by Rebecca Greenberg
For more than 25 years, thousands of workers in northern California have committed their lives to producing high-quality Toyotas at the Bay Area’s New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) auto plant, and hundreds of thousands of car-buying Californians have made Toyota the #1 car company in the state. So when Toyota announced last year that it plans to close down the NUMMI plant on April 1, 2010, the company dealt an undeserved punch in the gut to California’s workers and consumers, not to mention our state’s already faltering economy.
California has launched an investigation into possible illegal premium increases and denial of claims by the state’s seven largest health insurance companies.
Yesterday, state Attorney General Jerry Brown issued subpoenas for detailed financial records and other information records to Aetna Health, Anthem Blue Cross, CIGNA, Health Net, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and PacifiCare.
by Rachel Johnson
At a time when the news cycle is chock-full of reports about the recession, bank bail-outs and gubernatorial candidates throwing millions (and millions, and millions) of dollars at the 2010 election, we found a breath of fresh air: tangible proof that unionizing helps workers earn more money and receive better health care coverage! The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) issued a conclusive report this month providing evidence of the many benefits workers gain when they are able to unionize.
by Jorge Iniestra
Since our contract expired more than two years ago, some 2,000 Disneyland hotel employees and I have been fighting to maintain affordable health benefits. One of the most frustrating parts is that in past contract negotiations, we’ve given up significant wages raises in order to maintain these affordable benefits. Now, we’re on the verge of losing them.
Because of this struggle, we decided to risk our own health to protect that of our co-workers and families and engage in a water-only fast. For seven days and nights, seven fasters and I refused food and slept in tents outside the Grand Californian Hotel.
Some 100 labor activists and supporters stirred up the normal bustle of Oakland International Airport on a Friday before a three-day weekend, rallying in support of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who work there and at airports around the country. They were decked in their union colors, displaying the breadth of support for the TSOs in the union movement.
by Carl Finamore
While air transportation remains among the most heavily unionized industries in the country, Continental ramp agents were also among the largest single group of non-union employees. Now they have made the nation’s fourth-largest airline a union shop from top to bottom.
Workers at Continental spoke for millions who so desperately need collective bargaining rights. Modernizing and democratizing RLA election rights for rail and air transportation workers will greatly advance opportunities for working people to organize themselves and to express their demands and desires for a better life.
by Steve Smith
California has been devastated by record unemployment of more than 12 percent, leaving more than 2 million workers out of jobs. Nearly 35 percent of California’s unemployed have been looking for work for six months or more. To make matters worse, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown no leadership on job creation and his budget cuts have shredded the state’s safety net at a time when workers need it the most.
There’s a theory that trends happen first in California before spreading to the rest of the nation. If that’s true in health insurance, we’re all in deep trouble.
Last week, Anthem Blue Cross—whose parent company WellPoint posted a record $4.7 billion profit in 2009—announced it was gouging even more money from its 800,000 California customers by raising premiums as much as 39 percent.
Some 540 workers were locked out of the giant Rio Tinto Borax mine in Boron, Calif., Jan. 31 after the workers, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 30, unanimously rejected the company’s latest contract offer. The company shut off further contract talks and brought in replacement workers.