Job loss isn’t only bad for your wallet; it is additionally bad for your physical and mental health. A new study published in Demography magazine found that 54 percent who were unemployed due to an employer shutting down were also likely to report fair or poor health. The likelihood of someone who previously had no health conditions developing new ones rocketed by 83 percent.
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says Monday’s pledge by the largest associations of insurers and health care providers to work to cut health care costs is a milestone on the road to health care reform. The AFL-CIO says it looks forward to working with these groups along with Congress and the White House to create real health care cost savings. The labor federation says a good public health care plan is essential to achieving those cost cutting goals.
Only months after a successful sit-in saved jobs at Republic Windows outside of Chicago another group of workers in Northern Illinois are following that fighting example. Jesse Russell reports:
Five hundred workers at Chicago-based apparel firm Hart, Schaffner & Marx have voted unanimously to sit-in if Wells Fargo chooses to liquidate parent company Hartmarx. The workers are asking Wells Fargo, a recipient of federal TARP money, to give the company time to reorganize so they can keep their jobs. If Wells Fargo moves forward with liquidation workers have vowed to remain on their job sites and the state of Illinois has said it will stop doing business with financial giant. Ruby Sims is an employee of the Des Plaines, Illinois plant.
By Doug Cunningham
GM told reporters in a conference call Monday that it’s offer to bondholders of a ten percent stake in the company in return for $27 billion in debt won’t be improved. If bondholders refuse to accept that offer GM will file bankruptcy in June. GM executives refused comment when asked the status of the negotiations with the UAW. GM says bankruptcy is still not a foregone conclusion, but remains “probable”. GM’s restructuring, in bankruptcy or out, will result in 21,000 more hourly factory jobs being cut as 13 plants and 43 percent of GM dealerships are closed. The government and the United Auto Workers retiree health care trust will own 89 percent of a restructured GM. The Pontiac brand is being discontinued. GM said Monday there are two bidders interested in buying the Hummer brand.
The former CEO of Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America who was forced to resign in 1997 amid fraud charges, as well as the group that launched the infamous “Swift Boat” attack on the 2004 presidential bid of Sen. John Kerry, are now trying to sink health care reform.
But Health Care for America NOW! (HCAN), which supports health care reform, last week launched a television ad (left) detailing the “dubious past in the health care industry” of anti-health care reform front man Rick Scott.
According HCAN, after Scott was forced to resign from the health care giant in the wake of fraud charges, Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines and penalties—the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.
Says HCAN in a statement:
The hospital corporation pleaded guilty to a litany of criminal and civil charges including lying to the government about how sick patients were so they could collect larger fees.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported this morning that Scott is using $5 million of his own money, plus another $15 million from donors he refuses to name, to finance the “swift boating” of President Obama’s health care reform initiatives. The Post reports that PRC Public Relations, the group that slimed Kerry’s Vietnam War record, is coordinating the campaign.
Earlier this year, Scott, who is a major donor to the Republican Party, according the Washington newspaper Politico, founded the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights. That group is airing the ads on national cable outlets like CNN and Fox attacking Obama’s health care proposals with false claims and recycled scare tactics.
Richard Kirsch, HCAN’s national campaign manager, says that although major media outlets have covered Scott’s anti-reform campaign, they have failed to explore his past.
Rick Scott made millions with a company that defrauded the government and the American people for profit. If he’s going to grant interviews and plaster himself all over the airwaves as the face of anti-reform, we believe everyone has the right to know exactly where he’s coming from.
You can take a stand for the folks in the band today and tomorrow. Let your congressional representatives know that it’s time that radio stops stiffing musicians and recording artists and pays the piper…and the singers, guitar players, drummers, keyboardists….
When a song is played on what is known as “terrestrial radio”—the radio you receive over the air—the men and women who play and sing do not receive a single penny in royalties for the music they created. But if that same tune is played on satellite radio, streamed on the Internet or piped in through cable TV music channels, the band gets paid.
The Music First Coalition says it’s time recording artists receive “Fair Play for Air Play.” The coalition includes American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
The group is asking people to take action and call their lawmakers today and tomorrow and urge them to support the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848 and S. 379), which would close the loophole in copyright law that allows AM and FM stations to duck royalty payments to performing artists. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill Wednesday.
Go to the coalition’s Take Action page, enter your ZIP code and click the “Call Now” button and follow the prompts for contact information and talking points, than call your representative.
