In Arizona, 300,000 people will get the health care coverage they need, thanks to Gov. Jan Brewer’s change of heart on a key program of the Affordable Care Act. Brewer signed a bill into law accepting federal funds to cover low-income families under Medicaid—a bill that she had to fight against members of her own party in the state legislature to get passed in a special session she called.
It was a hard fight, but one we’re glad to see turned out the right way. The Medicaid provision was one of the key components of the ACA, but it was put at risk by a Supreme Court decision that left it up to the states to accept or decline the funds. Many states have—but others, like Texas, are refusing, leaving millions without coverage.
In other states, the process is still unfolding:
- About half a million people are waiting on the Michigan state Senate, who should vote this week on a state House-passed proposal to accept expanded Medicaid funds. Gov. Rick Snyder has promised to sign the bill into law.
- As the state legislature in Ohio debates accepting expanded funds, a new poll shows 63 percent of Ohioans want the expansion, which would cover an estimated 275,000 people.
- In Virginia, a commission to study accepting expanded Medicaid funds had its first meeting this week. The next meeting will take place in August.
- In New Hampshire, the state House—which supports accepting expanded funds—is working to craft a measure that will be able to get through the Republican-controlled Senate. This may mean a commission will be created to review the issue.
- Unfortunately, in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a measure to accept expanded funds. The bill, which would cover 60,000 people, passed by strong but not quite veto-proof margins, so the fate of Medicaid in Maine remains unclear.
Tags: ACA, Affordable Care Act, Arizona, Health Care, Maine, Medicaid, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia
On June 15, hundreds of working families from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio will come together for the Middle Class Survival Rally in Monroe, Mich. The goal of the rally is to educate people about the ongoing attacks on working families in the United States.
Mike Smith, AFL-CIO Community Services liaison to the United Way of Monroe County, Mich., expanded upon the goals of the rally:
This is a movement, something we want everybody to be involved in. This is about Michigan and Ohio coming together. We share a border and we share a lot of members. Many of the local unions in the Toledo area go into Monroe County. This is about everybody working together, going in the same direction.
Ray Wood of UAW Local 14 said the rally is open to the public: “It’s not a union issue, it is an everyone issue because what the unions have done is improve the quality of working life for everyone.”
Local 14 Secretary-Treasurer Mark Buford explained why the rally is important:
Your rights as a worker, your wages, your benefits are all under attack. Some companies are knocking people down to part-time and if you are looking for work and you are able to find a job, the wages are very low in a lot of cases. People have to stand up soon.
The rally will be held Saturday, June 15, from noon until 5 p.m. on Dog Lady Island in Monroe. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) will address the crowd.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Corporate Accountability, Indiana, Jobs, Michigan, Ohio, Rights At Work
I have been an employee at a private nursing home for 24 years. I now work part-time for five days in a two-week period, 7.5 hours per day. When my scheduled day to work falls on a holiday, I do not get paid for that day. Therefore I lose a day’s work and only get four days in that pay period. Why must I lose a day’s work because it is a holiday? It just does not seem fair to me.
— Expensive Holiday, Ohio
This is a pretty important issue—after all, you rely on having that consistent income, and getting a day without pay thrown at you is a big deal.
This is one of the problems with employers having all the say on what’s considered “fair.” Unless you have a contract or union agreement that says otherwise, it is probably legal. But “legal” doesn’t mean “fair.” While the federal government and most public employers recognize certain holidays and provide either paid time off or premium pay for their employers on those days, there is almost nothing required by statute for private sector employees with respect to holidays. Federal wage and hour law and the vast majority of state laws do not require private sector employers to treat holidays any differently than any other days. Unless you have an individual or union contract guaranteeing you a certain number of hours per week, or specifically requiring paid time off for holidays, you can be scheduled off without pay. Also, except in a small number of states (such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island), private sector employees are not entitled by statute to extra pay if they are required to work on a holiday.
So who gets to decide if you are going to be paid for a holiday, and who gets to decide what your schedule looks like? It’s not clear if you are working this schedule because it’s your preference or because that’s the only schedule your employer will offer you despite your long service.
Sometimes employers hold back holiday pay or other benefits as an incentive for working full-time or a certain number of hours. And too often employers are manipulating workers’ schedules so they don’t work enough hours to be eligible for those kinds of benefits. Even if that’s not what’s happening here, don’t you think 24 years working at the same place ought to come with some input into your working conditions? That might be a good question for you to take to some of your co-workers. While you’re at it, you might want to ask them if there’s anything else about their jobs they’d like to see get fixed. If enough of you end up on the same page, this might become an opportunity for you to address several issues at once—together.
