Posted on March 5, 2014 by paulgarver
by Dave Jamieson
Reposted from the Huffington Post and Portside
March 3, 2014
[Editorial Note: This article by Dave Jamieson and accompanying image by Justin K. Aller ( Getty Images) have a special resonance for me. In 1970 when the US Steel Tower was still the headquarters of the giant steel corporation, I was arrested at a demonstration outside the Western Psychiatric Institute in support of a union organizing drive by Local 1199 of the Hospital Workers. Since then UPMC has engulfed and devoured most of the major hospitals in the Pittsburgh area, including Western Psychiatric, and planted its huge logo on top of the US Steel Tower. With 62,000 employees, the UPMC has eclipsed the steel industry as the largest employer. It is currently spending millions of its subscribers' dollars in a propaganda media war with a competing HMO to become even larger. Claiming to be a "charity" and not a business, UPMC even has denied it has any employees that could be represented by a union.
Local 1199 merged with the Service Employees International Union, and hospital worker organizing has returned to the Pittsburgh area after a long hiatus (I worked as an SEIU hospital organizer in the Pittsburgh area in the mid 1970s, where we had only modest success, mostly in the public and nursing home sectors). The stakes are even higher, now that the typical Pittsburgh worker labors in a medical or educational institution rather than a steel factory. And those workers need to have the voice of union representation as did the Mon Valley steelworkers two generations ago. - Paul Garver]
Hundreds of demonstrators poured into downtown Pittsburgh Monday to protest low wages at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, escalating a two-year showdown between labor groups and the area’s largest employer.
The Service Employees International Union has been trying to organize service workers at the hospital for at least two years. Joined by steel and mine workers on Monday, pro-union employees of UPMC marched to the hospital’s headquarters at the U.S. Steel Tower with some specific demands: a hospital minimum wage of $15, the elimination of employees’ health care debts to the hospital and recognition of a union. Continue reading
Filed under: Health Care, Low wage workers, Organizing, Uncategorized | Tagged: SEIU. UPMC. Pittsburgh, Service Employees International Union | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 3, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Carl Finamore
It’s a national epidemic finally getting some long overdue attention. To put rising costs in perspective, a dozen oranges today would cost $134 if adjusted at the same rate of price inflation that we’ve seen in healthcare since 1945.
And, it’s only getting worse. California health insurance premiums soared 185% since 2002. But we’ve heard these complaints before, it’s not new.
What is new is that the largest unions in San Francisco are doing something to reign in price gouging by insurers like California-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest HMO with 9.1 million subscribers.
For UNITE-HERE Local 2, one of the city’s largest unions representing 13,000 employees of restaurants and hotels in and around San Francisco, it has become a necessity. Continue reading
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: Campaign for a Healthy California, Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU 1021, Unite Here Local 2 | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 11, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
UFCW Local 21, UFCW Local 367 and Teamsters 38 bargained with representatives from major supermarkets, including Kroger, to keep their health benefits. (mcsquishee / Flickr / Creative Commons)
Unions representing about 30,000 grocery workers in the Puget Sound region claimed a victory last week in a labor contract fight that centered on the implementation of Obamacare in the area’s biggest supermarket chains.
Western Washington state locals of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the Teamsters have been bargaining for months with representatives from Kroger, Safeway and Albertsons, all among the largest supermarket chains in the country. In addition to the elimination of health insurance coverage for 8,000 part-time workers, the initial demands from the grocery retailers included extended wage freezes and selective elimination of overtime pay, according to Seattle-based UFCW Local 21. The workers were within hours of beginning a strike before a last-minute deal was reached on October 21. Continue reading
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: grocery workers, Teamsters, UFCW | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 4, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Like many labor negotiators, I looked to health care reform for legislative relief from endless haggling with management over employee benefit costs. My own union and others worked hard for passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) three years ago. Despite its failure to take health insurance issues off the bargaining table, as a more preferable Medicare-for-All system would do, Obamacare was widely cheered by labor.
Union members were told, correctly, that the ACA would expand Medicaid access for millions of lower-income Americans and make private insurance coverage more consumer-friendly for everyone else. Organized labor also expected the new law to aid union bargaining by leveling the playing field among all employers, much like the minimum wage and other protective labor legislation does. Continue reading
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Health Care, Politics | Tagged: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, ACA, Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcar, Obamacare | 3 Comments »
Posted on July 23, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Bruce Vail
In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage. (From the IBEW website)
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added its voice last week to the growing number of labor unions with complaints about how President Barack Obama is handling implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), better known as Obamacare.
