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    Action Center
  • Political Action
    UFCW members are on the front lines everyday working to make our lives better at work, in our communities and in our country. Positive change comes from being informed and active.

    Aug 12, 2006
    Facts on America’s Health Care
     
    • 45 million people in the U.S.—most from working families—go without health insurance
    • Almost 82 million Americans lacked health insurance for all or part of 2002 and 2003
    • Nearly one out of five workers went without insurance in 2003
    • Those who were insured in 2003 had to cover a 59 percent increase in their health care costs  
    • Four out of five uninsured Americans are from working families
    • One in three of the uninsured were under the age of 65
    • 11 million children are without insurance  
    • 25 percent of middle-income families don’t have health care insurance.
    • The number of uninsured people younger than 65 has increased by more than 5.2 million people since President Bush took office in 2000.
     
    The U.S. health care system is quickly moving from crisis to catastrophe. Medical costs go unchecked. Employers reduce and eliminate benefits. Illnesses cast working families into bankruptcy. Over 11 million children—the children of working parents—go without health care, because they go without health insurance. About 45 million working families—an increase of five million over the last four years—can’t go to the doctor, because they don’t have health coverage at work. Today, it costs about $10,000 a year for a family health care plan. In six years, that cost will double, and in a decade it will approach $36,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Prescription drug costs are out of control, with no relief in sight. In fact, the new Medicare Law that takes affect next year will leave millions worse off than they are now.
     
    Growing Number without Insurance
    The uninsured are forced to ignore basic health care requirements. By the time they do seek treatment, their concerns have usually developed into major illnesses and are left seeking emergency room care—the most expensive kind of medical treatment. In turn, the growing use of emergency procedures for those who can’t pay is one of the factors fueling the rise in health care costs that, eventually, are borne by everyone. The hospitals and doctors have to soak up the unpaid costs, which ultimately falls to all Americans in the form of higher health care and insurance.
     
    Employers Shifting Health Care Costs
    More and more employers are shifting the growing costs of health coverage to workers and retirees, forcing them to pay high out-of-pocket premiums, deductibles and co-payments. These employers are turning to the Wal-Mart model of health care coverage, which is much too expensive for workers to afford. These workers are being forced to rely on government programs, like Medicare, that state taxpayers pay for. Many studies have recently shown just how much the public pays for Wal-Mart’s refusal to provide affordable health care. For example, Wal-Mart workers in California rely on the state taxpayers for about $32 million annually in health-related services. In Tennessee, almost 10,000 Wal-Mart employees are on the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
     
    Health Care Costs Result in Bankruptcy
    Soaring medical bills are the cause of half of all bankruptcies in the U.S., according to a Harvard University study. These bankruptcies affect about two million Americans every year, including 700,000 children. The average income of these working families was $25,000—too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford the $10,000 average cost of family health care coverage. Surprisingly, 76 percent of those filing for bankruptcy had health insurance at the onset of the illness that bankrupted their family. Many simply couldn’t afford to continue health insurance because they accumulated so much debt from out-of-pocket payments, co-payments, deductibles and uncovered items like physical therapy or prescription drugs.
     
    Rising Costs of Prescription Drugs
    In addition, working families and seniors are being drained by the soaring costs of prescription drugs. The Bush Administration reconfigured the Medicare Program into a more complex, confusing and expensive system of health care. The plan increases the costs for traditional Medicare coverage of doctor and hospital visits by $25 billion, which comes directly out of the pockets of retired Americans. It institutes monthly fees for a Medicare drug card, but it specifically forbids Medicare from negotiating for better prices from drug companies. The reality of the new Medicare prescription drug plan is that prices for drugs purchased with the card are higher than what is available on the market today for many prescription drugs.
     
    New Medicare Law in 2006
    According to a Families USA report, approximately half of Americans in Medicare will be worse off than they are today when President Bush’s new Medicare Law begins in 2006. The combination of premiums, deductibles and co-payments will leave Medicare’s beneficiaries with large and unaffordable costs. Seniors will be required to spend considerably more each year for their prescription medicine because of the out-of-control costs of prescription drugs and rising out-of-pocket expenses.

    Aug 12, 2006
    Currently, the U.S. has immigration law on paper, but does not have a national immigration policy. In reality, immigration policy has been privatized. Private employers import, exploit and, in effect, deport immigrant workers at will with little or no regard for federal law or federal enforcement agencies.
     
    Too often, it appears to workers that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a partner, intentionally or not, with employers in the exploitation of immigrant labor and the suppression of worker rights. USCIS seems to show up more often during an organizing campaign or a strike situation.
     
    The fact is that immigration issues in the U.S. are part of a larger, global trend--the systematic and ruthless exploitation of labor. Corporations export jobs in search of the most exploitable labor pool--and, they import workers to create a domestic pool of exploitable labor.
     
    On trade issues, labor standards must protect workers--regardless of what country they live in and work in--against exploitation at the hands of their employers. The failure of trade policy to include strong, enforceable labor standards has created a vast international labor pool that lives and works without rights or hope for the future. It is a pool of workers that can be recruited, imported, exploited and disposed of.
     
     
    On immigration issues, we must demand standards that protect workers regardless of what country they came from or how they got here. Because the issue is the same: the exploitation of labor.
     
