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IronWorkers President Talks About The State Of Our Bridges

“There are over 100,000 bridges in this country that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.”  That is what President Obama told the nation in his recent speech about rebuilding our infrastructure.

Infrastructure is a term tossed around a lot lately to discuss everything from roads,  bridges, schools, telephone lines,  and power lines.  In most cases the term infrastructure refers to status of our roads and bridges.

Nationally our roads and bridges are rated at a “D”.  Unless something has changed in our grading system, that is not good.  That “D” made me have to retake biology in high school.

That is why Ironworkers Union President Walter Wise went on Fox 5 in Washington DC to talk about how bad our roads and bridges really are.  Here are a couple of points to get you started before you watch the video.

  1. The average age of a bridge in the United States is 47 years old
  2. 1 in 9 bridges have been determined to be structurally deficient.
  3. The average age of the structurally deficient bridges is 65 years old.

Be sure to share this with you friends after watching.
DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Congresswomen Kuster Sends Letter To Pres. Obama: Time to End the VA Claims Backlog

Marine Veteran Saluting Flag

Urges President to take action to ensure veterans receive timely care

WASHINGTON, D.C. Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today continued her efforts to support the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) goal of eliminating the benefits claims backlog by 2015. In a letter to President Obama, Kuster joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the President to help end the back and forth between the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, and to help ensure that DoD is providing health records to the VA in a timely fashion.

“Our nation’s veterans and servicemembers deserve the efficiency and effectiveness that would come with a seamless health record,” the group wrote in their letter to the President. “They also deserve the timeliness in resolving their disability claims that may come from DoD providing certified to be complete electronic records to VA for the purpose of adjudicating claims in a timelier manner…Veterans need your leadership to address these issues, Mr. President. Our veterans’ welfare depends on these important decisions. We stand ready to assist you in any way that you deem necessary to achieve the requests herein.”

Earlier today, Kuster participated in a hearing of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee examining the VA’s efforts to process long-outstanding benefits claims.

Kuster has consistently spoken out about the need to eliminate the VA claims backlog. Earlier this month, she announced a coordinated legislative package to help the VA in its efforts to address the backlog. The package of ten bills seeks to help the VA meet its goal of eliminating the backlog in full by 2015, and includes legislation introduced by Kuster that would encourage the VA to make greater use of automation in the processing of veterans claims, increasing efficiency within the Department and freeing up resources to provide more timely services for veterans.

 

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear President Obama: 

We are writing to ask for your timely assistance in ending the bureaucratic back and forth on veterans’ records, which is negatively affecting veteran’s disability claims, and potentially their health. As you may be aware this was one of eight ideas identified to make government work at the Bi- Partisan No Labels policy forum in which more than twenty-five members of congress participated. However, this has been a long standing concern and issue that seemingly the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense, cannot resolve. The technology exists, the will is fervent, and the time to fix this is now.

Our nation’s veterans and servicemembers deserve the efficiency and effectiveness that would come with a seamless health record. They also deserve the timeliness in resolving their disability claims that may come from DoD providing certified to be complete electronic records to VA for the purpose of adjudicating claims in a timelier manner.

As such, we are asking for your immediate action on two specific items. First, end the back and forth amongst DoD and VA regarding the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record. The time has come for a decision to be made and for the permanent merging of electronic health-care records of the DoD and the VA. Select a system, pick a path, and move forward. We can no longer waste the time or money that will result from endless bureaucratic inaction. 

Second, it has come to our attention that many claims are being dramatically delayed by DoD’s lack of timeliness in providing records to VA with a particular emphasis on our National Guard and Reserve units. Mr. President, if VA is moving into an electronic processing system, it will be impossible to meet Secretary Shinseki’s goal of no claim pending for longer than 125 days if VA is waiting on DoD for 175 days. We are asking for your personal commitment that DoD will provide to VA certified to be complete service, personal, and medical records in an electronic format by the end of this calendar year. We believe a timely turnaround would be DoD making the information available within 21 days of discharge or 45 days for previously separated service members.  

Veterans need your leadership to address these issues, Mr. President. Our veterans’ welfare depends on these important decisions. We stand ready to assist you in any way that you deem necessary to achieve the requests herein.

The SEIU Says President Obama Makes Right Choice for DoL Secretary

After President Obama nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“President Obama has made an excellent choice in nominating Thomas Perez to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. During his time as Labor Secretary in Maryland, Mr. Perez’s had a strong record of enforcing labor laws, especially wage and hour and other violations that stood in the way of workers earning a fair wage. Enforcing these labor laws help to close the income gap between the wealthy and everyone else.

“His driven leadership of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department also makes him a highly qualified nominee. During his time at the Justice Department, Mr. Perez has initiated many important challenges to state and local laws that sought to infringe on the civil rights of minority communities and of all Americans.

