Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Obamacare Reconciliation

Obamacare Reconciliation
Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

The Supreme Court last week ensured millions of Americans retained their health insurance. Those who kept their coverage sighed with relief. Democrats cheered.

Republicans reacted with vitriol and recrimination. Even the GOP dissenters on the Supreme Court couldn’t stop themselves from responding with bitter sarcasm. Weirdly too, with language like “jiggery-pokery.”

For the entire five years since Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Republicans have relentlessly attempted to kill it – along with some of its most vulnerable beneficiaries who’d lack life-saving health care if the GOP succeeded. Some Republican legislatures and governors have jubilantly exploited a provision in a previous Supreme Court decision to deny the working poor in their states access to the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. But the GOP has lost the bulk of two appeals to the Supreme Court. And Republicans have failed at 67 attempts to repeal all or part of the ACA. They need to call off their war on health care now. Declare a ceasefire. Stop trying to slaughter a law that’s helping millions.  

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July 4 Made-in-America BBQ Shopping List

This week, in the lead-up to the nation's birthday on July 4, we'll be spotlighting union-made products. Stay tuned for a new list each day.

Many of us will celebrate Independence Day with a barbecue. We can keep the red, white and blue in the holiday with this made-in-America, union label backyard barbecue checklist, compiled from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), the LA Labor 411's website, Union Plus and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

To get more made-in-America product lists right to your phone, text FLAG to 235246.

Be sure to check AFL-CIO Now everyday through July 4 for more made-in-America, union product spotlights.

Picnic Supplies

Weber Q series grill, coolers by Igloo and Rubbermaid, red Solo cups and don’t forget the sunscreen by Coppertone and Bain de Soleil.

Hot Dogs, Sausages and Other Grill Meats

Ball Park, Boar’s Head, Dearborn Sausage Co., Fischer Meats, Hebrew National, Hofmann, Johnsonville, Oscar Mayer. See more

Condiments

French’s Mustard, Guldens Mustard, Heinz Ketchup, Hidden Valley Ranch, Lucky Whip, Vlasic. 

Buns and Bread

Ottenbergs, Stroehmann, Sara Lee, Vie de France Bakery. See more.

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After Cutting Taxes On The Rich, Kansas Will Raise Taxes On The Poor To Pay For It

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

After Cutting Taxes On The Rich, Kansas Will Raise Taxes On The Poor To Pay For It

Kansas lawmakers concluded the longest legislative session in state history Friday night by approving a slate of regressive tax hikes that will balance the state’s budget by targeting low-income workers and their families.

More than half of the $384 million in new revenue expected from the tax hike will come from cigarette taxes and sales taxes, two policies described as “regressive” because they fall more heavily on lower-income taxpayers than on the wealthy. Even though everyone who shops will pay the new 6.5 percent sales tax rate – up from 6.15 percent in previous years, and the 8th-highest of any state according to the Tax Foundation – the move is regressive because poorer shoppers already have to stretch each dollar farther than their more flush counterparts.

The state offers a limited tax credit for grocery purchases to low-income families that slightly offsets the unevenness of the sales tax impact. But that credit is capped at $500 and cannot be claimed by families earning over $30,615 a year. A family of four that earns too much to qualify for the credit will pay nearly $700 a year in sales tax payments on their food, according to a Kansas City Star analysis of Friday’s bill that found the bulk of the burden falls on people making less than $50,000 annually.

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Making the Economy Work for the Many and Not the Few #12: Most Important of All, Get Big Money Out of Politics

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

Over the past two months, the videos I've done with MoveOn.org have detailed several ways to make the economy work for the many, not the few: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making public higher education free, busting up the big banks, expanding Social Security, making polluters pay, raising the estate tax, strengthening unions, ending corporate welfare, helping families succeed economically, and letting all Americans buy into Medicare.

But none of these is possible if we don't get big money out of politics.

In fact, nothing we need to do as a nation is possible unless we limit the political power of the moneyed interests.

So we made one more video -- the one accompanying this post -- and it's incredibly important you share this one, too.

At the rate we're going, the 2016 election is likely to be the most expensive in history -- and the moneyed interests will be responsible for most of it. Our democracy is broken, and we must fix it.

Easy to say, but how do we do it?

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Yeah, Baby–New OT Rule is Out and It’s Strong!

Jared Bernstein

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

I’ve got a longer piece up on PostEverything, but here are the key ‘grafs from the POTUS’s announcement on this tonight (my bold):

We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That’s partly because we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work.

This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.

That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.

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Big Money Buys Politicians

Big Money Buys Politicians

Union Matters

RTW (AKA Busting Unions)

The U.S. Supreme Court plans to hear a case that, should it be decided in favor of the plaintiffs, could do to unions what King v. Burwell sought to do to the Affordable Care Act.

The case in question involves public sector unions.  Specifically, a group of California teachers have petitioned the Court, claiming their First Amendment rights have been violated.  How so?  They cite having to pay fees to a union for services the union might perform on their behalf, whether or not want to join it, as the violation they allege.

Trouble is, a ruling in agreement with this position would overturn a legal precedent of almost four decades.  That precedent, set in 1977 in the case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, established the principle that public workers can pay what are called "fair share" fees if they are represented by a union, even if they are not members.  The status of Abood as settled law has been upheld by both a federal district court, and by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  But that may not be enough.  For instance, in a 5-4 opinion last year, Justice Samuel Alito called Abood questionable on several grounds, implying at least some support for the concept of right-to-work.

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