Discharge petitions rarely get the 218 votes needed to force a vote on the House floor. Since 1931, when the maneuver took its current form, 563 discharge petitions have been filed but only 47 received 218 signatures, according to the Congressional Research Service. Over the past 30 years, seven petitions have made it to the signature threshold, and all of them received floor votes.But even if they don't expect to get 218 signatures, proponents argue that circulating discharge petitions can up the pressure. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said as much last week when talking about plans to file a discharge petition for a comprehensive immigration reform bill. "We'll never get the 218 on the [immigration] discharge petition ... because the Republicans will generally not sign," she said in an interview on SiriusXM. "But the fact that it is there and the outside mobilization is saying, 'All we want is a vote' -- either sign the petition, which enables us to get a vote, or urge the speaker to give us a vote."Emergency unemployment insurance for those who've been jobless for six months or longer expired on December 28; by now, two million people have lost the benefits they relied on. Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked aid bills, claiming first that they wanted a pay-for, then that they ... wanted a different pay-for than Democrats had found. They've also raised repeated procedural objections, as if voters will be sympathetic over how many poison-pill amendments Republicans are or are not allowed to propose to delay and water down an unemployment benefits extension that should be absolutely routine and nonpartisan. Meanwhile, of course, the House speaker simply won't consider a vote on the issue at all. That's today's Republican Party for you.
ORIGINALLY POSTED TO JOAN MCCARTER ON TUE MAR 11, 2014 AT 08:15 AM PDT.
ALSO REPUBLISHED BY DAILY KOS.TUE MAR 11, 2014 AT 08:15 AM PDT byJoan McCarterFollow
Boonstra said Monday her new plan she dislikes is the Blue Cross Premier Gold health care plan—which caps patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs at $5,100 a year, lower than the federal law’s maximum of $6,350 a year. It means the new plan will save her at least $1,200 compared with her former insurance plan she preferred that was ended under Obamacare’s coverage requirements.Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The Detroit News. It didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952 for the year. When advised of the details of her Blues’ plan, Boonstra said the idea that it would be cheaper “can’t be true.” “I personally do not believe that,” Boonstra said.How very Republican of her, refusing to acknowledge the facts because they disprove her beliefs. Because she doesn't personally believe she'll actually be helped by Obamacare, she refuses to recognize the fact that it's true. Speaking of Republicans, remember how the Kochs have used Republican activists in their ads in New Hampshire?
Boonstra is the ex-wife of Mark Boonstra, the former Washtenaw County GOP chairman whom Gov. Rick Snyder appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2012. Julie Boonstra said she’s never been a political person beyond advocating for lower-cost oral chemotherapy treatment in Washington.Sorry, Ms. Boonstra, but I just personally do not believe that.You can talk about this in Eclectablog's diary, too.
... the number of Labor Department judges, who hear a wide range of workers’ compensation, immigration, wage and whistleblower cases, has fallen to 35 nationwide, from 41 in early 2013 and 53 a decade ago. The department’s caseload, meanwhile, is soaring, forcing some sick and injured workers to wait years for benefits.President Obama would like to begin to undo a small part of that damage:
President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget would add 10 people to the OALJ, though it’s unclear how many would be judges and how many would be support staff. The proposal comes on the heels of a Feb. 18 letter to the White House from six members of Congress, who complained of “untenable delays in adjudicating claims, such as claims under the Black Lung Benefits Act and alleged violations of employment law. These delays directly and severely impact the lives of workers throughout the country, placing an undue financial and emotional burden on the affected individuals and their families.”The lawmakers said a total of 11,325 cases were pending in the OALJ in fiscal 2013 — nearly double the number from 10 years earlier.So Obama's hoped-for budget would likely still leave a lower number of judges than in 2013, and 2013 was already bad enough. We'll see what Republicans do with this request, but nothing in their recent record suggests that the likely response is "Wait, vulnerable, injured, and sick workers are waiting ridiculous amounts of time for justice for ways they've been hurt or wronged on the job? We have to fund the justice system to fix this!" (Ha ha ha, right?)(Via Blogwood) Continue reading for more of the week's labor and education news.
