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October 6, 2009

Oct. 5: Ruby Ridge workers seek union

Oct. 2: Check out coming events

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Contact Congress TODAY on health care reform

Union members and their families across the nation are making sure Congress hears from working families -- and not just insurance companies -- on the health care reform legislation. The insurance industry is spending millions every day to derail historic reform that includes a strong public health insurance plan. That's why Congress needs to hear from American working families who demand that the broken system be fixed. Read more or go ahead an send Congress an e-mail supporting reform.

►  At AFL-CIO Now -- Health care action week: Calling, writing and meeting with Congress -- The health care reform fight rolls on this week on Capitol Hill and working families, local and state union activists and leaders are making sure Congress hears from real working people -- and not just the health insurance industry and its multi-million lobbying campaign to kill reform.


Health reform news:

►  In today's Washington Post -- U.S. losing ground on preventable deaths -- Although the United States now spends $2.4 trillion a year on medical care -- vastly more per capita than comparable countries -- the nation ranks near the bottom on premature deaths caused by illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, stroke, influenza, ulcers and pneumonia.

►  In today's Seattle Times -- White House lobbies for public plan in final bill -- The Obama administration has launched an intensifying, behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of a government-run public plan option for a final vote in coming weeks.

►  In today's NY Times -- It's coverage vs. costs -- Democrats face tough choices on competing priorities: affordable prices for insurance policies and policies that offer comprehensive benefits.

►  In today's LA Times -- Verification of illegal immigrants is scrutinized amid health debate -- Since July 2008, when L.A. County began implementing tougher federal verification rules, the county has spent $28 million in state and federal funds to recheck the documents of more than 100,000 recipients of Medi-Cal, the public healthcare program for low-income residents. So far, they have not found one illegal immigrant who posed as a legal resident to get benefits.

►  At -- States lead the way on health reform (Sen. Karen Keiser column) -- Washington state has been piloting health care reform efforts for several years, but roadblocks of federal pre-emption and jurisdiction, and limited state budgets, have stymied some of our efforts. Now Washington state is helping Congress find solutions during the current health reform debate.

►  In today's Columbian -- More health care myths to debunk (John Laird column) -- More myths that simply aren't true: a public option will put all of the private insurers out of business, the cost of reform isn't worth it to taxpayers, and Canadians hate their terrible health care system.

►  In today's Daily News -- Another reminder of the need for health-care reform (editorial) -- Reducing the ranks of the uninsured is absolutely essential to fixing what ails our health-care system.


Boeing news: 

►  Today from AP -- Boeing to take $1 billion charge due to 747-8 costs -- About $640 million of it reflects higher estimated costs to produce the 747-8. The remaining $360 million relates to "challenging market conditions" and its decision to maintain the 747-8 production rate at 1.5 airplanes per month nearly two years longer than previously planned, delaying a 747-8 production increase to two per month. Boeing reported a 17% rise in second-quarter profit, beating Wall Street expectations, but the company said it expected to reevaluate its earnings forecast and announce a revised schedule for the eagerly anticipated 787, in the third quarter.

►  In the Spokesman-Review -- A move South could also take Boeing profits south -- Aerospace industry analyst Scott Hamilton has become more optimistic about the odds Washington might yet be home to the second 787 line. Carp as it will about its relations with its workers, Hamilton says persistent supplier foul-ups have demonstrated repeatedly just how much Boeing relies on employee skills and knowledge acquired across generations. The strike was costly, but probably less so than the costs of fixing suppliers’ errors, he says.

►  In the LA Times -- Boeing-Airbus tanker contest got ugly in a hurry -- Awarding one of the largest military contracts in history hasn’t been easy for the Pentagon. It's not getting easier. 


Local news: 

►  In today's Spokesman-Review -- City council says I-1033’s outcome would be grim -- The Spokane City Council makes grave warnings about Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033, which would limit government spending. City Councilman Bob Apple predicts that if I-1033 passes, “in a few years you just simply wouldn’t have a local government.” The council voted unanimously to recommend voters reject I-1033. (Learn more: Tim Eyman's I-1033: Don't Buy It!)

