Today's Fair Shots - September 27, 2016
1-Retiring Texas AFL-CIO President John Patrick Draws Broad Praise as He Presides Over Last Board Meeting
1) The Texas AFL-CIO Executive Board has chosen Rick Levy as President-elect and Montserrat Garibay as Secretary/Treasurer-elect in the wake of President John Patrick's decision to retire.
At a meeting today, the Executive Board unanimously set a leadership course for the remainder of Patrick's term and made history at the same time.
In a farewell address to the Executive Board, Patrick thanked his wife, Linda, and the entire staff of the Texas AFL-CIO. Then he closed with this:
Thank you as well to this Executive Board, which has provided both oversight and flexibility in enabling the Texas AFL-CIO to adjust to changing times. A little more than 20 years ago, I got the opportunity to serve on this board and never dreamed I would one day have the honor of serving as President. Getting to lead the state federation is the greatest honor I have enjoyed in my lifetime. I have done everything in my power to take Rick Levy's constant advice - "Don't screw it up" - to heart.
The immortal Dr. Seuss once declared, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." I might depart from that wonderful advice a little bit with a tear or two, but I promise you, my Brothers and Sisters, that they are tears of joy.
Here is our press release:
Texas AFL-CIO Digital Strategist Mark Maldonado posted photos of the Executive Board meeting at this link: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EZFZI38ytBO1oGCS2
2) Okay, exhale on the latest "repeal and replace" effort, at least for now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today there will be no vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill, which was up for consideration against a major deadline this week with virtually no formal vetting but a continuing desire among partisans to erase President Obama's signature domestic legislation.
In one sense, this is great news. In another, it's awful because Congress has fixated on repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has succeeded in adding tens of millions of Americans to the coverage rolls, for years when it could have been doing so much else. It might be too much to hope for that this Congress could come up with worthy amendments to the ACA that do right by working people, but the time to try in good faith may be arriving. Doing a negotiated deal in good faith will now require 60 Senate votes and a decent level of bipartisan support.
The New York Times reports McConnell has come to understand the arithmetic:
Mr. McConnell could afford to lose only two of his members. But when he conceded defeat on Tuesday, three members of his conference had already publicly declared their opposition: Ms. Collins, Mr. McCain and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
None of the three senators seemed likely to drop their opposition: Mr. McCain detested the partisan process used to push the bill, Ms. Collins had broad concerns about the legislation's effects on health care, and Mr. Paul objected to the fundamental architecture of the legislation.
And other senators might have opposed it without doing so publicly. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, released a statement after the bill was pulled, decrying "a lousy process."
"The U.S. Senate cannot get the text of a bill on a Sunday night, then proceed to a vote just days later, with only one hearing - and especially not on an issue that is intensely personal to all of us," she wrote, without saying which way she would have voted.
Mr. Cassidy was blunt: "We don't have the votes," adding, " Am I disappointed? Absolutely."
Read more: http://nyti.ms/2wRzGRX
Richard Fiesta of the Alliance for Retired Americans posted this statement:
"Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy introduced a bill that would have placed an age tax on older Americans, eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions and resulted in at least 32 millions of Americans losing affordable health care.
"Fortunately, enough of their fellow Senators recognized the ramifications of a dangerous bill and a warped legislative process, preventing Sen. McConnell from moving forward with his cruel plans.
"Millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief, but not for long. Majority Leader McConnell and Vice President Pence have already promised to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act again, instead of working in a bipartisan manner to improve health care for all.
"The 4.4 million members of the Alliance will not rest. Our members will stand down for the moment, but are ready to speak out for health care for all Americans whenever it is threatened."
3) A column by Jose Garza of the Workers Defense Project calls for paid sick leave in Austin. A campaign for that benefit is moving in the City Council.
Garza focuses on how the benefit would apply in the construction industry:
Here are the facts: One in three Austin workers don't have access to earned sick days. So, if you or a family member gets sick or injured on the job, you are forced to make a choice: take a pay cut or take care of yourself and your family's health.
These choices have real consequences, particularly in the Texas construction industry. Serafin Miranda, a Workers Defense member, was working on a construction site near MoPac Boulevard. One day, he fell 14 feet and injured his back. Though Miranda's doctor said his injury was too severe to work, his employer did not have worker's compensation or offer sick days. As the sole provider of this family, Miranda felt an obligation to work and help provide for his wife and two daughters.
Austin's affordability crisis pressured Miranda to continue to work despite his injury. His condition steadily worsened, and finally reached a point that a metal plate had to be surgically inserted into his neck.
Miranda's 15-year construction career ended abruptly when his injury disabled him. But Miranda isn't alone; the Texas construction industry is one of the most-dangerous in the country, as one in five workers is injured on the job.
Austin, we can do better.
Read more: https://atxne.ws/2hvCaOW
4) In the Elections Have Consequences department, the National Labor Relations Board is now majority Republican, and observers expect an era of rollback of NLRB decisions that strengthened the ability of working people to speak up in the workplace.
Bloomberg BNA reports the final shift will occur when the current Chair of the board gives way to a third appointee of President Trump, who campaigned on labor issues as if he were Ted Kennedy but is governing as if he were Ronald Reagan:
The Senate Sept. 25 confirmed management-side attorney William Emanuel to the federal labor board, giving it a Republican majority for the first time in nearly a decade.
The term of the current Republican board chairman, Philip Miscimarra (R), will expire in December. President Donald Trump will then have to nominate and have confirmed a new GOP board member for the agency to truly begin an expected reversal of many Obama-era policies and decisions.
The political shift at the board will set up the Republican majority to reconsider various Obama-era decisions, including those expanding joint employer liability for affiliated businesses; imposing limitations on how employers can use employment contracts to block workers' class actions; and reducing the amount of time necessary to form a union.
The Senate voted 49-47 along party lines for Emanuel, who previously worked at Littler Mendelson in Los Angeles. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his colleagues to confirm the nominee, saying Emanuel is an experienced and impressive candidate.