Tags: Dear David, Massachusetts, Ohio, Paid Sick Days, Rhode Island, wages, workplace
With Congress continuing to struggle in federal budget negotiations – the notorious “fiscal cliff” with its automatic cuts to federal spending along with an end to all the Bush era income tax cuts – Working American members have more than their personal New Year’s resolutions on their minds. Throughout the last several weeks of the “lame duck” session in Congress, as they have been paying close attention to developments taking place on Capitol Hill, they have been moving forward with a campaign to make their strength in numbers felt in the debate.
Here in southwest Ohio, the target of their efforts has been Senator Sherrod Brown. They want him to clearly understand what members are demanding: an end to Bush era tax cuts for the richest 2%, along with no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Members have been writing letters as part of a campaign to gather hundreds of hand-written messages to the Senator from throughout the state. First of all, there was a desire to thank the Senator for being a reliable and long-time advocate for working families. Now, middle class Ohioans are asking him to be a champion for us on the issues that we all care about. In doing so, many in the greater Cincinnati area have also told their personal stories of how they or loved ones depend on these essential programs for their livelihoods, and even their very lives.
One such member is Julia Rothwell. A single mother with a full-time job, a new small business, and a daughter soon heading off to college, she worries about the future of Social Security:
“I will be hopefully retiring in about 25 years, and wonder whether I will have the Social Security benefits that I have been contributing to for the last 25 years. Please make sure to protect what I have worked for, and many Americans have worked for, so we may have peace of mind when we grow old.”
Karen Dollinger is another. A visiting assistant professor from Oxford in southwest Ohio, she holds these concerns for her parents, who also reside in the state:
“My parents are in their 60s, and my mother, who is a cancer survivor, and my father, who has Parkinson’s Disease, are on Medicare. Should my father need to go to a nursing home, my parents would need Medicaid to pay for it. They are not wealthy, and need a fair amount of medical care. If Medicare and Medicaid are cut, I worry about their survival, as they are already struggling to pay bills. I am certain that many other Americans find themselves in the same situation.”
And finally, there is Tammy Friedman. A nurse by training, she is currently a stay at home mom, and has a young son with special needs. In her letter to the Senator, she discusses the importance of preserving programs and institutions that are vital to the well-being of the “98%” and crucial to affording opportunity to people like her:
“We need to end the Bush tax cuts for the disproportionately richest Americans and restore them to the levels they were previously. This only makes sense and helps the nation as a whole. The burden of taxes on the middle class is already oppressive enough, and restoring the previous tax percentage on the 1-2% of wealthiest Americans would not burden or oppress anybody.”
Tammy gives voice to a view held by so many. What she recognizes – along with Julia, Karen, and millions of Working America members across the country – is that when they raise their voices together, they are more powerful. This strength can have a significant impact on what is taking place in Congress right now and into the New Year. You can raise your voice as well! Make contacting your members of Congress about these important issues your resolution. You can take action here.
Tags: Health Care, Jobs, Ohio, unemployment
Working America has endorsed the following candidates and ballot initiatives in the 2012 election. These endorsements do not cover all the candidates and ballot issues in which we have a stake, but they all reflect the passion of our members and the values of our organization.
On November 6, please consider the following as you go to vote:
Barack Obama for President
Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate, Massachusetts
Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate, Missouri
Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate, New Mexico
Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, Ohio
Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate, Virginia
Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate, Wisconsin
Joe Miklosi for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 6th District
Ed Perlmutter for U.S. Congress, Colorado, 7th District
Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress, Ohio, 16th District
Mark Critz for U.S. Congress, Pennsylvania, 12th District
No on Proposal 1, Michigan
Yes on Proposal 2, Michigan
Yes on Issue 2, Ohio
Tags: Barack Obama, Colorado, endorsement, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin
We’re proud to support President Barack Obama for re-election on Tuesday.
Four years ago, the nation was in crisis. We’d seen nearly a decade of stagnating wages, growing corporate power and steady erosion of the middle class. We were squandering time and resources we could have been using to rebuild America and create a fairer economy. In the fall, an under-regulated, irresponsible and out-of-control financial system detonated, which led to a massive recession and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. We nearly lost a major American industry as the recession crippled auto companies.
Today, we’ve seen nearly three straight years of jobs being added in the private sector. Though things are still tough, we stopped the nosedive of our economy avoided the catastrophic depression that seemed imminent in 2008. We saved nearly a million jobs or more by rescuing the auto industry. And what’s more, we passed much-needed reforms to our health care system and our financial system that will help protect working people and rein in corporate power. None of this was inevitable, none of it was easy, and none of it would have happened if our hard work hadn’t elected Barack Obama as our president.
