We won't lie down and let them take us back to a time when insurance companies called the shotsI traveled nearly 1,000 miles, away from the nice weather of Florida to this never-ending winter in Washington, D.C., for one reason: to make my voice heard on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices decide whether or not to gut the Affordable Care Act--an issue that is dear to my heart.

As a registered nurse and SEIU member at the St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie for the past 18 years, I have seen firsthand the effect the Affordable Care Act has had on the residents of my community. Because of tax credits provided under the Affordable Care Act, more people are coming into our hospital to get the care they desperately need. I used to imagine all the folks out there who resisted coming in because they feared the thousands of dollars in medical debt that could eventually cost them their home. Furthermore, I know that because of the tax credits that have made insurance more affordable for thousands of Floridians, fewer people have to make the horrible decision of whether to see their doctors or buy groceries. And fewer people are suffering silently at home with terrible untreated medical problems, until the pain gets so bad that they have to call for an ambulance.

Those things should not be happening in this country.

That's why I joined my fellow SEIU members and hundreds of other activists and demanded the court not take away tax subsidies that have made health insurance a reality for millions.

It was an awesome sight to see all these different groups here together; letting those who oppose the Affordable Care Act know that we won't just lie down and let them take us back to a time when insurance companies called all the shots. I have had employer-sponsored insurance during my career, but I thought it was important to stand up for those who haven't. In addition to the Supreme Court building, we were surrounded by the buildings that house the U.S. Congress. We sent a message to them as well. They need to think not about the legislators and corporate lobbyists who roam those halls, but about the millions of working Americans on the outside who depend on them to do what's right for the health of the country.

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11:34 AM Eastern - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

4 Janitor Stats You Need to Know STAT! #default

This week, thousands of janitors are stepping up and out in a BIG way. Below are the 4 things you need to know about why janitors are standing side by side and what you can do to contribute.

    1. Over the next 2 years, SEIU janitors - in over 33 cities across the country - will bargain our contracts.
    2. This week 12,000 Chicago janitors kick off bargaining with the same contractors and building owners you have in your city! What happens at the table in Chicago will set the tone and pace for every contract following.

Thousands of people are standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Chicago and calling on building owners and contractors to raise America with good jobs.

Join the movement, and show building owners and contractors that we are united.

RAMarchSolidarity.jpg

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2:48 PM Eastern - Monday, March 2, 2015

King v. Burwell ➞ The Stakes Are Too High! #DontTakeMyCare #default

On March 4, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell.

This case jeopardizes the vision of affordable, quality healthcare for all Americans and challenges the tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that millions of working families depend upon to purchase lower-cost health insurance. This politically motivated case could threaten the overall health and financial security of millions of working people in some 36 states and turn back the gains made in improving access to care.

If extremists win in King v. Burwell, millions of Americans' healthcare is at stake/

Registered nurses, doctors and healthcare workers from cities and towns across America and ordinary working Americans have joined SEIU in filing an amicus brief that reveals how the tax credits have helped them, their loved ones, or their patients to afford healthcare coverage, and, subsequently, afford long overdue preventive care and treatment of chronic conditions.

Here are a few of their stories.

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4:34 PM Eastern - Friday, February 27, 2015

King v. Burwell: For communities of color Obamacare is about more than healthcare #default

Chrysandra RolandChrysandra Roland, 66-years-old, has worked as a secretary in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Atlanta Medical Center for 41 years. Ms. Roland has three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

I have worked in Atlanta Medical Center for more than four decades and seen a lot of changes during my tenure. When I began working, I was among the first African American secretaries at the AMC. Back then, I did not work with a lot of people who looked like me, but I did serve a lot of people who looked like me. They were hardworking families doing what they could to meet whatever health issues that arose.

We have come a long way in those 40 years. From the technology involved in tracking patient care to advances in medical treatments, my work and the healthcare industry as a whole is more effective and efficient. More patients are living longer and healthier lives. Some of the biggest changes I have seen have come in the past two years since the Affordable Care Act passed.

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9:12 AM Eastern - Friday, February 27, 2015

CLEAN Act targets New York City's dirty laundries #default

A new bill aims to help New York City's industrial laundry owners take out their dirty laundry.

The City Laundry Equity and Accountability (CLEAN) Act would authorize new standards of cleanliness for industrial laundries and for laundry delivery trucks.

The bill, introduced this week by Council Members Ritchie Torres and Dan Garodnick, would help prevent contamination of linens used by hotels, hospitals, restaurants and other businesses. The CLEAN Act would also improve the work place conditions for thousands of NYC industrial laundry workers.

Far too often these workers, especially immigrants, are exploited by laundry owners who run their facilities like sweatshops. These employers pay low wages, offer no benefits and push unrealistic quotas on their employees.

"They don't want quality. They want quantity,"says former laundry worker Patricia Ramírez.

CLEAN Act targets New York City's dirty laundries

When workers are forced to sacrifice quality for speed under hazardous conditions, it creates a serious public health risk. It also puts workers at risk for injuries as they handle hundreds, even thousands, of pounds of soiled linen a day.

"Sometimes (the linens) come out dirty. I didn't get paid by production by the hour but at the same time I feel bad. The CLEAN Ac is something good for all workers," said Ramírez.

Under the CLEAN Act, industrial laundries would be required to be licensed and regulated by the city's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), in a way similar to how retail Laundromats and dry cleaners are treated.

Supporters of the bill say city regulation is the best way to help ensure New York City's dirtiest laundry operators clean up their act.

