Have you heard? (Our podcast, that is.)

If you haven’t subscribed to our “State of the Unions” podcast yet, you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and go listen.

Every other Wednesday, podcast co-hosts Tim Schlittner and Julie Greene sit down with someone connected to workers—whether a union member, community partner, politician, columnist, policy specialist or labor leader—to tackle the ideas and issues facing the labor movement. This week I was lucky enough to be their guest, and you can check out our conversation here.

We got the chance to discuss work in the tech sector, the future of work and women’s strength in the labor movement. We also explored how, in the #MeToo era, a union contract can be one of the most important answers to workplace sexual harassment. We talked about innovation and change in the movement, too—as I said in the episode:

I don’t necessarily believe all the scare tactics that we’re hearing through reports saying we’re going to lose the 75 million jobs in 12 years, but with automation and robotics and artificial intelligence, there’s no doubt there’s going to be massive change going forward and probably faster than previous industrial revolutions. So I guess the question is: What is the labor movement going to do to keep up with that change, and how are we going to be modern and flexible and nimble…enough to represent the needs of workers as they transition to the jobs of the future?

Listen to the whole discussion here. Better yet, subscribe to and rate and review “State of the Unions” wherever you find
your podcasts.

In Solidarity,

Liz
——-
Liz Shuler
Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

 

Nurses don’t turn away from a crisis.

This week on “State of the Unions” podcast, we had the opportunity to talk to National Nurses United (NNU) Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, about the “Medicare for All” campaign, nurses’ history of organizing and the impact of nurses in the community.

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of “State of the Unions” and learn more about NNU.

Here’s an excerpt:

Nurses don’t turn away from a crisis. They go toward it. And what we need is for our elected leaders, our politicians to not get sidetracked, not go another way, but to go toward that crisis with a real systemic fix. So being in the industry 24/7, we are always pushing back on management’s attempts to shortchange our patients.

Listen now.

In Solidarity,

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

We Honor Workers Who Lost Their Lives On The Job

This past Sunday, April 28, was Workers Memorial Day. Unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs.

Across Ohio, events were held to honor and remember those who lost their lives on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Act and Mine Safety and Health Act promise workers the right to a safe job. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections that have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Ohio AFL-CIO Tim Burga speaks in Dayton, Ohio“We must remain vigilant to ensure that the workplace safety gains that have been made over the last five decades are not eroded and to put in place new needed protections,” said Tim Burga, President of the Ohio AFL-CIO, speaking at the Dayton-Miami Valley Central Labor Council event. “The goal everyday for every family is to have their loved ones return home safely at the end of their work day and collective bargaining agreements are the best tool to achieve safe and secure workplaces.”

Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more suffer injury or illness because of their jobs.

“The Workers Day Memorial is a reminder that the best way to honor workers who lost their lives on the job is by pushing for stronger workplace safety and protection measures,” said Ohio AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Cropper to a crowd honoring fallen workers at the Cincinnati AFL-CIO event.

Recently, workers have won new rules to protect us from deadly silica dust and beryllium, a stronger coal dust standard for miners and stronger anti-retaliation protections for workers who report job injuries.

But these hard-won gains are threatened. The Trump administration has carried out an all-out assault on regulations, targeting job safety rules on beryllium, mine examinations, injury reporting and child labor protections. The labor movement and allies have fought back and blocked some of these attacks. However, this assault has taken a toll: Key protections have been repealed or rolled back and agency budgets and staff have been cut. There has been no action on critical safety and health problems like workplace violence, silica in mining and exposure to toxic chemicals.

As the health of working people continue to be threatened by extreme right-wing politicians, we will always continue in the words of labor activist Mother Jones and, “Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

In solidarity,


Tim Burga, President
Ohio AFL-CIO

Benchmark Spring 2019

In last Quarter’s article, I spoke to the many of the challenges to Labor organizing posed by today’s non-traditional workplace.  Like everything else in today’s value-driven marketplace, Labor Unions must be increasingly aware of and invest in the value we bring to our membership. Everything we do must be about the education, safety, health and financial well-being of the rank and file members. By our own argument, their money is hard fought, and we must be the best possible stewards of how we manage it, invest it and bring value to those that provide it.

One of the most, if not the most, important influencing factor in organizing is worker safety. While worker safety has been a core value throughout our history, over recent years Labor Unions have become increasingly expert in workplace health and safety. More recently, we have become the dominant voice on the matter and the principal champions of worker safety. Our efforts to get the new silica standards in place are a good example of how we are working to ensure our members safety.

