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A Landmark Bill Would Outlaw Bosses Cutting off Healthcare to Striking Workers

Employers regularly eliminate healthcare benefits as a strike-breaking tactic. A bill just introduced in Congress seeks to finally end this practice.

INDIGO OLIVIER 

(PHOTO BY TY O’NEIL/SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES)

On Wednesday, House Democrats introduced a landmark bill that would make it illegal for employers to cut off healthcare benefits to striking workers. The Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act would subject employers to a fine of up to $50,000, which could be doubled by the National Labor Relations Board for employers who have been in violation of the policy within the past five years. 

Rep. Cindy Axne (D‑Iowa) says she was inspired to introduce the legislation after John Deere threatened to take away healthcare policies from workers who were on strike in her district last fall. Several of the bill’s co-sponsors represent districts where cutting healthcare has been used by companies as a strike-breaking tactic, including Rep. Steven Cohen (D‑Tenn.) whose constituents were among the 1,400 striking workers at Kelloggs’ cereal plants in four states. Other co-sponsors include Reps. Brian Higgins (D‑N.Y.), Andy Levin (D‑Mich.), Jim McGovern (D‑Mass.), Bill Pascrell (D‑N.J.), Linda Sánchez (D‑Calif.) and Nikema Williams (D‑Ga.).

If passed, the legislation could better position workers to negotiate with their employers for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

“The threat itself is used to break strikes and force workers to accept contracts that don’t meet their needs. That’s why I wrote the bill,” Rep. Axne tells In These Times. ​“I heard about children who need their parents’ health insurance because they have asthma or needed glasses, or workers who need access to medication. I was appalled, and soon after I learned from other colleagues in D.C. that this had also been happening to their workers in recent years.”

In October 2021, 10,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) went on strike at John Deere for the first time in 35 years, demanding better salaries and overtime pay while opposing proposed increased healthcare premiums and a two-tiered wage system. The company responded by threatening to eliminate healthcare benefits for workers and their families over the duration of the strike, before ultimately reversing course. 

“Unfortunately, employers use this threat to discourage workers from going on strike or to push workers to end a strike before an adequate contract agreement has been reached,” says Laurel Lucia, the Health Care Program Director at the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. ​“With this threat looming, workers aren’t fully able to exercise their rights to a fight for a strong collective bargaining agreement.”

[Read on]

House Dems Demand Harris Advance $15 Minimum Wage (and 3 more)

Biden is Better, but…

 BY BERT BIGELOW

Twelve years ago when Barack Obama was the incoming President, he declared, “We are a nation of Christians, and Muslims, Jews and Hindus—and nonbelievers.” It was the first time any President had used his inaugural address to affirm that secular people were a welcome part of the nation. Since then, the secular part of our nation has grown substantially, especially the younger generations.


House Dems Demand Harris Advance $15 Minimum Wage

In a new letter, nearly two dozen House Dems are pressing Vice President Kamala Harris to ignore the Senate parliamentarian and fulfill her minimum wage promise.

Julia Rock and Andrew Perez
Progressive House lawmakers are demanding Vice President Kamala Harris use her power as presiding officer of the Senate to immediately advance the $15 minimum wage that she has long said she supports.

“Eighty-one million people cast their ballots to elect you on a platform that called for a $15 minimum wage. We urge you to keep that promise,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Harris and President Joe Biden, pressing the White House to raise the wage for workers as part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan. “We must act now to prevent tens of millions of hardworking Americans from being underpaid any longer.”

House Dems Demand Harris Advance $15 Minimum Wage – The Daily Poster


Thom Hartmann: Oligarchy; The Hidden History

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Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated talk show host, described by Talkers magazine as America’s most important progressive host and one of the top ten radio shows in the country every year for over a decade. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of dozens of books.


Why Trump’s Takeover of the GOP is Great for Biden and the Democrats (but a Potential Disaster for America)

By Robert Reich

Donald Trump formally anointed himself head of the Republican Party at Sunday’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Grand Old Party, founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, is now dead. What’s left is a dwindling number of elected officials who have stood up to Trump but are now being purged. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republicans since he broke with Trump.

Robert Reich (Why Trump’s Takeover of the GOP is Great for Biden…)