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Some 26 million people work for companies that do business with the federal government, so the rules for companies that bid on federal contracts are a big deal. And until recently, those rules were a problem. Companies that routinely violated labor laws--from wage theft and worker safety to race, gender and age discrimination--were able to sweep these violations under the rug and win gigantic contracts without so much as a promise to try to do better.

President Obama set out to fix this problem, issuing a directive last summer called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. It would require law-breaking corporations to agree to clean up their act before they receive any more federal contracts.

From working men and women who will be protected on the job to upstanding American businesses who will no longer have to fear being undercut by unscrupulous contractors, the news was met with applause.

Believe it or not, there's an effort afoot to tear down these new rules.

Why do extremist Republicans in Congress want to protect corporations that steal wages, violate safety laws and allow race, gender and age discrimination?

Why do extremist Republicans in Congress want to protect corporations that steal wages, violate safety laws and allow race, gender and age discrimination?

It's fair to ask why Republican members of Congress are trying to roll back worker protections considering the seriousness of the problem. Nearly 50 contractors that racked up significant labor law violations won $81 billion in federal contracts in 2012 alone. When we say "significant," we mean more than 1,700 violations that resulted in $196 million in back pay and penalties. That's outrageous.

At a congressional subcommittee hearing that's happening Thurs., Feb. 26 on the issue, Republicans will receive testimony from those who have a big-money stake in leaving things the way they were. They won't hear from working people or from the scores of businesses who will benefit from a fair playing field, because the anti-worker Republicans running the hearing don't want the truth to get in the way.

Learn more:

  • Read 32BJ SEIU member Helen Santos' story in Spanish and English (automated translation). Santos was working as housekeeper at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., when the contractor she worked for started refusing to issue paychecks. "We work hard to ensure that soldiers receive the best service; this is not the place for companies that cheat employees out of their wages," she says.
  • Find out how the Fair Play and Safe Workplaces Executive Order is a win-win-win for working people, businesses that play by the rules and all Americans.

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4:00 PM Eastern - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Through tax credits, I'm taking charge of my health and my family's future #default

Claudette Newsome, 42, is an independent contractor from Houston, managing various recruiting, production, marketing and sales projects for her clients. She works as a volunteer with the Texas Organizing Project.

I have suffered great loss in the last five years. Days after my husband turned 46, he died of cancer. Then, two years later, I lost my 17-year-old son when he was tragically hit by a car. While there have been days when my pain was so unbearable that I did not want to move, I knew eventually I would have to get on with my life.

Through tax credits, I'm taking charge of my health and my family's futureMy daughters, ages 10 and 14, had lost the two most important men in their lives so I knew I had to take care of myself for their sake. They needed their mom and the comfort that family provides. If something happened to me, who was going to take care of them? Who was going to love them, take them to school, and understand the tragedies they have already faced in their lives?

Surprisingly, what became important to me was the security of affordable health insurance coverage. I knew I had to take good care of myself--not just for my own health but for my daughters. They need a healthy parent that will always be present in their lives. 


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Deborah McBee.JPGDeborah McBee, 63, is a retired educator who lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Burrett. She is part of a dozen people who submitted briefs in the King v. Burwell case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Her husband is a teaching lecturer at Plymouth State University and a member of SEIU Local 1984, New Hampshire State Employees Association.

My husband, Burrett, and I have both been educators our entire careers. Anyone who pursues education as a career knows it's not about the pay or the benefits; it's about dedicating yourself to opening up new worlds for students. While we love our work, there have been personal sacrifices we have made, among them, our struggle to keep up with rising costs of healthcare insurance coverage.

For years we got our health insurance through our jobs. While we would complain about high co-pays, we didn't think twice about going to the doctor when we got sick. Then when we changed jobs, we lost our insurance coverage. During that time, I needed to have a CT scan and was shocked when I saw the bill for more than $1,400. For the first time, I really understood how outrageous healthcare costs are in the United States.

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3:26 PM Eastern - Monday, February 23, 2015

Stop the war on workers in Wisconsin ➞ Fight back at the State Capitol on Tues. & Wed. #default

The extreme right-wing leadership of the Republican party has launched an all-out assault on working peopleScott Walker's cronies are at it again.

The extreme right-wing leadership of the Republican party has launched an all-out assault on working people by trying to jam through a so called "right to work" bill, which is intended to break the back of organized labor in Wisconsin.

This is not just going to affect union workers. It will hurt the middle class. There is evidence that shows this type of law could have negative impact on both union and non-union workers by reducing wages by up to $1,500 per year.

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12:43 PM Eastern - Monday, February 23, 2015

We can't go back #default

When I heard the uplifting news that approximately 11.4 million Americans signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, it was kind of bittersweet. On the one hand, families like mine are finally getting the comprehensive care we need. Unfortunately, this relief has been followed by endless partisan political attacks to challenge the law.

  • Congressional Republicans are still trying to repeal the law; the count is now up to 56 votes.
  • Governors and state legislatures are still standing in the way of expanding Medicaid for those who fall in the gaps of coverage.
  • And on March 4, the Supreme Court is hearing a case, King v. Burwell, which could be the biggest threat to law yet.

Currently, women and men making up to $46,680 and families of four earning up to $95,400 in all 50 states are eligible to receive federal tax credits to help us afford health insurance. If the Supreme Court rules the wrong way, tax credits could be restricted to only those living in the 16 states that have created their own health insurance exchanges.

This would make health insurance completely out-of-reach for more than 8 million Americans.

And I could be one of them.

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