In recent years, we have increasingly invested in health and safety education and technical expertise. As a BAC member you have access to state of the art training through the International Masonry Institute and we offer classes at the local level held at one of the Regional Training Centers. We recognize that fighting for worker safety, health and well-being is beneficial to Labor’s safety, health and well-being. Safety is a real concern of unions.

As union membership has declined over the past thirty-years, it has been increasingly more difficult to make substantial gains in wage and benefits, but health and safety measures have been a genuine area of offset. And the facts are undeniable. Labor’s increased vigilance and attentiveness to worker safety have resulted in a much higher incidence of positive collaboration with employers that have reduces worker injuries, lowering costs for the employers and positively impacting profit through gains in productivity.

When there is an open dialogue, and close cooperation between a company and its’ workers, who can argue that it’s anything but a good thing for everyone. Worker satisfaction is improved, workplace injuries are decreased along with expensive down-time, productivity is increased, and profitability is positively impacted. That money goes directly to the bottom line. Can you say Win, Win?

Thanks to the diligence and activism of Labor, it is now not at all unusual to see job site managers and owners ramping up safety standards to well beyond those required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Labor and Management has even created a new paradigm in which Unions and Management collaborate to be more competitive and win contracts with their track-record of good safety practices being the differentiator.

It’s no secret that we making a significant investment in significant health, safety and environmental protections, because the challenges on many of today’s highly advanced and very technical work sites pose significant challenges and risk to the worker. This noteworthy investment is to make sure that (1) workers’ safety, health and well-being remains priority one and (2) workers’ safety is a winning position for Labor as they fight the organizing battle along new fronts.

The hope for improving safety on jobs is that management and the workers are aware of the importance their roles in this new paradigm where labor-management cooperation benefits everyone. Employers obtain better workers by providing a safer, more attractive work environment… Workers are more satisfied and more productive due to the satisfaction a safe and healthy work-place brings… Labor is empowered by the cooperation between management and worker… and Productivity and profitability are positively impacted by reduced downtime.

Whenever the workforce, the business owners and Labor are pulling together on issues such as worker safety, there are going to get better outcomes. Thanks in no small part to Labor putting its money where its mouth is and investing heavily in education, training and awareness programs, Safety is now a principal tenet of any good organizing effort.  Owners of large construction projects are increasingly inclined to use contractors with a strong safety record and history of injury losses below the national average. They are also increasingly inclined to require contractors to show they have a favorable insurance rating.

Increasingly, owners, foreman and project managers believe that a safe working environment is important.  It is only by the diligence and steadfast advocacy of the BAC and other Labor Organizations that these trends are forming. However, this fight is far from over. Worker Safety remains a paramount issue to us and is but one area we can use when looking at a holistic organizing strategy. If Labor is not first and foremost the principal advocate for workers’ safety, health and well-being, then what are we?

As a union member, I am asking you, what is the message that you are sharing?  Below is a response to a Facebook post about Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introducing a National Right to Work Bill. Mitch Kittinger a Local 55 Apprentice expressed his thoughts so well that I thought I should share them with you.

“ As a union apprentice… I’m more than happy to be where I am at. Due to my skill level I have been fortunate to travel and see parts of the world I otherwise may not have been able to. I have worked non-stop since I started in 2015 with no debt and regardless of where I go I will be paid a livable wage with benefits. If my company runs out of work, I have the option of working for another contractor instead of sitting on the couch. If I’m not happy with what is going on… my dues pays to make sure there is somebody with some pull to handle it. My dues keep me working. My dues pay to make sure we maintain jobs in our workforce. Even if some aspects of our situations don’t meet expectations those dues ensure that I can and will always be able to find a way to not only survive, but to thrive as long as people don’t selfishly find a way to abolish it. Unions pave the way for higher wages and safety expectations. If that is what paying my dues enables me to have, I will be more than happy to pay them! “

 

The Labor Wire – April 12, 2019

Some 31,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are on strike at Stop & Shop supermarkets across New England, walking off the job to fight back against slashed health care benefits. Stand with our brothers and sisters today and sign UFCW’s petition demanding that executives agree to a fair contract that reflects the true value of their workers.

Message of the Day—Support Stop & Shop Workers

Thanks to the tireless labor of tens of thousands of working people, Stop & Shop is thriving. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize, recorded profits of more than $2 billion last year. Over the past three years, its shareholders have pocketed $4 billion in stock buybacks.

