Salt in the wound

Some people say that Trump isn’t lifting a finger to help laid-off Ohio workers, but that’s not quite true — Trump is lifting exactly one finger, and he’s using it to tweet.

In the last few days, Trump has tweeted multiple times about Lordstown’s GM plant closing. But what did those tweets accomplish? Nothing. Not a single worker went back to their job and not a single family gained certainty about their next paycheck. But that’s part of the pattern with President Trump — insist that he can solve the problem, do nothing to solve it, then tweet about why someone else deserves the blame for his own failures.

Working families deserve better than Trump’s broken promises and empty tweets. And since the president won’t protect workers and their families, Congress must. Sign our petition and fight back.

Ohio’s laid-off workers have lost more than a paycheck, more than the health insurance their kids rely upon — they’ve also lost a piece of their identities and the sense of dignity that comes with a job well done.

Ohio families don’t have time to waste on a president who insists on rubbing salt into the wound, one tweet at a time. Sign my petition and stand up for the people Trump has forgotten.

With gratitude,

Sherrod

WWW.SHERRODBROWN.COM

Paid for by Friends of Sherrod Brown

Contributions or gifts to Friends of Sherrod Brown are not tax deductible.

Six guys on a roof…

I was 20 minutes late to my appointment this afternoon, interpreting between a Honduran guy with no documents who almost lost a fingertip at work a couple of months ago and an experienced Workers Comp lawyer maybe a decade away from retirement. In the building trades, if you’re not at least a half hour early, you’re late.  Lucky I just work on the fringes of the trades, and in this case was working for free.  The local worker center was foregoing any interpreting fee in the interest of helping people get compensation when they get hurt on the job, even if they don’t speak English, even if they’re working without documents. I’m on salary, paid by hardworking union members’ dues, so I have no excuse, but no one was

The lawyer thinks the system is fixed against workers generally, and increasingly so under Ohio’s rightward drift the last few years.  I’m pretty sure he’s a Democrat, but he thinks Strickland was terrible for workers, that he didn’t do anything as the legislature took away protections.  The Honduran, however, was going to be compensated, once a few obstacles were surmounted.  The doctor’s records were late in appearing, for one.  A functionary at BWC was going to cancel the case, but agreed to deny the claim instead, upon which the lawyer would appeal, and it would all go before a judge.  That would have had to happen anyway, even if the doctor’s office had been on the stick, because the second obstacle was that the employer was denying that the worker was an employee — instead he was listed as an independent contractor.  “It’s bullshit,” said the lawyer.  “Six guys on a roof, and they’re all independent contractors?  Bullshit.”

Not uncommon, however, especially when it comes to undocumented immigrants in the construction trades.  Does the worker own his own tools or does a supervisor provide them?  Does the worker decide when and where and how to do the work?  If the answers are no, yes, no, no, and no, the worker is likely legally an employee, even if the employer is 1099ing him.

Know what else is common with undocumented immigrants?  Lots of overtime hours with no overtime pay.  This worker got on the job at 8 and worked till the boss said to quit, sometimes for 70 hours a week, at $13 an hour.  The Mexican guy who got him the job would say that he had no right to overtime because he didn’t have any documents.  Not true, under Ohio law.  If someone works more than 40 hours in a week and they’re not in some exempt status like salaried workers, you owe that person time and a half for every hour above 40, whether they were born here or fooled you with a social security number they bought from some connected fellow immigrant.  The federal Department of Labor or the Ohio Department of Commerce will take the case and not ask a single thing about immigration status.  Otherwise we might find ourselves in a situation where employers routinely rob wages from their workers, and no one wants that.

The Mexican guy also told him that he wouldn’t get Worker’s Comp, it would be thrown out because he’s here illegally and doesn’t have any rights.  Not true.  His medical bills are now being paid through Worker’s Comp, and he’ll get some compensation for the time he’s been unable to work.

The other reason the Mexican guy said he’d lose his case was that the owner had better lawyers.  The Worker’s Comp attorney laughed when I translated this.  “He could hire Johnnie Cochran and F. Lee Bailey from the grave, and that wouldn’t change the fact that this guy’s an employee who got hurt on the job.”

Not too many people want a system in which employers cut corners on safety because they know they won’t be responsible when workers get hurt, either.