“The Senate should move quickly to confirm Mr. Perez. Should he be confirmed, we look forward to working with Mr. Perez to protect workers’ rights, to pursue commonsense immigration reform and to address the many other challenges facing working families in our country.”

 

With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today’s global economy.  www.seiu.org

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s Statement on New Gun Control Proposal

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Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on proposals to reduce gun violence and create safe schools and communities: 

“The tragic events of Newtown must serve as a clarion call for immediate action to keep our communities safe from gun violence and ensure schools are the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow. We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for heeding this call for action with a series of common-sense, balanced proposals that will make our nation safer, including:

Banning the sale of the kind of large ammunition clips that were used to massacre 26 children and adults and injure others at Sandy Hook Elementary School;Expanding background checks before purchasing a gun and cracking down on those who lie on background checks;Cracking down on illegal gun trafficking;Banning assault weapons that have no other use but to kill a large number of people quickly;Enforcing current gun laws and investing in research around combating gun violence; andInvesting in mental health services.

“Schools across our country are in desperate need of resources to create safe, secure and nurturing learning environments, and we are glad the president has recognized that need. Some schools, due to their remoteness or following horrendous tragedies such as the massacre in Newtown, may decide that appropriately trained police officers are necessary. Other schools may decide instead that more school guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists are needed. These decisions should be made by individual school communities following safety audits.

“Under no circumstances should educators have the responsibility of being armed, and schools should not become armed fortresses. The role of educators is to teach and nurture our children, not to be armed guards.

“In times of great tragedy, Americans have always come together to grieve, to support one another, and to act—to put aside what divides us and take collective action to heal and move our nation forward. Too many of our children have had their lives cut short and their futures denied by gun violence—in their schools and in their communities. We have a set of effective proposals and now we must find the political will to get it done.”

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Endorse President Obama

Obama Is Only Candidate Who Will Fight to Preserve and Expand the Middle Class, Fight for Economic Opportunity for All Americans

Los Angeles—Declaring that President Obama is the only candidate who will fight to preserve and expand the middle class, close the inequality gap and ensure everyone has a “fair shot” at success, the 1.5 million strong American Federation of Teachers announced today its endorsement of President Obama and Vice President Biden for re-election.

Biden spoke to the AFT Executive Council by telephone following the unanimous endorsement vote. While speaking to the Council, Biden reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to building a strong economy and a strong public school system.

“This election is a choice, not a referendum,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “It’s a choice between very different economic visions for our country, and at stake is the simple yet powerful notion that everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve the American dream.”

Today’s announcement kicks off an aggressive grass-roots effort by AFT members to engage their fellow members and their families in broad-based efforts aimed at re-electing Obama. AFT President Weingarten will travel to Colorado on February 9 to meet with members and kick off the AFT’s election efforts in the state.

“AFT members work hard every single day to make a difference in our communities and in the lives of the people and children we serve,” said Weingarten. “While we have not agreed with every decision President Obama has made, he shares our deep commitment to rebuilding the middle class and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

Kathleen Hofmann, a music teacher in Cincinnati, is one of thousands of members committed to getting her family and co-workers engaged in this election. “I know how much elections matter to our ability to provide a quality education to our students and rebuild the middle class,” said Hofmann. “I’m supporting President Obama because he is the only candidate willing to stand up for the rest of us and fight for economic fairness in our country.”

The endorsement was voted on by the AFT’s Executive Council following months of surveys, meetings, online forums and conversations with thousands of AFT members who made it clear that they support the re-election of Obama.

New Hampshire and The Nation need the American Jobs Act, Take action NOW!

New Hampshire Bridges Need Work; New Hampshirites Do, Too:

“In New Hampshire, 372 bridges are deficient—and more than 2.1 million vehicles cross those bridges every day. Meanwhile, 5.3 percent of New Hampshirites are jobless.
With so many New Hampshirites out of work, so many bridges and other pieces of critical infrastructure in need of work—and so much to do to keep America competitive in the 21st century—the solution is simple: Pass legislation that lets New Hampshirites get to work on critical infrastructure projects.
Tell your members of Congress: New Hampshirites are ready to get to work, starting with investing in our bridges, transit, rail, airports, highways, schools and the rest of our failing infrastructure.”

Take a moment to email your legislator and tell them to Pass the American Jobs Act.


Also taking a stand for the American Jobs Act is the National Educators Association.  They have launched a new ad campaign (video below) to help inform people of the effects of passing this bill will mean for teachers and school systems.

(From Education Votes website) The American Jobs Act would inject billions of dollars into the public education system, including;

  • Providing employment for up to 280,000 public school teachers laid off due to state budget shortfalls & cuts
  • Providing for repair and replacement of 35,000 crumbling public schools

Click here to email your member of congress and tell them to support the President’s American Jobs Act.


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