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It may be America’s biggest health plan, covering more than 70 million people, but many people do not know what Medicaid is. Here's what you should know:
Every State Has a Different Name for Medicaid: One reason few people know Medicaid itself is that each state runs its own plan and typically does not include Medicaid in its name. If you live in West Virginia, for example, you might know it as Mountain Health Trust or WV Health Bridge. In Ohio, maybe you participate in the Buckeye Health Plan or another managed care program paid for by Medicaid.
Medicaid is for People Struggling to Make Ends Meet: Whatever your state calls Medicaid, it is the health plan that provides access to health care for people struggling the most to make ends meet. States generally determine the rules for who qualifies, but all states provide Medicaid for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. The federal government pays most of the cost of benefits, with states covering the rest.
More People are Eligible Because of Obamacare: Under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, states can expand who qualifies to include all adults who have low incomes (that is, below 138% of the federal poverty level). This year, for example, a single person with household income less than $16,643, or a family of four with income less than $33,948, would be eligible for Medicaid in Nevada. Thirty-one states and Washington, D.C., have expanded coverage in this way, resulting in 11 million more people getting health insurance they otherwise could not afford.
Benefits to Meet Personal Needs: Each state’s Medicaid plan pays for health services you usually think of when it comes to health insurance: things like doctor visits and hospital stays. These plans also can pay for other important services that other health insurance plans do not. Here are some examples of things you might not expect:
- Help at home for children with special care needs, such as those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, and for their parents.
- Funding for schools throughout the country to provide services to Medicaid-eligible children and hire school nurses, counselors and speech therapists.
- Nursing home care for seniors and people with disabilities.
- Help with basic daily activities to enable people with disabilities, including seniors, remain in their own homes and communities.
This week, Senate Republicans unveiled their vision for health care in America. We won't spend much time going over numbers and percentages (you can read that here), but here is what you need to know right now about this bill. It will:
1. Make millions of working people pay more for less care
2. Tax your workplace plans if you get decent health coverage at work
3. Give massive tax breaks to wealthy corporations and CEOs
4. Take away health care from millions of working people
5. Drastically cut Medicaid, which provides vital services for a large group of Americans.
There isn't a lot of time to stop this complete hijacking of our health care.
Call your senators today and every day to demand they vote "no" on a bill that takes away our health care: 1-888-865-8089. Tell your friends to call too.
At Labor Notes trainings I hear lots of reasons why union members think their co-workers aren’t involved: They don’t understand labor history. They don’t appreciate all the union has done for them. They watch Fox News. They’re scared or apathetic.
I always say, “Remember what inspires people to organize a union in the first place. They join and stay involved when they experience what it means to wield collective power.”
In some ways, the Senate Republican health care plan is even worse than the version that Hosue Republicans adopted.
The latest bargaining updates for CenturyLink and AT&T East.
Several states take action to pass legislation that would help keep jobs in the U.S.
CWAers are taking their concerns about AT&T's growing numbers of third-party dealer stores directly to customers.
“Retail workers are basically told their entire lives that they’re never going to have any power in any way, in any facet of their lives,” says Will Blum, who works at an AT&T Mobility store in Boston.
But tens of thousands of cell-phone retail workers proved otherwise in May when they walked out on strike for three days, fighting for new contracts with the tenth-largest company in the U.S.
CWA General Counsel Jody Calemine testified before a House Subcommittee last week on three bills that would deny workers the right to bargain.
The CWA Strong movement continues to spread! On June 12, over 35 CWA Local 1031 elected officers, shop stewards, and branch presidents gathered for a CWA Strong training on building workplace power and resisting corporate attacks on our union.
CWAers from Locals 1101, 1106, 1109, and 1180 gathered for a Runaway Inequality training.
A week ago, the workers at StoryCorps in New York City filed for a union election to join CWA.
Hundreds of American Airlines agents have reported negative physical reactions to their new uniforms ranging from rashes and swollen eyes to nausea.
There is a distinct difference between a job training program and an apprenticeship, and leaders in the labor movement are spreading this message.
“Apprenticeships are comprehensive experiences, where individuals not only learn a skill, they practice and develop that skill in conjunction with the needs of the business community, while earning a fair, living wage,” said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. “Any job training program that does not involve businesses and industry, a decent living and solid instruction, fails in comparison. Highly skilled manufacturing jobs are the future, and apprenticeship programs are an essential part of filling those jobs.”
Representatives from industrial labor unions, manufacturing employers, state labor federations, state and federal labor agencies, and education and workforce and development advocacy groups met earlier this week in Oakwood, Pennsylvania, to discuss state and national efforts to bolster apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship training programs mean working people who participate in them learn the latest technologies and skills, and also learn how to stay safe on the job. “Embracing and developing these training programs will modernize systems and procedures to improve productivity and safety,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.
