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Repeal of So-Called Cadillac Tax Fixes Major ACA Flaw, Protects Millions of Americans from Benefits Cuts

LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America

LIUNA – The Laborers’ International Union of North America

Washington, D.C.  – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today on the bill introduced by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), and more than 60 original co-sponsors to repeal the 40 percent excise tax (also known as the “Cadillac tax”) in the Affordable Care Act:

Repealing the so-called Cadillac tax would fix a major flaw in the Affordable Care Act and prevent millions of Americans from facing cuts in their healthcare coverage. The tax, which was promoted as a way to rein in supposed excessive healthcare benefits for highly-paid executives, is expected to instead hit healthcare plans covering hundreds of thousands of hard working men and women, including LIUNA members, as insurance costs escalate faster than the thresholds.

The so-called “Cadillac Tax” is particularly unfair to LIUNA members and those who rely on multi-employer healthcare plans for their health coverage. These plans will be forced to slash benefits in order to avoid the tax.  The tax would take money out of the pockets of workers and their employers in order to subsidize low-road employers who have shirked their responsibilities.

Healthcare reform was supposed to improve and increase coverage. This tax has the opposite effect. LIUNA urges Members of Congress to join Representatives Courtney in supporting a repeal of this harmful tax.


The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.

Granite Staters Gather To Mourn The Seven Men Who Died On The Job This Year In New Hampshire.

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Workers Memorial Day is the day when we remember all of the workers whose deaths could have been prevented over the last year with continued vigilance to occupational safety. 

Hooksett, NH — At the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall in Hooksett, NH around sixty people gather to remember the seven men who passed away on the job last year in an event called Workers’ Memorial Day.

“Today, the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NH COSH) along with the national COSH groups and labor observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces,” said Brian Mitchell Executive Director of the NH COSH.

Prior to speaking at the memorial service, Governor Maggie Hassan met with some of the families who suffered the loss of a family member last year.  “Relatively speaking New Hampshire is a safe state and that is due in part to our strong workforce,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. She highlighted that “workplace safety is an ongoing issue,” and the ongoing work from the NH COSH could help make New Hampshire even safer.

Governor Hassan speaks at NH Workers’ Memorial Day

http://youtu.be/ZxQ3ZnI5jAQ

The NH COSH and COSH groups from across the country are working to lower the number of on the job fatalities through education and the elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.

4,585 U.S. workers died on the job due to unsafe working conditions in 2013 the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an estimated 50,000 workers die each year from long-term exposure hazardous substances.

Over the last forty-five years OSHA nationally has worked hard to reduce the number of on the job fatalities.  Their works, and the work of local groups like the NH COSH, have taken the number of on the job fatalities from 38 US workers a day to less than 12.

“Seven men did not make it home from work last year,” said Brian Mitchell at the closing of the Workers’ Memorial Day event. “Seven deaths is too many. One on the job death is too many.”

The event was concluded by a reading of the obituaries of the seven men who died by Chaplain Debra Grow of the Goffstown Police Department.

Worker Safety Groups Release New U.S. Worker Fatality Database

More than 1,780 cases identified for 2014, likely one-third of total;
Data and accompanying maps can be sorted by state and industry 

LONGMEADOW, MA Observing Worker Memorial Day, a coalition of safety groups has released the U.S. Worker Fatality Database, with accompanying maps and infographics.  

The database, which shows the names, people and stories behind statistical reports of deaths on the job, is the largest open-access data set of individual workplace fatalities ever collected in the United States.

imageU.S.Worker Deaths by Industry,2014. Available through the map and infographic function of the U.S. Worker Fatality Database. Data can also be mapped by state.

“This Worker Memorial Day, we’re launching a unique, collaborative online database, with information about the lives – and the deaths – of workers who died on the job in 2014,” said Bethany Boggess of Global Worker Watch. “To prevent future tragedies, we need to know all we can about who died on the job, and under what circumstances.”

The U.S. Worker Fatality Database identifies more than 1,780 workplace fatalities in 2014, with additional data still being collected. Based on previous data, this is likely to represent over one-third of the total cases of workplace deaths from traumatic events for that year.

The final toll for 2013, released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 4,585 deaths on the job from sudden traumatic events. An additional 50,000 workers are expected to die each year from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals and other occupational hazards.