The United States is one of only a few countries that do not provide fair performance rights on radio. The others include Qatar, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China. Also, because U.S. radio stations do not pay a performance royalty for foreign artists either, American artists are not compensated when their music is played on stations around the world.
In March, Paul Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE), told the House Judiciary Committee:
Commercial radio stations earned over $16 billion in advertising revenues last year, yet they paid nothing to the performers whose music they played. As union members, we believe that this is an issue of fairness. We believe in the principle that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
For more information, visit the Music First Coalition.
A coalition of investors, representing nearly $400 billion in assets, has stepped forward to say the Employee Free Choice Act is the right move right now to protect workers and strengthen the economy.
In a letter to Congress, 26 leaders from the investment community strongly endorse the Employee Free Choice Act, saying that it’s critical not just for the cause of human rights, but for business, too. The support of these business leaders is a valuable corrective to the anti-union spin and disinformation promoted by corporate lobby groups.
Adam Kanzer, managing director and general counsel at Domini Social Investments LLC, says workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain is critical to a strong economy.
The Employee Free Choice Act is an investment in our shared economic future. The act will help to stabilize our economy, both in the United States and abroad, by establishing a more balanced relationship between labor and management. Today, American workers are producing more and receiving less. This is an unsustainable trend that creates material risks for employees, investors and the global economy. By more effectively protecting workers’ fundamental human rights, the Act would help to reverse these damaging trends.
The letter from investors details the flaws in our current system for forming unions, starting from the simple proposition that it should be workers, not their bosses, who make the decision about whether, and how, to form a union. The investors say that workplaces where workers are free to join unions are safer, fairer to workers, have lower turnover rates and deliver a better return on investment. In addition, when workers can bargain for a fair share of the value they create, they can get the economic security they need to have stronger purchasing power—an absolute must to turn around the economy.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says that the letter points out how many in the business community want to work with, not against, their employees for a stronger, more sustainable economy:
These investors know from experience that businesses that honor strong labor standards are much more likely to benefit from higher productivity, less turnover and a better-trained workforce. They have recognized, along with many in the business community, that working people need to have the tools to increase their purchasing power and bargain for financial stability in order to get this economy growing again.
You can read the full letter here. The voices of these investors are yet another addition to the broad coalition that demands labor law reform and a free and fair chance for workers to bargain for a better life.
|Union activists and allies held candlelight vigils for the Employee Free Choice Act across California.|
California Labor Federation Communications organizer Rebecca Greenberg reports on the recent statewide vigils in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
More than a thousand California workers, interfaith leaders, community allies and elected officials kicked the California campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act into overdrive in recent days by participating in statewide overnight vigils. The message was clear to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the only Democrat in California not currently signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill: Now is the time to reform labor law and rebuild the middle class.
In Los Angeles, California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski joined Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo for a noontime kick-off rally on Wednesday with more than 100 workers and community allies. The vigil focused on building a better future for young workers and the next generation by passing the Employee Free Choice Act. Vigil participants also reflected on social justice campaigns of the past and how they relate to today’s struggle. Several other community groups, including the Sierra Club, came out to voice their support for Employee Free Choice.
Sierra Club senior organizer Bill Corcoran said the Employee Free Choice Act is a critical component of the new green economy.
Workers need a fair opportunity to unionize so we can make sure that the green economy provides good family-supporting jobs. The Sierra Club is proud to join its labor allies in fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act.
The Sierra Club is among many environmental groups to support the Employee Free Choice Act. At the closing ceremony, workers and religious and community leaders offered a blessing and called on Feinstein to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
In Sacramento, state Assembly member Alyson Huber joined with the Sacramento Central Labor Council, SEIU and more than 100 workers to kick off an 18-hour vigil and fast for the Employee Free Choice Act. In her opening remarks, Huber, who was elected with strong support from working people, said working families have been struggling in this economy for too long and now’s the time to level the playing field:
The Employee Free Choice Act is the single most important middle-class supporting legislation to be considered in decades. We simply can’t create an economy that works for everyone unless we restore the freedom to form and join unions.
On Wednesday evening, workers and interfaith leaders held a candlelight vigil. Fifteen vigil participants camped out all night in front of federal building and fasted for workers who have been fired or harassed trying to join a union. The overnight vigil and fast caught the attention of every major TV station and news outlet in the Sacramento area. The vigil took place a day after the Sacramento City Council approved a resolution in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
In San Francisco, elected officials, including San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Assembly member Fiona Ma and San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, joined the San Francisco Labor Council and hundreds of workers to voice their strong support for the bill.