The event was co-hosted by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and the Ohio AFL-CIO.
CenturyLink workers voted with a strong majority to ratify an agreement with CenturyLink that extends the current contract by 3 years.
When students and faculty at Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University returned to campus in January after winter break, Lytle Hall became the building to avoid. It stunk. The moment you entered the main doors of the building, you were greeted by the overwhelming stench of a rotting animal.
Some unions are ready to jump on Trump's "Buy American" bandwagon. In an op-ed last week, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams, and Machinists President Robert Martinez, Jr., applauded the president's “Buy American and Hire American” executive order and urged Congress to do more.
Like many Americans, you may have parents or other loved ones in nursing homes because they require around-the-clock care.
Nursing-home care is expensive, typically $80,000 per year for a semiprivate room—far more than the income of a typical senior. Medicare generally pays only for short-term nursing-home stays. Yet only about 1 in 10 people 65 and older have private long-term care insurance to cover nursing-home costs. For a great many people, that insurance is too expensive.
Medicaid is the one thing people can count on when their money has run out. Losing that coverage, as could happen to some people if congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump succeed in gutting Medicaid funding to pay for tax cuts for corporate CEOs and the wealthiest 1%, would force working people to make impossible choices about how to care for their parents and other family members when they can no longer care for themselves.
This is just one reason why Medicaid matters to working people and their families. Consider a few other impressive Medicaid facts and think about what would happen to you, your family, your friends and your community without it:
- Medicaid helps seniors and other people with significant disabilities stay in their homes and communities, instead of being forced to go to nursing homes.
- Medicaid guarantees more than 30 million children access to medical care.
- Nearly 5 million children with special care needs, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, are covered by Medicaid and other public insurance.
- Medicaid pays for half of all childbirths in the United States.
Watch the video above reminding all of us why Medicaid is so important to working people, and why slashing Medicaid’s federal funding by half to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%, CEOs and corporations is so wrong.
On June 12 Teresa Schloth, a Brooklyn dialysis nurse for 32 years, walked out on her first-ever strike. She and her co-workers are battling a billion-dollar corporation that’s trying to wring greater profits out of kidney patients by skimping on staffing and shifting jobs out of the unions.
People with chronic kidney failure—the technical name is end-stage renal disease—qualify for Medicare regardless of age. Three times a week they go in for dialysis, where they spend hours hooked up to a machine that cleans their blood.
The Labor Department issued a proposal on Monday that would rescind the union-buster transparency rule, officially known as the persuader rule, designed to increase disclosure requirements for consultants and attorneys hired by companies to try to persuade working people against coming together in a union. The rule was supposed to go into effect last year, but a court issued an injunction last June to prevent implementation. Now the Trump Labor Department wants to eliminate it.
We wrote about this rule last year. Repealing the union-buster transparency rule is little more than the administration doing the bidding of wealthy corporations and eliminating common-sense rules that would give important information to working people who are having roadblocks thrown their way while trying to form a union.
AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein said:
The persuader rule means corporate CEOs can no longer hide the shady groups they hire to take away the freedoms of working people. Repealing this common-sense rule is simply another giveaway to wealthy corporations. Corporate CEOs may not like people knowing who they’re paying to script their union-busting, but working people do.
If the rule is repealed, union-busters will be able to operate in the shadows as they work to take away our freedom to join together on the job. Working people deserve to know whether these shady firms are trying to influence them. The administration seems to disagree.
A 60-day public comment period opened Monday. Click on this link to leave a comment and tell the Labor Department that we should be doing more to ensure the freedom of working people to join together in a union, not less. Copy and paste the suggested text below if you need help getting started:
“Working people deserve to know who is trying to block their freedom from joining together and forming a union on the job. Corporations spend big money on shadowy, outside firms that use fear tactics to intimidate and discourage people from coming together to make a better life on the job. I support a strong and robust persuader rule. Do not eliminate the persuader rule.”
This post originally ran in 2015.
This week marks the five-year anniversary of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an important time to mark the contributions of DACAmented workers to our communities and our economy. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of aspiring Americans and union members to live and work without fear in the United States. The labor movement reiterates unwavering support for the expansion of these much-needed deferred action programs. The following blog from Maria E. Dominguez, a first-grade bilingual teacher from Austin, Texas, demonstrates just how valuable these programs are.
On the third-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s DACA program, I can’t help but reflect on how DACA has changed my entire life, both professionally and personally. After being granted DACA, I had the opportunity to pursue my life dream of being a public school teacher. Thanks to DACA I am able to serve my community as a first-grade public school bilingual teacher. In addition, I was able to obtain a driver’s license and travel within the United States. Another one of my dreams came true when I was granted advance parole with DACA and, in July of 2014, I traveled to my hometown in Guanajuato, Mexico, after more than 20 years. I saw my grandmother, cousins and other relatives who I had not seen in decades. It was an incredible experience for my whole family.
