Construction of new homes hit a 16-year-low in November. This is the sixth straight month that the Commerce Department has reported a decrease in applications for business permits. The drops have left home construction at 24.2 percent less than construction activity at this same time in 2006. The last time construction rates were so low was in 1991 during the previous recession.
Plains States’ Farmers And Ranchers Are Paying Heavy Cost Of Health Care System’s Failure – 12/19/07
By Doug Cunningham
For farm and ranch families in great Plains states the health care crisis is really a health cost crisis. A new report from the Access Project shows that farm and ranch families in plains states spend an average of over $7200 a year out of pocket on insurance premiums and health care costs. Tim Peterson operates an Iowa farm and has to pay for separate health care premiums for he and his son and his wife Teresa.
[Peterson1]: “My son and I are generally healthy but we avoid going to the doctor because of the deductible cost. I have had pain in my knee for the past four or five years that has gone untreated. It gets worse all the time, and it will probably require surgery but for now getting treatment isn’t worth the cost. Teresa, on the other hand, needs medical care frequently. She’s rapidly losing vision in one eye and has a bad knee and has undergone about a dozen surgeries. Teresa’s insurance doesn’t have drug coverage and her prescriptions cost over $500 per month.”
By Doug Cunningham
For farm and ranch families in great Plains states the health care crisis is really a health cost crisis. A new report from the Access Project shows that farm and ranch families in plains states spend an average of over $7200 a year on insurance premiums and out of pocket health care costs. Tim Peterson operates an Iowa farm and has to pay for separate health care premiums for he and his son and his wife Teresa.
[Peterson1]: “My son and I are generally healthy but we avoid going to the doctor because of the deductible cost. I have had pain in my knee for the past four or five years that has gone untreated. It will probably require surgery but for now getting treatment isn’t worth the cost. Teresa, on the other hand, needs medical care frequently, She’s rapidly losing vision in one eye and has a bad knee and has undergone about a dozen surgeries. Teresa’s insurance doesn’t have drug coverage and her prescriptions cost over $500 per month.”
Can the Los Angeles City Council do anything about the writers strike? Jesse Russell takes a look:
Tonight the Los Angeles Housing Community and Economic Development Committee of the Los Angeles City Council will meet and they plan to make the impact of the writer’s strike a main focus of their discussion. The Writer’s Guild of America is mobilizing members and supporters to make sure they have their voices heard at the meeting. In Hollywood, the writer’s strike doesn’t impact only the writers and producers; it has ripples through the entire city. As shows and films grind to a halt with no words on papers other workers from caterers to grips are also left without work.
TV workers in New Hampshire are celebrating a new contract, aided by letters from six presidential candidates. Meanwhile, their union brothers and sisters in Boston are making their own news in a struggle to win a fair deal that protects good jobs in a time of increasing Internet-based broadcasting.
Members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1228 reached a tentative agreement Dec. 12 with management of WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H. In 2004, live-van operators and master control personnel at the station voted to join the IBEW, but management refused to negotiate a contract—until now.
The new three-year agreement follows letters to WMUR-TV General Manager Jeff Bartlett from six Democratic presidential contenders urging the station to bargain with workers. The contract includes wage increases ranging from 18 percent to 35 percent and improvements in the pension and vacation benefits.
Wanted to point out some great video clips from the House Education and Labor Committee from last week’s dynamic House and Senate hearing on the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its routinely anti-worker rulings.
The clips include testimony from one of the two Democrats on the Bush NLRB, Wilma Liebman (bottom), who decried the ideological extremism of the Bush board, noting:
Virtually every recent policy choice by the board impedes collective bargaining, creates obstacles to union representation, or favors employer interests.
There’s also great testimony from Feliza Ryland (top), a housekeeper at a Florida hotel who was fired after going on strike when contract negotiations stalled. In 2001, before Bush stacked the NLRB with anti-worker members, the NLRB agreed the workers were illegally fired and entitled to back pay.
We experience it every day. The economy is not working for working families. We work longer hours than workers in any developed nation, but have less to show for it.
Working people have made the U.S. economy the strongest in the world, yet wages and family incomes are stagnant, income insecurity and inequality are rising, health care benefits are eroding and pensions are disappearing.
Consider that workers’ productivity almost quadrupled between 1947 and 2005, while wages have not even doubled in that time. Where has the money gone? In 1980, the average CEO made 42 times the salary of the average blue-collar worker. In 2006, the ratio had jumped to 364-1, the highest in the developed world by far.
A new report showing the Bush administration is using the Labor Department to weaken and undermine unions drew strong criticism from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In a statement, the Democratic senator from New York said:
Once again, President Bush is using the Department of Labor as a weapon to undermine the labor movement. Under the new rules, tens of thousands of union members will be forced, without justification, to navigate a bureaucratic maze of financial disclosure forms and meet onerous reporting requirements about information as private as their personal mortgages and loans. The information will then be publicly released on the Internet. The Bush administration’s goal is harassment, plain and simple. We have a duty to hold President Bush accountable for this ideological abuse of power and to restore a Department of Labor that is actually pro-labor.
You can act now to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from allowing media moguls like Rupert Murdock from swallowing up more local media across the country and reducing the diversity of news and programming.
Despite a groundswell of opposition from the public and bipartisan members of Congress, the FCC will vote today on a proposal by its chairman, Kevin Martin, on media ownership regulations. His proposal essentially would gut the nation’s few remaining media ownership regulations, putting an end to the limits on ownership by a single company of a newspaper and a broadcast station in the same market.