The database is a joint effort of workplace safety groups and advocates, including:

  • National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH
  • AFL-CIO
  • Center for Construction Research and Training
  • Fe Y Justicia
  • Global Worker Watch
  • Knox Area Worker Memorial Day Committee
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health  (MassCOSH)
  • Northeastern New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF)
  • Beyond OSHA Project

The U.S. Worker Fatality Database was created when workplace safety advocates, seeking information about workers killed in their state, region or local community, found that important details about these tragic cases were not consistently available.

The resulting database offers more specific detail than the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the BLS, which reports aggregate statistics. The U.S. Worker Fatality Database includes, where available, the name of the deceased, employer, circumstances of death. It contains links to sources of public documents related to the incidents on how and where workers were killed, including OSHA reports and news media accounts.

The data can be sorted by age, gender, city, state, industry and keywords such as “fall elevation,” “electrocuted,”  “explosion” and other terms linked to the cause of death.

Using the accompanying map function on the Tableau Public platform, maps showing the incidence of fatalities can be zoomed and captured by industry and by individual states. These maps are licensed under Creative Commons, and can be modified, reproduced and redistributed, with credit to: U.S. Workers Fatality Database.

Workers Memorial Day, which coincides with the day the Occupational Safety and Health Act took effect in the United States in 1971, is part of a week-long series of activities across the country to honor workers who have died on the job and advocate for better safety protections. Workers Memorial Week is being observed this year in more than 100 local communities with vigils, rallies, marches and other events. A full listing is available on the National COSH website.


National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.  “Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths 2015,” a National COSH report, describes workplace fatalities in the United States and how they can be prevented. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

April 27th NH-COSH Observe Workers Memorial Day In New Hampshire

WMD 2015 Cover PhotoSeven New Hampshire workers never made it back home in 2014. We would especially encourage the families and local unions who have suffered the loss of a member on the job in the last year, contact NH COSH at 603-232-4406 or nhcosh@nhcosh.org.

We would like you to join us for our memorial event on Monday, April 27 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Governor Maggie Hassan will be among the guest speakers.

Every year on or near April 28, the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health/NH COSH along with the national COSH groups and labor observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces. This year the struggle continues to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy. It’s time for our country to fulfill the promise of safe jobs for all.

Four decades ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Organizations continue to fight hard to make that promise a reality—new protections to make jobs safer are won slowly. OSHA regulations have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses. But our work is not done.

Many job hazards are unregulated and uncontrolled. Some employers cut corners and violate the law, putting workers in serious danger and costing lives. Workers who report job hazards or job injuries are fired or disciplined. Employers contract out dangerous work to try to avoid the responsibility of workers compensation insurance. As a result, each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs and families are left to fend for themselves.

We must press forward. Advocates, academia, local unions, and professionals remember those who have died on the job at the annual NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health’s memorial event on April 27.

Below is a flyer for the event, which you can download via PDF here, or just save the image below.

WMD 2015 Invitation (Final)

 

The “Fast Track” Bill For The Trans-Pacific Partnership Hit The Floor Of Congress Today, Labor Responds

It was only a matter of time until the multi-national corporations who helped fund the campaigns of many of the politician’s in Washington pushed for another trade agreement that will make them billions of dollars, and leave millions of American workers without a job.

Today the “Senate’s Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” hit the Congressional floor. The deal was brokered by Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The New York Times spelled it out pretty well:

“It would give Congress the power to vote on the more encompassing 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies.”

President Obama has already said he will oppose the unions — who help him win two elections — and his fellow democrats to get this trade agreement passed.

Richard_Trumka“At a time when workers all over the country are standing up for higher wages, Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs. That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track (TPA-2015) and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.”

Trumka continued, “Trade deals have wide-ranging impacts and shouldn’t be negotiated behind closed doors and then rubber-stamped. The current Trans-Pacific Partnership deal under discussion would cover 40 percent of the world’s GDP. A deal this big should be debated in a full and open manner like every other piece of legislation. Working people are showing tremendous courage standing up to the low-wage, corporate agenda. It’s time for politicians to do the same.”

Labor unions and progressive advocates have been calling for more transparency in this ginormous trade agreement. The White House has been negotiating this deal in secret, while assuring everyone that this will not be another NAFTA. The problem is that every time new information about the trade agreement is leaked, it shows exactly the opposite. More gifts to Wall Street and Corporations while the American people suffer.

