Beaver Rally for Jobs, Peace, Justice Jan. 21st

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By Tina Shannon

We had 275 people at our Courthouse. Speakers were Don Siegel, an Intl VP from IBEW, our Central Labor Council president, our NAACP president, our PDA president (me), our peace group president, our NOW president (who is also a CLUW coordinator), and a local African American teacher who also wrote a hit song in the early 70s .

The event was MC’d by the chairperson of the Labor Council’s Community Services Committee & me(he is also chair of out Moral Mondays Coalition, which sponsored the event). The picture was taken by the newly elected secretary of our newly reconstituted Young Dems chapter.

Our event was pretty much a big love fest, creating a real feeling of community. 30 people followed us to a local restaurant to break bread together & get to know us. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.

I just wanted you all to know.

Love & solidarity forever

SPEAKERS LIST

Don Siegel, Intl VP IBEW

Rick Galiano, President Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Will Sallis, President Beaver County NAACP

Tina B Shannon, president 12th Congressional District Chapter Progressive Democrats of America

Melvin Steals, local retired educator & community leader

Janet Hill, president Beaver County NOW

Nancy O’Leary, president Beaver County Peacelinks

Mark Benkart, chairperson Moral Mondays Coalition of Beaver County & Chairperson of Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council’s Community Services Committee

Our event was pretty much a big love fest, creating a real feeling of community. 30 people moved to a local restaurant to break bread together. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.

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Republicans Have No Replacement for Affordable Care Act

Letter:

This is why Republicans can’t find a replacement for Obamacare

 A key reason the Republican Party is having such a hard time with the replacement part of “repeal and replace” is that Obamacare is virtually the same privatized mandate plan it pushed for since President Richard Nixon first proposed the National Health Strategy in 1971 then again in 1974. Then the GOP revived its privatized mandate plan again in 1993 with then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole helping to propose the Health Equity and Access Reform Today act or HEART as the alternative to the proposed single-payer plan Health Security Act of 1993 — commonly known as “Hillarycare“ — and then again when then-Gov. Mitt Romney proposed — and succeeded in implementing — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2006 in Massachusetts.

Today’s Affordable Care Act is very similar to the privatized mandate plan the Republicans pushed for 40 years. President Barack Obama — as a compromise to have basic health reform passed — used this same GOP blueprint with one significant change: adding a public option alongside the GOP’s privatized mandate plan (basically, Obama proposed adding an option to join a form of Medicare).

Eventually the public option was stripped out of the 2010 ACA bill in further compromise to attract bipartisan support for the bill, leaving in its place the very plan that the GOP wanted and pushed for decades. Unfortunately, the ACA did not receive a single vote from the Republican Party that created the plan’s primary concepts as alternative to a single-payer — “Medicare for all” — type of system.

As a result, the GOP’s repeal and replace position backs it into a challenging corner. It has no real replacement plan because the ACA is essentially the privatized mandate it has pursued for so many years. The only possible alternative to a 40-year-old GOP plan would be reverting to the old system, leaving millions of people without full coverage or proper health care. Even those with coverage — perhaps through their employers — could then once again have a cap on lifesaving treatments, such as those for cancer, and thereby reinstating the privatized insurance “panels” deciding the profitability of patient treatment versus patient outcomes.

Since the Republicans will not likely propose a single-payer program, that only leaves tweaking the current Obamacare plan. However, if they instead repeal with no replacement they risk a collapse of the system as insurers pull out of the program with a result that could worsen the health of millions of Americans, dramatically raise health care costs and move America further away from the patient-centric health system that is so much more successful at a lower cost than those of 36 other countries.

— Michael Buxbaum, Chicago

Rep. Rothfus Votes to Allow Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

 

Congressional Progressive Caucus: House GOP Vote Twice Within 24 Hours to Allow Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security


January 13, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and First Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) issued the following statement after the House GOP Majority voted twice against CPC’s amendment to block cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefits.

“House Republicans voted not once, but twice to block the CPC amendment to prevent cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. President-elect Trump promised at least 13 times during his campaign he would not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. The President-elect vowed to support these programs that American families depend on, so why won’t House Republicans vote to protect these earned benefits?”