Yet, Stop & Shop executives want even more—and they’re targeting the same workers who built that immense wealth. Going nearly two months without a contract, UFCW members have faced threats to their wages, health care, retirement and overall livelihoods.

Walking out of more than 240 stores throughout New England, working people are standing up for their most fundamental rights and dignities in the country’s largest private-sector work stoppage in years.

Stand with them in this fight: Sign UFCW’s petition—and don’t cross a picket line!

Quote of the Day

“We have your back. Stand strong, brothers and sisters. The entire labor movement is standing with you.” — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) to striking UFCW members

Take Action

Support Stop & Shop workers!

 

 

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Striking UFCW members need your help!

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

31,000 workers at Stop & Shop supermarkets across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have gone on strike.

Management at Stop & Shop presented its “final offer” to workers, which included significant cuts to health care, massive increases (more than 100% in some cases) to workers’ health care premiums and replacing wage increases with so-called bonuses. This represents a massive step backward, with many workers facing reduced weekly earnings if they agree to this final offer.

On top of this, Stop & Shop’s parent company reported more than $2 billion in profits last year. This is not the time to ask for concessions. Rather, this is a time to invest in the workers who have made Stop & Shop so successful and profitable. They deserve and have earned a better life.

The workers, who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, need your help to win a fair contract. Here is how you can help:

  1. Sign the petition to Stop & Shop management to let them know you stand with UFCW members as they fight for a fair contract.
  2. Continue to shop union. UFCW members work at a number of other supermarkets across the region. If you can’t shop at a union store, please shop elsewhere, but do not cross the picket line at Stop & Shop.

Thank you for your support as these 31,000 workers go out on strike for fair wages, decent benefits and a secure retirement. I will continue to update you as the strike progresses.

In Solidarity,

Rich
—————-
Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

The US Mail IS Not For Sale!

On January 9, a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives took action to help combat the proposal to privatize the Postal Service by introducing House Resolution 33. It was followed on March 7 by a similar bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate, which introduced Senate Resolution 99. Rallies will take place ain every major city throughout the United States Monday, April 15 for the APWU’s Tax Day of Action. Join with our Sisters and Brothers of the APWU, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, at the Main Post Office, Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio at 1623 Dalton Avenue, and remember, The US Mail IS Not For Sale!

 

It’s Equal Pay Day

It’s Equal Pay Day and I need your help.

Americans are working harder and longer than ever, but wages remain too low for millions of families to make ends meet. The lack of basic labor protections makes it nearly impossible for many workers to balance the demands of job and family.

At this very moment, we have the opportunity to advance legislation—more than 20 years in the making—that will help close the pay gap between women and men. We need you to take action to ensure that the U.S. Senate passes the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7).

Add your name in support now.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) in January, passed the House of Representatives last week and is headed for the Senate. First introduced by DeLauro in 1997, the bill would begin to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act by:

  • Increasing penalties for wage discrimination and assuring that employers determine wages through the factors of experience, training and education rather than sex.
  • Directing federal agencies to collect data on compensation discrimination and share it publicly.
  • Barring retaliation against women who seek information on pay disparity in their workplace.

I need you to take action and add your name in support. Please click here to add your name.

In Solidarity,

Liz
—-
Liz Shuler
Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO


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State of the Union (Podcast Mar 25, 2019)

My co-host Tim Schlittner and I wanted to be sure you got the chance to listen to our newest episode, an interview with Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pa.) and Marc Veasey (Texas) of the House Blue Collar Caucus.

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

Vote To Raise the Minimum Wage

We are closer than ever to a historic vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour nationwide.

For millions of working people across the country, working 40 hours or more per week is not enough to make ends meet. In fact, one in nine U.S. workers are paid wages that leave them in poverty, even when working full time and year-round.

A new bill in Congress will gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is an easy and necessary way to lift millions of working people out of poverty and get our economy moving.

Three weeks ago, lawmakers in the House brought that bill one step closer to a floor vote. Now, we’ve got to keep the momentum going.

We are counting on you to call your congressperson today. Help us get this bill passed! When you click to call, you’ll automatically be connected with your representative.

This is our chance to make a $15 per hour minimum wage a reality for ALL workers. Tell your congressperson that raising the wage is a win-win for workers and the economy. Raising the wage will mean our neighbors can worry less about where their next meal comes from or how to pay for rent. And it will improve the local economy and help small businesses.