Many of my students’ parents would be eligible and should be applying for the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program today, if it were not being obstructed in the courts. Even though I work with very young children of immigrants, some of them understand their parents’ situation and are frightened to talk about it due to the very real threat of retaliation or deportation. I hope someday my students and their parents can live without fear and proudly say that they also have benefited from deferred action and gained work authorization. I know it would make an incredible difference in their families’ lives, just as it has for mine.
As a member of Education Austin and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), I have been granted the opportunity to work with the immigrant community—in particular, undocumented youth. I have volunteered at the citizenship drives offered by Education Austin and at DACA forums and clinics held in partnership with University Leadership Initiative in Austin, Texas. I have helped U.S. residents fill out their citizenship applications and DREAMers fill out their DACA application as part of my commitment to Education Austin and AFT. I also have worked with community leaders to bring essential information to the parents at my school for the first time. In March, I attended the AFL-CIO’s We Rise initiative training for union members in Washington, D.C. It showed members how to begin implementing DACA and DAPA educational forums and clinics at their locals. I also have participated in conferences with AFT that focus on immigration and how we as members can work with our locals to help our community. Finally, I have shared my knowledge and my personal story as a DACAmented teacher during educational forums and teacher conferences because I believe in the power of collective action.
I could not do what I do every single day in the classroom if it were not for President Obama’s executive action on immigration. I only wish that Republicans in Congress would muster the same political courage to address our broken immigration system. DACA works, and I’m a testament of that, but it only covers a small portion of our population. It is a small fight that we won, but we need to keep working in order to see a bigger change that can benefit others who will not qualify for DACA or DAPA. We must keep fighting because there are people trying to push us back, as we see in Texas with the injunction. So we cannot give up. Even though we might only see small steps now, I know that if we keep working, we’re going to see a huge change that will benefit everyone. Immigration should not be used to score cheap political points. We’re talking about people’s lives—people like me, who want nothing more than to contribute to our communities. Join me today and call for a permanent solution to our broken immigration system. Our families and our communities can’t wait.
Editor's Note: During the AFL-CIO's We Rise initiative training in Washington, D.C., Dominguez said she benefited from DACA, to which AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka responded, "No, we benefited from you," to a roomful of enthusiastic applause. Read more at NBC News.
Stories have surfaced in the past few weeks that Ebony owes numerous writers back pay for work they did for the magazine. A story from The Establishment spurred the #EbonyOwes hashtag into trending territory on Twitter. The article cites numerous freelance writers who say that the magazine owes them.
According to a press release, the National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 represents 23 Ebony writers who are collectively owed more than $50,000 in unpaid wages. The union estimates that more than $200,000 in back wages are owed to as many as 50 freelancers. The magazine recently made a public commitment to fix the problem, but NWU President Larry Goldbetter said that words aren't good enough:
Some of the invoices we’ve seen are over a year old. We are pleased Ebony Media has been responsive to the grievance, but we are now at a point where we need a payment schedule in writing. For a freelancer to have to struggle to pay rent because Ebony owes is ridiculous.
Here are some of the stories told on #EbonyOwes:
“Why Isn’t ‘Ebony’ Paying Its Black Writers?” https://t.co/gOrd6WLrGN Heh I almost wrote about this a couple of years ago. I'm still owed.— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) April 25, 2017
I don't know about the race angle, but I know about Ebony failing to pay writers. The magazine owes me $1,200. https://t.co/87QVJWnSyW— Eric Deggans at NPR (@Deggans) April 25, 2017
There are reports that Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate is moving behind the scenes to finalize a bill and hold a floor vote on Trumpcare before members of Congress leave for the July 4 recess. The legislation has been fast-tracked, meaning that it won't get the usual committee review before going to a floor vote. This would greatly shorten the time that the public (and members of Congress) has to read the legislation to determine exactly what it does and how many Americans it harms.
These secret negotiations could strip health care from millions of Americans, just to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Taking away the freedoms of working people in order to serve the wealthiest 1% isn't the path forward that the United States needs.
Call today at 1-888-865-8089 and tell your senator to oppose Trumpcare legislation negotiated in secret that strips health care from working people.
“Those melons are contaminated by exploitation.” That’s what one melon worker in Choluteca, Honduras, told me she would say to a U.S. consumer thinking about buying the fruit grown, harvested, and distributed under the control of the multinational Sumitomo and marketed under the brands Fyffes and Sol.
“They don’t use that money to pay us well,” she said. “What happens is they wind up with their pockets full, and we wind up with our bellies empty.”