Last night, the House GOP Majority Republicans blocked the amendment for consideration in Rules Committee. Today, the House GOP Majority also defeated an attempt to bring up the amendment for a vote in the full House. A copy of the CPC “No Benefit Cuts” amendment can be found here.

List of Groups Supporting this Amendment: AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, AFL-CIO, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Social Security Works, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Economic Opportunity Institute, Progressive Democrats of America, People Demanding Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO Action, National Nurses United, Latinos for a Secure Retirement

Cosponsors (48): Pocan, Ellison, Grijalva, Lee, SchakowskyTonko, Nadler, Wilson, Cummings, Wasserman Schultz, Carson, Holmes Norton, Cohen, Garamendi, Watson Coleman, Huffman, Nolan, Raskin, Espaillat, Foster, Pingree, Meng, McGovern, Pascrell, Bonamici, Clark, Lieu, Cicilline, O’Halleran, Beatty, Boyle, DeFazio, Green, Jeffries, Moore, Kildee, Sánchez, Takano, Frankel, McCollum, Robert A. Brady, John Conyers, JR., John Lewis, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Serrano, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Judy Chu, Ted Deutch, Tim Walz and Dina Titus.

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest values-based caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.

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Rep. Rothfus Votes to End Rules Protecting Water, Air, and Workers

water-protectionJUST HOURS AFTER passing the very first bill of the new Congress on Wednesday — one designed to roll back a range of environmental and consumer regulations — House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., celebrated with a corporate lobbying firm at a fundraiser for his campaign committee.

The vote on the Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 took place at 4:48 p.m. on Wednesday. The fundraiser, at the offices of the BGR Group, a major lobbying firm, started at 7 p.m.

The bill would amend existing law to allow Congress to repeal en masse multiple regulations finalized since the end of May last year. The law is believed to be aimed at rolling back a rule designed to deter mining companies from polluting drinking water sources, rules designed to curb hazardous methane emissions from fracking sites, and a rule that extends the threshold for overtime pay to workers, among others.

BGR Group represents Chevron, Celgene Corp, the Consumer Technology Association, Eli Lilly & Co., Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson, Raytheon, Southern Company, and Xerox, among many other clients, and has helped a number of clients work on regulatory policy.

The high-dollar event had a $10,000 price tag for each sponsor of the event, $2,500 for each political action committee, and $1,500 per individual, according to an invitation obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and shared with The Intercept.

Bridget Gribbin, a fundraiser for Speaker Ryan who helped organize the event, declined to comment, but a representative of the BGR Group confirmed that Ryan  attended.

Lobbyists are particularly eager to use the newly empowered Republican Congress to sweep away the environmental, financial, labor and consumer-oriented rules implemented by the Obama administration.

The U.S Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying trade group for large firms like Google and Goldman Sachs, made the Midnight Rules Relief legislation a top priority. Other trade groups representing a wide swath of business interests, such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses, have also lobbied in support of the measure.

The first week of legislative action for the 115th Congress began with a thwarted attempt by Republicans to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that investigates misconduct, in particular between lawmakers and lobbyists. After a public outcry, the GOP dropped the attempt to weaken the office.

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The link to the Roll Call on this vote is here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll008.xml

Wilkes Barre Labor Council and Two USW Locals Endorse Medicare for All

medicareforallWilkes Barre Labor Council and Two USW Locals Endorse HR 676

The Greater Wilkes Barre Labor Council and two United Steelworkers locals in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, have endorsed Congressman John Conyers’ HR 676, national single payer health care legislation, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.

The Labor Council, comprised of 47 locals from 28 unions representing 10,000 members, endorsed HR 676 at their monthly meeting on December 22, 2016, becoming the 152nd central labor council to take this action.

The two USW locals together have more than 1,650 members.  USW Local 5652, an amalgamated local, represents workers in a variety of jobs including making shelving and heating cabinets for restaurants, manufacturing gears for airplanes, repairing utility trucks, and working at a correspondence school.

