Month: July, 2013
Congressional Single Payer Supporters Plan to Celebrate Medicare’s 48th Birthday
worker | July 31, 2013 | 8:26 pm | Action | Comments closed

Washington, DC On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, Congressman John Conyers
(D-MI), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and other congressional supporters
of a single payer healthcare system have planned several events in
Washington to celebrate the 48th anniversary of Medicare and to call for
improvement and expansion of Medicare to all. In cities across the nation
over 30 single payer groups will also be holding local “Happy Birthday
Medicare” events.

Conyers, who is the author of HR 676, national single payer health care
legislation, has scheduled a congressional briefing with Professor Gerald
Friedman from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who will release
the results of his study on the financing of the single-payer plan in H.R.
676, The Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act.

This briefing, which is open to the public, is hosted by Public Citizen
and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and will take place:

11 a.m. to 12 noon, Wednesday, July 31
Cannon House Office Building, Room 121
1st and Independence Ave, SE

The briefing will conclude with an opportunity to ask questions. The
study will later be available on the PNHP website at

Following the briefing, Rep. Conyers, Sen. Sanders, and other co-sponsors
of HR 676 will hold a News Conference on Defending and Expanding Medicare
to All.

1 p.m.–1:45 p.m., Wednesday, July 31
House Triangle
The grassy triangle on the House side of the Capitol’s East Front

Those in the Washington area are invited to attend these events.

For further information, please contact Dave Sterrett of Public Citizen
(202) 454 5132

Distributed by:

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551


IBEW Calls on the President and Congress to Act on Problems in Obamacare
worker | July 26, 2013 | 9:06 pm | Action | Comments closed

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the largest
construction union in the AFL-CIO, has launched a full scale campaign to
persuade the President and Congress to correct problems in the new
healthcare bill which the union claims will seriously hurt its members.

The IBEW campaign includes:
An article on its website (reprinted below);
A full page advertisement which appeared in several newspapers;
A ‘White Paper’;
A short video by IBEW International President Ed Hill.

The IBEW White Paper quotes President Obama’s July 16, 2009 statement:

“And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep
this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your
doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to
keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter
what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple
principle: fix what’s broken and build on what works.”

IBEW Tells Capitol Hill: ‘Let us Keep Our Healthcare’

July 11, 2013

Electrical workers are raising the alarm about loopholes in the Affordable
Care Act that threaten to undermine quality coverage for more than 26
million Americans.

A new white paper from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
lays out provisions in the law that put multiemployer health plans at

For more than 65 years, multiemployer plans have provided affordable,
quality coverage for American workers. Found in nearly every industry, the
plans allow small businesses to team up with other employers to pool risk
and reduce costs in order to provide high-quality health care for workers.

But despite President Obama’s promise during the health care debate that
Americans could keep their current health care plan, the law would end up
forcing millions out of multiemployer plans because small businesses are
exempted from the tax on employees that do not provide health benefits
under the law.

“The IBEW is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act because the
goal of making sure every American has access to quality and affordable
health coverage has been a legislative priority for the IBEW since our
founding,” says Hill. “But our members and allies employers have worked
hard for the healthcare they have, and Obama must move now to guarantee
that his signature law will not cost them their coverage.”

The problem is that the ACA’s definition of a small business – one that
employs fewer than 50 employees – exempts large parts of the American
economy from the health care mandate. For example, approximately 90
percent of construction contractors employ less than 50 workers, which
gives low-road companies in construction and other industries an incentive
to not provide their employees’ health care, putting additional pressure
on employers that do.

Workers who are not covered are eligible for a federal subsidy to purchase
their own health care – an option not available to employees covered by
multiemployer plans.

“Businesses that did the right thing all along will be punished while
employers who helped contribute to the health care crisis will be
rewarded,” says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “It goes against the whole
spirit of the legislation to begin with.”

The IBEW are calling on the Obama administration to make regulatory
changes so workers covered by multiemployer plans are eligible for federal
subsidies – just like workers covered by for-profit plans.
“It is a question of fairness,” says Hill. “Multiemployer plans are
genuine health care success stories and they deserve the same federal
support private insurance companies get.”

Hill is also calling on Congress to amend the Affordable Care Act by
lowering the employee threshold to level the playing field in industries
dominated by companies with less than 50 workers.

Click here to read the white paper.

And click here to see the IBEW’s ad currently running in multiple
Washington, D.C., publications.