Call the House and tell your congressperson to co-sponsor the Raise the Wage Act and vote yes when it comes to a floor vote.

Thank you for standing up for workers.

In Solidarity,

Rich
—————-
Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

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
——-
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
————-
Tim Burga, President

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Keynote Speaker at 48th Annual COPE Dinner

The 2018 Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE Dinner is sizing up to be a momentous event with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the eldest child of the late U.S. Senator and Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy as special guest and Keynote Speaker. Another featured guest will be Betty Sutton, former U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district and Richard Cordray’s running mate in the 2018 Ohio Governor’s race. We will also be sharing a video message prepared especially for us from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. And finally, lending her immense vocal talents to our evening is twice EMMY nominated, award winning Jazz vocalist Kathy Wade. The 2018 event, “Out of the Shadows and Into the Light…A Celebration of Inclusion and Empowerment!” is an acknowledgment and recognition for the many courageous champions answering the call to fight for and defend hard-working families in 2018. It will be epic!

We are very excited to have Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as our Keynote Speaker. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director, Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She Founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor.

She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas.    She was Maryland’s first woman Lt Governor, and  served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

She has served on a number of boards including the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League the Center for American Progress, Lightbridge Corporation  and New Tower Trust. Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is the Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007. 

About The Cincinnati AFL-CIO COpe Dinner 

The COPE Dinner is an important fundraiser for the Committee on Political Education. COPE sponsors voter registration, voter education, candidate screenings and endorsements, Meet-the Candidates Night, sample ballots, Chronicler, and Get-Out-the-Vote activities. 

Contributions to the Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE are not deductible for income tax purposes. Tickets may be purchased individually, out of general funds or out of political action accounts.

To make your reservation, Please make checks payable to Cincinnati AFL-CIO COPE and send along with your registration to Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council, 1385 Tennessee Avenue – 2nd Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45229. For further information contact Brian Griffin, Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council Director of Communication at info@cincinnatiaflcio.0436361.netsolhost.com.

What Makes You Eligible for Medicare

What Makes You Eligible for Medicare

By RetireMEDiQ

To be eligible for Medicare, there are certain requirements you must meet. You qualify for full Medicare benefits if:

  • You are 65 or older
  • You are a permanent legal resident who has lived in the United States at least five years or are a US Citizen; and
  • You (or your spouse) are eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits; or
  •  You (or your spouse) are a government employee or retiree who has not paid into Social Security but has paid Medicare payroll taxes while working.

Are There Exceptions to These Requirements?

In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for full Medicare coverage under the age of 65. To qualify for early Medicare coverage, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You’ve been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 consecutive (or non-consecutive) months; or
  • You receive a disability pension from the Railroad Retirement Board and meet certain conditions; or
  • You have Lou Gehrig’s disease, which qualifies you immediately
  • You have permanent kidney failure that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant — and you or your spouse has paid Social Security taxes for a certain length of time, depending on your age.

Be Aware of Special Circumstances

You already have Medicaid. If you have Medicaid, you can also enroll in Medicare if you meet the eligibility requirements for both programs (sometimes referred to as dual eligibility). If you have both Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare will act as your primary insurance and Medicaid will be secondary. Through Medicaid, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance for your prescription drug costs and possibly even your Part B premiums.

You live outside of the US or in Puerto Rico. If you live outside the US, even if you are a US citizen, Medicare will likely not provide coverage to you. If you live in Puerto Rico and are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you can receive Medicare benefits. You will automatically be enrolled in Part A, but you will probably have to manually enroll in Part B, if you wish to receive it.

You have or plan to get COBRA. If you are trying to decide between getting COBRA or Medicare, we understand how confusing this decision process can be. We strongly encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to discuss your situation and get their expert advice on what to do. If you already have COBRA and aren’t sure what to do when you turn 65, it may make most sense for you to plan to enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period. We encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to discuss the details of your situation and receive personalized advice on what is the ideal choice for you.

How other benefits (Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, Veterans Affairs, TRICARE, etc.) could impact your Medicare benefits. If you receive retirement benefits from another source, Medicare may or may not work with those benefits. We encourage you to contact one of our Benefit Advisors to find out more about how Medicare may work with your benefits and what the right steps are for you.

How to know if you will pay for Part A or receive it premium free. Part A includes a monthly premium, however most people do not have to pay this. You can get “premium-free” Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for at least 10 years (40 quarters). If you do not qualify for premium-free Part A, the monthly premium in 2018 is $422.