USW Local 15253 represents workers who do heavy highway construction from the Maryland border to the New York border and from the New Jersey border to the middle of Pennsylvania.

William Herbert, Treasurer of Local 5652 said “We’ve been getting ripped off by insurance companies.”  He told of the crises faced by even heart attack patients who are confronted with demands for up front payments as high as $1,700.  Herbert worked successfully to get his Congressperson, Matt Cartwright, to sign on to HR 676.

Herbert made the following statement on behalf of his local:

“USW Local 5652 passed a resolution calling on Congress to pass H.R. 676. For too long the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have been charging outrageous prices for their products. The bill would extend Medicare to everyone and eliminate co-pays and deductibles. We feel that this is the only way to insure health care for all Americans. If this bill passed, we would no longer need to negotiate for health care in our contracts. If an employee gets laid off his insurance would continue at the same level. We urge all Americans to call their Representatives in Congress and the Senate and ask them to pass H.R. 676.”

The HR 676 endorsement resolutions were signed by President Dave Brandt of Local 5652 and President Joseph M. Padavan of Local 15253.  Padavan is also president of the Greater Wilkes Barre Labor Council.

Issued by:
Kay Tillow, Coordinator

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Workers and Community Protest Job and Benefit Cuts

Steelworkers protest loss of jobs, benefits

JACOB TIERNEY | Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, 12:06 a.m.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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MICHAEL SWENSEN | FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Members of United Steelworkers and community supporters gather for candlelight vigil outside the Akers

Union Electric Steel facility in Avonmore, PA in protest of the company’s plans to lay off dozens of workers

and cut healthcare for hundreds of retirees. Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2016


 

Steelworkers huddled beneath umbrellas, protecting lit candles from a steady downpour as they held a vigil to protest layoffs and benefit cuts at the Akers National Roll plant in Avonmore.

“It’s just very unfair. I’ve got 27 years down there, my dad had 45,” said machine operator Jimmy Stine, standing with more than 100 people in the field outside the plant.

Union Electric Steel Corp. announced in October it would temporarily shut down the plant, which makes cast steel rolls, as it restructures to cut costs.

The facility will be closed by April 21 if the situation continues as it is, but it is possible a deal could be struck with United Steelworkers to keep it open, according to Union Electric Steel spokeswoman Melanie Sprowson.

USW accused the company of using the looming closure to threaten the union into accepting dozens of job cuts.

“It helps nobody for the plant to be closed,” said Lou Bonnoni, president of United Steel Workers District 10, Local Union 1138.

Sprowson said the company could not comment on layoffs or employee benefits.

“It’s a private matter between the corporation and the union, and we’re hoping our talks with the union are going to continue,” she said.

Union Electric Steel, a subsidiary of Ampco-Pittsburgh, bought the plant from investment firm Altor Equity Partners in March.

It quickly started eliminating positions, according to Bonnoni.

The plant had 198 union workers at the start of 2016. It now has 160, and wants to cut most of those, he said.

“I don’t know how you can run a plant with only 50 people. It’s ludicrous, it doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said.

Sprowson said she could not discuss staffing numbers.

The company also cut health benefits for retired employees, Bonnoni said.

Bob Dobrosky worked as a heavy equipment operator at the plant for more than 24 years. When he retired in 2014, he expected he and his wife would remain fully covered under the company’s health care package until he was eligible for Medicare, the same as all retirees from the plant.

He found out in October that he would have to find his own health insurance, although Union Electric Steel would continue to contribute $500 a month for him and $200 a month for his wife.

“So many things in America happen this way, and it’s a shame,” Dobrosky said. “People work all their lives, and they just turn around and stick a knife in your back after it’s done.”

Bonnoni said USW is planning to file a lawsuit against Union Electric over the cuts to retiree health benefits, which the union contends is a violation of its labor agreement with the company.

“You’re talking about people who worked their whole life, and all of a sudden they had their health care ripped out from under them,” he said.

He said he hopes the candlelight vigil will be a show of community support that might convince Union Electric Steel to change its terms. He’s reached out to politicians at every level, including a letter to President-elect Donald Trump.