    Thousands rallied in front of Congress in Washington, D.C., in March, 2006, to support immigration reform.
      

    Aug 12, 2006
    Take Action for Social Security
    It’s hard to ignore the fact that Social Security has been the most successful program in U.S. history. Though President Bush is calling it a crisis in order to gain support for his privatization plan, the problems that face Social Security require careful consideration of the existing program rather than radical changes to destroy it. There is a problem on how to prepare for the influx of baby boomers about to enter the Social Security program, as well as coping with a population that lives longer and has less births. But the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize accounts will only make the situation worse. Most analysts suggest alternative solutions can strengthen Social Security so that people will actually receive the benefits they have already paid for and earned.  
     
    What Privatization Would Mean For You
    While the Bush Administration has been actively promoting their plan for private accounts, they have been very vague in explaining what it means and how it will actually help. Bush has said people should be in control of their own money to plan for retirement, and that private accounts would be voluntary. Bush has also said that his plan would affect people aged 55 and younger, while current retirees would still receive their SS benefits.
     
    Here are the details of Bush's privatization plan that are finally coming out:
     
    * The plan will call for at least $2 trillion of money we don’t have—money the government will have to borrow from foreign countries like China or Japan.
    * Whether or not you “volunteer” for private accounts, your benefits will be cut by 40 percent.
    * For every $1 you’ve gained in your private account upon retiring, 50 cents will be taken away for taxes.
    * The government will determine which private investment companies—opening the door to more corruption on Wall Street.
    * Administrative costs for private investments will be 12-14 percent; where as the administrative costs for Social Security is less than 1 percent. Needless to say, private investment firms will make billions and billions of dollars in fees to run working America’s private accounts.
     
    Initially, at least, we'd have to pay for two Social Security systems at the same time: today's program for current beneficiaries and the privatized system. The added costs would most likely require:
     
        * Raising the retirement age to 70 or older;
        * Deep cuts in guaranteed benefits;
        * Cutting or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments; or
        * Creating huge new federal deficits
     
    Of course, the idea with private accounts is that whatever amount the plan will take away from you, you might be able to gain back in investments. As the American Progress Action Fund put it, Bush’s plan can be summed up by
    saying, “Let me have 20 bucks, I’ll give you 10 back in return, and you might be able to make up the difference and possibly more at the track.”
     
    Rather than finding a sensible way to ensure Social Security’s solvency, the White House—which wasted a $5 trillion budget surplus to provide tax cuts for the wealthy—wants to cut benefits by one third over the next decade and force Americans to risk the rest of their retirement income on Wall Street. An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office shows that total retirement benefits under private accounts would add up to be less than what people receive under the present program.
     
    The only guarantee in President’s Bush’s scheme is that billions and billions of taxpayer dollars will be turned out to investment firms and to the waste and corruption that is a part of the Wall Street system. So not only would we have to gamble on our future retirement, but we would open up the system to abuse.
     
    We need the voices of working America to step up and ask tough questions on this critical issue. Force the Bush Administration to hear your concerns. Let’s strengthen the most successful program in America’s history, not destroy it.

    Aug 12, 2006
    We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage for Working America
     
    Many workers in the U.S. work hard each day, yet still struggle to provide for themselves and their family. For minimum-wage earners who work full time, making just $5.15 an hour comes out to be $10,712 a year. That’s several thousands below the 2004 federal poverty guidelines for a household of two ($12,490) or three ($15,670). And for about 40 percent of minimum-wage workers in the U.S., these wages are the sole source of their family income. It’s also important to know that the majority of workers who earn minimum wage aren’t teenagers needing extra spending money—over 70 percent are adults and 60 percent are women.
     
    Since Congress has not increased the minimum wage in eight years, it continues to decline in value. Working for the minimum wage is worth even less because it hasn’t been adjusted for inflation--the value of $5.15 an hour is worth $4.75 an hour today. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, when it was $1.60 an hour, it would have been up to $8.50 an hour in 2003.
     
    Since he took office, President Bush has opposed increasing the federal minimum wage and also supports a "state flexibility" plan. Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have a state minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage. Regardless, this plan would allow states with minimum wages of at least $5.15 an hour to opt out of any future federal minimum wage increases. 
     
    Though legislation (Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2005) has been introduced in both the House and Senate to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years, we need working America to contact Congress and tell them low-wage workers need a raise.
    Aug 12, 2006
    DOWNLOAD: National_Voter_Registration.pdf

    The National Voter Registration Form
    The National Mail Voter Registration Form allows you to register to vote from anywhere in the United States. Be sure to follow the General Instructions, as well as the specific instructions for your State, contained in the PDF download. Visit the
    Election Assistance Commission website for more information.

    Who Can Use the NVR Form?

    Any U.S. citizen residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia may use this form, with the following exceptions:

    North Dakota, Wyoming and U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam) do not accept this form. New Hampshire accepts the form only as a request for an absentee ballot.

    Uniformed service members and overseas voters should not use this form to register to vote. Instead, they should fill out the Federal Post Card Application, available at www.fvap.gov.




    Page Last Updated: Aug 12, 2006 (20:06:00)


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