- Coal miners at Armstrong Coal Co. say they were surveilled and harassed for making safety complaints.
- New Haven, Connecticut, is cracking down on wage theft.
- Check out this very nifty map of minimum wage and average income by profession across the United States.
- Las Vegas casino and hotel workers could end up going on strike because of provisions in Obamacare:
Union leaders have long voiced concern over the health care law’s effect on their Taft-Hartley plans, which are collectively bargained plans maintained by multiple employers and a labor union. Under the Affordable Care Act, Taft-Hartley plan recipients (like the members of CU 226) are not eligible for tax subsidies. That makes some union employees more expensive for employers who provide health care, making employers less agreeable when it comes time to foot the bill.These plans were formed to be one of the best ways to health care under the old system, but now the working- and middle-class people who get their health care this way are sort of trapped. It's a real problem, but of course Republicans are prone to want to use anything they can as a cudgel against unions and against Obamacare, so finding a fix will be tough.
- No, Connecticut's paid sick leave law did not hurt business.
- Exotic dancers sue, claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors when they were, in effect, employees.
- The last of the radium girls has died. Don't know who the radium girls were? Neither did I, actually, but it's fascinating and you should read about them.
- HOT NEW TREND! Unemployed people selling their possessions on Craigslist. Just great.
- The Working Families Party is a third party that's winning. But what will it do about Andrew Cuomo?
- A parent's letter to President Obama on schools and standardized testing:
Why does the law distill the interactions of our teachers and students over the course of a year into a high-stakes multiple choice test? Is this really a valid system of accountability for teachers, based so heavily on their students’ test scores? If so, why are so many public school parents, teachers and students pushing back against it? And why aren’t the private schools insisting on it?In my daughter’s English class at Clarke Central, students engage the works of Plato and learn to discern and make philosophical arguments about abstract concepts like piety; they read Hemingway and learn how to engage questions such as whether a protagonist’s moral code can be attributed to the author. You cannot pick “A, B, C, or D” for such things, or if you can, then the entire experience is trivialized. Of course assessments are a necessary part of any educational process, to help guide, inform and improve instruction, but the high-stakes test-and-punish regime now in place is not doing that.
- Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he was withdrawing permission for three Success Academies charter schools to be co-located, rent-free, in public school buildings, ending the preferential treatment the chain had gotten from the Bloomberg administration. Tuesday, de Blasio planned a lobby day in Albany to build support for universal pre-K programs. In a stunning coincidence, Success Academies founder and former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz decided to close her schools for the day to send students to Albany to lobby, not for pre-K, but for charter schools.Moskowitz drew criticism from Daniel Dromm, the chair of the city council education committee, and from the Rev. Al Sharpton. Moskowitz insists that she supports pre-K and wasn't intending to distract from the effort to build support for it. It's just that the thing she closes her schools for and buses kids a couple hours to lobby on is preferential treatment for charter schools, and it just happens to coincide with the pre-K efforts of a mayor who isn't following his predecessor's lead in giving her everything she wants. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also dove in to defend the poor beleaguered charter schools. I mean, they might not get every single public space they want, rent-free, even as their executives pull in big salaries. The horror.
- Speaking of charter schools, the founder of some North Carolina charters is under federal investigation.
In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32—the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.So, above-average job growth, including in the low-wage restaurant industry, and below-average poverty. Good thing we have Republicans and restaurant industry lobbyists saving us from this horror at the national level.Sign the petition: Thank President Obama and join the call for a higher minimum wage.
The federal review showed that the administration’s labor commissioners have intervened in the work of hearing officers by questioning them about decisions they have made in individual cases, which “could be perceived as an attempt to influence the appeals decision-making process in favor of employers.”The review also says that Maine’s system for handling unemployment appeals doesn’t always meet federal guidelines and should be revised in certain technical areas, related to the handling of evidence and the legal weight given to rulings by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Commission.These conclusions have spurred a back-and-forth between LePage and Democratic legislators, with state Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, calling for LePage's impeachment and LePage responding "if he has a cause, then bring it on." More to the point, it's an election year. LePage has given Democrats plenty of ammunition to run with, and the federal government concluding that yes, he did try to improperly pressure unemployment officers to decide against workers is certainly something to campaign on.