When you do/don’t need to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. Many retirees find that they automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B benefits when they first become eligible for Medicare at age 65. However, there are some instances where you may have to manually sign up for Medicare benefits or even manually delay them to avoid penalties.You may receive Medicare Part A and/or Part B benefits automatically if:

  • You are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
  • You are under 65 and have a disability.
  • You have ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Expert tip: If you are automatically enrolled, you will receive your red, white & blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before you turn 65 or during your 25th month of disability.

You may need to manually enroll in Part A or Part B if:

  • You aren’t receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board Benefits (due to employment or other circumstances)
  •  You qualify for Medicare due to End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

We strongly encourage you to contact one of our advisors to discuss your situation and ensure you know what to expect for your Medicare Part A and Part B eligibility. If you miss your chance to enroll in these benefits, or if you plan to continue working and fail to delay them, you could incur penalties that add unnecessary expense and stay with you for life.

How Medicare works with your employer insurance. When you have Medicare coverage as well as employer coverage, your plans are subject to “coordination of benefits” rules. Various factors contribute to who pays first for your medical expense, like the size of your employer. For more information, visit Medicare.gov for specific scenarios or call us to talk about your specific situation with one of our expert advisors.

How Can I Be Sure That I am Eligible?

If you want to do a quick check on your eligibility and see what your premium might cost, Medicare.gov offers a calculator.

A note from our Benefit Advisors: We know this is confusing! If you have questions, we are here to provide answers. Call us at 1-877-291-4110 or www.retiremediq.com/aflcio.

How are Social Security and Medicare Related?

By RetireMEDiQ 

Because of the close relationship between Medicare and Social Security, people often get these two programs confused. Although there are connections between Medicare and Social Security, they are actually two separate government programs. Working with Medicare on a daily basis gives us perspective on the relationship between Social Security and Medicare that we want to share with you! 

Medicare vs. Social Security 

Medicare: government-funded health coverage for people over the age of 65, those with certain chronic disabilities and individuals with End Stage Renal Disease. 

Social Security: a government pension for people over the age of 62 and those with chronic disabilities. 

How Are Medicare and Social Security Related? 

Many recipients of Medicare are also eligible to receive Social Security benefits and vice versa. In addition to eligibility, there are a few other ways that Medicare and Social Security overlap. 

Enrollment: Both programs run initial enrollment through the Social Security Administration. When you first enroll in a Medicare plan or if you need to defer your Medicare coverage (for example, to go back onto an employer plan), you would do so through the Social Security Administration. 

Premiums: Social Security pension amounts are factored into annual Medicare premium increases. The most common payment method for the Part B premium is through automatic deductions from a Social Security pension. 

Eligibility: If an individual collects Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, they become eligible for and are automatically enrolled in Medicare. Similarly, if a person is collecting Social Security when they turn 65, they are automatically enrolled onto Medicare (they have the option to defer Medicare if they have other coverage). 

Additional Assistance: Medicare offers multiple levels of assistance to those on Medicare. These programs help cover expenses such as premiums and prescription costs. Applicants must contact the Social Security Administration in order to apply. 

If you have any questions regarding the relationship between Medicare and Social Security, please contact us at 1-877-291-4110 or www.retiremediq.com/aflcio

COPE 2018 Special Guest Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is Director of the Retirement Security at the Economic Policy Institute. She Founded the Center for Retirement Security at Georgetown University where she is a Research Professor.

She has served with distinction in both the private and public arenas. She was Maryland’s first woman Lt Governor, and served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

Prior to serving at the Department of Justice, Ms. Townsend led the fight to make Maryland the first—and only—state to make service a high school graduation requirement.

She has been appointed Special Advisor at the Department of State. She is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In the mid-1980s, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.

She Chaired the Institute of Human Virology founded by Dr. Robert Gallo, which treats over 700,000 patients in Africa as part of the PEPFAR program, has chaired the Robert Kennedy Memorial and has been on the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

She has served on a number of boards including the Export-Import Bank, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Wilderness Society, the Points of Light Foundation, the National Catholic Reporter and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Baltimore Urban League the Center for American Progress, Lightbridge Corporation and New Tower Trust. Ms. Townsend is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is the Vice-Chair of the Future of Science conference held in Venice Italy.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Ms. Townsend received her law degree from the University of New Mexico where she was a member of the law review. She has received fourteen honorary degrees. Ms. Townsend’s book, Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches Mixed God with Politics and Lost Their Way has been published by Warner Books in March 2007.