Today's petition delivery was part of a national effort to strengthen Social Security for today's workers and future generations"Everyone should pay into Social Security at the same rate" is the message that more than 120,000 Americans sent to Congress today as representatives from a number of national and regional organizations including SEIU, Social Security Works and the Center for Community Change delivered petitions demanding that our wealthiest citizens pay their fair share into Social Security.

Today's petition delivery was part of a national effort to strengthen Social Security for today's workers and future generations. April 17 marks the day that the 1% stop paying into Social Security because of the trust fund's tax cap. Once the payroll contribution cap of $117,000 is reached, millionaires and billionaires stop paying into the system, while the rest of us pay on all of our salary - all year long.

That's not right, nor is it reflective of Social Security's purpose. The Social Security Act was enacted August 14, 1935 in an effort to fight elder poverty among workers and to create a safety net for injured workers and disabled Americans as well as survivor's benefits.

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.

Take Action

 
1:12 PM Eastern - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax Day 2014: They've Got It All Backward #default

The internet has taken notice that every day this week can be written the same way forward and backward, including today, 4/15/14. Today, of course, is tax day, so here's another palindrome that should get you thinking.

For 26 of America's largest corporations, you can write the amount of money they paid in federal corporate income taxes over five years the same way forward and backward.

$000,000,000

TaxDay.jpg

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
12:11 PM Eastern - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rising Child Care Costs Push Women out of the Workforce #default

The job market hasn't always been kind to young mothers of color. Rising child care costs, a badly lagging minimum wage, and persistently high unemployment has forced many of these women out of the workforce and into the role of the stay-at-home-mom.

We've been trained to believe the typical stay-at-home-mom is a rich, white suburbanite. However, new research from the Pew Research Center refutes this stereotype and paints a picture of today's stay-at-home-mom as a young, woman of color, often born outside of the United States, less likely to have a college education, and more likely to live in poverty than working moms.

According to Pew, the number of stay-at-home-moms in the United States with children under the age of 18 has grown to nearly 30 percent. Up from 23 percent in 1999.

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 

Christiane DeNobleChristiane DeNoble is a member of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare from Coral Springs, Florida. She recently traveled to Washington DC with her fellow nurses to defend the Affordable Care Act at a rally in front of the Supreme Court on the day the Court heard the landmark Hobby Lobby case. Christiane was there to protect the rights of women to have birth control covered by their employer-provided health insurance - regardless of their specific employers' religious beliefs regarding birth control.

Christiane argued that denying women contraceptive coverage on their employer plans could have very serious consequences. "For many women, having to pay up to $80 per month would be a real burden. They simply don't have the income," she said. "I've seen women in my hospital who had children because they couldn't afford birth control. Some of them end up not getting any sort of prenatal care, and because of that their children end up on my [neonatal intensive care] unit for several months- which can easily cost over a million dollars."

She believes that the case before the Supreme Court is especially important, since weakening the Affordable Care Act in this way could set a bad precedent. "What if an employer didn't believe in blood transfusions because of their religion? They are huge ramifications to this," she said.

Christiane is also active in spreading the word about the new health care law in general. "I try and tell the parents of the children I care for about all the free preventive care that's included in the various plans," she said. "It's important that people in my profession help connect people to affordable care through the new law, because people trust nurses."

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
10:39 AM Eastern - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Searching for Poetry in the SEIU Archives and Finding William Cooper #default

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer William Cooper

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer (1941-1955) William Cooper. Photo by: Conway Studios, Inc.

April is National Poetry Month, and I was curious to see what related material is within the SEIU Archives. Although poetry may not be the first thing most people think of in relation to SEIU or labor, the movement has inspired many artists in a variety of mediums over the years. The Reuther Library is home to the archival papers of some of these artists, including labor musician Maurice Sugar and labor playwright, director, and actor Ben Legere. After some research, I found a poem in the SEIU Historical Records dedicated to former SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer William Cooper entitled, "Just a Guy" (see below for full poem text).

