Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Joe the "Plumber" Shills Against the Employee Free Choice Act in PA

Joe the “Plumber” doesn’t know that card check is already the law.  Video of Joe in Harrisburg, PA today.  Prior to this video, off camera, he admits he hasn’t read the Employee Free Choice bill, yet he comes to Pennsylvania to fight against workers’ rights:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Specter took $235,350 from union busters in 2008

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has spent a career crafting an image of independence and integrity. On March 24 he sacrificed both when he turned his back on the working people in his state. Specter announced that he would not vote to allow the Employee Free Choice Act to receive an up or down vote on the Senate floor; a move that some consider fatal to the legislation. In a statement on the Senate floor he waxed eloquent about his belief that a difficult economic climate is no time for workers to receive a living wage. 

Specter received $235,350 in 2008 from Blank Rome LLP a self described “union avoidance” law firm.

Read the whole article here:  http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/specter-took-250k-from-union-buster-in-2008-then-turned-back-on-workers

Tip of the hat to Alan Hart from UE News for pointing us to this article.- MM

Thursday, March 26, 2009

N.H. House backs single-payer health plan

N.H. Business Reviewhttp://nhbr.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090325/NEWS06/903259997 

N.H. House backs single-payer health plan

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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The New Hampshire House went on record in favor of a single-payer national health-care system Tuesday, in a last minute, 192-150 roll call vote.

Rep. Jill Shaffer Hammond, D-Peterborough, spoke for the resolution, HCR2, which supports the federal National Health Insurance Act and calls for similar coverage offered in other industrialized nations. The federal act, currently languishing in Congress, goes far beyond what President Obama, and most Democratic candidates running to the left of him, proposed in the last campaign. The act would increase the Medicaid payroll tax to 4.5 percent from 1.2 percent, allowing the federal government to insure everyone not currently insured, said Shaffer Hammond – an amount, she contended, that is far lower than the amount most people currently pay for health insurance.

Already, she said, the government pays for veterans, elderly and the poor, and all high-risk groups with expensive coverage.

Add on government workers, and “we are more than 60 percent there already,” she said.

“No more would the small-business owner faced with a 23 percent increase in insurance premiums have to negotiate a 16 percent increase and then talk to their employees about doubling their deductible,” she said. “No more would a family have to face medical bankruptcy. Let’s liberate our small business to compete locally, nationally and globally.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tell Specter: Let the Senate Vote on Employee Free Choice

Tell Senator Specter:

Allow the Senate to vote on the Employee Free Choice Act

Last month we sent an email asking whether Senator Specter was on the side of Rush Limbaugh or on the side of working families. Yesterday he answered the question. Specter came down solidly on the side of Limbaugh and the CEOs of Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

Specter said he will not allow a Senate vote on the Employee Free Choice Act. In a textbook example of irony, Specter said his reason was his belief in the sanctity of majority voting as a cornerstone of our democracy.

Specter said he will impose his will and refuse to allow the Senate to vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, despite the fact that it is favored by a majority of his fellow Senators, a majority in the House of Representatives, and most importantly, a majority of the American people. Specter said he will use an antiquated Senate rule that allows a minority to block votes to keep this popular bill from passing.

That's not the way the system is supposed to work. And it belies the hypocrisy of Specter's decision.

Click here to tell Senator Specter to let the Senate vote on Employee Free Choice. http://www.keystoneprogress.org/page/s/specterEFCA

If he opposes the bill, he can vote against it, but he should not singlehandedly impose his will on the Senate and working families across the nation.

In Solidarity,

Michael Morrill
Keystone Progress
Follow Keystone Progress on Twitter:

More on Employee Free Choice:
When workers are free to choose to join a union, our economy can work for everyone again. That's why we need the Employee Free Choice Act-a bill in Congress that would help to level the playing field and give workers the freedom to choose a union.

Employee Free Choice will allow workers to determine whether or not they want a union, without undue intimidation and interference from the employer. It will let workers decide whether they want to hold an election or simply have a majority sign a petition to determine whether or not they can have a union. Both options exist now, but instead of letting the workers decide, current law allows the employer to decide which method is used.

According to American Rights at Work, the Employee Free Choice Act would:

·         Help America's working families improve their standard of living. Workers in unions earn 30 percent higher wages and are 59 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance.

·         Fix a broken system that gives corporations far too much power. When workers try to organize unions, they are often harassed and intimidated; 25 percent of companies unlawfully fire pro-union workers.

·         Restore fairness and the promise of the American Dream, with a robust middle class, economic growth, and shared prosperity.

Tell Specter to let the Senate vote on Employee Free Choice:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SEIU/ CNA Announce Comity Agreement- Huge Victory for Workers!

SEIU, CNA/NNOC Announce Major Accord

Expected to Spur Campaign for Employee Free Choice Act, Spark Major Drive for Healthcare Union Organizing, and Boost RN Standards and Power for Healthcare Workers

OAKLAND, Calif. and WASHINGTON, March 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a dramatic agreement likely to accelerate the drive to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and rapidly promote unionization in the healthcare sector, the Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today announced the signing of a transformative cooperation agreement.