President Obama also signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and an important credit card reform bill. He passed the Recovery Act that halted the economic collapse, cut taxes for working-class and middle class families and invested in our schools, our infrastructure and new kinds of energy. And he appointed champions for working people to the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Board.
We haven’t agreed with the president on everything, but when it comes down to it, he’s shown that he wants to make America work better for middle class and working-class families. His values and his priorities are the same ones we hear from ordinary people at their doors thousands of times a week: building prosperity by strengthening the middle class, ensuring a great education for our kids, keeping the promise of Social Security and Medicare for today’s retirees and tomorrow’s.
Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, has been hard to pin down on a lot of issues, but on the basic economic issues that matter most, his views are remarkably clear: he thinks corporations and the very wealthy are the most important actors in the economy, and so in order to make the economy work we have to tilt it ever-further in favor of those rich and powerful actors. He said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt” rather than investing in the auto industry. He named Paul Ryan as his running mate—endorsing a radical plan to demolish Medicare and leave seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies. As a finance-industry CEO, he exemplified the worst trends in our economy, stripping companies of value for himself and his shareholders and leaving the people who worked for those companies stranded. In his business career, he was referred to as a “pioneer” of outsourcing, and his proposals would give companies further incentives to ship He’s maddeningly unspecific about much of his tax plan, but every serious analysis shows that he would give bigger tax breaks to millionaires (like him) than even George W. Bush did. And he has declared time and time again that his top priority is repealing the health care reform and Wall Street reform that President Obama worked so hard to pass.
This isn’t a close call. President Obama’s skill and leadership in stopping the economic collapse and putting in place health care reform and Wall Street reform would be enough to earn him a second term—but the case for a vote for Obama is even clearer when you compare it to what a Romney administration would look like.
On Tuesday, we recommend a vote for President Obama—and we hope you’ll get your friends and family to the polls, too.
Photo by Intel Photos on Flickr
Tags: Barack Obama, Colorado, endorsement, Jobs, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin
Working America has strong connections to the state of Ohio. Some of our first pilot programs started in the Buckeye State, and over a million Ohioans call themselves Working America members.
Ohio features some of the closest and most crucial political races in the country. Working America has looked at the candidates and ballot options, and we endorse the following:
Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate
Yes on Issue 2
Betty Sutton for U.S. Congress (OH-16) – Find your district here.
All endorsements after the jump.
Tags: Betty Sutton, Ohio, Sherrod Brown, voting rights
Voters of Ohio’s new 16th District (check here to see if that includes you) have a unique opportunity – return one current Congressperson to Washington and send one home. Both Betty Sutton and Jim Renacci have clear voting records, and when it comes to working families, the overwhelming choice is Democrat Betty Sutton.
Rep. Sutton’s votes reflect an understanding that Rep. Renacci’s votes do not: that government has a limited but crucial role to play in economic recovery. Like U.S. Sherrod Brown, she fought hard for the rescue of the auto industry, as well as the “mini-stimulus” of the “Cash for Clunkers” program. She was recognized with a Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association (OADA) for her commitment to creating and retaining the jobs of autodealers and workers.
She voted for Obamacare, which has allowed thousands of Ohioans to afford health insurance and saved prescription drug costs for thousands of Ohio seniors. She opposed the “Ryan budget,” which would gut funding for education, cripple Medicaid, and end Medicare as we know it; Jim Renacci voted for it.
Rep. Sutton has also been recognized for her work on behalf of veterans. She worked on the Stop-Loss Compensation Act and the new GI Bill, and was named Legislator of the Year by the Ohio American Veterans Association. When the VA made plans to move their Lorain clinic to a less accessible location, Rep. Sutton was instrumental in making sure it remained at the readily accessible St. Joseph Community Center.
Republicans designed the 16th District especially to give Rep. Renacci a leg up. Yet Sutton has received the endorsements of every newspaper that covers the area, and the race is nearly tied. That is because the choice is abundantly clear: Renacci has fought for obstruction and austerity, while Sutton has fought for jobs, jobs, and jobs.
We endorse Rep. Betty Sutton for Ohio’s 16th Congressional District. Plan your vote now.
Photo by AFL-CIO on Flickr
Tags: Betty Sutton, endorsement, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
There is no one in Washington fighting harder for Ohio working families than Sherrod Brown.