 

Paul Breidenbach

Labor-Community Mobilization Coordinator

 

Teen Vogue labor columnist and Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) council member Kim Kelly on “State Of The Unions”

“State of the Unions” co-hosts Julie Greene and Tim Schlittner wanted to be sure you got the chance to listen to their newest episode, an interview with Teen Vogue labor columnist and Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) council member Kim Kelly.

Listen to the new episode here.

We had the opportunity to discuss so many things with Kim. From her Teen Vogue column and forming a union at Vice Media to growing up in rural New Jersey and her desire for young people to challenge capitalism in today’s economy.

We need your help to make “State of the Unions” a success. Make sure to share with your friends and colleagues, and subscribe so you’ll know when we release the next episode.

In Solidarity,

Julie
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Julie Greene
Mobilization Director, AFL-CIO
Co-Host, “State of the Unions” Podcast

President Stretches Truth to its Breaking Point in Medicare Op-Ed

President Stretches Truth to its Breaking Point in Medicare Op-Ed

“Medicare for All” would Reduce Health Care Costs Overall

Statement from Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to Donald Trump’s Wednesday USA Today op-ed:

 

“President Trump’s op-ed published in USA Today is factually incorrect on multiple levels. While attacking the idea of Medicare for All, he falsely claims that Democrats are to blame for cuts to this important program. In fact, Medicare’s solvency was extended and benefits were expanded as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

 “The reality is that this administration and a Republican-controlled Congress are taking aim at Medicare to cover the whopping deficits created by the 2017 Tax Scam. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow on September 17, 2018 plainly stated that so-called “entitlement” spending, code for Medicare and Social Security, would be cut in 2019.

 “The President also claims that he would protect patients with pre-existing conditions and work to lower health insurance premiums. In fact, he has done the opposite. Rather than opposing the lawsuit brought by  GOP attorneys general seeking to end those protections specified in the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration declined to defend the law in court. Health insurance premiums are on the rise, and credible experts agree that sabotaging the ACA directly adds to the cost increases. Seniors receive annual wellness exams and preventive screenings for diseases such as colorectal cancer, diabetes and many others without co-pays or deductibles, and prescription drug discounts, because of the ACA.

 “The claim that Medicare for All will hurt seniors is simply untrue. Current versions of the Medicare for All bills include important new benefits for seniors, such as vision, dental and hearing coverage. They would also lower the cost of premiums and deductibles, lessening the financial burden that health care can bring to older Americans.

 “President Trump has not defended or protected Medicare. Older Americans have good reason to be concerned about the future of Medicare if his advisers have their way, not if Medicare for All is enacted.”


###                                                             

Contact: David Blank, 202-637-5275 or dblank@retiredamericans.org

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“We Have Never Depended on any Politician or Judge to Decide our Fate…”

Dear Sister, Brothers and Friends of Labor,

Yesterday, Republican appointees on the U.S. Supreme Court abandoned decades of common-sense precedent and issued a 5-4 opinion (Janus v. AFSCME Council 31) outlawing “fair share” fees in state and local government. The billionaires and corporate special interests that have manipulated our system of justice have succeeded in getting the highest court in the land to do their bidding.

Let me be perfectly clear, we have never depended on any politician or judge to decide our fate and we aren’t about to start now.

This decision comes just as public support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years and workers are recommitting to unions with new organizing drives and growing ranks in important sectors of our economy right here in Ohio. In fact, just last year 262,000 more workers across the country organized and joined a union.

Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life.

The labor movement, however, remains undeterred.

We applaud U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown who was quick to denounce the ruling saying, “The decision by this anti-worker Supreme Court is an attack on workers’ freedom to advocate for themselves.” Brown’s opponent however, Jim Renacci, made no excuses for being on the wrong side of workers by applauding the decision saying it is “a victory for the First Amendment.”

This case was part of a multipronged attack, being spearheaded this time by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a front group funded by corporate billionaires, including the notorious Koch brothers. Taking away the freedom of working people to join together in union is the primary goal, and eliminating fair share fees for public employees is the latest tactic.

Richard Corday, Ohio AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for Governor, saw through the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who want to take away the freedoms of working people by sharply criticizing the decision while adding, “Unions bring a collective voice for fairness in the workplace, which has helped create Ohio’s middle class.” Cordray’s opponent, Mike DeWine, was apparently in hiding and did not comment.

We have faced similar attacks in Ohio and ultimately prevailed.

Powered by our members and carried by the expressed support of a vast majority of Ohioans, labor unions will continue to fight to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.

In solidarity,

Tim
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Tim Burga, President