Poll: Most Opposed To Ryan’s Medicare Reforms, Voucher System

    Our Future as We Know It? A new poll released Tuesday lends credence to what Democrats — and even some Republicans — have warned about Paul Ryan being thrust onto the GOP ticket: Most Americans don’t much care for the Wisconsin Congressman‘s sweeping proposal to reform Medicare.
     The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), conducted on behalf of the Daily Kos and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), shows that 45 percent of registered voters are opposed to Ryan’s proposed reforms to Medicare, while 36 percent support his proposal.
     A star among Republicans and the tea party, Ryan’s entrance in the presidential race has rejuvenated a conservative electorate that has been slow to warm up to Mitt Romney.
     The Romney camp has attempted to distance itself from the policy plank for which Ryan is best known — his sweeping budget proposal, which included a plan to supplant Medicare for seniors with a private voucher system, that passed the House of Representatives largely along party lines earlier this year — insisting that it’s the budget put forth by the candidate at the top of the ticket that matters the most. Tuesday’s poll suggests that might not please Republicans, 65 percent of whom support Ryan’s plan for Medicare.
     But PPP delved deeper with its next question, shifting from general language (“Do you support or oppose Paul Ryan’s proposal for reforming Medicare?”) to a specific reference to the Medicare voucher program — causing support for Ryan’s Medicare plan to erode even further. Sixty-three percent of voters say that Medicare should not be replaced with vouchers to allow the elderly to buy private insurance, while only 19 percent support the voucher plan.
     Worse for Ryan, only 29 percent of Republicans support the voucher plan. That’s higher than the 6 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents who support the plan, but it still represents the minority position in the GOP: 44 percent of Republicans say Medicare should not be replaced with a voucher system. Polls have consistently shown low support for Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare, underscoring the vulnerabilities in Romney’s vice presidential pick.
     PPP conducted its survey August 16-19 using automated telephone interviews with 1,000 registered voters nationwide. Its margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.

UPS, FedEx cooperating with law enforcement on Aurora movie massacre probe

It was all perfectly legal and convenient for Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes to turn to e-commerce to allegedly stock his arsenal for a movie theater shooting spree.

Holmes had reportedly amassed more than 6,000 rounds of small arms ammunition from online arms merchants and had the bullets delivered by private carriers that may have included FedEx and United Parcel Service.

Memphis-based FedEx and Atlanta-based UPS said Monday they were cooperating with investigators and took a relatively low profile about possible involvement in the alleged shooter’s supply chain.

While the U.S. Postal Service does not carry live ammunition, FedEx and UPS routinely do so under special conditions imposed on hazardous cargo.

Asked about reports of a surveillance video showing Holmes picking up 150 pounds of ammunition at a FedEx outlet in Colorado, FedEx issued this statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by this terrible tragedy in Colorado. We have a long-standing history of close cooperation with law enforcement agencies. Any questions regarding the investigation should be directed to authorities.”

A spokeswoman said UPS was cooperating with investigators and hadn’t confirmed whether the suspect received ammunition deliveries by UPS.

“While we are cooperating with the FBI for further investigation, it was erroneously reported (Sunday) that our drivers had been interviewed by authorities,” said sporkeswoman Susan Rosenberg. “This didn’t happen for any drivers that delivered to either the suspect’s residential or university addresses. If a reporter talked to any UPS driver, then all they heard was anecdotal about our delivery process in general but they wouldn’t have any information to the specific addresses. We’re still reviewing data, so we have no specific confirmation on deliveries or corresponding shippers.”

CBS News reported on “Face the Nation” Sunday that authorities had learned the suspect shopped online outlets such as BulkAmmo.com and TacticalGear.com and that a UPS driver told authorities that 90 packages had been delivered to Holmes’ work address.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong as long as the requirements are met between licensed dealers and licensed collectors,” UPS spokeswoman Rosenberg said. “UPS puts responsibility for the shippers with regulated goods to follow the requirements, and we have checks and balances in our systems and processes to see that they’re doing so.”

UPS and the Economy

                Fragile European economy dampens CEOs’ outlook

Deteriorating financial conditions in Europe are weighing down companies’ profits. And hope of salvation from other regions – such as China, Brazil and the United States – is starting to dim as those economies weaken.

That’s the message from this week’s parade of second-quarter earnings from some of the world’s largest companies.

United Parcel Service Inc.

- WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: UPS moves millions of packages between consumers and businesses every day – everything from flowers to car parts and computer chips.

- WHAT THE NUMBERS SAID: Second-quarter net income rose just 2 percent to $1.12 billion, while revenue improved by little more than 1 percent. International revenue fell, while Internet shoppers kept UPS trucks busy in the U.S. UPS sees the global economy getting worse before it gets better. That’s why it cut its full-year earnings forecast to $4.50 to $4.70 per share from $4.75 to $5 per share previously.