►  In today's Spokesman-Review -- Federal money fueling projects across region -- The $787 billion federal economic stimulus package is showing up in the Inland Northwest. It’s in a grant for an Iraq War veteran's college textbooks, the asphalt on a new pedestrian trail in Wilbur, in business loans to midwives and construction firms and landscape companies, in grants to school districts, in salaries for arts association employees, and it’s in road projects across the region -- millions and millions of dollars in road projects.

►  In today's Columbian -- Union criticizes Leavitt's voting record -- Vancouver mayoral candidate Tim Leavitt has missed "an outrageous" 16 elections over the past 10 years, according to a review of voting records by the Vancouver Firefighters Union. Leavitt doesn't dispute missing the votes, but says it has nothing to do with his ability to serve as mayor.

►  In today's Yakima H-R -- Yakima County studies four-day work week -- Commissioners may have planning, auditor and other offices open nine hours a day, four days a week, instead of eight hours a day, five days a week. The switch would amount to a 10% cut in hours for some staff.

►  In today's Yakima H-R -- City of Yakima to lay off 5 workers -- The layoffs are the city's first in 27 years. Combined with 18 positions lost through attrition, it will have trimmed 23 jobs next year.

►  In today's Columbian -- Vancouver lands Democratic convention -- The Democratic Party announces that it will hold its state convention in Clark County on June 25-26. The state Republicans announced in June that it would hold its convention in Clark County June 10-12.

►  In today's Tri-City Herald -- PNNL among employers struggling to find qualified applicants for jobs -- Even with 15 million people hunting for work and an unemployment rate nearing 10%, some employers like Richland's PNNL can't find enough qualified people for good-paying career jobs.


State government news: 

►  In today's Olympian -- WFSE applauds Rep. Brendan Williams (brief) -- The Olympia Democrat received the George Masten Courage Award from the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28. He was one of five legislators out of 147 to receive a perfect score from the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO on its 2009 legislative session rating. (Check it out.)

►  In today's Olympian -- Jay Manning to be Gregoire's Chief of Staff -- Environmental advocate Jay Manning is moving from the Department of Ecology to chief of staff on Oct. 19 to fill the vacancy of Cindy Zehnder, who will leave this fall after a two-year stint in the position.


National news:

►  In today's NY Times -- As job loss rises, Obama aides act to fix safety net -- With unemployment expected to rise well into next year even as the economy slowly recovers, the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are discussing extending several safety net programs as well as proposing new tax incentives for businesses to renew hiring. Despite the bad jobs figures, Democrats in Congress generally agree with the White House that a second full-blown stimulus package is not needed, barring an economic relapse. 

►  In today's Washington Post -- Some criticize SEIU for its ACORN connections -- SEIU President Andy Stern: "Right now, there is an insidious and coordinated effort on the part of the extreme right to target individuals and grass-roots community groups as a way to silence the voices of women and men who have suffered the most under eight years of right-wing policies."


Take action TODAY on health reform

This week, union members and their families across the nation are making sure Congress hears from working families -- and not just insurance companies -- on the health care reform legislation before Congress. The insurance industry is spending millions every day to derail historic reform that includes a strong public health insurance plan. That's why it's so important that Congress hears from American working families who are demanding that the broken system be fixed.

TAKE ACTION: Even if you have already contacted Congress on this issue, please do so again TODAY. The Washington State Labor Council urges all union leaders and rank-and-file members -- and others who support universal, affordable health coverage -- to click here to send an e-mail to both your Senators and your U.S. Representative. 

The Senate Finance Committee, which voted down a public health insurance option last week, is expected to vote and pass its bill at any time. The next step will be to merge that bill with the superior Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee legislation that includes a public option and doesn’t tax workers' health benefits. That legislation could be on the Senate floor as early as next week. House action is then likely soon after the Senate acts.

Our message to Congress this week is that we need health care reform NOW that:

  • Controls costs and doesn't tax our benefits.
  • Provides guaranteed coverage for all Americans
  • Includes a public health insurance plan option
  • Holds insurance companies accountable
  • Requires employers to pay their fair share

Please participate in this National Week of Action by sending Congress an e-mail of support for these principles. Thank you for your efforts to support this critically important legislation.


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