Today's Fairs Shots - July 19th, 2017

1-Grammatical Question: Did TrumpCare Go Up in Flames or Down in Flames? Either Way, The People Win


2-Lawmaker Takes New Constitutional Shot at Right of Working People to Support Labor Organizations in Texas


3-Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth Is Hiring, and the Jobs Are Union, IAM Reports


4-AFL-CIO Formally Opposes Trump NLRB Nominees

1) The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears to be dead, at least for now, after a monumental effort by supporters of President Obama's signature legislative achievement, including working families across the nation.

  It's a mighty moment, but not the ultimate one, for Americans who want health care for all.

  Without the votes for a replacement bill that would have knocked upwards of 20 million Americans out of coverage that had been made possible by the ACA, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to run with a measure that simply repeals the law in two years. That idea entered quicksand almost immediately when three Republican senators announced opposition and more seemed ready to do so. A confirming vote may lie ahead in the near future. President Trump has already said he doesn't "own" the failure of a signature campaign promise.

  Americans clearly understood the law provides extremely important benefits and the repeal effort hinged on politics. Polls suggested the measure might be less popular than castor oil, cockroaches, Darth Vader and root canal. 

  AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka credited activists across the nation with defeat of the bill, declaring in a tweet, "Because of YOU, this health care sham has been stopped dead in its tracks. The battle rages on, and together we are an unstoppable force. You ain't seen nothing yet."

  The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect and in a hypothetical Congress that was willing to consider improving the law, organized labor would offer proposed changes. But the ACA is a giant improvement over the cruelties that people with pre-existing conditions and the working poor were subjected to in the past. In a choice between ACA and tossing more than 20 million Americans helped by ACA off health care, ACA proved to be the clear winner. 

  Via Rolling Stone:

  McConnell conceded the bill was dead late Monday, saying in a statement he would change tactics, moving to open debate on a repeal bill without a replacement plan. (Trump tweeted his support for that course of action Monday night - only to tweet Tuesday morningthat the ACA should be allowed to "fail" on its own, perhaps unaware that doing so would mean leaving the legislation in place.)

  "I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful. That doesn't mean we should give up," McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. "We will now try a different way to bring the American people relief from Obamacare."

It was a short-lived plan. By early afternoon, three Republican senators - Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski - had announced they would vote against even opening debate on a bill to repeal the ACA without creating a replacement.

  Senators had been signaling their discomfort with the idea all morning. "I'll have to look and see what the so-called repeal bill entails, but if it is a bill that simply repeals, I believe that will add to more uncertainty, and the potential for Ohioans to pay even higher premiums, higher deductibles," Sen. Rob Portman told reporters. "So we'll have to see. Obviously, we would look for a CBO analysis of that to see what it involves in terms of not just premiums and deductibles, but also coverage. I'll take a look at it."

  In fact, Portman already reviewed the CBO score back in 2015, when he voted in favor of an Obamacare repeal-only bill. McConnell had hoped this week to introduce this same piece of legislation, which the Republican majority passed at the time, but which was vetoed by President Obama.

Back in 2015, the CBO said that under the repeal-only bill, 22 million people would lose health insurance within two years. When the office revisited the plan this January - Republican senators had briefly considered reviving it this winter - it revised its estimate upwards, saying as many as 32 million Americans would lose insurance by 2026. That's 10 million more than would have lost coverage under the Better Care Reconciliation Act (the Senate bill that died Monday night), with more than half of those unlucky individuals, 18 million, losing coverage within the first year.

  Under the repeal bill, people who could still afford to purchase insurance in the market would have seen their premiums skyrocket: The CBO estimated costs would increase by 20 to 25 percent in the first year, and double by 2026.

  "Repeal and replace" has been a GOP rallying cry since 2010, and one that delivered the party scores of seats in the House and Senate and, ultimately, the White House. It's easier to agree on a catchphrase than policy, though, and the closer Republicans got to actually being able to repeal the bill, the more Americans learned about the consequences of doing so, and the less they liked the idea.

  In fact, the day Donald Trump was sworn in was the first day ever that more Americans approved of the Affordable Care Act than disapproved of it. Approval for Obamacare only grew as Republicans in the House fumbled their first effort at a replacement plan and jammed through a second. Today, disapproval for the ACA is near an all-time low.

  Read more:

2) On the first day of the special legislative session, an effort to end the freedom of state and local employees to voluntarily choose to support the labor organizations of their choice took on a new dimension with the filing of a constitutional amendment on the subject.

  SJR 11 by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, would prohibit use of state or local funds "for the administration of a labor organization, including the collection of dues or fees."

  The existing payroll deduction system does not cost taxpayers. That is because, first, the cost of including a payroll deduction is negligible. Payroll systems were set up long ago  for the main purpose of paying wages and deducting the employee's costs on taxes, benefits and voluntary contributions. Second, Texas law already provides that a governmental entity may bill a labor organization for the full cost of collection if such a cost exists. That billing has rarely occurred because, as noted in the first point, the cost is negligible.