There is also a 3 minute video of IBEW President Ed Hill speaking on the
ACA here:

Distributed by:

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551


Love Among the Ruins: A Town in Decline in LaToya Ruby Frazier’s Witness
worker | July 25, 2013 | 7:46 pm | Action | Comments closed

Love Among the Ruins: A Town in Decline in LaToya Ruby Frazier’s Witness
LaToya Ruby Frazier’s photographs detail the personal loss when a city falls apart.

By Kelly Klaasmeyer Wednesday, Jul 24 2013

LaToya Ruby Frazier was born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 1982, right about the time things started to go to hell for the once-booming steel town nine miles outside Pittsburgh. The photographs in “LaToya Ruby Frazier: Witness” at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston document the town’s continued decline. Braddock is where Andrew Carnegie built his first major steel mill in 1873 as well as his first public library. The town was hard hit in the early 1980s, when steel manufacturing almost disappeared. The population fell from more than 20,000 to fewer than 2,500 today. The economic crisis led to the town being redlined — turned into a loan and investment dead zone. Then crack took its toll on the area.

Read more:

Stand with Malala
worker | July 24, 2013 | 9:01 pm | Action | Comments closed

Another tragedy in the Trayvon Martin case
worker | July 23, 2013 | 10:40 pm | Action | Comments closed

By James Thompson

HOUSTON – The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman is certainly tragic. Trayvon Martin was an African-American youth wearing a hoodie in the rain carrying some Skittles and Iced Tea. He was shot by George Zimmerman, a Latino, and subsequently died after a struggle.

A jury composed of all Anglo women acquitted Zimmerman on the basis of self-defense. The trial got the attention of the corporate owned media and there was non-stop coverage. A circus like atmosphere has surrounded the whole affair. It has not been a sober memorial to the death of this youth.

Why would the corporate media focus on the death of one child? Aren’t there wars raging and cities failing in this time of great discontent? The mainstream media also focused on a very articulate and moving talk by President Obama in which he revealed some of the horrific experiences he has had as a black man in America. Why did he choose this moment to share when he has been in office for almost six years now? Protests raged across the country over the weekend.

In Houston, there were rival protests. One supported Trayvon Martin in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Houston, River Oaks. Another one was about 2 miles away and was much smaller and supported George Zimmerman. A friend was able to participate in the march supporting Trayvon Martin and sent me text messages throughout. He texted several times about the mounted police and how intimidating they were. He also noted “it’s crazy out here. Crowd almost went nuts when the police split up the group.” He reported there were pro-Zimmerman signs which read “White as America” and “Wear a hoodie in my neighborhood.”

Two other friends of mine had a disagreement about the trial verdict as well.

There is another tragedy besides the death of Trayvon Martin which has been ignored by the media.

The country has been polarized by this event. African-Americans and Latino-Americans have been effectively split while the media fans the flames. I have not heard any public official call for unity of all people during this nightmare. I have not heard any public official point out that there is horrific racism against both African-Americans and Latino-Americans and that this is a tie that binds them. I have not heard any public official declare that racism hurts people of all races. I have not heard any public official call for people of all races to unite and fight for a better country and better world free of racism.

However, there was a little 8-year old girl, Gabby North, at the rally in Houston who wrote a song which she sang at the event. She sang, “Do they know of the hearts they are breaking? Do they know of the lives they are taking? Do they know black or white we are precious in his eyes? We are one, we are one.”

Throughout the history of capitalism, splitting has been one of the most effective tactics used by the ownership class. They have split workers through racism in order to lower everyone’s wages. They have split countries, one against another, so that working people from different countries fight while the wealthy become wealthier. Wherever there has been a slaughter, there has been massive wealth made through theft. It is easier to steal from people while they are fighting their neighbor. This is one of the secrets of capitalism. It is easier to steal from the black person while the white person terrorizes the black community. It is easier to steal from the white person while he is distracted by racism.

So while the circus surrounding the tragic death of a young black man distracted people from the larger picture, the corporate media sold working people things they didn’t need. While blacks and whites and browns are fighting, the wealthy people are maximizing their profits with no regard for any of the tragedies surrounding the case of Trayvon Martin.

It was encouraging that the supporters of Trayvon Martin in Houston took their protests to the source of the problem of racism, the wealthy, instead of taking their frustrations about racism out on working people.

Working people can and will wake up and understand the words of an 8 year old girl “We are one. We are one.”

New York City Labor Council Endorses HR 676, National Single Payer Health Care
worker | July 21, 2013 | 10:56 pm | Action | Comments closed

The Executive Board of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO,
unanimously approved a resolution supporting HR 676, national single payer
health care legislation, sponsored by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez calls this resolution “Labor’s way of
standing up for the health and well-being of working men and women and
their families,” noting “The national legislation is a true means of
controlling ever-increasing healthcare costs, while ensuring that
Americans get the medical care they so desperately need.”

In the resolution, the Council notes that almost every union is forced to
battle and sacrifice to sustain healthcare benefits for members. The
Council also notes that while the United States spends twice as much of
our GDP on healthcare as other developed nations, we remain the only
industrialized country without universal healthcare coverage.

Robert Score, Recording-Corresponding Secretary of IATSE (Theatrical &
Stage Employees) Local One, said “As we all know, nobody in the United
States should have to choose between healthcare and keeping a roof over
their heads, food on their table or clothing on their children. HR 676
will prevent such calamities. I am thankful to President Alvarez for
guiding the NYC CLC to endorse HR 676.” IATSE Local One submitted the
resolution that was passed.

The NYC CLC, the 146th CLC to endorse HR 676, represents 300 local unions
with a total membership of 1.3 million.

In other news also, on July 19th Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of
California’s 46th district became the 44th co-sponsor of HR 676.


HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a
greatly improved Medicare to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including
prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and
preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery,
periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy,
rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and
correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of
billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 44 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 605 union organizations including 146 Central
Labor Councils/Area Labor Federations and 43 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT,
MA, RI, NH, & ID).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551


Art Exhibit Review: Coming Thru the Gap in the Mountain on an Elephant
worker | July 21, 2013 | 10:23 pm | Action | Comments closed

By James Thompson

HOUSTON – Today, while protests around the country and in Houston raged against the Trayvon Martin verdict, a group of us visited the art exhibit “Coming Thru the Gap in the Mountain on an Elephant.” The exhibit was organized by Robert Pruitt and presented at the University Museum at the Texas Southern University. TSU is the second largest historically black college and university (HBCU) in the United States.

Pruitt earned his degree at TSU in the 1990s and has taught there. He pulled together friends and they have all received support from Project Row Houses in the past. The artists include Regina Agu,Nathaniel Donnett, Robert Hodge, Autumn Knight, Rosine Kouamen, Lovie Olivia, Phillip Pyle II, Sehba Sarwar, Michael Kahlil Taylor, Monica Villarreal and Gregory Michael Carter.

The exhibit makes a number of strong political statements. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a line of X-Clan’s ‘80s rap song “Tribal Jam.” It references a military tactic by Hannibal, who attacked the Romans around 218 B.C. He drove his army and three dozen elephants from Carthage through the Alps.

In a feature article in the Houston Chronicle, Pruitt is quoted by Molly Glentzer as saying “Everybody in the show exists, in some way, on the margins. They don’t really get to participate in the scene in the way they deserve. We don’t really have access to the market, at least not locally. Even for me, the market is not as supportive as I would like it to be. I was interested in what happens if we all start working as a group, what kind of power can come out of that.”

Collective Work

Born out of collective work, the artists have created a striking representation of the dialectics of struggle of African Americans in the USA. Many of the works depict the importance of Unity in the struggle for progress among AfricanDSC01599 Americans.

When you enter the Museum front door, you are confronted with a number of beautiful, colorful fabric bags created by Autumn Knight, Monica Villarreal and Sehba Sarwar. The bags are similar to those used in Africa by the people as they travel from place to place. The bags are what the people use to carry their possessions as they move in search of a better life. In the background you can see Dr. John Biggers’ world famous mural “The web of life.”DSC01604


At one corner of the exhibit, the viewer comes face to face with a work which symbolizes the dialectics of blacks and whites in the U.S. At one end is a white mask-like material which is labeled “alien material.” At the other end is a very menacing figure suspended in space which is totally black. It is labeled an “unidentified pod/spaceship – the Yariyatripn.” In the center of this area of the exhibit is a display of colorful roaches on pins which are labeled as various corporations such as Wal Mart and others. On the wall behind this are images of black activists and leaders. The activists and leaders have been white washed so that their faces are white and include people such as Angela Davis, Barbara Jordan and Harriet Tubman.


A work by Monica Villareal titled “Pantli” is a red figure symbolizing the importance of Unity in the struggle. Another work titled “The Medallion for the Contemporary African Immigrant” symbolizes the importance of the unity of all the races in the struggle for power.

If you are in Houston, do yourself a favor and visit the exhibit. Better yet, bring a group of friends.

For more information, contact:
University Museum
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne Ave. Houston, TX 77004
Phone: (713)313-7120