Wisconsin’s Governor Tries For $254 Million In Federal Education Funding While Milwaukee School District Struggles – 01/08/10
Wisconsin’s largest school district is currently in a battle for the future. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
The CWA and IBEW say customers and taxpayers got a bad deal with Verizon’s proposed sale of its rural phone landlines in 14 states. Both unions say Verizon used a tax loophole called the Reverse Morris Trust to dodge $600 million in taxes while saddling Frontier Communications with $3.3 billion in debt. And because the smaller company couldn’t handle the number of phone lines and the debt both phone quality and broadband internet service will suffer. The unions want to close the tax loophole. CWA President Larry Cohen.
Contract negotiations are going way too slowly with United Airlines, so the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) today is holding informational pickets at 17 different airports around the globe to protest “the failure of United Airlines management to negotiate a new contract on time.”
This from the Daily Labor Report (subscription required):
The AFA’s frustration with United has smoldered for five years, after flight attendants were forced to accept severe wage and benefit cuts as part of the carrier’s reorganization. United’s parent, UAL Corp., emerged from three years in bankruptcy with flight attendants providing $131 million in labor savings annually. Under the 2005 agreement, flight attendants’ hourly wages were trimmed 9.5 percent and their defined benefit pension plan was jettisoned to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. In the intervening years, flight attendants watched wave after wave of layoffs as United realigned operations in response to changing demand for air travel.
The AFA, which represents 15,000 United flight attendants, said in a statement:
Flight attendants are working at 1994 wage levels in the year 2010 and working 48 percent more compared with 2002 schedules and staffing. When United exited bankruptcy, CEO Glenn Tilton alone took a bonus that could have provided a 10 percent pay raise for all 15,000 flight attendants. AFA-CWA members are angry that management has not discussed the improvements envisioned, seeming only interested in delaying a new contract for flight attendants.
American Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), are strongly supporting the United flight attendants.
Says Laura Glading, APFA president:
We share many issues and concerns with our colleagues at United in our fight for a strong contract. This is not only about improving compensation and working conditions, but raising the living standard for Flights Attendants throughout the industry.
Working families, their unions and health care activists are continuing their battle to ensure that the final health care reform package being hammered out in negotiations between House and Senate leaders is real and meaningful reform. (Click here to find out more about the two bills and next week’s National Call-In Day for health care reform.)
The hot topic on the blogs and in the mainstream media is the fate of the tax on workers’ health benefits that is part of the Senate-passed bill.
The excise tax proponents say their target is a Cadillac, but in reality they’re about as likely to hit a Chevy. The excise tax is not a progressive levy on lavish plans. Instead it’s a tax that will hit small businesses, older workers, and those most in need of health care the hardest.
In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Bevins, EPI President Larry Mishel and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich blew gaping holes in other arguments pro-tax advocates are spewing. Click here for more on the call from FireDogLake’s David Dayen,.
National Nurses United (NNU), the largest registered nurses union in the country, calls the tax scheme “unconscionable” and says working families “would have their health coverage taxed and seriously eroded,” if it is enacted. Read more here.
David Moberg at In These Times writes:
the excise tax on insurance—especially in contrast to surtax on the rich—proves to be just as bad as policy as it is politically. It’s intellectually bankrupt and widely despised.
Even as union members, health care groups and others are fighting to win real health care reform, on the other side, the private health insurance industry has not stopped trying to kill any meaningful reform. Seth Freedland at Inside Health Reform (subscription required) reports:
An in-house message sent by UnitedHealthcare to its employees used language that a consumer watchdog group calls “highly coercive” by urging workers to participate in a Web presentation by the insurer’s chief lobbyist as the company fights against major tenants of the health reform legislation moving in Congress.
Demanding that workers attend a meeting on company time that appears to be part of a larger imitative against some provisions of the health care system reform is nevertheless “political harassment,” Judy Dugan, research director for Consumer Watchdog, told Inside Health Policy.
Read Freeland’s report at Consumer Watchdog.
Over the coming days—and maybe weeks—U.S. House and Senate leaders, along with the Obama White House, will be working to shape one health care reform bill from the two each chamber passed earlier this year.
Now is a good time to compare the two and we’ve posted a comparison here. After you’ve compared the bills, mark you calendar for Jan. 13 to join in a National Call-In Day to the House to demand health care reform that works for working families. See details below.
The pair has many common elements that will help working families cope with the ever-rising costs of health care and address serious flaws and shortcomings in the nation’s health care system.
Health care reform advocates say that more than three-quarters of the bills’ provisions share such features as consumer protections, more affordable coverage for active workers and retirees and seniors, expanded coverage and cost containment.
But there also are significant differences in the bills. Overall, as we have reported, the House bill comes closer to AFL-CIO’s health care reform goals, including a public health care option, a much stronger employer fair share provision and no tax on workers’ health care benefits. We’ll have more on the tax issue later today.
While the Senate bill has many good points, it is deeply flawed, too; including a tax on workers’ health care benefits and lack of a public option that would help hold down health care costs and keep insurers accountable.
Click here for detailed look at the two bills and what provisions the AFL-CIO says should be included where the two differ.
You can help fight for real reform by taking part in the National Call-In Day, Wednesday, Jan. 13. Call toll-free 1-877-3-AFL-CIO (1-877-323-5246) and urge your representative to support working families by voting for health reform that:
- Does not tax our health care benefits;
- Requires employers to pay their fair share; and
- Reduces cost—the best way to do this is with a public health care option.