At the vigil, USW officials and plant employees urged Union Electric Steel to forestall its planned cuts.

Avonmore Mayor Paula Jones, a lifelong resident of the borough, cried as she recalled how much the plant has meant to the community.

Stine said he expects the plant will go idle, at least for a while.

“It’s going to hurt a lot of people. It’s going to hurt this town.”

Bonnoni said USW is willing to negotiate, but not to accept Union Electric Steel’s terms that include mass layoffs and cuts to retiree health insurance.

“We have no problem giving our shirt, but you’re not taking our pants too,” he said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at (724) 836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com

West Virginia Voters Wanted Bernie

Daniel Sidorick

Daniel Sidorick teaches labor history at Rutgers University. His book, Condensed Capitalism: Campbell Soup and the Pursuit of Cheap Production in the Twentieth Century (Cornell University Press) was awarded the Richard P. McCormick Prize by the New Jersey Historical Commission.

View all posts by Daniel Sidorick »

The Guardian‘s West Coast bureau chief paid a quick visit to McDowell County, West Virginia in October to film a video for the news organization’s website titled “Why the poorest county in West Virginia has faith in Trump.” The video’s description promised it would explain why “Donald Trump was more popular in McDowell County—the poorest county of West Virginia—then anywhere else in America during the Republican primaries.” The video dutifully showed what the Guardian’s readers would expect: poor working-class whites in an economically devastated county, left behind by the winds of change and the global economy. The Trump phenomenon growing in its native soil. The video in fact did a great job of showing how working people have been abandoned when they can no longer contribute to the profits of corporate America. What it totally failed to show was that McDowell people were open to, even preferred, a real alternative to Trump and Clinton.

Trump’s alleged popularity was based on the presidential primary results, in which the Republican candidate won a total of 785 votes. Yes, 785 voters were enough to paint McDowell County as the poster child of regressive right-wing populism. Nowhere in the video or the accompanying webpage were the actual primary numbers presented, nor was it mentioned that Bernie Sanders won 1,488 votes in the same primaries—almost twice as many as Trump! Nor that in 2008 a large majority voted for Obama in the general election.

Why are the Democratic party elites so determined to disavow the party’s largest core constituency since the New Deal? Apparently because their strategists have concluded that basing their electoral strategy on identity politics will win them a large and ever-growing share of the American electorate, while a class-based approach, though it would directly address the needs and concerns of all working people—working-class whites and especially minorities and immigrants—would be an anachronistic dead end. Their media allies reinforced their comforting illusions with videos like this one that omit any mention of downtrodden working people’s openness to leftist alternatives. That McDowell’s residents cast far more ballots for a self-described socialist than all other candidates in the primaries should not be all that surprising in a county that took part in the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in American history. Many of the comments to the video, however, as expected, denounced the poor white Neanderthals there for their obvious misogynist and fascist sympathies: “Ignorant foolish people”; “These are Clinton’s ‘deplorables.’”; “Now WV men can grope and rape at will”; “The nativist, racist and outright fascist language of Il Trumpolini and his promise the [sic] Make Them Great Again – based on their skin tone, unfortunately appeals to far to [sic] many there.” Would they still have made these comments if the Guardian had let them know twice as many McDowell residents voted for Bernie as for Trump?

Trump’s victory came from many segments of America, including some who embrace his proto-fascist rantings. But for millions of Americans who have been suffering due to the policies of both parties over the last few decades, many of their votes were a direct result of his promises, regardless of how bogus they are, to attack trade deals that hurt the working class, bring back jobs, and protect Social Security, along with his middle finger allegedly aimed at the elites and their establishment politics. The Democratic leaders made his job easy for him by derailing Sanders’ bid for the nomination and doubling down on their anti-working-class neoliberal agenda, aided inexplicably and shamefully by most of the top leadership of the unions.

Well, the media got what it wanted. On November 8, McDowell County, in the absence of a left alternative, voted 75% to 23% for Trump. For anyone who wants to build a movement to resist a Trumpian future, providing a real alternative politics to the millions who are suffering in our economy will be absolutely essential.

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