Bluegrass Central Labor Council Endorses HR 676: US National Health Care Act

Lexington, Kentucky.  At its February meeting the Executive Board of the
Bluegrass Central Labor Council voted to endorse HR 676, single payer
health care legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

Council President Barbara Pierce said:  “The Board of the CLC endorsed HR
676, single payer universal health care, because we firmly believe that
it’s the best plan for working families.”

The Bluegrass CLC, which represents workers in nine counties in Central
Kentucky, is the 119th CLC to endorse HR 676.   Six out of eight central
labor councils in Kentucky, in addition to the state AFL-CIO, have
endorsed HR 676.

President Pierce said that the council will send the resolution to
Representative Ben Chandler, who represents the region in the US Congress.

France: Benefits Bill for Care of Dying Relatives

from New York Times


Published: February 17, 2009

Parliament’s lower house voted Tuesday to extend benefits for those who take time off from work to care for dying relatives at their homes. The bill would pay caregivers $62 a day for up to three weeks. France already allows up to six months of unpaid leave for care of a dying relative. The bill is expected to pass the Senate.

County Residents Give Congressman Altmire and Transport Officials An Earful


Photo: Jason Altmire, (D-4th-PA) at labor meeting

Residents Speak Up
at ‘Town Hall’ Forum
on Transportation
and Job Issues

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Congressman Jason Altmire got an earful at the Feb. 17 “Town Meeting’ on transportation issues held at Beaver County Community College, with some voices straying beyond the official agenda. But then, that’s what the representative from PA’s 4th CD called for when he launched sessions around the district inviting public participation.

The topic was Pennsylvania’s roads, bridges and traffic patterns, and how to keep the state, district and county from being shortchanged on all fronts. But it widened to include environmental protection, youth unemployment, racism in hiring, high-speed rail, rebuilding lock and dams, and general praise for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Continue reading County Residents Give Congressman Altmire and Transport Officials An Earful

Aliquippa Workers to Bridge Finance: ‘Why Are We the First in Line to Work, and the Last in Line for Payment?’


Photo: Debi Davidson, Unpaid Nurse at CMC

CMC Hospital
Workers Still
Waiting for Pay

By Michael Pound
Beaver County Times

“They found money to pay the lawyers, and they still won’t pay us? It is outrageous.” –Michelle Batchelor, Hopewell Township, former operating room nurse at Commonwealth Medical Center.


PITTSBURGH, Feb 18, 2009 – The company that holds the checkbook for the bankrupt Commonwealth Medical Center found money to pay the attorneys who represent many of the hospital’s creditors — but the folks who worked for the hospital in the weeks before it closed are still waiting to hear when they’ll get their money.

Despite assuring everyone involved that there would be an agreement in place to ensure that those checks would be forthcoming, an attorney representing Bridge Healthcare Finance — the primary creditor in the case and the firm that controls whatever money is spent by the hospital — pulled back from those discussions, with the exception of finding about $20,000 for paying other lawyers involved in the case.
Continue reading Aliquippa Workers to Bridge Finance: ‘Why Are We the First in Line to Work, and the Last in Line for Payment?’

Subsidizing COBRA Is Not Enough–We Need HR 676: National Health Care

by Andrew Coates MD

COBRA is a law that allows you to keep your employer-sponsored health
insurance for 18 months if you lose or change jobs. To do so, you have to
pay 102% of the cost (the full premium plus a 2% surcharge).

The stimulus package just passed provides for laid off workers, who had
health insurance on the job, to receive a subsidy of 65% of the health
insurance premium for up to nine months.

Continue reading Subsidizing COBRA Is Not Enough–We Need HR 676: National Health Care

Once Again, Aliquippa Workers Hit the Streets to Demand Their Pay


Photo:  CMC workers gather for vigil and march

Bridge Finance
Dragging Feet on
Final Payment to
Hospital Workers

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Why is a major Chicago financial group with millions once again behaving like a low-life deadbeat, needing to be dunned for payment by the hospital workers it owes, and who have very little?

