100 Days into the 115th Congress, We Examine How They've Spent Their Time

In his first address to the newly sworn in 115th Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) posed the following question: “Find one person [in this chamber] who doesn’t want to help the unemployed, or care for the sick, or educate the young…who here among us does not want to open wide the door to opportunity?”

Now as we're 100 days and counting into the 115th Congress, their actions give us the answer.

Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are certainly trying to “open wide the doors of opportunity,” but only if you are a CEO who profits by cutting corners on workers' health and safety, or siphoning off millions from their retirement accounts.

For people who are unemployed, both Ryan and McConnell supported a budget plan that would drastically cut back on job training, Meals on Wheels and education funding for children with disabilities.

For the sick, the Republican leaders tried to gut Obamacare and replace it with a plan that would deprive 24 million Americans of health insurance, tax working peoples’ benefits, slash Medicaid benefits for the elderly and people with disabilities, and jeopardize the future of Medicare for seniors.

And for education, they confirmed an education secretary who spent her billions undermining public education and attacking teachers.

During the first 100 days, the House voted 15 times and the Senate 13 times to wipe out Obama-era regulations that were protecting Americans from workplace hazards. They even removed one rule that requires corporations to simply keep accurate records of injuries, so they can be avoided in the future. 

They voted to let CEOs cover up their past employment violations when they apply for new taxpayer-funded government contracts. The House passed several bills that will give corporations more power to stop federal regulators from passing commonsense safeguards in the future.  

Just this week, they put a champion for corporate America on the U.S. Supreme Court and are working on a tax plan that would further reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while starving programs that support needy families.

One thing Congress didn’t seem to have time for was passing critical legislation that would keep the promise made to more than 22,000 retired coal miners who will lose their federally guaranteed health benefits on April 30.

Find one person in Congress who isn’t for helping the unemployed, the sick and the young? During the first 100 days, there were enough of them to form a voting majority in the U.S. House and Senate.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work