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Local 400 Members Speak Out on Capitol Hill

Local 400 members and staff pause for a photo on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as part of the first-ever Local 400 Lobby Day on March 23, 2017.

Local 400 Members Descend on Capitol to Urge Opposition to “Right to Work,” Immigration Raids, Trumpcare

Sometimes it seems like members of congress don’t listen to us. They don’t seem to understand the needs of ordinary, hardworking men and women who just want a better life. All too often, it appears that they’re too busy listening to corporate lobbyists and special interest groups instead of the voters who elect them.

On Thursday, March 23, members of Local 400 decided to do something about it. More than 35 members of Local 400 descended on Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives in congress as part of our first-ever lobby day.

While the House was poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 24 million Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, Local 400 activists met with their members of Congress, urging them to oppose this bill (also known as Trumpcare), oppose national “right to work” legislation, and oppose immigration raids on workplaces.

“You are the most important people here today,” Local 400 Mark P. Federici told the member lobbyists before they fanned out across Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives. “You own these buildings. You own these offices. The people you’re meeting with work for us.

“Some people would rather we be quiet,” Federici said. “That’s not what we do. Real people speaking to real power is a uniquely American experience. We deserve to have our voices heard. If it wasn’t for us, nobody would be talking about wages, health care, pensions, and working conditions.”

The members had three central messages for the senators and representatives they met with.

1) Oppose “Right to Work”

Republicans in Congress have introduced national “right to work” legislation that would drive down wages and benefits for working Americans. In the states that have enacted “right to work” laws, including Virginia, earn about $6,000 less per year than those in other states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These laws undermine union members’ bargaining power by letting freeloaders benefit from the dues of their co-workers.

“Sooner or later, everyone needs help,” said Charlene Haley, a shop steward who works at Safeway in Fairfax, Virginia. “And then you have to represent them, even if they haven’t contributed anything. It happens all the time.

“When an employee gets in trouble, I coach them what to say and that’s usually enough so they can keep their job,” she said. “Afterward, they join Local 400 because they understand the value of union membership. But it shouldn’t have to come to that.”

“‘Right to work’ laws are unfair to our members, drain our resources, and push down wages,” Federici said. “That’s why we demand that our representatives join us in leading the fight to defeat this legislation in Congress.”

2) Oppose Trumpcare

While Local 400 members were meeting with their elected officials, the U.S. House was considering the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare), legislation that would undo the Affordable Care Act, take health care coverage away from 24 million Americans, and give massive tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy.

Isoline Pistolessi, a shop steward at Kaiser Permanente’s Falls Church Care Center who just won Kaiser’s National Extraordinary Nurse Award, has seen first-hand the impact of the Affordable Care Act and fears what would happen under Trumpcare. “I’ve seen patients who just got health insurance for the first time; that’s what enabled them to come in and get care. We can’t take that away from them.

“We need to make health care more affordable, not less,” Pistolessi said. “But this bill will send premiums sky-high, especially for older people. That means if we’re ready to retire before we’re eligible for Medicare, we won’t be able to afford health insurance.

“As someone who provides medical care, I’m especially concerned about the impact of this bill on emergency rooms, hospitals and urgent care centers that have to treat everyone who comes in the door, whether they have insurance or not,” she added. “With 24 million people losing insurance, that’s going to be a real problem.”

Taralyn Pike, a shop steward at Giant #748 in Arlington, expressed her concern about Trumpcare’s huge cuts to Medicaid. “My son has had strep throat six times over the last six months,” she said. “He’s on Medicaid. If not for that, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“This bill won’t fix anything that’s a problem with the Affordable Care Act,” said Local 400 Chief of Staff Mike Wilson. “It’s a handout for wealthy people. It transfers wealth from the poor and middle class to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. And it makes insurance a lot more expensive.”

In a number of recent collective bargaining agreements, health care for Local 400 retirees has shifted to the state insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, supported by stipends from employers and federal premium subsidies. But Trumpcare could upend that.  “This bill will make it tougher for older people to afford health care,” Federici said. “We represent lots of retirees. I shudder to think about how they will get their health insurance if this bill passes.”

3) Oppose Immigration Raids

The UFCW has bitter experience with immigration raids. In 2006, a series of raids at six Swift & Company meatpacking plants in the central U.S. resulted in UFCW members—including U.S. citizens and green card-holders—being rounded up, detained and criminalized. The rhetoric and policies of the Trump Administration raise the threat that U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could launch a new round of raids at UFCW workplaces, and Local 400 members urged their elected officials to oppose any such efforts.