“The proposed Fast Track bill fails all the tests that Senator Ron Wyden said were critical: Trade Adjustment Assistance, transparency, action to combat currency manipulation, real enforcement of environmental and worker standards, and procedures to enable Congress ‘to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course,’ as Wyden put it. Since this legislation requires a supermajority, or 60 votes, for the Senate to remove the TPP or any subsequent deal from Fast Track consideration, this provision is virtually meaningless,” wrote the Communication Workers of America in a statement late this afternoon.

Larry Cohen CWA“We need to put the brakes on Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority. Just like the TPP itself, there has been no transparency around Trade Promotion Authority. We’ve had the start of a Senate hearing even before a bill was finalized and introduced. Now, that legislation is headed to mark up and a floor vote in just days. Trade Promotion Authority pretends to be about trade, but in reality it is about protecting corporate profits above all else and defining our national security in terms of giving away our jobs, depressing our wages and then rewarding the responsible multinational corporations, often U.S. based, with guaranteed profits in the nations where they invest,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.

Leo W Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers union wrote in his weekly column about how “illegally subsidized steel” is coming into the United States and forcing more workers out on the streets. “American steel producers laid off thousands of workers in bedrock communities from Ohio and Illinois to Texas and Alabama. That’s in just the past three months.”

“NAFTA has led to the loss of 1 million American jobs,” said Senator Bernie Sanders on the floor of the US Senate in late February. “Since we signed NAFTA the United States has cumulative trade deficit of 8.8 trillion dollars. That is wealth that has left the U.S. and gone overseas.”

It is not just the manufacturing unions who are speaking out against the Fast Track and the TPP.

The UFCW supported the last major trade agreement with Korea because of its improved labor standards and potential to create 20,000 jobs in the meat sector. But in his op-ed, Perrone makes clear that this time is different.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not the Korea free trade agreement,” he writes. “It is neither free nor fair. And the UFCW is determined to see it defeated.”

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers and an outspoken progressive also spoke out against the agreement.

“At a time when we need to be focused on creating and sustaining good jobs for American workers, fast track would undermine these efforts, leading to trade deals that hurt everyday working people and stack the deck in favor of corporations. And it would do this in a secretive way, with limited public and congressional oversight and no effective enforcement,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

She continued, “Our nation’s trade policy should help put us on a path toward lifting all Americans’ quality of life—ensuring rights for workers, protections for consumers and safeguards for the environments. That’s why we need a democratic and transparent trade process that offers a fair shake for American workers. This bill is over-reaching and will fail to keep working families and our economy strong.”

“We send our elected leaders to Washington to be our voice,” said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson. “Under fast track, Congress will have no say in selecting our trade partners, negotiating trade terms, or debating and amending trade agreements. This bill panders to corporate profiteers, while ignoring the voices of everyday American workers, who are fighting to oppose it.”

Now we need everyone to stand up and put an end to this monumental race to the bottom.

10492525_10153211806206153_8036817465541163150_nUses your cell phone to text TPP to 877877 and you can be connected directly to your Congressman or Senators office to tell them to vote no on this legislation. Or call the Senate directly at 1-855-790-8815 and tell them that “Fast Track means bad trade deals that ship American jobs overseas.”

Then take part in a National Day of Action to Stop Fast Track this Saturday, April 18th. Click here to find an event near you.

The AFL-CIO has more information on the TPP and “Fast Track” legislation on their website.

Over 5,000 Rally In Boston In The #FightFor15, Kicking Worldwide Day Of Action On Wages And Inequality

Massachusetts Kicked Off the Largest Ever
Global Mobilization of Underpaid Workers Protest on Six Continents;
Adjunct Professors, Home Care, Child Care, Transportation, Fast Food, Janitorial, and Walmart Workers to Rally Coast to Coast.

Thousands of underpaid workers frustrated by low wages rallied, walked out in strike, and marched throughout the city of Boston yesterday to call for higher wages and to kick off a global wave of protests against wage inequality. Two-and-a-half years ago Boston was one of the first cities in the Fight for $15 calling for higher wages for fast food workers.  The growing movement has spread across the country, and around the world, and now includes low wage workers from various occupations like home healthcare workers and adjunct professors. Boston became the launching point for the largest ever global mobilization of the underpaid when workers, students, and their supporters took to the streets on Tuesday.

(Time Lapse Video of March by @SEIU)

 

The two-and-half-year-old Fight for $15 has continued to grow on local college campuses as well.  Students from Boston University, Northeastern University, UMass-Boston, UMass-Amherst, Roxbury Community College, Harvard University, Emerson College, Tufts University, Clark University, Lesley University, Boston College, and Brandeis University joined with low wage workers to rally for higher wages.