The 725,000-member IBEW released a white paper on July 11 calling for changes to how the law treats multi-employer plans (also known as Taft-Hartley plans). These plans, which are jointly administered by unions and their employers, are endangered by the ACA because it will discourage employers from participating in the plans, and place some existing union employers at a financial disadvantage. The health insurance of more than 350,000 IBEW members covered by such plans is at risk, says IBEW spokesperson Jim Spellane. Continue reading
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: ACA, Barack Obama, IBEW, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Unite Here, United Food & Commercial Workers | 2 Comments »
Posted on July 11, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Don McIntosh
wikimedia.org creative commons
Organized labor — entirely left out of the legislation that became known as Obamacare — has spent years behind the scenes patiently pleading withthe Obama Administration to be allowed to benefit from the law’s implementation. Now, four months before the law’s mandated state insurance exchanges launch, it appears that while some union members will benefit,many others may actually be harmed.
The state-by-state health insurance exchanges, which launch Oct. 1, 2013, are the linchpin of Obamacare’s plan to cover the uninsured. The exchanges will benefit a minority of low-wage union members who don’t currently have employer-provided health insurance. But they may harm many other union members who are covered through union-affiliated multi-employer health trusts — which are prevalent in construction and in low-wage industries like grocery and janitorial.
The harm would come chiefly because union members and their employers won’t have access to individual subsidies, or to small-employer tax credits, for insurance purchased on the exchanges. But their nonunion competitors will.
Filed under: Health Care, Politics | Tagged: Health insurance, Obamacare, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, United Food and Commercial Workers | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 23, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Kay Tillow
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, presents challenges to the multiemployer plans through which some unions bargain collectively to provide health care insurance for their members. These plans, often called Taft Hartley Plans, currently cover about 26 million workers, families, and retirees. Unless there is a major regulatory change made by Health and Human Services, these union negotiated plans will be struck a harsh blow once the exchanges go into effect in 2014.
A quiet effort by many unions to persuade the Obama administration to make this change is now becoming very public.
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: Affordable Care Act, multiemployer health plans | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 7, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
Say you’re an employer with an employee who works 30 hours a week. If you have 50 employees or more come next year, you’ll be required either to provide her with health-care coverage, which the Affordable Care Act will by then mandate for all employees who work at least 30 hours a week, or you’ll have to pay a $2,000 penalty for failing to cover her.
Or, you could just cut her weekly hours to 29. That way, you won’t have to pay a dime, in either insurance costs or penalties.
This thought, not surprisingly, has crossed the minds of quite a number of employers. Right now, the average number of hours an employee in a retail establishment works each week is 31.4. And a whole lot of Americans work in retail—just slightly over 15 million, according to the latest employment report, out Friday, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Not all of them work hours that hover just over 30, of course, but the UC Berkeley Labor Center has calculated that 10.6 percent of workers in retail establishments that employ 100 or more individuals put in between 30 and 36 hours each week. As retail establishments that employ between 50 and 100 workers may well employ a higher percentage of part-timers than their larger counterparts, that figure of 10.6 percent is likely to rise when those additional employees are factored in.
Filed under: Health Care, Low wage workers | Tagged: Health Care, part-time workers, retail workers | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Sarah Jaffe
Christine Quinn was once the great feminist hope to lead the nation’s leading city. But her opposition to paid sick leave hurts women most.
Rosa* lost her mother just a few weeks ago.
Her elderly parents lived at home in New York. A home health-care aide helped Rosa’s father with the burden of caring for her mother, who had Parkinson’s disease and had suffered a major stroke just over two years ago.
“We didn’t want to keep her in a nursing home, for financial reasons, for germs. They basically told us to take her home,” Rosa told RH Reality Check.
The home health-care aide didn’t have paid sick days, so she came to work sick one day, and Rosa’s parents both wound up with the flu. Her 88-year-old father recovered; her mother did not.
Filed under: Health Care | Tagged: Christine Quinn, paid sick leave | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Dr. Jack Rasmus
On February 12, 2013, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. He concluded with an emotional appeal for gun control, repeating a call for Congress to at least put the matter of gun control to a vote after referencing the Newtown, Ct., tragic massacre of 26 children and other recent acts of gun violence in the US. It was an emotional high point of his address, and a very moving moment.
But there was another reference in his speech that also addressed life and death matters, potentially impacting not 26 but hundreds of thousands of those other of America’s most vulnerable—our senior population.
Earlier in his address, Obama declared “the biggest cause of the nation’s long term debt” was “medical for the aged”, in other words, Medicare. Saying this, Obama repeated his remarks of January 1, 2013, when he publicly declared on TV, while supporting the agreement in Congress to raise token taxes on the wealthiest 1%, that Medicare was the biggest contributing source to the deficit and debt.
Filed under: Economy, Health Care | Tagged: Medicare, Obama, SOTU | Leave a comment »