Under the pact SEIU and CNA/NNOC, the largest unions in the nation representing healthcare workers and registered nurses, respectively, will work together to bring union representation to all non-union RNs and other healthcare employees and step up efforts to enact Employee Free Choice.

Increased union representation in healthcare, say the unions, would play a huge role in strengthening the ability of nurses and other employees to fight for improved patient care standards, promote economic recovery through improved economic standards and sharply assist efforts to enact genuine healthcare reform nationally and in state capitols.

Concurrently, SEIU and CNA/NNOC jointly endorsed measures to allow states to adopt single-payer, or an expanded and updated Medicare for all, as a comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare reform.

"This marks the beginning of a new future for nurses and other healthcare workers and their patients throughout this nation," said Andy Stern, president of SEIU, the nation's largest healthcare union. "We are lining up to make sweeping changes to this country's broken healthcare system, and as we wait for the starting gun it is imperative that we put the past behind us and move forward by putting all healthcare workers in the strongest possible position to define reform, move legislation and make the new healthcare system operational. Is this accord surprising? Perhaps, but those who recognize our shared value of making sure registered nurses and other healthcare workers have not only a say but a critical role in helping reshape a failed system into something that actually helps people know that this is the right step to help us meet the challenge and the call of this moment."

"This is an exciting new day for nurses and patients across the nation," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. "This agreement provides a huge spark for the emergence of a more powerful, unified national movement that is needed to more effectively challenge healthcare industry layoffs and attacks on RN economic and professional standards and patient care conditions. It will also strengthen the ability of all direct care RNs to fight for real healthcare reform and advocate for improved patient care conditions and stronger patient safety legislation from coast to coast."

Today's agreement comes just three weeks after the announcement that CNA/NNOC, with 85,000 current members, will be uniting with the United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Union to form the largest RN union ever in the U.S. with 150,000 members. Steps to complete that unification are continuing.

Now, augmented by the joint campaigns with SEIU and its 2 million members, the creation of a much larger, stronger, national nurses union and RN movement, with sweeping implications for improving RN standards and patient care protections, is greatly hastened, said CNA/NNOC and SEIU today.

Among key elements of the pact:
The two unions will work together to organize non-union hospital workers throughout the country, with CNA/NNOC as the leading voice for RNs, and SEIU as the leading voice for all other hospital workers.
The unions will launch an intensive national organizing campaign with an initial focus on the nation's largest hospital systems.
In addition to organizing, SEIU and CNA/NNOC will coordinate on a broad range of other issues from bargaining with common employers to the campaign to enact the Employee Free Choice Act.
SEIU and CNA/NNOC publicly endorse measures that allow states to adopt single-payer health care systems.
Both parties will refrain from "raiding," seeking to displace the existing members of the other's organization, or from interference in the other's internal affairs.
The two unions will create a new joint RN organization in Florida to represent current and future RNs of both unions. In all other states, SEIU will continue to represent their current RN members in collective bargaining.

With 2 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is the largest health care union, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home care; the largest property services union, including building cleaning and security; and the second largest public employee union.
CNA/NNOC is the nation's largest organization of direct care RNs with 85,000 members in all 50 states.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stop Legal Discrimination in PA

Stop Legal Discrimination in Pennsylvania

The bad news:

There is no Pennsylvania law preventing discrimination in employment, housing or accommodations because of a person’s  sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, you can be fired from your job, refused service, or denied housing without any recourse under PA law.

The good news:

Pennsylvania took the first step today toward making that discrimination illegal.

HB 300, legislation prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in housing, employment, and public accommodations passed the State Government Committee in the PA House of Representatives today.   Current Pennsylvania law provides basic legal protection against discrimination on the bases of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, handicap or disability, education and the use of a guide dog.   HB 300 offers the same anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that are offered to other Pennsylvanians.

The work before us:

Governor Rendell has promised to sign anti-discrimination legislation if it reaches his desk, and a majority of the Senate and House will vote to pass it.  We just need to get leadership to schedule a vote.

That’s where you come in.  Take a moment to sign our e-petition to House and Senate Leadership asking them to schedule votes on this vital legislation as soon as possible.

Click here to take action, then forward this action to everyone you know. http://www.keystoneprogress.org/page/s/paantidiscr1

Bigotry has no place in Pennsylvania.  It’s time to end discrimination now!

Michael Morrill, Keystone Progress
Jake Kaskey, Equality Advocates Pennsylvania

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Casey on Employee Free Choice

We don't usually post news releases from elected officials, but Casey's news release on the Employee Free Choice Act is unusual and remarkable in its characterization of workers' right as a simple matter of justice. 


For Immediate Release

March 10, 2009


Casey: Bill Protecting Worker Rights More Necessary in Recession


WASHINGTON, DC- Following a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing today on Rebuilding Economic Security: Empowering Workers to Restore the Middle Class, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement: 


“In my judgment, it is appropriate at this hearing to discuss the Employee Free Choice Act, but also the trauma that the American family is living through in this recession.  We need to talk about helping to provide economic security for families who don’t have it.  One of the best ways to ensure economic security for workers and their families is for that worker to be a member of a union.