"No millionaire or king was he"

Throughout high school and his coursework at a local engineering school, William Cooper worked in a steel rolling mill during the winters. In the summers he served as a park worker in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, eventually joining SEIU Local 17 in 1926. In 1934, he helped found Local 150, organizing charwomen, elevator operators, and workers in large buildings.

"Some extra quality"

Around the same time, Cooper began rising through the ranks at the International level, first becoming a business agent for SEIU locals, then receiving a promotion to International Business Representative, and finally becoming Third Vice-President. Cooper's crowning achievement within SEIU was his unanimous election to SEIU's International Secretary-Treasurer, with his term beginning May 1, 1941.

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
10:02 PM Eastern - Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Paul Ryan Budget - Déjà vu All Over Again #default

The House of Representatives today passed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) fiscal year (FY) budget resolution. Introduced last week (on April Fool's Day), the Ryan budget is as extreme as the proposals he offered last year and the year before.

As in previous budgets, Ryan seeks to cut the deficit on the backs of the elderly, low-income and vulnerable Americans, while the wealthy and corporations are once again exempt from paying their fair share.

Unsurprisingly, low-income and vulnerable Americans do not fare well in Rep. Ryan's budget.

Among the $5.1 trillion in cuts he proposes are reducing funding for and block-granting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, at a time when there is record poverty. Cuts to SNAP would end benefits to some 3.8 million low-income people in 2014 alone.

The Ryan budget proposes to end Medicaid as we know it and instead provide fixed block grants to states. This would destroy the historic state-federal relationship underlying this safety net program and shift huge costs to the states.

The budget proposal also cuts Medicare. For people younger than 55, the budget would privatize Medicare by converting it to a system under which those who are enrolled in Medicare would receive a capped voucher to purchase private insurance in a specialized Medicare marketplace. This would mean less care and higher costs for millions of Americans.

As for the wealthy and corporations, they do quite well in this proposal, lowering the top income tax rate for the very rich from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. These tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over ten years. Ryan suggests that these tax breaks will be offset by closing loopholes, but the budget does not name a single loophole that he'd eliminate.

To top it off, the Ryan budget would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the Ryan budget resolution would, on net, result in 1.1 million jobs lost in FY 2015 and 3 million jobs lost in FY 2016. If the economy remains sluggish at that point, large job losses could continue into FY 2017 and beyond.

Budgets are not just a bunch of numbers on papers. They are blueprints that reflect our priorities and our values. Rep. Ryan's budget does not reflect the priorities or values that most Americans hold dear. It's important that we all know exactly where Rep. Ryan's priorities and values lie. Sadly, his budget proposal tells us just that.

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
10:02 PM Eastern - Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Paul Ryan Budget - Déjà vu All Over Again #default

The House of Representatives today passed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) fiscal year (FY) budget resolution. Introduced last week (on April Fool's Day), the Ryan budget is as extreme as the proposals he offered last year and the year before.

As in previous budgets, Ryan seeks to cut the deficit on the backs of the elderly, low-income and vulnerable Americans, while the wealthy and corporations are once again exempt from paying their fair share.

Unsurprisingly, low-income and vulnerable Americans do not fare well in Rep. Ryan's budget.

Among the $5.1 trillion in cuts he proposes are reducing funding for and block-granting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, at a time when there is record poverty. Cuts to SNAP would end benefits to some 3.8 million low-income people in 2014 alone.

The Ryan budget proposes to end Medicaid as we know it and instead provide fixed block grants to states. This would destroy the historic state-federal relationship underlying this safety net program and shift huge costs to the states.

The budget proposal also cuts Medicare. For people younger than 55, the budget would privatize Medicare by converting it to a system under which those who are enrolled in Medicare would receive a capped voucher to purchase private insurance in a specialized Medicare marketplace. This would mean less care and higher costs for millions of Americans.