Isoline Pistolessi offered personal testimony about why raids are so wrong. “My family came to this country from the Dominican Republic when I was six years old,” she said. “My father was going to be assassinated and came here as a political exile. Before we left, our neighbors were raided and it was very scary—I could hear the screaming. No one should ever have to go through that—especially here in the U.S.

“I became a U.S. citizen eight years ago,” she noted. “I had to work really hard to get my citizenship. We need to make it possible for others to follow the same path.”

“You walk into any grocery store in our area and it’s like Ellis Island,” Federici said. “We’re proud of that. Our workplaces—and especially our union—offer opportunity for those who come to America to seek a better life. We don’t want to see any ICE raids. And we want our members of Congress to have our backs if any do occur.”

Following the meetings, the members were energized by the supportive response they received from most of the senators, representatives and staff they met with. Many in attendance said they gained a lot from the experience and they would speak to their sisters and brothers about the key issues before Congress and the importance of activism.

“I would definitely do this again!” said Charlene Haley as the group wrapped up for the day.

“Bad things happen when good people stand back,” Federici said. “But good things happen when we speak out and fight back. That’s a lesson we all gained today.”

Check out photos from the Local 400 Lobby Day on Facebook.

P.O.W.E.R. Up! Fact of the Week–Associated Administrators

If you’re like the rest of us, you are probably unable to make phone calls during normal business hours to check on your health benefits and claims.  We’ve got a solution that we think will help you out and may avoid the time constraints caused by calling on your breaks at work.  Check out the Associated Administrators website at www.associated-admin.com, choose “Your Benefits” and then select the fund that you’d like more information about.  They even have links to summary plan descriptions and various forms located there. The website is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making it an easy solution for benefits information.

More information on Health and Welfare Benefits Page

UFCW Local 400 Contract Empowers Kaiser Members to Strengthen Community-based Health Care

UFCW Local 400 members serving as physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners for Kaiser Mid-Atlantic are headed to community clinics to strengthen the quality of care for residents in underserved neighborhoods,
thanks to their union contract.

On August 22, the Kaiser Permanente Foundation launched a new program to
take patient care directly into communities. Known as the Community Ambassadors Program, it establishes 35 new, permanent positions for nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to provide care outside company facilities in neighborhood-based clinics. Local 400’s contract with Kaiser ensures that these health care professionals are covered by its protections and are employed the company, rather than another entity.

Many of the Community Ambassadors Program health care professionals were adversely affected by a 2007 corporate realignment that eliminated nurse practitioner positions, costing some their jobs and forcing others to move to registered nurse positions at lower pay. Thanks to their union contract, these former nurse practitioners were the first to be hired for the Community Ambassadors Program.

This is a huge achievement for our Kaiser members–one that demonstrates
the enormous benefits of having a union contract. We congratulate our Kaiser members who are in the Community Ambassador Program expanding access to care for those who need it the most, improving the quality of care, and raising the quality of life in many of our neighborhoods. They are performing a vital public service.

Universal Health Care Revived in Congress

From Union City–Health care for every American got a boost yesterday when labor leaders and activists announced support for the American Health Security Act, a single-payer, universal health care system. “At a time when states and cities are seeking to cut workers’ hard won benefits, the American Health Security Act will level the playing field,” said Metro Council President Jos Williams, who joined AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, National Nurses United co-president Jean Ross (center) and bill co-sponsors Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt., right) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash., left) at a Capitol Hill press conference. “Providing a single standard of high-quality care for all is a priority for registered nurses,” declared Ross, a working Registered Nurse in Minnesota, adding that it’s increasingly difficult for nurses to act effectively as patient advocates “as for-profit interests control more patient care decisions.” Sanders called the fight for universal health care “the civil rights battle of our time” and Holt Baker, noting that “the labor movement have long insisted that health care is a fundamental human right and an important measure of social justice,” added that “for more than 100 years, we have fought for universal health care coverage based on a social insurance model, an approach that has proven to be cost-effective and efficient in countries across the globe and in this country to provide health security for seniors.” South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt – a member of theLabor Campaign for Single Payer which has been coordinating grassroots labor support for single payer health care – called the American Health Security Act “a bill that all of organized labor can get behind.” – photo by Adam Wright

Roland B. Scott Sickle Cell Disease Workshop and Symposium

This event is hosted by Howard University Hopital May 10, 2011 from 11a.m.-2p.m. Following the workshop there will be a memorial symposium from 2p.m.-6p.m. Download the symposium flier.

