[Unions for Single Payer sent the following message on Jun. 20, 2016]
Thousands rally as 22,000 miners are threatened with cut off of health benefits
UMWA Plans March on Washington
Lexington, Kentucky. Over 5,000 miners rallied here last Tuesday to protest health benefit cuts threatened to happen before the end of the year. Responding to the call of their union, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), miners came from seven states to gather at the convention center. Some arrived with walkers, canes, wheel chairs, and oxygen tanks, giving tangible evidence of the toll on human health inflicted by the mining industry.
The UMWA reports that 22,000 retired union miners, widows or dependents would lose health care benefits at the end of the year if federal legislation they are backing isn’t enacted this year. Retirement benefits are also at risk.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts told those assembled that union miners had spent their lives working in dangerous places to provide America’s electricity and steel and make it the most prosperous nation on earth.
“We have stood up for America, and it’s time America stood up for us!” said Roberts, “America owes us, and we will collect on that debt!”
Union miners said the promise of good health care and pensions dates to 1946, when the federal government promised benefits in resolving a labor dispute.
Roberts Calls for March on Washington with Civil Disobedience
Roberts announced at the rally that union members will march on Washington D.C. later this year and risk being arrested if that’s what it takes. He told miners to go home and find at least five others that would be willing to rally at the nation’s capital.
The UMWA is calling for passage of legislation in Congress, Senate Bill 1714 and House Resolution 2403, which would redirect existing appropriations to ensure health care benefits for retirees whose companies have gone bankrupt in the last 4 years, as well as prevent the UMWA pension fund from collapsing. The Lexington Herald-Leader endorsed the proposed bills.
Contact your two senators and ask them to support S 1714 and your representative and ask him/her to support HR 2403. Call the US Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask for your congresspersons by name.
This coal miners' crisis is further testimony that collective bargaining power alone is insufficient to resolve the health care problem for unions and workers. Workers and the nation must have a legislative solution. If we are to protect and improve health care for workers, the labor movement must lead the battle for national single payer health care.
HR 676, a national single payer bill, would improve Medicare and expand it to everyone. It includes all medically necessary care including dental and drugs with no co-pays and no deductibles. It was introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and has 62 co-sponsors. If your union has not yet endorsed this bill, please do so!
Please note: Endorsements by WSPC should NOT be construed as an endorsement made by or on behalf of the Washington State Democratic Party.
The Washington State Progressive Caucus met in conjunction with the 2016 Washington State Democratic Convention in Tacoma on Friday, June 17.
The following candidates received endorsement from the Progressive Caucus at our meeting on June 17: Eric Holt, WA State Senate, 18th Legislative District Kelsey Hulse, Thurston County Commissioner, District 2
Please read the candidates' answers to the WSPC questionnaire on the Candidate Questionnaire page. (If you click on the candidate's name, you will be re-directed to the candidate's campaign website. WSPC makes no representation regarding the content of any candidate's promotional materials.)
________________________________________________________________________________________ The Washington State Progressive Caucus (WSPC) held our 2016 endorsement meeting on Monday, June 13 at the Sammamish Library.The meeting was attended by WSPC members from legislative districts and congressional districts all over Washington state. The following candidates received endorsement from the Progressive Caucus at our meeting on June 13. Names than have been grayed out did not make it into the top two in the August primary, and their names will not appear on the November ballot.
Philip Cornell, U.S. Senator for WA State Mike Lapointe, U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd Congressional District of WA State Jim Moeller, U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd Congressional District of WA State Pramila Jayapal, U.S. House of Representatives, 7th Congressional District of WA State Santiago Ramos, U.S. House of Representatives, 8th Congressional District of WA State Alida Skold, U.S. House of Representatives, 8th Congressional District of WA State Karen Fraser, WA State Lt. Governor John Paul Comerford, WA State Treasurer Jeff Sprung, WA State Auditor Luis Moscoso, WA State Senate, 1st Legislative District Tamborine Borrelli, WA State Senate, 2nd Legislative District Bob Hasegawa, WA State Senate, 11th Legislative District Erik Lee, WA State Senate, 22nd Legislative District Lisa Wellman, WA State Senate, 41st Legislative District Jason Ritchie, WA State House of Representatives, 5th Legislative District, Pos. 1 Darcy Burner, WA State House of Representatives, 5th Legislative District, Pos. 2 Karen Johnson, WA State House of Representatives, 22nd Legislative District, Pos. 1 Rhenda Iris Strub, WA State House of Representatives, 22nd Legislative District, Pos. 1 Jamie Smith, WA State House of Representatives, 25th Legislative District, Pos. 1 Wesley Irwin, WA State House of Representatives, 32nd Legislative District, Pos. 2
________________________________________________________________________________________ On January 30, 2016, the Washington State Progressive Caucus (WSPC) held a meeting in Lynnwood, WA. The meeting was attended by WSPC members from legislative districts and congressional districts all over Washington state.
The following candidates received endorsement of the WSPC (Click the names to visit their campaign websites; doing so will redirect you away from the WSPC website. If you want to read the questionnaires or statements the candidates submitted when they requested endorsement from the WSPC, click here.):
By Brian Gunn and Martha Koester [Note: links in this article are to pages not affiliated with waprogressives.org]
On November 13, President Obama held a press conference in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. At the table with the President were individuals like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen; Jim Baker, former Treasury Secretary; and Colin Powell, former Secretary of State. Also present was Henry Kissinger. When the President announced that all these folks were in agreement with him, progressives around the country knew they were not going to like what they were about to hear. They were right. Here's what the president said:
...if we fail to get the Trans-Pacific Partnership done, if we do not create the architecture for high-standards trade and commerce in this region, then that void will be filled by China, it will be filled by our economic competitors.
At the same time that Obama was promising that under the TPP labor and environmental standards will be observed in Asia "just as they are here, so that we create a level playing field," a Vietnamese labor activist was accusing authorities of beating and detaining her just for talking to workers who had complained that foreign-owned companies had illegally fired them from their jobs. Human rights activists have noted that Vietnamese officials may have behaved well during the TPP negotiations, but now that the deal is inked, and it is clear that the labor provisions of the Agreement are unenforceable, they are back to their old tricks of harassing workers who dare to complain that $6.45 a day is not sufficient pay. What kind of level playing field is that?
Watch and share the embedded video to the right to learn more. Then read on "below the fold" to find out what you can do to stop what many are calling "NAFTA on steroids."