As for the wealthy and corporations, they do quite well in this proposal, lowering the top income tax rate for the very rich from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. These tax cuts would cost about $5 trillion over ten years. Ryan suggests that these tax breaks will be offset by closing loopholes, but the budget does not name a single loophole that he'd eliminate.

To top it off, the Ryan budget would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the Ryan budget resolution would, on net, result in 1.1 million jobs lost in FY 2015 and 3 million jobs lost in FY 2016. If the economy remains sluggish at that point, large job losses could continue into FY 2017 and beyond.

Budgets are not just a bunch of numbers on papers. They are blueprints that reflect our priorities and our values. Rep. Ryan's budget does not reflect the priorities or values that most Americans hold dear. It's important that we all know exactly where Rep. Ryan's priorities and values lie. Sadly, his budget proposal tells us just that.

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
3:44 PM Eastern - Thursday, April 10, 2014

"They were almost in tears when they found out they could get [health] insurance" #default

Colleen NoceriniColleen Nocerini is a school cook in West St. Paul, Minn., and a member of SEIU Local 284. Although she has health insurance, Nocerini and her fellow union members spent last fall and winter trying to help enroll as many Minnesotans as possible in healthcare plans created by the Affordable Care Act.

Nocerini worked numerous phonebanks and knocked on thousands of doors to try to connect the uninsured with the right people who could help them get coverage. She also worked several events--one featured Spanish, Hmong and Somali translators--where Local 284 partnered with Take Action Minnesota to assist low-income residents with getting the insurance they needed.

"We helped some people who had previously spent every penny they had paying off enormous hospital debts," said Nocerini. "They were almost in tears when they found out they could get insurance that would prevent that from ever happening to them again."

Even though most of them already had health insurance, SEIU members in locals across the country have supported efforts to make healthcare more affordable in this country from the very beginning.

"When I heard about these efforts, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it," said Nocerini. "It's a chance to show that my union is interested in lifting everyone up, not just ourselves. It's really important for us to be out there doing community outreach like this."

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
3:41 PM Eastern - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Equal Pay Day: Worker Power Cuts into the Gap #default

Today is Equal Pay Day in the United States, marking the end of the extra time that women must work into this year to make the same amount of money as men did last year. A proclamation issued by President Obama notes that women today "make only 77 cents to every man's dollar" and that 51 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, our prosperity is undermined by "the unrealized promise of equal pay for equal work."

That this gap persists -- and, in fact, is even worse for women of color -- is unacceptable. Really, it's tragic. Maybe that seems like a harsh word, but the wage difference adds up to $11,607 over the course of a year, and those missing dollars could be missing doctor's appointments or even meals for a family. (Remember, too, that mothers are the primary or sole breadwinners in 4 out of 10 families.)

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 
4:37 PM Eastern - Monday, April 7, 2014

Making healthcare access a reality #default

Last week the Affordable Care Act reached one of its initial milestones with more than 7 million Americans having signed up for health coverage through health insurance exchanges. As we celebrate the recent success of the ACA, let us take a moment to look back at SEIU's efforts to make quality healthcare accessible for all Americans.

Two members from SEIU Local 79 demonstrate during National Healthcare Action Day in Detroit in 1994

Two members from SEIU Local 79 demonstrate during National Healthcare Action Day in Detroit in 1994. Photo by: Jim West

SEIU President John Sweeney speaks during the National Leadership Coalition for Healthcare Reform Press Conference in Chicago

SEIU President John Sweeney speaks during the National Leadership Coalition for Healthcare Reform Press Conference on March 30, 1994 in Chicago. Photo by: Deana Barfour

Workers, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and SEIU President John Sweeney listen on stage to a speech during the Healthcare Reform Rally with Healthcare Workers on April 20, 1994

Workers, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and SEIU President John Sweeney listen on stage to a speech during the Healthcare Reform Rally with Healthcare Workers on April 20, 1994. Photo by: Ray Crowell, Page One Photography

Follow the SEIU Archivist on Twitter: @SEIUArchivist

Spread the word

Share this story on Twitter.
 

There's more on the SEIU Blog...