A study released in May by the Commonwealth Fund revealed that seven out of 10 women are uninsured or underinsured. While only 39 percent of men report problems accessing needed health care do to costs, 52 percent of women report they have problems. Sixty nine percent of underinsured women have problems accessing care as compred to 49 percent of underinsured men.
Verizon Wireless plans to eliminate 8000 jobs by the end of the year. The company is currently dealing with a decrease of corporate accounts. The 8000 planned cuts are in addition to 8000 jobs slashed over the last year.
Part of President Obama’s executive pay reform legislation makes it to floor of House mostly unscathed. Jesse Russell reports:
A bill making its way through the House won’t cap pay of executives, but it will require businesses to form a compensation committee that includes independent directors. The legislation made it rhough the House Financial Services Committee on a 40 to 28 vote and is expected to find itself in front of the full House by the end of the week. The bill would also give shareholders the power to vote on pay. It is a key component to the Obama Administration’s attempt to reform executive pay and the bill that is winding through the House hasn’t been altered much from the initial proposal. The bill passed on a party line vote with Republicans against the legislation.
Working Families Rally For Public Option As Democrat-Controlled Senate Finance Committee Eliminates It – 07/29/09
By Doug Cunningham
Health Care For America Now, a coalition including unions, rallied in Seattle Tuesday to support health care reform with a public option. Zels Bryan Johnson was there.
[Johnson]:” People here are absolutely ecstatic about the demand for the public option. One of the signs I’m looking at is “Now – I Can’t Afford To Wait”. Another sign is “Pass The Public Option Now”. And you see things from AFT Washington – and they’re saying unity, strength, action and “Health Care For America Now.”
As working families and their unions flooded capitol hill with phone calls Tuesday calling for the House to pass health care reform with a public option plan, the Senate Finance Committee was busy eliminating the public option from their proposal. The chairman of that committee is Democrat Max Baucus. He gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from the monied interests that oppose a public option – the insurance industry, as well as pharmaceutical drug makers and HMO’s. Robby Stern is with the Puget Sound Alliance For Retired Americans, one of the groups supporting the Seattle rally for the public option.
This is a great post by Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, about the need to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. This is a cross-post from HuffingtonPost.com.
With too many Americans out of work and a transportation infrastructure that is crumbling beneath us we can’t wait until 2011 for a new federal surface transportation bill.
Transit systems nationwide are hemorrhaging. From Boston to St. Louis, Cleveland to Portland, Atlanta to Miami and statewide in California, service and jobs cuts are mounting. Despite record ridership, mass transit systems across America are in crisis. When the cost of gas spiked last summer, ridership soared and high volumes have continued ever since. But the weak economy is causing huge shortfalls in state and local revenues. Transit agencies are facing the budget ax just when their services are in highest demand.
It is no better in transportation construction. Nationwide, the jobless rate is approaching 20 percent, even worse in some states.
History shows that transportation bills are engines of job creation. The economic recovery bill, which dedicated $48 billion to transportation infrastructure, was a great first step, but it is only a down payment on job creation and the massive investment needs for America’s transportation systems.
Here’s a snapshot of our transportation infrastructure today:
- The average commuter rail passenger coach is 24 years old. 62 percent are being used beyond their replacement age.
- 59 percent of transit buses need to be replaced within six years.
- More than 20 percent of city roads do not pass the basic test for pavement and ride quality.
- 26 percent of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient.
Poor roadway conditions are the number one contributing cause of motor vehicle crash severity, which cost our government and the American taxpayer $12 billion annually. If we kick this can down the road any more it’s going to land in a pothole.
The Highway Trust Fund, which supports highways and transit projects across the country, faces an imminent shortfall. The administration has suggested shoring up the trust fund with money from the general treasury so that state transportation projects don’t come to a grinding halt.
Also due for an update this year—and set to expire in September—is the multiyear surface transportation bill. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has proposed a comprehensive, $500 billion bill that invests in and reforms how we invest in America’s transportation infrastructure.
Some are trying to use the crisis in the Highway Trust Fund as the reason to delay a multiyear surface transportation bill. The fact is we must do both.
We must patch the Highway Trust Fund before the August recess. And we must complete the authorization bill during this Congress—the nation cannot wait for action on either of these priorities.
We know that these are serious times, with several critical issues demanding leadership. Wednesday night we heard the president make the case for health care reform. Achieving energy independence is a critical issue and, of course, the deep recession weighs on the minds of America’s workers. These are issues our members care about, understand and face every day. But the transportation investment gap is also a critical issue—if we don’t make a significant commitment to transportation now, we will cause irreparable harm to our economy for years to come.
We’re never going to live in a Washington that doesn’t have a full plate. If we don’t act now, then when is it a good time to address our dire transportation needs? We must pay for America’s massive transportation infrastructure needs with dollars, not fairy dust or more hyperbole about the need to invest in America.
There are two choices: raise revenues or fail to meet this country’s real surface transportation needs. If we fail, we also miss the opportunity to put people back to work while the economy continues to bleed jobs.
There are a variety of funding mechanisms that were discussed last week in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the challenge of funding our transportation needs.