 

College students are not the only ones who are feeling the pain of low wage jobs, many of the adjunct faculty at these colleges are paid just above minimum wage and are forced to live in poverty. In May of 2014 the Boston Globe reported:

“Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level.”

This is why adjunct professors from across the city joined the march and spoke out for higher wages. “We are supposed to be the college professors raising up the next generation,” said one adjunct professor in the video posted by Faculty Forward.

 

A recent Brookings Institution study shows that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom twenty make. Massive income disparity is badly hurting this country and on April 14, low wage workers and their allies will take action to address the growing wage inequality crisis.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is leading the nation with three groundbreaking pieces of legislation intended to lift up low wage workers.

Home care workers bill

  • Provides $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 workers who provide home care to seniors and people with disabilities through “agency” home care employers.
  • Requires annual cost reporting from home care agencies, including detailed financial disclosures of executive compensation and overhead costs.

Fast food and big box retail workers bill

  • Requires big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018.
  • Applies to hourly wage workers at corporate fast food chains and Big Box stores over 25,000 square feet and with 200 or more employees in Massachusetts.

Tipped wage bill

  • Gradually eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers.
  • Mandates that after 2022, tipped employees would have the same hourly minimum wage as workers in all other industries in Massachusetts.

Following the global kick off event in Boston on April 14, protests will stretch around the globe the next day, with demonstrations expected in more than 200 U.S. cities, 100 international cities, in 40 countries, and on six continents, from Sao Paolo to Tokyo.  Follow the worldwide events on twitter at the #FightFor15 hashtag

Below are images from yesterday’s rally in Boston, provided by SEIU 1199 Massachusetts. All images were taken by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU.  More images and tweets of support for Massachusetts workers can be found on the #WageAction hashtag and on Youtube.

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Leo W Gerard: The High Cost Of Fighting For $15

2014 Fast Food Strike NYC (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

2014 Fast Food Strike NYC (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages.

Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years.  Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them.

Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises. To lose a job, even one that pays poverty wages, during a time of high unemployment is terrifying. Still, thousands will participate Wednesday. That is valor.

2015-04-12-1428857661-6865200-Fightfor15graphic.jpg

Kip Hedges exhibited that courage. He’s a 61-year-old with 26 years of service as a baggage handler for Delta at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. He wanted better wages for young workers and a union. He said so in a video, noting that “probably close to half make under $15 an hour.”

Delta fired him. The airline said he’d disparaged the company. Apparently Delta believes it has been disparaged if the flying public learns the truth about the way Delta treats workers.

Clearly, Delta planned to shut Hedges up and intimidate other workers. The message to his co-workers was clear: “You wanna talk about the paltry wages you get? Well, let’s talk about this pink slip.”

But when Delta messed with Hedges, it messed up big time. The firing failed to silence him. He continued to protest low wages. His co-workers rallied round him. The media covered his firing and his appeal. He looked like a low-wage worker hero. Delta looked like a vindictive heel.

Unlike Hedges, Shanna Tippen was no activist before she got fired from her minimum-wage job in Pine Bluff, Ark. She was just trying to get by, and falling short by about $200 a month. Her boss at the Days Inn where she worked as a night shift jack-of-all-trades asked her to talk to a Washington Post reporter who had dropped by the hotel to discuss the state’s newly instituted 25-cent increase to the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Fast Food Strike 2014 (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

Fast Food Strike 2014 (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

Tippen told the reporter, Chico Harlan, that she hoped the little bit of extra money would help her pay for her grandson’s diapers.

After the Post published the story, the manager of the Days Inn, Herry Patel, telephoned Harlan to complain about being quoted in it. Then he fired Tippen. She recounted it to Harlan:

“He said I was stupid and dumb for talking to [The Post].”  Even though, of course, Patel had told Tippen to talk to the reporter. Tippen continued: “He cussed me and asked me why you wrote the article. I said, ‘Because he’s a reporter; that’s what he does.’”

Patel told Harlan that Arkansas voters, who approved the pay increase in a referendum by 66 percent, should not have done it. “Everybody wants free money in Pine Bluff,” Harlan quoted him as saying.

Patel apparently did not understand that Tippen performed work that kept the hotel running every night, which means she earned the money. The truth is that Patel, like so many other employers, believes that employees should work for free.