  As a constitutional amendment, SJR 11 would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber before being placed before voters. But there is no good news in the enlargement of the target on the backs of working people. Unlike SB 7 and HB 156, SJR 11 would take away freedom of First Responders to decide how to spend their own paychecks. And besides firefighters, police and EMS, the proposed amendment would continue to deny that freedom to teachers, correctional officers, child abuse investigators, nurses and other state and local employees.

  The first day of the special session saw some action on a "sunset" bill extending the life of several state agencies that will trigger consideration of dues deduction and other major issues when it passes the Senate. After some unorthodox procedural moves, the bill made it out of a Senate committee, but the full Senate decided not to tackle the measure today for reasons that were unclear. When the bill leaves the Senate, Abbott has said he will make 19 other issues, including payroll dues deduction, eligible for consideration.

  In a potentially interesting development, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced formation of a Select Committee on Government Reform, chaired by a close ally of his, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. 

  On a large topic in the legislative session, an IBM official told the Austin American-Statesman today that if the "bathroom bill" passes, the company would reconsider its commitment to Texas. Folks who keep track of economic development say some $66 million in meetings has already walked away from Texas because of the mere prospect that a bill might pass:

 We talked with IBM's Diane Gherson, a senior vice president for human resources at IBM, about the company's stance on the bathroom bills. This interview has been edited for clarity, and some answers were shortened. 

  512tech: Why is this a front-burner issue for IBM? Why have you gotten involved?

  Gherson: "It's a front-burner issue and the reason is it goes straight back to our core values. IBM has been around for 106 years. We've always believed in diversity and inclusion. It's a really important part of who we are...and is the reason why people come and work for us."

  I read that IBM has 10,000 employees in Texas. Where are those employees located?

  "The three major locations are Austin, Dallas and (Houston). We're mostly in Austin and Dallas. I would say 90 percent in those two areas. As you know, Austin is our largest location (in Texas). It's actually IBM's second-largestin the United States."...

  So what you're saying is you'd re-consider your commitment and investment in Texas if a bill like this is passed?

  "That's correct. Obviously it affects our ability to hire, so we'd have to reconsider our hiring as well, and our planned growth."

  Read more:

  Last but not least, Day 1 of the special session featured some strong demonstrations against the agenda of the session. See the Austin American-Statesman account of one of these rallies:

3) Lockheed Martin is hiring in Fort Worth as F-35 production ramps up. Brother DeLane Adams of the International Association of Machinists passes along word that the jobs discussed in this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article are covered by a union contract:

  Lockheed Martin will be interviewing at least 2,000 people for jobs next week - with some people being offered employment "on the spot" - as part of the buildup of F-35 production at its Fort Worth plant.

  Lockheed already has cleared about 1,900 applicants who pre-registered through social media for interviews, but anyone who thinks they may be qualified for one of the jobs, especially in manufacturing, can come to the Sheraton Fort Worth Downtown Hotel on Tuesday. The event opens at 7 a.m.

  "We're really ramping up the activity to do this hiring. This is new to us, making offers on the spot," said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed. He said the company posted the job fair on Facebook and other websites within the last two weeks and had to shut it down after 24 hours when 2,600 people registered.

  At a similar event in June, the company made 601 offers in one day - 501 in manufacturing jobs like aircraft and avionics mechanics, painters and material handlers - and 100 in areas such as engineering, supply chain and finance, Ross said. Ninety-five percent of the applicants accepted their job offers.

 There will be another job fair in August, Ross said. Those who haven't pre-registered can show up with their resumes and go to

    Read more:

4) The AFL-CIO has formally opposed two nominations by President Trump to the National Labor Relations Board. From a letter by Bill Samuel, Director of the Government Affairs Department:

  By tradition, Presidents appoint a majority of members to the NLRB from their own political party, and in keeping with that tradition, President Trump has appointed two Republicans - former Republican Hill staffer Marvin Kaplan and longtime management lawyer William Emanuel -- to the two vacant seats on the NLRB. Unfortunately, after reviewing their records and statements at their confirmation hearing, the AFL-CIO has concluded that we must oppose these nominees and urge the Senate to reject these nominations.

  Notwithstanding the clear purpose and mission of the agency to which they have been nominated - to protect and encourage the practice of collective bargaining -- nothing in the background or statements of either nominee provides any assurance that either Kaplan or Emanuel would be guided and motivated by this basic mission. Emanuel has exclusively represented employers, most recently at the notorious union-busting law firm Littler Mendelson. He confirmed at his confirmation hearing that he has never represented a worker or union in an employment matter - not even in pro bono work.

  Kaplan has never practiced labor law - his sole experience with labor law is on a policy level, drafting legislation to weaken worker protections under the NLRA and holding hearings to criticize the NLRB during the Obama Administration. Neither man said anything at the confirmation hearing to give working people any confidence that they would vigorously enforce the NLRA consistent with the law's purpose of protecting workers' right to organize and promoting collective bargaining.

  Read more: