a price; but by paying it, the rewards will be with us forever.

Mark Breslin is a strategist and author specializing in labor-management challenges. He is the author of the Survival of the Fittest and Organize or Die. He addresses more than 50,000 labor and business leaders each year in North America. More on his work and profile is available at www.breslin.biz.

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Construction unions reverse declines in membership

Construction unions experienced an uptick in union density in 2007 that outpaced the rest of organized labor.

According to figures released Jan. 25 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. construction union membership rose from 8.4 million in 2006 to 8.6 million in 2007. That's an increase of about 2.4 percent, but with heavy job losses in the primarily nonunion residential section, that translates into building trades union members having 13.9 percent market penetration in 2007, compared to 13.0 percent in 2006.

In 1983 - the last year comparable data is available - union market share in construction was 29.4 percent. That number has declined virtually every year since.

As we reported in our last edition, all of organized labor in the U.S. enjoyed a rare increase in density from 12.0 percent in 2006 to 12.1 percent in 2007. In three out of the last four years, U.S. union membership has been flat or has increased slightly - giving organized labor hope that the decades-long slide in union membership might be bottoming out.

"For the first time in the past quarter of a century, in 2007 U.S. unions increased their share of membership among workers," said Ben Zipperer and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "The increase is small, and may well reflect statistical variation rather than an actual increase in the union membership share, but the uptick is striking because it is the first time since the BLS began collecting annual union membership rates in 1983 that the union share has increased.

"The small national rise in union membership rates reflected a large increase in union membership in California, partially offset by substantial declines in the Midwest."

Zipperer and Schmitt said Midwestern states historically have had a higher unionization rate than states in the West. But, for the first time since 1983, the unionization rate in the West (14.7 percent) exceeded the unionization rate in the Midwest (13.8 percent). In all industries, Michigan's union density dropped by 2.6 percent from 2006 to 2007 with the loss of 869,000 union members.

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High praise for union work at new Royal Oak high-rise

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

ROYAK OAK - A new residential tower dubbed the Fifth Royal Oak stands tall in this city - and in the opinion of the property developer, so do the union workers who built it.

"It helps when you work with a great group like (general contractor) Turner Construction," said John Hanna of Chrysos Development & Management Co. "And the same holds true for the workforce. They did things right the first time. It was a privilege to work with such high-caliber people."

At 18 stories, the Fifth Royal Oak is the tallest building for miles around, in this hip suburb north of Detroit. Offering sophisticated layouts, nice finishes and unobstructed views, the property was opened late last year and occupants are steadily making a home out of the 78 units in the tower on the northwest corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue.

There is space for retail on the first floor, and enclosed, climate-controlled parking on floors 2-6 for tenants. Floors 7-18 offer tenants unobstructed views and "an architectural masterpiece that offers unprecedented, innovative and sophisticated layouts, details and finishes," to take a page from promotional materials.

But the same promotional materials offered something we rarely see: union craftsmanship as a selling point. One media release quoted Jack Hanna (John's dad):

" 'Working on this building has been the best project of my career, where everyone had their heart and soul involved,' said Chrysos founder Jack Hanna, adding that Turner Construction said they have 'never had a job run so smoothly' and attributing much of the project's success to the skilled, trained and dedicated union tradesmen who worked on the building."

About 800 Hardhats worked on the project. Turner, their subcontractors and the building trades "are a great group of people. The breadth of their knowledge of construction is second to none," John Hanna said.

Turner's assistant superintendent on the project, Blane Rick, said it was "a real pleasure" working on the Fifth. "Dealing with the subcontractors and tradespeople - there was just a lot of professionalism here," he said.

Each unit has sound-deadening concrete ceilings, solid-core entry doors, and inset private balconies. Built on a relatively small footprint, the Fifth is anchored by 32 concrete caissons that are 150 feet deep. Individual units range from 1,070 square-feet to 1,908 square-feet, and prices range from $265,000 to $530,000.

"I've been around on windy days and there are no whistles from any gaps," John Hanna said. "The drywall is straight, the joints are tight and the finish work is great. It's obvious that everyone on a personal level did the best job they could. People on this job cared.

"I wanted to reach out to you guys. For my dad and I this is personal in nature. The tradespeople here shared our passion. I just wanted to thank them for going above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis."

THE FIFTH ROYAL OAK residential tower stands 18 stories above downtown Royal Oak. The developer had a lot of nice things to say about the people who built it.

A HANDFUL OF building trades workers are still working at the Fifth. Here Bryan Sitzler of Glaziers and Glassworkers Local 357 and Madison Heights Glass caulks a window in a bedroom.

 

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State utility deregulation law blocks billions in Michigan construction

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

LANSING - Lower utility prices and more choice for consumers. Those were the major enticements for passage of Public Act 141, The Electric Restructuring Act, adopted in 2000 by the Michigan legislature.

Eight years after its passage, PA 141 not only hasn't kept its promises, it is seen as the primary obstruction in moving ahead on billions of dollars in new construction work sponsored by the state's major utilities, DTE Energy and Consumers Power.