“The other side has done a good job of making their arguments.  I give them credit for their political skill -- even if their arguments are not always accurate. 

“What you don’t hear is that the Employee Free Choice Act actually gives workers two different ways to choose whether to form a union: through an election process or through majority sign up.  The choice is up to the workers.


“I’m a Pennsylvanian.  We have had a lot of tough years seeing people trampled by corporate power.  These troubles marred the last century, but we still have problems today.  I have seen anti-union intimidation when firms were brought in to discourage organizing by health care workers.  This bill will help preserve the rights of workers. 


“Contrary to the rhetoric from the other side, the Employee Free Choice Act does not abolish the secret ballot election process.  A secret ballot would still be available.  If workers prefer to use majority sign up, they could do that as well.


“We know from our history that if people collectively bargain and organize for wages and benefits, it is not only good for the workers and their families, but it is also good for the U.S. economy.  One of the reasons why we have a strong middle class is because we have had unions that have helped build that middle class.


“Allowing people to organize and bargain for their rights and benefits is not just a labor issue; it is an issue of economic justice. 


St. Augustine said, ‘Without justice, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers?’ 


“This bill can help in the pursuit of economic justice.  If we don’t pursue justice, we will be nothing but a band of robbers.”






ACLU of PA State Conference, April 18

Join us for the 2009 ACLU of Pennsylvania State Conference!  

We the People: Working Together to Restore Civil Liberties


Saturday, April 18th

8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Harrisburg/Hershey Holiday Inn Conference Center

604 Station Road, Grantville 17028


Now, more than ever, we civil libertarians must roll up our sleeves. In the weeks, months and years ahead, there is much work to be done. We have an extraordinary opportunity to make this country and this state a freer, fairer place. Come learn what you can do to advance civil liberties in Pennsylvania!


Conference Highlights


Keynote: Ending the War on Drugs

with Officer Howard J. Wooldridge (retired), Founding Member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a drug-policy-reform organization consisting of current and former law enforcement officers


Plenary: A Civil Libertarian’s Perspective on Obama’s First 100 Days

with Larry Frankel, State Legislative Counsel for the Washington Legislative Office, National ACLU



  • An Activist Guide to Slowing the Growth of the Prison Industrial Complex
  • Reproductive Rights 101: Everything Your Legislator Needs to Know but Is Afraid to Ask  
  • Challenging Police Misconduct: Community Responses 
  • The ADAAA: Undoing the Damage to the Major Civil Rights Act for People with Disabilities
  • Freedom to Work: Ending LGBT Discrimination in Pennsylvania
  • Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline 


Additional activities on Friday, April 17

We also invite you to attend a pre-conference reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. on April 17 at the conference hotel.


After-dinner entertainment provided by singer/songwriter Jefferson Pepper. Registration for dinner and reception required.  Concert is free and does not require registration. 


Registration Information

Register online at: www.aclupa.org/conference

Member registration: $65
Non-member registration: $85 (includes a free one-year ACLU membership)
Student/low-income registration: $20 

Reception on April 17: Free
Dinner on April 17: $35

Hotel Information

Rooms are available at the conference hotel, the Holiday Inn Harrisburg/Hershey, for the conference rate of $99 plus tax. Reservations can be made by calling (717) 469-0661. Please mention the ACLU rate when making reservation. Conference rate is good until 3/31/2009.


Contact us at 215-592-1513 x122 or aclupa@aclupa.org . 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill Introduced

This week Rep. Frankel introduced HB 300, legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations because of one's sexual orientation or gender identity or expression with 78 other co-sponsors from across the state! 

You can read more about the introduction here:  http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://equalitypa.org%2Fnews%2Fnews_view.php%3Fnews_id%3D75

Things are really coming together for the Lobby Day and Rally on Tuesday, March 17 at the statehouse in Harrisburg!  Together we will really stand together and speak with one voice for LGBT equality across the state! 

We have more information about the free buses from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  The bus will be leaving Pittsburgh at 7:30am from the IBEW Local 5 Hall at 5 Hot Metal Street in Pittsburgh.  The bus will leave from Center City, Philadelphia at 9:00am, with a specific location to be announced shortly. 

To reserve a seat on the Pittsburgh bus, email pittsburghequalitybus@gmail.com, and for the Philly bus, phillyequalitybus@gmail.com. 

For those not riding the buses, or coming from the center of the state, just meet at 11:30am at St. Michael's Lutheran Church at 118 State Street for complimentary lunch and lobby training!

You can read Rep. Dan Frankel's (D, Allegheny) news release here: http://www.pahouse.com/PR/023030409.asp

Maryland Insurance Companies Introduce Universal coverage Bill

This appears to be a trend, with Massachusetts already mandating health insurance coverage.  Now Maryland wants to get into the act.

In related news, Hawaii's House Finance Committee passed a bill to set up Hawaii Health Authority to look at ways to provide universal health coverage.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bush Considered Throwing Out First Amendment

Why isn't this front page news across the country?

From Newsweek:
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.