Civilian employees at Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base will be receiving pay increases. The two bases are being merged with the Lakehurst Navel Engineering Station and the civilians at Fort Dix and MacGuire are paid less then their Naval counterparts. The higher rate will go into effect on October 11. The reason for the pay discrepancy was due to Lakehurst being located in the New York pay region and Dix and McGuire being in the Philadelphia pay region.
Three New York Politicians Are Fighting Efforts To Move Factory Machinery Bought With Taxpayer Money To Ohio – 09/30/09
Three New York politicians are fighting Stella D’Oro’s plan to move machinery out of a closed New York City plant to Ohio. Jesse Russell Reports:
Thousands Of NYC Transit Workers Rally Demanding That Binding Arbitration Contract Be Honored – 09/30/09
By Doug Cunningham
[Michael Morales]: “If an arbitrator’s decision is handed down, obey it. That’s what we’re lookin’ for the transit authority to do.”
Health insurance companies have turned to scare tactics and outright lies to fight health care reform. Seems they’re not satisfied with jacking up the cost of premiums, canceling policies when people get sick and denying treatment.
In fact, you can tell the health insurance companies you’re sick of their lies and that it’s time for real health care reform.
- Click here if a Blue Cross Blue Shield company provides your health insurance.
- Click here if UnitedHealthcare provides your health insurance.
- Click here if Aetna provides your health insurance.
- Click here if Humana provides your health insurance.
- Click here if CIGNA provides your health insurance.
- Click here if a different company provides your health insurance.
- Click here if you don’t have health insurance.
Today, Florida members of the Alliance for Retired Americans rallied in front of the West Palm Beach offices of Humana and called the scare tactics and lies ”unconscionable.”
Humana and several other health insurance companies recently sent letters to seniors with Medicare Advantage policies, claiming that health care reform legislation would cause “millions of seniors and disabled individuals” to lose their benefits. Says Tony Fransetta, president of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans:
What Humana is doing is unconscionable. Although payments to Humana under Medicare Advantage have increased drastically in the last several years, benefits and services for seniors have not.
On Sept. 21, Medicare told Humana and other health insurance companies to stop misleading consumers.
This information is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries. Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement action.
Humana is the second-largest provider of Medicare Advantage policies in the nation.
Medicare Advantage was designed as a pilot program to privatize Medicare during the Bush administration. It allows seniors to receive their benefits through private insurers who, in turn, are reimbursed by the federal government. But currently, the government pays private insurance companies like Humana, on average, 14 percent more for providing coverage to Medicare Advantage clients than it would pay for the same care under traditional Medicare.
That’s quite a cash cow for the health insurance industry and represents, according to the Alliance, “wasteful overpayments to Medicare Advantage programs” that health care reform would rein in.
As Barbara Kennelly, president the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, points out in a column at Huffington Post, the insurance industry uses the funding to tell a $169 billion lie about health care reform.
The only threats of benefits cuts have come from private insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans. Why? Because the industry is at risk of losing billions in federal subsidies—subsidies that have raised premiums for every beneficiary in Medicare (not just the 20 percent in private Medicare Advantage)….These subsidies continue to amass over time, ultimately costing the Treasury and every senior in Medicare $169 billion during the first decade alone. It’s a sweet deal for insurers. A deal they’re now fighting hard to protect.
Lying about Medicare is not the only sleazy action in which health insurance companies are engaging. There is the $1.4.million a day they are spending on an army of 2,700 congressional lobbyists and campaign contributions to kill real reform—especially a public health insurance option that would lower consumer costs and force health insurers to compete. That’s in addition to the television, radio, web and media campaigns to derail reform—and the big health insurance fingerprints on this summer’s town hall meetings.
Then there’s the way they do everyday business:
- Denying coverage or rising rates on people or businesses based on pre-existing conditions.
- Standing between patients and their doctors in deciding what care is needed.
- Paying bonuses and other incentives to employees who deny care or reject claims.
It’s enough to make you sick.
Our friends at Brave New Films have just posted their third short video in the “Sick for Profits” project on how the big insurance companies are fighting health care reform. This time, they’ve expose WellPoint, which operates the Blue Cross Blue Shield empire. Previously, they looked at UnitedHealthcare and CIGNA. Click here for those and other Sick for Profit videos.
UPDATE: Schumer’s public option amendment got killed as well, 10-13, with Baucus, Conrad and Lincoln voting against it. Disgrace.
Looks like one version of public option just got killed in the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s public option amendment, the strongest of the public option amendments offered, was just voted down 15-8, with five Democrats voting against it: Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Tom Carper (Del.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.).
As Rockefeller said before the vote:
Why would we not do this? People come second and the profits come first if we’re against this.
Looks like the People lost this one. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will now offer another public option amendment. Let’s hope the Nay-saying Dems have time to check the People’s pulse before they shoot down another public option.
According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll out today, half of 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed say they support a public insurance option as part of health care reform.
Last week, a poll by the New York Times/CBS found 65 percent of those surveyed support a public option and only 26 percent oppose it. A public option would give consumers a choice—and private insurers are opposed to it because they’re afraid it will reduce their massive profits.
So who exactly is being represented in this vote?
It’s down to the wire for workers at Stella D’oro Biscuit Co. The North Carolina-based snack maker Lance Inc., wants to buy Stella D’Oro and move production from its 78-year home in the Bronx to a nonunion bakery in Ohio.
The sale will not be finalized until October. Jobs with Justice is urging all of us to take action now by signing an online petition urging Lance CEO David Singer to keep Stella D’oro and its good union jobs in the Bronx.
In July 2009, 136 Stella D’oro workers, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 50, returned to work after an 11-month strike to maintain family-supporting wages and health care.