That's according to the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, its affiliate unions, and a coalition of business leaders and energy industry experts. Called Protect Michigan, the coalition is pushing passage of state legislation that would enact an energy stimulus plan developed by former Public Service Commission Chair Peter Lark for Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

"Advantages just haven't been there," said Patrick Devlin, CEO of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council. "We were promised lower rates, more choices, more jobs and less pollution. None of those promises have come to fruition. We are heartened that Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon and other legislators recognize, as we do, that re-regulation of our electricity supply is necessary for Michigan's energy and economic health."

Granholm said in the near term, there's about $6 billion in investment that hinges on reversing PA 141. Last fall Consumers Energy announced that it would construct a new $1.5 billion coal-burning plant, and possibly a second unit, at its Karn-Weadock plant near Bay City - if the state's electrical regulatory environment is changed. And, Detroit Edison has started work on preparing a license application for a new nuclear plant at the existing Fermi site near Monroe.

Michigan's public energy law is described as a unique "hybrid" of regulated and non-regulated rules involving utilities. In an effort to fix what's wrong with Michigan's energy law, House Bill 5521 was introduced in December. The wide-ranging bill would re-regulate certain private utilities, provide for alternative energy suppliers and encourage use of resource recovery facilities. There are House and Senate versions of the bill, but they aren't expected to move through committees until March.

What's so onerous about Public Act 141? It opened the door for private natural gas and electric companies to approach Michigan businesses and homeowners and offer rates that undercut those of the traditional utilities. One of the problem is that those companies have been able to cherry-pick customers. Big energy users have been targeted with offers of lower prices, but homeowners and businesses that are in remote areas, are moderate energy users or poor credit risks can be ignored by those private companies - with no repercussions.

At the same time, the traditional utilities are bound by state regulations that outline who must be provided service, even if it is unprofitable.

What has resulted is that state utilities say they can't be sure of their future customer base and earnings are uncertain - especially from those profitable, cherry-picked customers - therefore they can't be sure when they would see a return on investment in building new power generating facilities. The last coal-burning power plant to be built in Michigan was 19 years ago.

And if Michigan must go to generators in other states to import electricity, our state loses the economic benefit of home-bought power, as well as the ability to regulate the power.

"The seesaw nature of this hybrid," said DTE Energy CEO Anthony Earley in testimony last year, "leaves would-be investors with no assurance that customers will stay long enough in either of the two choices to invest a billion or more dollars in a baseload power plant. Between 2003 and 2006, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy experienced a swing of over 3,000 megawatts of load from the regulated utilities to alternative suppliers and back again. That's equal to at least three baseload power plants."

Earley said 34 states have "repealed, delayed, suspended, or limited their deregulation experiments or are simply maintaining their fully regulated systems."

State Republicans, who oversaw the partial deregulation of Michigan's utilities, are more cautious about re-regulating them. Acknowledging studies exist that promote economic benefits of re-regulation and use of alternative energies in Michigan, Sen. Bruce Patterson (R-Canton) of the Energy Policy and Public Utilities Committee told Gongwer News Service that he questioned the validity of the information - and who is paying for the research. He also wondered if energy costs would increase.

According to the governor's "Michigan's 21st Century Electric Energy Plan," Michigan's peak electric demand is forecast to grow at approximately 1.2 percent per year over the next 20 years.

The plan recommends the requirement Michigan utilities must create 10 percent of energy use from renewable sources by 2015, and then 20 percent by 2025. The benefits of such a policy are expected to save money by diversifying Michigan's energy sources and reducing costs of production, result in cleaner air, and promoting job growth.

"This is a great opportunity for us," Granholm said last month at the Training Center sponsored by theIBEW Local 58/ SE Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association. "Once we require a percentage of energy to be from renewable energy sources like solar and wind, the jobs will follow."



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Granholm makes push for energy alternatives

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

WARREN - Two days after using her State of the State address to declare that Michigan "can be the alternative energy capital of North America," Gov. Jennifer Granholm chose the Detroit Electrical JATC Training Center in Warren to illustrate her point.

During an hour-long tour of the training center, Granholm said her visit was intended to highlight "the good, consistent, high-paying jobs that currently exist in energy-related fields" - and the potential jobs that could be available if Michigan builds on our "blockbuster potential" in the alternative energy area.

"Why alternative energy?" Granholm asked in her Jan. 29 State of the State address. "Because to borrow a line from Wayne Gretzky - if you want to win, 'don't skate to where the puck is - skate to where the puck is going.' " The puck, she added, "is going to alternative energy."

The training center, sponsored jointly by IBEW Local 58 and the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, skated in the direction of alternative energy in 2006. That's when the facility unveiled a solar array and wind turbine to provide real-world model for educating journeymen and apprentices. The photo-voltaic array on the roof of the training center can produce 18 kw DC and is interactive with the utility. A stand-alone wind turbine can produce 6.0 kw at peak and provides power in conjunction with a battery bank.

Such training is important, Granholm said, for a state that needs to move away from reliance on manufacturing into areas of job growth. The federal government is helping to move growth into alternative energy by providing tax breaks for the use of those new technologies.