- WHAT THE EARNINGS SAID ABOUT THE ECONOMY: The world’s largest package delivery company has thrived domestically, but now it’s more pessimistic about U.S. growth than many economists. UPS expects the U.S. economy, by far the world’s largest, will grow just 1 percent this year. The company cited slower growth at U.S. service companies, lower retail sales and still-high unemployment as signs that the U.S. isn’t holding up as well as UPS anticipated just three months ago. And shipments out of Asia, which grew by double-digits two years ago, have shrunk as Europe’s economy founders.

- WHAT THE EXPERTS SAID: Several analysts reduced their outlooks for the company, saying the quarterly results were somewhat disappointing. Even so, they think UPS should be able to grow in a weaker global economy as it saves money through reduced service out of Asia.

- THE QUOTE: “Economies around the world are showing signs of weakening and our customers are increasingly nervous,” Chairman and CEO Scott Davis said in a conference call with analysts. He added: “I wouldn’t say we’re pessimistic about the future. We’re just a lot more uncertain about how much the economy will grow.”

Potential for Change With Contract Negotiations

     The 2013 Contract Negotiations will begin in ernest this fall. There is much speculation what will, and will not, be discussed. One of the key components will be the outcome of the national elections. Will our government be supportive of labor, or will it be supportive of the corporations.
     A corporate supportive government will empower the company to stand firm against the Union because they know that the support in a potential strike would be behind the company, allowing for replacement workers, and the potential for the company to be allowed to work without a contract, weakening the Union’s position in the negotiations.
    Keep these things in mind when you vote this fall. Your job situation may depend on the outcome.
     Some of the points of discussion are as follows;
     Many of you may not understand that the company puts a dollar amount on the table. That dollar amount encompasses not only wages, but includes the cost of your healthcare, and your pension contributions. Putting more money into one category means taking out of another.
     The speculation now is that most of the increases in the economic package will go to the benefits end. Healthcare costs have risen to the point where they eat up most of any increases in the economic package. That leaves very little to go to wage increases. The common wisdom is that most UPS drivers are being paid above the industry norm, so rather than increase wages noticeably, the increases will be put into benefits to minimize the out of pocket costs to the individual worker.
     The expectation would be that wage scales will remain fairly flat for the term of the next contract.
     For the part timers, proposals have been made to keep the wage rate at least 3 dollars an hour above the federal minimum wage level. Also changes in the benefit package could come again to part timers, as a cost savings to the company for healthcare. The reason part timers keep getting beat up in negotiations is because it’s common knowledge that they simply don’t vote. They are also very transient, and most of the parts timers here today, will not be here tomorrow.
     As far as the general working language is concerned the usual major concern is over nine-fives, and lunchbreak times. Our contract is considered a mature contract. The remedies for nine-fives has been discussed over and over on every level. The fact is, drivers have the ability to have their hours reduced, if they put forth the effort. We could go into a discussion here about the drivers responsibility to bring things to management’s attention, and not be afraid to file, but we’ll save that discussion for later.
     There is a push to get the driver’s lunchbreak reduced to a half hour from one hour it is now. Drivers seem to have the delusional thought that if their break was only a half hour, they’d get off a half hour earlier. We all know the reality is that the company would simply fill up that time with more work, keeping the driver from getting home any sooner. My feeling is we won’t see any change in that department.
     I’m sure there will be discussions on present, and future technological changes and how they affect the driver’s day. Hopefully the contract will join the 20th century in dealing with the disciplinary issues that result from todays delivery process. In thirty some years it never did, and my expectations are low that there will be much change here.
     Retirees major concern will be the cost of the retiree’s healthcare. Retiree’s currently pay $200 per month for their healthcare per person. That could change in the next negotiation. Obviously an increase would be devastating to retiree’s on a fixed income. I have no speculation as to what will happen here, I just hope the retiree’s don’t take it you know where.
     The other issue at stake for future retiree’s (those that retire after August 1st, 2013), will be the UPS guarantee of the pension benefit amount in conjunction with the Central States Pension fund. Since the UPS removal of drivers from the Central States Pension Fund the fund has struggled to maintain benefit levels. The drivers that have retired under the current agreement have a guarantee from the company that benefit levels will remain the same regardless of what happens to the Central States Fund. In the 2013 negotiations, that guarantee is not automatically renewed, so if it isn’t, future retiree’s could be subject to reductions in their pension payments if the funding levels of Central States are reduced.
     These are just a few of the issues at stake. Like usual there is a certain amount of apathy and what I call the UPS attitude, “Let someone else take care of it, I have more important things to worry about”. Most drivers couldn’t tell you what they have today, much less what any changes would mean to them. Of course they are the first ones to bitch about the strength of the Union. But that’s also a discussion for another day.
     The hope is the contract will be decided early so it’s imperative that you all make your wishes known through your Local Unions as soon as possible. Sit down with your significant others and discuss things that may be important to you.
     Also, each and every one of you needs to look carefully at what you are voting for in the upcoming elections. Are those candidates supporting your issues? Do those candidates understand what it’s like to be in your situation? Am I helping myself, and my fellow Teamsters when I pull the pin on the voting machine?
     Make wise, and educated decisions. Don’t vote out of ignorance.