The Post and other papers wrote about Tippen’s firing, making her an icon for ill-treated, low-wage workers and Patel the personification of miserly bosses.

 

Worker-exploiting employers like McDonald’s, Chipotle and Walmart have shown themselves to be craven in the face of courageous workers’ wage protests as well.

Over the past few months, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed charges against McDonald’s and Walmart alleging they violated workers’ rights, including threatening retribution against those who participated in strikes.

In December, the NLRB in California ruled that Walmart illegally punished workers for striking and seeking to unionize. The judge determined that Walmart managers illegally intimidated workers by, for example, telling one, who had tied a rope around his waist to pull a heavy load, “If it was up to me, I would put that rope around your neck.”

In the Chipotle case, the NLRB ruled that a manager in St. Louis illegally fired worker Patrick Leeper for participating in Fight for $15 demonstrations and for talking about wages at work. After the decision, a company spokesperson told the news website Think Progress: “Generally speaking, it is always a top priority for us to remain compliant with all local and federal labor laws.”

“Generally,” Chipotle tries. Generally. Not in this particular case involving low-wage workers demonstrating for better pay. But, you know, generally Chipotle tries to obey the law.

In the original Washington Post story about the tiny increase in the minimum wage in Arkansas, Dominic Flis, whose company owns 18 Burger Kings in central Arkansas, said raising the minimum wage pushes up pay for other workers too. Here’s what he said:

“If somebody was already making $7.50, and minimum wage goes to $7.50, they’ll have some expectation of a raise as well,” Flis said. “And I have to maintain my workforce.”

The Brookings Institute calls this the ripple effect. The pay increase at the bottom ripples all the way up the pay scale.

Hedges, the fired Delta worker, put it another way: “a lot of the better paid workers also understand that the bottom has to be raised otherwise the top is going to fall as well.”

If for no other reason than self-interest, join the gutsy minimum-wage workers at a Fight for $15 event Wednesday.

Stamp Your Money While You Eat Free Ice Cream!

2015-04-14 Free Cone DayToday, April 14th is “Free Cone Day” at Ben & Jerry’s nationwide.  At the 940 Elm Street location in Manchester, NH, ice cream lovers coming by for their free scoop between noon and 8:00 pm will also be able to Stamp their money and learn more about the Stamp Stampede.

StampStampede.org is tens of thousands of Americans supporting the movement to get money out of politics by legally stamping messages onto US currency.

Here in New Hampshire, more than 60 small businesses have already joined the Stampede and are hosting “stamping stations” where customers can stamp their currency and learn more about the issue.  Almost 1,000 Granite Staters are beautifying their bucks with messages like “Not to be Used for Bribing Politicians.”  Each stamped bill is seen by an estimated 875 people as it circulates through the local economy.

At the grassroots level, there is broad bipartisan support for overturning Citizens United and ending the influence of special interests. Four out of five New Hampshire Republicans think Congress is more interested in special interests than its constituents.  More than two-thirds of New Hampshire voters support a Constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United.  So far, 68 of the state’s cities and towns have passed local resolutions asking for a Constitutional amendment.

The state Legislature is considering two measures about Citizens United.  The House passed a bipartisan measure calling for a Constitutional Convention.  The Senate unanimously passed a bill calling for an amendment and setting up a study committee to recommend which proposed amendment to support.  So far, 16 other states have called for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get special interest money out of politics.

The Stamp Stampede was founded by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Free Cone Day & Stamp Your Money!
Tuesday, April 14th 12noon to 8:00 pm
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
940 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101

For other Ben & Jerry’s locations celebrating Free Cone Day, click here.

————————

The Stamp Stampede is tens of thousands of Americans legally stamping messages on our nation’s currency to #GetMoneyOut of Politics. As more and more stamped money spreads, so will the movement to amend the Constitution and overturn Citizens United.

You can get your own stamp online at www.stampstampede.org. Or, if you’re a member of CWA, you can get a stamp from your LPAT coordinator. The average stamped bill is seen by 875 people – which makes stamping a highly-effective way to get the message out about how money in politics is corrupting our government.

It’s time to #GetMoneyOut of politics and take back our government.