Now, Granholm said she will ask the State Legislature to pass legislation setting an ambitious alternative energy goal for Michigan - to produce a minimum of 10 percent of our state's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2015.

This "renewable portfolio standard," is seen by Granholm as a "market-based tool" to attract diversified, clean, low-carbon energy generation. She said if state lawmakers adopt the legislation, the state's two largest utilities - Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison - have pledged to begin to invest nearly $6 billion on Michigan's energy infrastructure.

"Gov. Granholm's visit highlights some of the points she made in the State of the State address," said IBEW Local 58 Business Manager Joe Abdoo. "We let her know that we have the capacity at our training center and at other IBEW training centers through the state to meet the needs of the industry, in alternative energy and in the entire electrical spectrum."

Clyde Jones, owner of Centerline Electric and chairman of the Local 58-NECA Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, said Michigan is just starting to put up windmills -there are 32 up in the Thumb region alone. His company has put in a bid on the construction of more windmills in the area.

"There's a growing interest in wind energy, especially," Jones said. "It has to be cost-effective, and with the federal government getting involved with tax breaks, that's

Training Director Gary Polulak said the facility intends to have a sufficient number of workers trained and ready, if and when the industry needs them. "A lot of people refer to this as the IBEW Local 58 Training Center, but we're in this together with our NECA contractors," he said. "Alternative energy is going to be a growing area, and hopefully will provide our members with employment down the road. But when it comes to marketing our training for alternative energy when it comes time to bid the work, our members and our contractors have to realize that the focus has to be on promoting our contractors in this area."

THE USE OF A SOLAR PANEL at the Detroit Electrical JATC Training Center in Warren is explained by instructor Tom Bowes to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, during her visit on Jan. 31. Apprentices and staff are looking on.



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News Briefs

AFL-CIO sues Bush DOL over reporting rules
WASHINGTON (PAI) - The AFL-CIO has sued President Bush's Labor Department in an effort to overturn its new rules that force union officers - even unpaid ones - and stewards to virtually disclose all of their personal finances.

No date has been set for trial on the suit, filed last month in federal court in D.C., to overturn the rules for LM-30 disclosure reports for unionists. "We're challenging the secretary's authority to issue some of the key provisions of the rule," federation spokeswoman Lane Windham said. The suit calls the rules illegal - because there wasn't enough time to comment on them - and "arbitrary and capricious."

The reasons for the lawsuit include: "Treating stewards and grievance reps as labor union employees who are covered by the rule, requiring reporting of financial transactions from credit unions, and requiring reporting of financial transactions from financial institutions whose employees are represented by the filer's union, that do business with the filer's union, or that do a substantial amount of business with employers whose employees are represented by the filer's union," Windham added.

And the unionist would have to disclose financial "transactions" with any financial institution "that does a substantial part of its business" with firms the union "has organized or is trying to organize," the rules add. The AFL-CIO challenges that, too.

The Bush Labor Department imposed the rules last year. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said on Feb. 4 they would prevent "potential conflicts of interest" involving union officers, stewards and even unionists who serve on safety and health inspection teams. The rules would force millions of unionists to disclose all their banking relationships, loans, mortgages and other transactions.

Such disclosures open unionists' personal finances to firms, corporations, and the Radical Right, because LM-30 filings, like other union filings, are public documents.

The lawsuit says Chao's rule orders that a worker's normal pay must be reported if the worker spends any time at all performing such union duties as handling grievances.

It also says Chao broke the law by requiring unionists to report a normal loan, made by a bank or a credit union member to the union member under the financial institution's normal neutral lending standards. The unionist is required to report the loan if he or she knows - or even suspects - that the financial institution, in its normal business, deals with the union and other members. Chao claims such loans to officers and stewards could be a potential conflict of interest.


GOP kills extension of jobless bennies
WASHINGTON (PAI) - Once again turning their backs on workers, Senate Republicans mustered enough votes on Feb. 6 to delete extended jobless benefits from the $160 billion stimulus package Congress passed the next day.

The 58-41 vote to shut off the Republican talkathon against jobless benefits - and other aid for workers besides tax rebate checks - was shy of the 60 the Democratic-run Senate needed to halt the filibuster. It later passed the package, 81-16.

Forty of 41 "no" votes against more jobless benefits came from Republicans.

The unemployment rate in January was 4.9%, above the 4% rate Bush inherited in February 2001. But prior GOP-run Congresses refused to add 13 more weeks to the 26 weeks of jobless benefits workers were eligible at that time, and since. Democrats, backed by allies including labor, wanted to add those weeks in the stimulus package. Bush and the GOP said "no."

"Working families have seen their purchasing power stripped and their economic well-being eroded by rising unemployment, declining real wages, and rising costs for necessities such as gas, housing, and health care," Change to Win Executive Director Greg Tarpinian wrote senators before the vote. "To be effective, a stimulus package must help those hardest hit by the economic downturn and put money into the hands of those most likely to spend it quickly. The expanded rebate provisions, extensions of unemployment insurance, and increased home heating assistance…fit both of these criteria and should be quickly enacted."

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