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Wilkes 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.
 
[Unions for Single Payer sent the following message on Oct. 18, 2016]

Troubled workers’ comp system shows need for single-payer health care

In Illinois and around the nation, big business has labeled workers’ compensation a system in crisis. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has depicted it as a millstone around the necks of Illinois employers, who he claims are shelling out too much money to treat injuries that might not even be work-related. Rauner and other Republican governors have made “reforming” workers’ compensation a key part of their pro-business agenda.

However, any worker who has had to use the system lately knows the real “workers’ comp crisis” is too little health care, not too much. In Illinois, as in most states, your employer is required to carry standard workers’ comp insurance. But it’s private companies like Liberty Mutual, Travelers and AIG/Chartis that provide the coverage — and they would much rather pay lawyers to fight your claim than pay doctors to help you get well.

Under the system they’ve created, a worker hurt on the job is actually at higher risk of being denied medical care (or having their treatment cut short) than a worker who falls getting out of the bathtub at home.

We believe the best way to fight the growing attacks on workers’ compensation is to take private insurance companies out of the picture. A public, single-payer health care system, financed by taxes rather than insurance premiums, would accomplish these goals:

[Unions for Single Payer sent the following message on Jan. 04, 2016]

More in Congress Sign On As Co-Sponsors of HR 676, Single Payer Healthcare Bill

In December 2015 six representatives, Danny Davis (IL), Grace Napolitano (CA), Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Jerry McNerney (CA), Robin Kelly (IL), and Alan Lowenthal (CA), added their names as cosponsors on HR 676, Congressman John Conyers' Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, the national single payer legislation.

single payer savingsThe total number of cosponsors is now 59, not including chief sponsor Conyers.

The more cosponsors that are added, the more quickly this real solution becomes politically viable. The more representatives who speak boldly for HR 676, the higher single payer advances on the nation's agenda.

Call your representative and ask her or him to sign on to HR 676. The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Ask to speak to your representative by name. If you need to look up a representative, you can do so
here.

When talking with representatives who have already signed on, encourage them to speak up for HR 676 on the House floor, to the press, in town hall meetings, and to put their support for HR 676 on their website. If they need further information, spend the time to bring the facts about HR 676 to their attention. This clear and simple statement of Dr. Marcia Angell may help.

By John Nichols

It would be a big deal politically, a very big deal, if Texas or Wyoming suddenly veered left and elected a super-progressive state legislature and governor. It would be a bigger deal if the progressives who swept to power did so with a promise to implement a social-democratic agenda of new taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund healthcare, improve education, maintain public services and protect the environment. It would be an even bigger deal if the new governing party was prepared to implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage and champion labor rights. And if the new leadership said it would stop promoting corporate-sponsored pipeline projects because of concerns for the environment—while promising to “take leadership on the issue of climate change”—that would be remarkable.

Well, all of this just happened in Alberta, the oil-rich province that for decades has been governed by conservatives who were so tied to the oil industry and so deferent to corporate power that they often made George W. Bush and Dick Cheney look populist by comparison.

Alberta’s New Democratic Party swept to a landslide victory in Tuesday’s voting and will, for the first time in history, form the new government for a province sometimes referred to as “the Texas of Canada.” But that does not begin to tell the story of what the NDP accomplished. Before the election, the party held four of the 87 seats in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly. After the election, the NDP held 53 of the 87—a gain of 49 seats.

Campaign for America's Future, National People's Action, US Action and Alliance for a Just Society are unveiling the Populism2015 Agenda that has the potential to energize millions of people in the coming year who are looking for — not finding yet in the public debate — real solutions to the triple crisis of growing inequality, a broken democracy and a planet in peril.

Rebuild America for the 21st Century and Create Jobs for All.


America’s public infrastructure – from roads to rail to water and energy systems – is increasingly dangerous to our health and a drag on our economy. National investment in rebuilding America will create millions of high-quality jobs, bid wages up, help close the racial jobs gap, and make America a better place to live and work.

Raise Wages, Empower Workers and Reverse Inequality.

Inequality has reached new extremes, as more and more jobs become contingent and part-time, with low pay and few benefits. We should lift the floor under every worker by guaranteeing a living wage, paid sick and vacation days, and affordable health care. We should empower workers to form unions and bargain collectively. We must curb perverse CEO compensation policies that give executives personal incentives to plunder their own companies.

Invest in a Green Economy.

Catastrophic climate change is a clear and present danger. The United States should lead the global green revolution that builds strong and resilient communities. Public investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency can create jobs and opportunity, particularly in communities of color that have borne the worst consequences of toxic corporate practices.