SENATE DEMOCRATS TO MCCONNELL: BRING MIDDLE CLASS BILLS THAT RECEIVED BIPARTISAN SUPPORT DURING BUDGET VOTE-A-RAMA UP FOR A BINDING VOTE

In Letter To Leader McConnell, Lead Senate Dem Sponsors Of Four Budget Resolution Amendments That Garnered Strong Bipartisan Support Formally Request That The Legislative Version Of These Non-Binding Amendments Be Given Up-Or-Down Votes On The Senate Floor

 

Only Two Weeks ago, Majorities Supported Non-Binding Amendments that Provide Workers With Paid Sick Leave, Protect Pregnant Works From Discrimination, Ensure Same Sex Couples Have Equal Access To Federal Benefits And Enact Tax Cuts For Middle Class Families

 

Senate Dems To McConnell: These Policies Benefit The Middle Class, Have Bipartisan Support And Deserve A Vote In This Congress That Would Have a Real Impact on Working Families

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democrats formally called for an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor on four policies that garnered significant Republican support when they were considered as non-binding amendments to the Budget resolution only two weeks ago. Specifically, the senators called for up-or-down votes on legislation to provide paid sick leave for workers, protect pregnant workers from discrimination, ensure same sex couples have equal access to federal benefits and enact tax cuts for middle class families. The letter was signed by the chief Senate democratic sponsors of the legislation: Senators Dick Durbin (Working Families Tax Relief Act), Charles E. Schumer (American Opportunity Tax Credit), Patty Murray (Healthy Families Act, Child Care Tax Credit and 21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act), Ron Wyden (Middle Class Tax Cut), Sherrod Brown (Working Families Tax Relief Act), Bob Casey (the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act), Jeanne Shaheen (Child Care Tax Credit, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and Equal Access to Benefits for Same Sex Couples), Al Franken (Healthy Families Act) and Brian Schatz (Equal Access to Benefits for Same Sex Couples). 

 

In the letter, the senators stated that while they strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, they believe the four amendments represent important policies that deserve a vote in this Congress.

 

A full copy of the letter can be found below:

 

April 9, 2015

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Leader McConnell,

 

We write today to urge you to work with us to keep the momentum behind a series of non-binding budget resolution amendments moving forward. During budget “vote-a-rama,” a number of Senate Republicans supported Democratic amendments containing common-sense policies that will benefit hardworking Americans instead of special interests. As the sponsors of those amendments, we would like to assure you that we stand ready to work with you to bring real legislation separate from the budget to the floor for an up-or-down vote.

 

As you know, amendments to the budget that are voted on during vote-a-rama do not have the force of law. However, a bipartisan majority vote on an amendment can be an important mark of whether or not a certain policy can pass the Senate with a 60 vote affirmative threshold. Too often, the budget vote-a-rama is characterized as a partisan exercise that leaves no lasting policy impact. Working with you, we hope to make this Budget vote-a-rama different. While we strongly oppose the underlying Senate Republican budget and the negative impacts it would have on middle-class and working families, we believe the following four amendments represent policies that deserve a vote in this Congress.

 

  • Paid Sick Leave (passed 61-39) – Amendment No. 798 to improve workplace benefits and reduce health care costs, which may include measures to allow Americans to earn paid sick time to address their own health needs and the health needs of their families, and to promote equal employment opportunities.

 

  • Ending Discrimination Against Pregnant Workers (passed 100-0)  Amendment No. 632 to increase employment opportunities and prevent employment discrimination, which may include measures to prevent employment discrimination against pregnant workers, to provide pregnant workers with a right to workplace accommodations, and to ensure that employers comply with requirements regarding such workplace accommodations for pregnant workers.

 

  • Equal Access to Benefits for Same Sex Couples (passed 57-43)  Amendment No. 1063 to ensuring all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to the Social Security and veterans benefits they have earned and receive equal treatment under the law pursuant to the Constitution of the United States.

 

  • Middle Class Tax Cuts (passed 73-27) – Amendment No. 968 to enacting middle class tax relief, including extending and expanding refundable tax credits, such as tax provisions and policies included in legislation like the Working Families Tax Relief Act, American Opportunity Tax Credit Permanence and Consolidation Act, Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, or the 21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act.