Noted University of California-Berkeley economist Steven Pitts highlighted the economic necessity of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Academics and economists across the country agree that the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to rebuilding our economy and restoring the American Dream.
Workers and interfaith leaders held a candlelight vigil and started off Thursday morning with a sunrise prayer circle, a special Spanish-language press event and a big rally to close out the event at noon.
In Fresno, despite the hot weather, more than 250 Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council workers and supporters rallied at the Fresno federal building in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. Throughout the vigil, workers shared their stories about the struggles they encountered as they fought to organize against anti-union employers.
Arlana Stewart, a registered nurse at the St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, talked about the aggressive anti-union campaign she and her co-workers are trying to overcome to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) so they can be better advocates for their patients.
We are fighting for our right to bargain for better wages, working conditions and benefits. For professionals in the industry responsible for taking care of the community, all we ask is for what’s fair so we can take care of our families.
The group also wrote letters and made phone calls to Feinstein, urging her to renew her support for the Employee Free Choice Act.
In San Diego, more than 200 union members affiliated with the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and community partners joined together outside a San Diego Wal-Mart for a 24-hour vigil, where they spoke out against the corporate giant’s anti-worker policies and opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. The vigil drew the attention of seven Wal-Mart managers who came out to investigate several times throughout the course of the vigil.
Vigil participants approached shoppers as they entered Wal-Mart and asked them, “If your signature is good enough to join the military, why doesn’t Wal-Mart believe it’s good enough to join a union?” Workers distributed 4,000 leaflets asking customers to pose this same question to Feinstein.
Some 5,300 employees at Southwest Airlines reach a tentative pact, and more updates from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
IAM, Southwest Airlines: Some 5,300 customer service and reservation agents at Southwest Airlines, represented by the Machinists (IAM) District 142, reached a tentative four-year agreement. The agreement, which still needs ratification by workers, is retroactive to last year and runs through October 2012.
IFPTE, Connecticut: Connecticut public works employees, represented by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), reached a new three-year agreement that includes a no-layoff guarantee in exchange for a wage freeze in the new fiscal year.
IUOE, Anchorage: Anchorage, Ala., city workers, represented by the Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 302, reached an agreement on furloughs to help the financially struggling city.
WORK STOPPAGES AND JOB ACTIONS
TNG-CWA, Baltimore Sun: Reporters, photojournalists and other newsroom staff members at The Baltimore Sun, represented by The Newspaper Guild-CWA (TNG-CWA), launched a byline strike to protest layoffs and the reportedly heavy-handed tactics by owner Tribune Co. Last week, Tribune slashed the newsroom staff by about one-third, reducing the staff to 148 workers. “Tribune’s tactics are deplorable,” said Cet Parks, executive director of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. “Employees who poured their hearts and souls into putting out a great newspaper every day were told to get out and stay out. No fanfare, no thank you, no outplacement help, just hit the streets. Maybe that’s big business Tribune way, but it isn’t right.”
IAM, Bird Chevrolet: Members of IAM Local 1238 at Bird Chevrolet in Iowa went on strike after the expiration of their former four-year contract. The 15 mechanics and detailers are fighting proposals from the company to take jobs from the bargaining unit and to shift health care costs to workers.
UTLA-AFT/NEA, Los Angeles Schools: Los Angeles teachers, represented by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA-AFT/NEA), approved a one-day work stoppage, set for May 15, to protest plans to lay off thousands of teachers and increase class sizes for the next school year. “We’re calling on the superintendent and the school board to change course and make the right decision for our schools,” said A.J. Duffy, president of the teachers union.
ALPA, Hawaiian Airlines: The Air Line Pilots (ALPA) released a statement following Hawaiian Airlines’ announcement of $23.9 million in profit for the first quarter. “With Hawaiian Airlines reporting yet another quarterly profit while still refusing to help pilots keep up with the cost of living, the Hawaiian pilots will receive $2 million from their international union to help them prepare for a strike if one becomes necessary in their struggle to negotiate a fair contract.”
Ironworkers, Straitline Structures Inc.: Members of the Ironworkers Local 550 picketed at a future site of Family Dollar in Coshocton, Ohio, because the general contractor for the project, Straitline Structures Inc., is not hiring local workers.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.