AFT Congratulates Race To The Top Winners, But Says Education Shouldn’t Be A Contest Between States – 03/30/10
The American Federation of Teachers congratulated Delaware and Tennessee as the winners in the first round of the $4.3 billion federal “Race To The Top” education grants. The AFT says both states listened to teachers through their unions on ways to improve education. But the AFT said it was disappointed that no state with large urban centers was among the first round of grant recipients. And the union also says it believes that providing education for children should not be a contest between states.
A strike by warehouse workers for Shaw’s supermarkets in Massachusetts will continue as the two sides failed to reach a contract agreement after meeting with a federal mediator. The union said the grocery chain had no interest in compromise and only attended the meeting to demand the workers take the offer on the table. The workers have been on strike since March 7 and the company has made it known it has begun hiring strike-breaking permanent replacement workers.
Transit workers began pushing for greater federal investment in public transit with a rally this weekend in Chicago. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
[Miles Sullivan]: “It’s a monumental struggle bein’ watched across Canada, across North America and across the world.”
It didn’t take long for Big Insurance to look for loopholes in the health care reform law. Just days after it was signed by President Obama, insurance companies are trying to weasel out of provisions designed to end the abuse and outrageous practices the insurance industry has inflicted on consumers and patients for years.
Sick kids are their first target.
Starting Sept. 23, the bill will ban insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. But as The New York Times reports this morning, insurance lawyers are claiming the bill’s “fine print” allows them to refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, diabetes, orthopedic problems, birth defects and other illnesses.
That claim is “outrageous,” says Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
The ink has not yet dried on the health care reform bill, and already some deplorable health insurance companies are trying to duck away from covering children with pre-existing conditions. This is outrageous.
The new law says insurance companies “may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion” in their policies covering children under age 19. The insurance companies assert the law only requires coverage for pre-existing conditions if a policy is sold and that it does not require access to a policy. In other words, insurance companies claim they can deny coverage for an entire family if one child is sick. Says Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.):
The concept that insurance companies would even seek to deny children coverage exemplifies why we fought for this reform.
U.S. Department o fHealth and Human Services (HHS) spokesman Nick Papas told Kaiser Health News:
The law is clear: Insurance plans that cover children cannot deny coverage to a child because he or she has a pre-existing condition. To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, the Secretary of HHS is preparing to issue regulations next month making it clear that the term “pre-existing exclusion” applies to both a child’s access to a plan and to his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan.
But you can bet the insurance company and their lawyers will fight every step of the way.
Click here to find out more about what the new health care reform law will do for you and your family.
Justin Nickels, AFSCME’s state coordinator, is working with the Arkansas AFL-CIO for a few weeks and reports on Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s misleading and downright dirty political ad against her Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln recently took out a TV ad attacking Lt. Gov. Bill Halter that was both a bit of dirty politics and more than quite a bit misleading. In the commercial, Lincoln, from my great state of Arkansas, claims she saved 1,700 jobs at the Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Texarkana.
But not according to the people who know best: The workers at Cooper Tire. According to the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 752L members, keeping Cooper Tire open costs workers $31 million worth of concessions—and her votes in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) have cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs.
Lincoln also voted to normalize trade relations with China, a move that caused the influx of Chinese tires in the first place.
As the Arkansas AFL CIO said:
If the senator had the foresight to support working families in Arkansas by voting against these trade bills then Arkansas families would not have to worry about their jobs being shipped overseas. The workers at the Cooper Tire plant know this and would appreciate more directness from the senator when she makes these claims.
Lincoln’s latest outrage follows her attack last week on working families and their unions.
17,000 San Francisco city employees reach tentative contract, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
Multiple, City of San Francisco: Unions representing San Francisco city workers have reached a tentative agreement with Mayor Gavin Newsom to save the city $200 million and avoid shortening the workweek for 17,000 workers. If union members approve the pact, city workers will take 12 unpaid furlough days over the next two years.
ALPA, Air Transport International: The Air Line Pilots (ALPA) is requesting the National Mediation Board (NMB) appoint a mediator to facilitate talks with Air Transport International (ATI). ALPA represents 170 ATI pilots and flight engineers and says management has been stalling negotiations for years.