 

We respectfully request that you publicly announce a timetable for the prompt Senate consideration of these policies, which have clear bipartisan support.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dick Durbin

United States Senator

 

Patty Murray

United States Senator

 

Ron Wyden

United States Senator

 

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Coalition Calls For A Reversal Of Texas Ruling Blocking Executive Action On Immigration

Latino American Immigration (Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

(Image by LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Unprecedented Coalition of Elected Officials, Advocates, Law Enforcement, Business Groups Ask Appellate Court to Reverse Texas Ruling Blocking President’s Immigration Initiatives

Immigration Policy Center logoWashington D.C. – The Texas federal district court order that blocked parts of President Obama’s executive action on immigration was based on unproven or incomplete presentations to the court and should be reversed, civil rights and immigration advocates argue in an amicus (“friend-of-the-court”) brief in the case of State of Texas v. United States. Texas and 25 other states have sued the federal government to stop the implementation of initiatives that will provide temporary relief from deportation, but advocates maintain the President’s actions are legally sound.

Multiple legal briefs defending the deferred action initiatives were filed Monday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by a range of advocates, leaders, and elected officials. One of these briefs was filed on behalf of more than 150 civil rights, labor, and immigration advocacy groups, led by the American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Si Se Puede - Immigration (Image by Claudia A. De La Garza FLIKR)

(Image by Claudia A. De La Garza  in 2014 FLIKR)

Briefs were also submitted to the court Monday by 15 states and the District of Columbia, 73 mayors, county officials from 27 states, 181 members of Congress, and 109 law professors, law enforcement, faith and business leaders. These briefs discuss the economic and community benefits that will result from expansion of the successful DACA program and the new DAPA initiative for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

“Collectively, the parties in these filings represent more than half of the foreign-born population in our country, which means they have a demonstrated track record of producing inclusive immigration policies,” noted Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director, during a telephonic press briefing announcing the briefs. “We are confident that we will win because the law is on our side. But we also know that the wheels of justice often move slowly. In the meantime, our message to eligible immigrants and their families is to be patient, continue gathering the necessary documents to apply, save up for the application fee, and don’t lose faith,” added Hincapié.

“We are undeterred and we will continue in this campaign [to realize the start of the DACA and DAPA programs],” added Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. An early signer of the amicus brief by local officials, the mayor said the filing before the appellate court by mayors and counties has twice as many signers as an earlier brief submitted to the Texas district court. Citing the economic and community benefits that would come from allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows, Mayor Hancock added, “This is about our communities. This is about working with those who have chosen to call our cities ‘home.’”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, said the legal filing by 181 members of Congress argues the Texas court overturned Congress’ decision to give the executive branch authority to set immigration enforcement priorities.

“What the court has done is not only an affront to what the executive has done [in setting priorities] and to the authority we have – well-grounded in law and in precedent – but also an affront to what Congress has done,” Lofgren said. “There are millions of people living in fear, who have made our economy and lived here for decades, whose lives have been turned upside down by an erroneous ruling.”

Some states claimed that the administrative relief will harm them, but the legal briefs argue the judgment was incorrect.

“That is incorrect. The states have to show irreparable harm to get a preliminary injunction; they have not,” Noah Purcell, solicitor general in the Washington State Attorney General’s Office told reporters. “The president’s directives are good for states; they are not harming states.”

The human aspect of the case also was highlighted during Monday’s press call.

 Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundatio FLIKR)

Not 1 More 2014 (Image LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

“Although I was disappointed by the news that a federal district judge blocked implementation of DACA expansion, I was not disillusioned,” said Jong-Min You, an immigrant from New York who would be eligible for relief under DACA expansion. “I know that eventually, I will be able to come forward and apply for relief from deportation and work authorization, and I’m not the only one. Other elder Dreamers, along with their parents and millions of others, are ready for the legal battle ahead and for the legal battle to end so that we can finally move forward.”

Rocio Saenz, SEIU international executive vice president, said advocates for expanded DACA and DAPA will never give up.

“The plaintiff states and Republicans who support this lawsuit can ignore the will of their own constituents and immigrants’ contributions, but we will continue to defend the immigration action in the courts. We will continue to fight for immigration reform. We will continue to inform future applicants and make sure that when the time comes – and it will come – that every eligible person applies for the immigration action. We are and will continue to send a strong message to the naysayers, to Republicans who stand in the way of progress: We are not the enemy. But we are ready – ready to fight back, ready for the immigration action, and ready to vote,” Saenz said.

“Amici and the government are clearly on the right side of the law, and we are confident that a stay [of the Texas order] will be granted, hopefully by the Fifth Circuit, one day very soon,” said Melissa Crow, legal director of the American Immigration Council.

A recording of Monday’s press call can be downloaded at http://nilc.org/document.html?id=1222 .

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