That’s the question that sent Aliquippa’s former employees of the Commonwealth Medical Center back to the shutdown hospital Feb 16 for a candlelight vigil and nighttime march through neighborhood streets. About 50 nurses and staff, fired last December, braved freezing weather to demand, once again, their full back wages. About two weeks earlier, after a brief sit-in in the facility, they got about half their money, with the other half promised within weeks. The promise proved empty, if not deceitful. Continue reading Once Again, Aliquippa Workers Hit the Streets to Demand Their Pay

5000 Steelworkers Deliver a Message to GOP Stimulus Blockers and Cutters


Steelworkers Jobs
March Draws Thousands
in Granite City, IL

By Scott Cousins
St Louis Suburban Journals

Feb. 10, 2009 – A line of more than 5,500 laid-off steelworkers from Granite City, auto workers from Decatur and Fenton, Mo., and their supporters stretched out for more than eight blocks along a mile-long route as part of a “Put America Back To Work” march Tuesday morning in Granite City.

The march, sponsored by local and state labor unions and several community groups, was held to support passage of a federal stimulus bill, including a “buy American” provision.

Both city and union officials said slightly more than 5,500 people participated. Continue reading 5000 Steelworkers Deliver a Message to GOP Stimulus Blockers and Cutters

France Protects Its Auto Workers

A Lesson from France
“The French government said it would give 6.5 billion euros ($8.4 billion) in low interest loans to Renault SA and PSA Peugeot-Citroen in exchange for pledges that the car makers won’t close any factories or lay off any workers in France for the duration of the funding.” Wall Street Journal 2-10-09

Quel surpris! The French government bailout of France’s auto industry requires the auto companies to continue the employment of the company’s workers! In the US, on the other hand, the government urges the auto industry to “restructure” before receiving bailout funds, principally by laying off workers.

Are US auto workers any less deserving of this pledge? Does government owe them any less, in a time of global economic crisis?

But then nobody asked…

In the US, representatives of the auto workers join the CEO’s in begging for corporate bailout money while conceding that everyone must make sacrifices. It is a foregone conclusion that tens of thousands of workers will lose their jobs for the sake of “restructuring”.

France’s commitment to its auto workers certainly does not spring from any compassion on the part of its government. French President Sarkozy has dedicated his term to breaking the back of France’s unions. He is widely viewed as a French George Bush, seeking to wipeout the social gains of years of struggle in the interest of a harsh competitive regimen.

But the French working class has pushed back with militant, united street actions and strikes. They have joined students, immigrants, retirees, and professionals in resisting. Long derided by arrogant tourists for its labor militancy, France has – ironically – faired better economically than its European counterparts in the face of the world crisis.

The above commentary is from zz’s blog. Note that unemployed French auto workers also enjoy continued access to full health care benefits under France’s national single payer helathcare system.

Green Jobs 2009: Steelworkers Meet Hip-Hoppers and Tree-Huggers


Photo: AFLCIO’s Richard Trumka at Green Jobs 2009

Blue-Green Insurgency
Gets Fired Up at the
DC Green Jobs Conference

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

When you walk into a large and stately Washington, DC hotel lobby and find it teeming with thousands of smiling, buzzing people-half in labor union jackets and ball caps, the other half dressed in 30-something hip-hop causal-you know some special is happening.

This was the lively, energized scene for three cold wintry days this Feb 4-6 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, as nearly 3000 activists and organizers gathered for the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” National Conference. The gathering was convened by more than 100 organizations, representing every major trade union and every major environmental group in the country, among others. Continue reading Green Jobs 2009: Steelworkers Meet Hip-Hoppers and Tree-Huggers

Beaver County’s Recovery in the 1930s


Photo: Lodge at Raccoon Creek State Park Today. The park was built in the 1930s by CCC teams of unemployed young workers, like the Western PA CCC camp above.

Impact of 1930s
Still Seen Locally

By Bob Bauder
Beaver County Times

Feb.1, 2009 – President Barack Obama’s plan for putting Americans to work by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is an old idea, dating back to the Great Depression and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Among the alphabet soup of agencies created during the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration stands out as one of the most successful.

From 1935 to 1943, the WPA spent about $10.5 billion (about $159 billion in 2008 dollars) and employed about 8.5 million Americans who would have otherwise been on relief rolls. Continue reading Beaver County’s Recovery in the 1930s