When the economic crisis threatened to topple the auto industry, which supports one of out every eight Ohio jobs, Senator Brown worked with President Bush in 2008 and President Obama in 2009 and 2010 to find the best solution. The bold action by Senator Brown and the Obama Administration, though unpopular at the time, rescued a key American industry from collapse and has done wonders for the recovering Midwest economy.
His work extends far beyond the auto rescue, however. He has been a leading voice against tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. He has been a passionate, unwavering defender of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning, even as big money poured in against it. He is also steadfast in his belief that we must end “corporate personhood.”
For these reasons and others, $26 million of out-of-state, anonymous donations have flooded Ohio this past year, attacking Senator Brown and promoting his Republican opponent, first-term State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Brown faces more spending from his opposition than any other senator or Senate candidate in the country. This is is already the most expensive race in Ohio’s history.
This is no accident. The anonymous donors behind that $26 million – Wall Street, Karl Rove, oil companies, insurance interests, CEO’s who want “corporate personhood” to remain in place – recognize Sherrod Brown as a key obstacle in their efforts to exert control over our pocketbooks, our votes, and our elected officials. They can’t voucherize Medicare, dismantle Social Security, or continue to run the Wall Street casino while Sherrod Brown stands in their path.
While we respect his military service, there’s no doubt that Brown’s opponent, Treasurer Josh Mandel has run an exceedingly dishonest campaign. And when he is pressed on his agenda, what comes out is wholly against the interests of working families: repealing Obamacare, ending Medicare as we know it, keeping subsidies for oil companies and protecting tax breaks for outsourcers. In three debate performances, his conduct has been unbecoming of a Senate candidate but emblematic of today’s anti-worker Republican Party; calling Senator Brown a “liar” with no proof, repeating the debunked statement that Senator Brown “stole from Medicare,” and doubling down on his claim that support of the auto-rescue was “un-American.”
But even when not compared to his opponent, Sherrod Brown is passionate fighter for Ohio jobs, workers’ rights, and solutions that will aid our economic recovery. We urge a vote for Senator Sherrod Brown - plan your vote now.
Photo by USDAgov on Flickr.
Tags: endorsement, Josh Mandel, Ohio, Sherrod Brown
Okay, Ohio, we know. We spent most of 2011 urging you to vote No on Issue 2, which repealed the union-busting Senate Bill 5. But in 2012, we urge you to vote Yes on 2, the Ohio Redistricting Amendment.
They key argument for Issue 2 is the current Ohio Congressional Map. Drawn behind closed doors by politicians and special interests, the current map was created with one goal: protecting those who drew the map in political power. That means taking our voice in who should be representing us, and replacing it with politicians’.
Unfortunately, that means the districts defy geography, geometry, common interest, and common sense! Summit County is now divided into five different districts; neighbors across the street from each other in Akron might be voting for two separate representatives, one from Cleveland and another from Youngstown. The 15th District includes Wilmington and Athens, 109 miles apart, and also slivers of Columbus. “Live around Avon, Ohio?” Seth wrote earlier this year, “Depending on the street you’re on, you might share a district with people living in nearby Medina County, or nearly two hours away in Toledo, or all the way in St. Mary’s, practically at the Indiana border.” No wonder the Toledo Blade calls its new home, the 9th District, an “abomination.”
But it’s about more than geography. We want our elected officials to be as accountable as possible for their actions in Washington, and we also want them to work together, regardless of party. So when members of Congress only have to please one side of the aisle, because their district is 70 percent Republican or 80 percent Democratic, we get the same name-calling and obstructionism that has plagued our politics and stymied our economic recovery. Further, fairer and competitive districts mean that officials will need to run on the substance of their own ideas, not political affiliations, a welcome idea.
Issue 2 would create a 12-person “Citizens Commission” to draw legislative and congressional district maps. Any member of the public can submit a plan for consideration. The whole process: meetings, communications records, and draft plans must be available to the public. The new map, which would go into effect in 2014, would reflect the division of towns, cities, and counties, not just the political leanings of their inhabitants. No more “abominations” like the snaking 9th District.
The Citizens Commission would also include equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Even if you are a Democrat who dislikes the current map, there’s no reason that Democrats should be able to re-rig the map in their favor if they happen to be in power in the legislature.
There’s no reason we should have 16 “safe” districts in a politically competitive state like Ohio; and there’s a reason over 430,000 Ohio citizensacross the political spectrum signed their name to put Issue 2 on the ballot. For accountability, transparency, and districts that reflect our communities rather than our politics, we urge all Ohioans to vote Yes on Issue 2. Plan your vote now.
Tags: endorsement, Ohio, redistricting, voting rights