The North American Free Trade Agreement is typically called a "trade deal," but in reality it’s not much about trade. Its hundreds of pages of set rules for how the United States, Mexico and Canada can run their economies. Those rules give global corporations strong rights and privileges but don’t contain a single provision to ensure more jobs, better wages, clean air and water, affordable medicines, or any of the other benefits trade is supposed to bring.
By any measure important to working people, NAFTA was a failure. It didn’t raise wages. It didn’t help protect the environment or ensure that people who wanted to join together and negotiate on the job could do so. NAFTA’s rules are rigged—and they must change.
Trade is not inevitably bad for working people. A new NAFTA, with rules that working people help write, could create good jobs, raise wages, protect our natural resources and raise standards of living across North America.
These rules must ensure working people can join together to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. They must ensure citizens are free to make decisions about our economy, including being free from the threat of unlimited investor-state dispute settlement lawsuits by foreign corporations. They must promote investment in our roads, ports, and schools and promote "Buy American" provisions to create jobs locally.
The AFL-CIO has developed comprehensive recommendations that aim to stop NAFTA’s vicious cycle and replace it with a virtuous one. A better NAFTA is possible. And it starts by bringing working families into the conversation so we can be part of the solution.
Read more about the AFL-CIO’s NAFTA recommendations, and share this post with a friend. To join our trade activist team, text “trade” to 235246.
Today is the 54th anniversary of the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the 1963 law that prohibits employers from paying men and women different wages for the same work solely based on sex. The Equal Pay Act’s passage is an important example of the labor movement’s long history of partnering with progressive women’s organizations to advocate for equal pay for women. Indeed, Esther Peterson—one of the labor movement’s greatest sheroes—was instrumental in the enactment of this landmark legislation.
Pay equity and transparency are bread and butter issues for working women; when they come together to negotiate collectively for fair wages and important benefits, like access to health insurance and paid leave, they can better support their families. (Indeed, women in unions experience a smaller wage gap than women without a union voice).
Since the passage of the EPA, the gender wage gap has narrowed, but it persists. Women overall typically are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, and that number has barely changed in the past 10 years. And the gap is even larger when you compare the earnings of women of color to white men.
Clearly, we still have much to do to ensure pay equity, and there’s been some progress, thanks to tireless working women and their allies across the country. For instance, in the past two years, more than half the states have introduced or passed their own remedies to increase pay transparency, strengthen employer accountability and empower working people to take action against pay discrimination. But stronger protection from pay discrimination shouldn’t depend on where you happen to live or where you work. Working women deserve a national solution.
That’s why the AFL-CIO, the National Women’s Law Center and countless other organizations support the Paycheck Fairness Act, part of a comprehensive women’s economic agenda. The PFA would strengthen the EPA by: protecting employees from retaliation for discussing pay; limiting the ability of employers to claim pay differences are based on “factors other than sex”; prohibiting employers from relying on a prospective employee’s wage history in determining compensation; strengthening individual and collective remedies against employers who discriminate; and increasing the data collection and enforcement capacity of key federal agencies.
Let’s not forget that raising the federal minimum wage also would boost women’s earnings in a big way. A driving factor in the gender wage gap is women’s overwhelming majority representation (two-thirds of workers) in minimum wage jobs, including those who pay the lower-tipped minimum wage. Legislation like the Raise the Wage Act would give women the well-deserved raise they’ve earned.
We need strong policy solutions like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Raise the Wage Act to help close the gender wage gap. Working women and the families who depend on them can’t afford to wait another 54 years.
Fatima Goss Graves is the senior vice president for program and president-elect at the National Women’s Law Center. In her current role, she leads the center’s broad agenda to eliminate barriers in employment, education, health care and reproductive rights and lift women and families out of poverty. Prior to joining the center,, she worked in private practice and clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Labor history, it’s vital to remember, is still being made. The people hired today will shape our movement’s future. That’s one reason why it’s so important for unions to connect with new hires as soon as possible.
Fighting for justice in our classrooms, schools, and communities has lately been a particularly overwhelming venture. It helps to step back and take the long view.
In his new book Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing against the Corporate Juggernaut, Howard Ryan analyzes the corporate assault on public education, chronicles struggles and successes, and crafts a vision for the schools that our communities deserve.
One hundred ten addiction treatment beds are empty, and 120 employees without a paycheck, after for-profit American Addiction Centers locked workers out of its Lafayette, New Jersey, facility.
The day before workers planned to kick off a three-day strike, the company changed the locks on the building and put patients on planes to its other facilities around the country.
Contract time is a gift. On an ordinary day, any number of work, family, and personal concerns compete for union members’ time and energy. But when your contract is about to expire, when your wages and benefits are on the table, when there’s a chance of a strike or lockout—that’s when your union has more of its members’ attention than at any other time.