Yet on the day they returned, Brynwood Partners, the private equity firm that currently owns the company, announced it would shutter the plant, an action the union says is a direct retaliation against the workers.
On June 30, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge ruled that Stella D’oro refused to bargain with the union, improperly declared an impasse in negotiations and illegally refused the workers’ offer May 6 to return to work. The law judge ordered the company to reinstate the 136 workers with back pay and interest. BCTGM Local 50 then filed charges with the NLRB seeking to block the shutdown and also demanded the company reopen contract negotiations.
Help out Stella D’oro workers here.
The Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) Council, AFL-CIO and the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, Md., co-sponsored last night’s showing of “Capitalism: A Love Story,” Michael Moore’s fantastic new documentary that some of us were fortunate to see at its U.S. premier in Pittsburgh during the AFL-CIO Convention. Below is a cross-post from the central labor council.
Calling it “The People’s Oscar,” Michael Moore (left) enthusiastically accepted the Tony Mazzocchi Labor Arts Award at last night’s D.C. preview of his new film Capitalism: A Love Story. “I knew Tony and he was a remarkable man,” an obviously touched Moore said after being presented with the award by DC Labor FilmFest Co-Chairs Jos Williams and Mark Dudzic, “this really means a lot to me.” (Mazzocchi, president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, was a driving force in establishing the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1970.)
The standing-room-only crowd in AFI’s main theater gave Moore and the film a standing ovation and Moore—who reminded the audience that he’d lived in D.C. while editing his first film, Roger & Me—fielded questions after the screening at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring.
Echoing his final words in the film, Moore exhorted the audience to:
Get up and get involved to make this the world we want.
He also encouraged activists to make their own films that entertain and mobilize and pledged to work with the D.C. Labor FilmFest to continue working to help organize local labor film festivals around the world.
Last year, workers sought a union at Blue Diamond, a nut processing company, hoping to redress unfair pay, unsafe conditions and mistreatment of sorters and packers. But in large part due to a vicious anti-union campaign by management, the workers lost their election and could not form a union.
A judge ruled an election under such circumstances is valid—and acknowledged that Blue Diamond took part in a broad array of unfair conduct against workers.
The fact that Blue Diamond’s wrongdoing went unpunished, denying workers a fair choice, is a sign that our labor laws are broken, says Kimberly Freeman, acting executive director of American Rights at Work, and is evidence America’s workers need the Employee Free Choice Act to prevent the unfair conduct by corporations that is all too common today.
In a letter to the Sacramento Bee, Freeman says the case shows the effects of unfair labor laws that allow corporations to intimidate employees seeking a voice on the job:
It’s no surprise that in the face of aggressive anti-union tactics, Blue Diamond’s employees lost in a system that was tilted to favor management from the beginning.
The National Labor Relations Board admits the company engaged in “objectionable conduct,” such as promising to resolve complaints if they voted against the union and not allowing union supporters free speech on its property. Moreover, Blue Diamond officials threatened to cut workers’ benefits, close the plant, and multiple employees were even fired simply because they supported the union.
Craig Merrilees of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the union that Blue Diamond workers sought to join, agrees that the fact that Blue Diamond got away with abusive tactics against its workers is a sign the nation’s labor law needs reform:
The system is broken—employers are free to threaten, intimidate and blackmail workers who want to join a union.
The Employee Free Choice Act, Freeman says, will enable workers, not management, to decide whether they want a union:
The Employee Free Choice Act can help ensure corporations can’t get away with unfair elections and retaliating against workers. It will allow workers to choose an alternative method to form unions that will bypass the hurdles that so many face. Additionally, it will increase penalties so companies that break the law won’t get a mere slap on the wrist.
They’re tweeting in Northern California about the Employee Free Choice Act, sharing about health care reform on Facebook in Montana and posting organizing messages on My Space for workers in York, Pa.
Across the country, union members are using the new social media to mobilize workers and share information.
Steve Selby, an Electrical Workers (IBEW) organizer in York, Pa., knows the value of social media. He urgently needed to reach 300 workers at a local Comcast office. Rather than standing outside the office and handing out a flier with different information each day, Selby taught himself how to set up a MySpace account. He handed out one flier directing workers to his MySpace page, where he shared information the workers needed to know.
Social media can be a strong complement to traditional organizing, says Darren DeMarco, IBEW’s information technology director:
I think you have to use every tool out there to organize. You have these tools out there where the user can very easily set up their own website, set up a Facebook page, reach out to friends and start a conversation with people they could not before.
The AFL-CIO, along with more than a dozen affiliated unions, is reaching out to potential new members and educating current members through such social sites as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Unions with a Facebook page or Twitter page or both include, AFSCME, AFT, Air Line Pilots (ALPA), American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW), Fire Fighters (IAFF), Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA),Transport Workers (TWU), UNITE HERE, United American Nurses (UAN) and United Steelworkers (USW).
Union activists are finding that social media reaches more people faster and cheaper than many traditional forms of communication.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who has made reaching out to young workers a priority, recognizes the value of social media as a tool to reach the next generation to carry on the fight for workers’ rights. In his keynote at Netroots Nation last month, Trumka said:
When I was growing up, and working in the coal mines, I certainly wasn’t tweeting about it!
In just a few years you have grown into a new force in progressive politics and also in American journalism. We are seeing a revolution in communications and we face a big challenge to keep progressives at the head of the curve. Our successes, including this conference, give us hope that we will. Many of us in the labor movement have fretted over the death of the labor beat at newspapers across the country. But we are seeing today that your work in the blogosphere is the equivalent of “letting a thousand flowers bloom.”
Netroots Nation is the annual gathering of progressive bloggers and hosts a site for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.