A new Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee would be a user fee for those who utilize the roads. Some believe it could replace the gas tax as the primary funding source for the Highway Trust Fund. By most accounts, a VMT would take years to implement. We have concerns about ensuring privacy for drivers. But clearly the VMT discussion is moving forward and we look forward to that debate.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has proposed taxing oil securities. This is an exciting proposal worthy of serious consideration. It does two things: it goes after unsavory oil speculation and goes a long way to fill the gap in our ailing surface transportation investment program.
We support an increase in the gas user fee and believe it should be indexed for inflation. During the 16 years in which this tax hasn’t been increased, the costs of construction, freight shipments and passenger traffic have skyrocketed. It will be difficult—if not impossible—to pass a serious authorization bill unless the fuel user fee is increased.
I can only hope that as this debate over a user fee increase unfolds, that it does not degenerate into political gamesmanship. This decision should be made based on our national interests, not short-term political calculations.
The surface transportation bill offers an important opportunity to create economic growth in the near-term and break the cycle of underinvestment in America’s transportation network. This is our opportunity, quite literally, to build bridges to a better economic future.
Make no mistake—the costs of delaying a robust surface transportation bill are higher than the costs of passing it.
Dozens of top scholars from the United Kingdom concur with academics in the United States and around the world: The Employee Free Choice Act is the right thing for America’s workers.
Some 74 professors and academics from institutions around the United Kingdom issued a statement endorsing the Employee Free Choice Act as a protection of the basic freedom of workers to form a union and bargain.
In the statement, these scholars explain that the Employee Free Choice Act is necessary not just for America’s workers, but for a healthy, fair global economy:
The Employee Free Choice Act will restore the right of workers to join together and to act through their unions for better health care, job security and benefits. We firmly believe the Employee Free Choice Act is good for workers and good for American society.
It is also good for workers in other parts of the world. U.S.-based anti-union consultants have attempted to open up a market for their services in the U.K.—and we believe the passing of EFCA will help curtail this damaging activity.
The current crisis in the world’s financial markets shows what happens when corporate greed is allowed to go unchecked. The Employee Free Choice Act will help level the playing field for America’s workers by giving them a fair and direct path to form unions.
Here in the United States, strong scholarly support for Employee Free Choice includes hundreds of leading economists—including Nobel Prize winners, as well as hundreds of historians, business professors and more than 1,000 professors and experts across a wide variety of disciplines and institutions.
You can see a full list of U.K. scholars who have signed on to the statement here.
With billions in federal economic recovery funds available for job training and education, the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute is the go-to place for union leaders seeking the latest information on training and workforce development opportunities. Through a series of Web announcements, webinars and conference calls, the institute is keeping the union movement abreast of the opportunities to better educate the nation’s workforce and rebuild the middle class.
The institute offers a practical new guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For example, the latest posting announces some $220 million in new training grants for health care and high-growth industries. The U.S. Labor Department defines high growth and emerging industries—in addition to health care—as fields such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, wireless and broadband deployment, transportation and warehousing and biotechnology.
Says institute Executive Director Nancy Mills:
With important new support from the Obama administration and private foundations, we intend to play an important role in helping labor leaders across the country respond to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
For example, the institute’s new Center for Green Jobs already is making progress in educating labor leaders on how to apply for $500 million in new green jobs training grants. Here’s Jeff Rickert, the center’s director:
With green jobs emerging as a top public policy priority, we are all working hard to make sure that green jobs are good jobs that provide decent wages and benefits. That’s a central part of our work. We don’t want these jobs to become dead-end jobs with no chance for advancement.
The institute, which helps create high-road partnerships among unions, business and government, also is conducting conference calls and webinars for labor leaders on various grants. The next webinar tomorrow, July 29, is a strategic discussion with labor leaders on one of the Labor Department’s new green jobs grant solicitations. The Labor Department has specifically asked members of joint industry-labor state workforce investment boards (WIB) to apply for these grants. Labor representatives serve on all of these state boards and can play an important role in helping develop these grant proposals.
Meanwhile, the institute is arranging a series of phone listening sessions in September with Jane Oates, assistant labor secretary for employment and training, with labor representatives on workforce investment boards. The issue will be the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.
In the end, the institute’s goal, Mills says, is to
make sure that representatives of workers are at the table and well-informed as critical decisions are made on how to spend stimulus money for employment and training.
If you want to be included in the mailing list regarding these listening sessions or other discussions, please send an e-mail with your name, organization and contact information to Katrina Dizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember: Today is National Call-in Day for Health Care. We all need to call our representatives in the U.S. House today and tell them to support the House health care reform bill, (H.R. 3200).
Call 1-877-264-4226 or e-mail or fax your lawmaker with the same message. Click here to find your representative and his or her contact information.
The House bill contains a public health insurance plan option and shared responsibility, including an employer “pay or play” requirement—and does not tax health care benefits working families receive through their jobs.
But get this: The AP is reporting today that the public option is in danger—making it even more necessary for us to tell Congress.
National Call-in Day is sponsored by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) and supported by AFL-CIO unions, state federations, central labor councils, community allies and health care advocates.