ORIGINALLY POSTED TO DAILY KOS LABOR ON TUE MAR 04, 2014 AT 11:12 AM PST.
ALSO REPUBLISHED BY IN SUPPORT OF LABOR AND UNIONS AND DAILY KOS.
Haley said Wednesday that she discourages companies from building new facilities in South Carolina if they are planning to bring a union with them.“It’s not something we want to see happen,” she told the Greenville News following an appearance at an automotive conference in downtown Greenville. “We discourage any companies that have unions from wanting to come to South Carolina because we don’t want to take the water.”Yeah, take your stinking living-wage jobs and shove 'em!What exactly is Haley so afraid of? Republicans often claim they just don't think unions are good for workers. But worse that unemployment, if that's the alternative? And if you really believe that, exposed to unions, workers will reject them, wouldn't it be good to occasionally allow some unions in to remind workers how awful they are? After all, no one can be made to join a union, and in anti-union South Carolina, workers can get the benefits of union representation, should they want them, without paying the costs. It's almost like Haley is worried that unions might be ...catching, like a few big unionized workplaces might make workers at other South Carolina businesses interested in joining unions themselves. Because the idea that a governor would reject jobs simply because a union might be an option? That's just crazy unless there's something else going on. Right?
“Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future.”Corker may be thrilled, but VW and many others are disappointed by his interference and fear-mongering. From Reuters: VW workers may block southern US deals, if no unions
"I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again," said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW's works council."If co-determination isn't guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor" of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW's supervisory board, said.Osterloh added:
"The conservatives stirred up massive, anti-union sentiments," Osterloh said. "It's possible that the conclusion will be drawn that this interference amounted to unfair labor praxis."Heckuva job, Corkey! Your interference will cost Chattanooga in terms of jobs, plus all the incentives given to bring VW here. Sen. Corker it is YOU that is the laughingstock of the world.
ORIGINALLY POSTED TO NOISE OF RAIN ON TUE FEB 18, 2014 AT 05:32 PM PST.
Originally posted on: Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson TUE FEB 18, 2014 AT 06:49 AM PST
The wingnut welfare must have run out for the man who became famous as "Joe the Plumber." Samuel Wurzelbacher, had to get a job that involves something other than performing the role of the regular blue-collar white guy on the Republican speaking and media circuits—and it's a union job at Chrysler. Wurzelbacher took to Facebook sounding a wee bit defensive:his real name, has
“In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice – it’s a union shop – the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” he wrote.
(Not actually true. You're required to pay a fee covering the union's cost of representing you, but you don't have to join the union.)
"Private unions, such as the UAW, is a choice between
employees and employers. If that is what they want then who am I to say you can’t have it?" he said.
Somehow I don't think the "who am I to say" logic has applied to most of what Wurzelbacher has said over the past five years. But for Republicans who are furrowing their brows at that last bit of convenient self-justification, never fear:
"Yes, I have a website that puts out conservative news. Yes, I am part owner
of a gun company. Yes, I’m a Republican who was cast into the limelight for having the
temerity to confront Barack Obama on the question of redistributing wealth…
But I’m a working man and I’m working,” he wrote.Oh, the temerity. Remember, too, that Wurzelbacher's initial question to Obama "on the question of redistributing wealth" involved the business he was supposedly about to buy that would leave him making $250,000 or more and therefore taxed at a higher rate under Obama's plans. In the grand scope of Republican scams, the ones built on this man's image are relatively minor, but let's not forget that the whole reason anyone ever cared about this guy is that he supposedly represented upward mobility, and some vague notion that guys making a lot of money shouldn't be taxed more if they had only just started making a lot of money ... or something like that, it was always incoherent. But even for someone who was taken up by the Right as a voice and a champion, upward mobility was out of reach. To make a living for the long term, he's turned to a union job, and I bet he knows he was lucky to get it.