Featuring…
Ms. Josie Thomas, Executive Director, Parents Place of Maryland–the overall process of transition
Speakers from the Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation, Maryland and DC–resources for career development
Ms. Sheila Tabb, National Association of Social Workers–health care reform, types of insurance, and the role of the social worker
Dr. Edwin Powell, Developmental Psychologist, Howard University–parents’ and health professionals’ role in transition and its challenges

*Lunch will be provided

Call Barbara 202-806-6329 for more infomation

Happy Birthday Affordable Health Care Act

Today is the first anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Health Care Act into law. The health care reform law has helped tens of millions, from the children who can’t be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, to the young adults who can stay on their parents’ coverage, to the seniors who no longer fall into the prescription drug donut hole.

A look at some of the Act’s benefits a repeal would destroy

Marylanders go here for the progress Gov. O’Malley has been making

The Affordable Care Act Already Benefits You

Today, the Affordable Care Act:

Guarantees that children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance.

  • Provides tax credits to small businesses that provide health care coverage for their workers.
  • Allows young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.
  • Sends $250 checks to senior citizens who fall into the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole,” with a 50 percent discount going into effect on January 1, 2011.
  • Ends lifetime limits and restricts annual dollar limits on benefits.
  • Empowers consumers to appeal claims denied by insurance companies.
  • Bans insurance companies from cancelling policies with- out proving fraud and bans denying payment for services based on technical errors.
  • Makes health care coverage available to people who have been uninsured for at least six months because of a preexisting condition.
  • Requires all new plans to cover preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.

In addition, on January 1, 2011, insurance companies for large employers will be required to spend 85 percent of all pre- mium dollars on health care services and quality improve- ments (80 percent for insurers serving individuals and small businesses). This will hold premium increases down and stop price-gouging.

A Historic Victory: Health Care Reform Starts Working for Working Families!

Thanks to your hard work over the last year, Congress passed a health care reform bill that was signed into law by President Obama. This landmark reform is a hard-fought victory for UFCW members and working families across the country.

The new reforms will change the face of America’s health care system over the coming years. Some changes will be gradual, while others will go into effect this year. Here are some of the positive changes we will see in the next six months:

  • Anyone refused health insurance because of a pre-existing condition can get coverage through a special insurance program.
  • Children can stay on their parents’ insurance longer – until they are 26 years old.
  • Senior citizens will get a $250 rebate for prescription drugs – the first step to closing the “donut hole” in Medicare drug coverage.
  • Small businesses get significant tax credits for providing health insurance to their employees.

To learn more about health care reform and how it will affect you, visit http://www.ufcwhealthcarenow.org or http://www.healthreform.gov/ A copy of this information is available to download as a leaflet.

Statement by Joe Hansen, President of UFCW International Union

FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS LAUD PASSAGE OF SWEEPING HEALTH CARE REFORMS   (Released March 21, 2010)

Statement by Joe Hansen, President of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)

Washington DC— Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reforms that will better serve all Americans. Thanks to the commitment of President Obama and Democratic Members of Congress, we now have reform legislation that has eluded our nation’s grasp for a century.

This is an achievement that will rank among the highest in our national experience.

For the countless hard-working families across the country suffering at the hands of our nation’s badly broken health care system, the passage of this bill represents an unprecedented leap forward in the struggle to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care—and makes good on President Obama’s promise to lead our country through the difficult challenges facing the American people on this issue.

With the passage of this bill comes an end to the worst of insurance company abuses. No longer will Americans have to fear being denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. There will be no more lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits. No more will insurance companies be allowed to retroactively cancel insurance coverage when a policy holder becomes ill.

Aside from reigning in insurance company greed, the bill also extends coverage to millions of Americans who would otherwise go without, reduces prescription drug costs for seniors, while encouraging employers to fulfill their obligation of providing benefits to their workers.

UFCW members participated in the health care debate in nearly every congressional district across the country. They made calls and wrote letters, rallied and marched, visited district offices and traveled to Washington D.C., to meet with elected representatives. UFCW members won’t forget the representatives who voted “yes” on these reforms and stood with working people and families rather than the insurance company lobbyists.

Courtesy of the UFCW International Union

Health Care For All

Americans Have Spoken: We Want Real Health Care Reform Now!

UFCW members, along with thousands of other Americans, made history over the past year by participating in the Citizens Health Care Working Groups held across the country. It was the first national dialogue on health care reform in more than a decade. UFCW members were vocal and visible about the need for comprehensive health care reform.

For more information visit www.ufcw.org

Related Links:

Affordable Health Care for America Act: The Affordable Health Care for America Act provides quality affordable health care for all Americans and controls health care cost growth. CBO estimates that it will provide coverage to 96% of Americans, that it does so under the $900 billion threshold outlined by President Obama, and that it reduces the deficit within the budget window and beyond.

Health Care for America Now