IAM, Spirit AeroSystems: For the first time since being spun off from Boeing in 2005, Spirit AeroSystems has begun full contract bargaining with the Machinists (IAM). The current contract, covering 6,000 workers in Kansas and Oklahoma, expires June 25.
Multiple, State of Connecticut: Connecticut’s State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), made up of 13 local unions, is blasting Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s request for additional cuts to the pay and benefits of 45,000 state workers. The governor’s request comes only a year after the unions reached a deal to save the state $700 million in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee.
IAFF, City of Providence: Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 799 has reached a tentative agreement with the city of Providence, R.I., after nearly seven years of tense negotiations and legal battles. The contract requires the firefighters to pay part of their health insurance, keeping in line with an arbitration award announced last week that required they do so for 2006 and 2007. Local 799 President Paul Doughty said the 450 members felt as though hell had frozen over. If approved, the contract will run through fiscal year 2013.
AFSCME, Jackson Health System: AFSCME, representing some 5,000 workers at Miami’s Jackson Health System, has begun negotiations with the hospital to help close its massive budget deficit. The nearly 5,000 members of SEIU Local 1199 were voting on a tentative agreement reached with Jackson, which includes a 5 percent worker contribution to health care.
AFSCME, American Red Cross: American Red Cross workers in Connecticut have voted to authorize a strike, after working without a contract for more than a year. The 215 AFSCME members are nurses, phlebotomists, drivers and lab technicians. The next round of talks is scheduled to begin April 25.
USW, Appalachian Regional Healthcare: 2,300 health care workers at Appalachian Regional Healthcare ratified a new three-year contract. The contract, effective April 1, covers members of United Steelworkers (USW) across West Virginia and Kentucky.
MNA, Morton Hospital: The Massachusetts Nurses Association-National Nurses United (MNA-NNU) has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Morton Hospital in Taunton, Mass., for refusing to bargain in good faith. The charge stems from the hospital’s plan to unilaterally dismantle the defined-benefit pension plan on March 31, despite ongoing negotiations. MNA-NNU represents 400 nurses and professional staff at the hospital.
UNITEHERE!, Castlewood Country Club: 65 workers locked out by Castlewood Country Club in California participated in a march yesterday morning to protest the ongoing lockout. The members of UNITEHERE! Local 2850 were locked out 33 days ago, after the two sides were unable to agree on worker contributions to health care.
UFT-AFT/NEA, New York City: In a win for New York City students and teachers, a judge on Friday blocked the city from closing 19 schools for poor performance. The United Federation of Teachers-AFT/NEA and the NAACP led the fight to stop the closings and applauded the judge’s finding that the city violated the law and must in the future seek more community involvement.
UFCW, Shaw’s Supermarket: As unions across New England prepared to lend their support to the 310 striking Shaw’s Supermarket workers, the company finally agreed to meet with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 791 later today. The workers have been on strike since rejecting a contract offer March 7.
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.
President Obama announced on Saturday he will use recess appointments to fill 15 important positions that Republican senators have blocked for an average of 214 days. Two of those appointments are Craig Becker and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Says Obama:
The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis. Most of the men and women whose appointments I am announcing today were approved by Senate committees months ago, yet still await a vote of the Senate.
Becker and Pearce, two highly qualified and respected labor lawyers, were nominated in July and received Senate Judiciary approval, but Senate Republicans blocked final approval.
Last week, activists made thousands of calls to the White House asking the president to overcome the Republican obstruction in the Senate with recess appointments. Also, in an op-ed last week in The Hill, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged Obama to use recess appointments to put the two on the board, which has been operating with just two members since 2008.
America’s working women and men have been waiting for National Labor Relations Board appointments for too long.
Following the announcement, Republicans loudly complained about Obama’s use of the recess appointments. But as the White House statement points out:
President Bush had made 15 recess appointments by this point in his presidency, but he was not facing the same level of obstruction. At this time in 2002, President Bush had only 5 nominees pending on the floor. By contrast, President Obama has 77 nominees currently pending on the floor.
Other appointments include four positions on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and posts at the departments of Homeland Security and Treasury.