Fair Workweek Employment Standards Bill In City Council

Fair Workweek Employment Standards Bill In City Council

Testimony presented by President Fred Wright at Council hearing on Tuesday, October 30th

Members of the Law and Government Committee:

My name is Frederick Wright, President of AFSCME District Council 47.
I represent City employees and workers in the non-profit sector here in Philadelphia and some Brothers and Sisters working outside the City.
I am here today to speak in favor of Bill number 180649.
This bill would provide protections for workers in retail, food service and hospitality establishments. As union workers, we gain workplace related protections for our members through collective bargaining and because of laws passed to protect the rights of union workers. We know that when the rights of workers are protected, its a plus for all of us. We believe in worker solidarity and support fairness concerning worker rights at all workplaces.
We know that people need a clear sense of what hours they will be required to work, how much they will be paid for working those hours and when they are sick that they get health insurance, to help pay for doctor and hospital visits.
Having these concerns backed by the law, as well as having the ability to point out inconsistencies in the application of those laws, without being penalized and being removed from their jobs when raising those concerns is very important for workers.
One of the reasons for union organizing historically has been to protect the rights of workers on the job from arbitrary and unreasonable actions on the parts of employers.
We realize that the 130,00 workers in the retail, food and hospitality workplaces do not have the benefits and protections that we receive as members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. We support City Council in considering this legislation that will provide better protections for those workers.
We urge you to pass this legislation because it will help mothers and fathers with children have a better sense of when they can pick them up from daycare. We urge you to pass this legislation that will help children know when mom and dad will be home to help them with their homework. We urge you to pass this legislation that will enable some people to have a second job so they can better provide for their families.
For all these and many other reasons, we urge you to pass Bill number 180649.

Anti Union Scam Alert

Anti Union Scam Alert

By Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

Have you been contacted by a group called the Freedom Foundation?

Don’t be confused by their name — they’re interested in crushing your freedom, not defending it. They’re one of the anti-worker groups (funded by billionaires like the Koch brothers) spending tens of millions of dollars contacting us and trying to trick us into quitting our unions.

Have you heard from them? We want to know. Click here and let us know what you’ve experienced, so we can track these anti-union groups and their dirty tricks.

They might be targeting you online with ads on your computer. They might be emailing you, sending you mail, or calling you on the phone. They might even have shown up at your door.

They could be calling themselves by a different name — like “The Buckeye Institute,” “The Illinois Policy Center,” “Liberty Justice Center,” “Mackinac Center for Public Policy,” or the “Commonwealth Foundation.”

No matter what misleading name they picked for themselves, their agenda is the same: Trick AFSCME members into leaving our union — so working families lose our seat at the table, and the same corporate fat cats funding these attacks grow richer and richer.

To fight back against their propaganda, we need to know what they’re up to. That’s where you come in:

Click here to fill out our “scam tracker” form and report any contact you’ve received from these anti-union groups.

Thanks for helping us keep an eye on these con artists.



Medicare Overview and Update

Medicare Overview and Update

By Linda Bennett

For more than half a century Medicare has helped people visit a doctor and get hospital care. Labor unions are proud to have helped establish and preserve Medicare because health care is a right not a privilege.
Five key points about Medicare
1 Medicare is a success story in several ways.
a It has lifted people out of poverty.  Before Medicare was enacted 1/3 of seniors lived in poverty.  Medicare helped reduce that percentage to 14%. 
b Because of Medicare , as then President Johnson stated, no one will be denied the miracles of modern medicine.  As a result to Medicare and the access to modern medicine it provides, people are living longer.
c Medicare is an intergenerational benefit.  Because younger people know that their older family members have access to health care, these younger people can plan for college to make other financial investments.
2 The ABCD’s of Medicare
a Part A provides hospital coverage.  It is finances for most people by contributions they make while working.
b Part B provides for access to office visits to doctors and a few other outpatient services.  It is financed 25% by premiums paid by the beneficiary and 75% from federal general revenues.
c Part C is called Medicare Advantage.  In the past it was called Medicare + Choice.  It is a private insurance plan that SUPPLANTS not supplements traditional fee for service Medicare.
d Part B is the Prescription Drug benefit.
3 Prescription Drug Prices are a problem for Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries.  In the past 5 years prices on the 20 most commonly prescribed brand name drugs for Medicare beneficiaries rose by nearly ten times.
4 The Tax cuts for CEOs created a deficit that will be used by some in Congress to call for cuts to Medicare Medicaid and other federal health care programs.  The budgets of Speaker Paul Ryan call for $2.1 Trillion in cuts to these core programs over ten years.  While the budget is the latest version glosses over how this will be done, earlier budgets with similar calls for cuts used “premium supports” or vouchers to end Medicare as we know it and block grant Medicaid.
5 Medicare is strengthened by the ACA.
a The ACA protects people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination.  This is particularly import for older Americans because as we age we are more likely to have a pre-existing conditions.  For people who are 55 to 64 and waiting to enroll in Medicare, the ACA was a game changer for them, providing them with access to coverage.  Before the ACA, many of these individuals would have not been able to get care until they enrolled in Medicare.  When they did enroll in Medicare they were more costly because they needed more care.
b Some 3.4 million Americans age 55-64 rely on the ACA for coverage.  2.8 million older Americans without employer sponsored coverage depend on the ACA and get financial help to purchase coverage.
c The ACA improved Medicare by ensuring that the part D coverage gap, known as the donut hole, would be closed.  Since its enactment, the ACA has saved seniors $268 billion by addressing this coverage gap.
d The ACA improved Medicare by adding more than an ounce of prevention.  The ACA removed the obstacles of co-pays and deductibles that made it harder for many seniors to access preventive services.
e The ACA gave Medicare beneficiaries more protections from insurance corporation abuses.  Now under Part C Medicare Advantage plans, insurers must spend at least 85 cents on claims for every $1.00 of premiums paid.
f The ACA helped older people with job-related insurance have access to care when they need it most.  Before the ACA employer coverage could have annual or lifetime limits on medical claims insurance would cover.  After those limits were hit, the enrollee would be on the hook for 100% of the price of the medical bill.  The ACA put an end to this practice.
Medicaid is important to Medicare
• One in five Medicare beneficiaries is also on Medicaid because of their income.  For these Americans Medicaid pays their Medicare Part B premiums and co-payments, ensuring they can access the care they need.
• Medicaid NOT Medicare covers long-term services, like nursing home care or in home care with activities of daily living.
Fight to Improve Medicare
1 We are working to defend and protect Medicare but also improve this successful and important program.
2 The recently passed bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis includes a number of new benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.  This is important because in 13 states the highest rate of opioid related in-patient stays are among the 65 and over population.
a The legislation will make sure beneficiaries are screened for risk of opioid addiction at the welcome to Medicare and annual wellness visits.
b Medicare benefits are expanded to cover opioid treatment providers and Medicaid Assisted Treatment.  Currently these providers are not eligible to be Medicare providers meaning beneficiaries must pay for 100% of treatment out of pocket.