Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Applebee’s workers who sued their employer for unpaid wages got good news this week: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has agreed to hear their case. The appellate court will decide whether a lower court erred in denying class-action status to the workers. That means that their case lives on.

The case, Roach v. T.L. Cannon Corp., has national implications for workers and consumers and is being closely watched in the legal community. Public Citizen is representing the workers.

Public Citizen petitioned the Second Circuit in April, contending that a federal district court in New York was wrong to tell the Applebee’s workers that their lawsuit for unpaid wages could not be heard as a class action. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York denied class certification after incorrectly interpreting the March 27 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Comcast v. Behrend, we maintain.

The outcome of the New York case has national implications for a wide array of pending class-action cases across the country that are being challenged in the wake of the Comcast decision. If the lower court decision stands, and the workers are not permitted to band together to seek back wages that were illegally withheld by their employer, then wage-and-hour laws and other protections for workers and consumers could become prohibitively difficult to enforce.

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A protester in front of the US Capitol holding a sign that reads "Medicare for all"To celebrate Medicare’s anniversary, I thought I would share my top 10 reasons, out of literally thousands of others, to support a single-payer health care system:

10.  Under single-payer, say goodbye to medical bankruptcies in the United States.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), more than 62 percent of the more than 2.2 million personal bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical expenses.

This problem does not just touch those with health insurance.  Many of those who need to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs had health insurance coverage. Single-payer health care would provide health care for all and ensure that no one goes bankrupt due to illness.

This video explains the problem and the solution very well.

9.  If it’s good enough for the royal baby, George Alexander Louis, it’s good enough for the United States.

Here’s my previous blog on this topic.

8.  Single-payer would cover everyone.

I believe health care is a right – not a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Regardless of how much you have in your wallet, you would have access to doctors and hospitals under a single-payer system. In the wealthiest nation in the history of humanity, it is the least we can do.

7.  If members of Congress tried to shut down the government to defund single-payer, they would be defunding health care coverage for themselves and their families.

Unless members of Congress and their families participate directly in a particular health care system, they can hold it hostage for political gain. Case in point: 60 members of Congress recently sent a letter to their leadership requesting that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shut down the government if the administration doesn’t “defund” Obamacare. If those representatives and their families received their health care through a single-payer system, they would be less inclined to defund it.

6.  It works well in other countries.

 Dozens of other industrialized countries can’t all be wrong. Their people live longer, their child mortality rate is lower and they have unrestricted access to maternity care. This is an example of where we could learn something from studying how other countries provide health care.

5.  Transitioning to a single-payer system would save billions of dollars.

If the United States was able to move away from its private health insurance system, we could save more than $400 billion a year in administrative costs. Further savings could be obtained by adopting European-style drug pricing and provider payments.

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by Dave Sterrett and Taylor Lincoln

Road Map to Single Payer IllustrationThe pathway to single-payer implementation is a winding one. Public Citizen has taken the opportunity to issue a new report that provides a road map to help navigate the process for states that seek such a system.

Efforts are moving forward in several states (Vermont, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Colorado) to have a single government payer for health care services instead of a patchwork of private and public health insurers. Such systems (see Canada) have a record of providing comprehensive, universal care at significantly less cost than we pay for the U.S.’s fragmented system that leaves millions of people with no coverage.

But leaders in many of these state governments may be unaware of how to overcome legal obstacles to move toward a single-payer system. Today, Public Citizen released a groundbreaking report that explains the steps that states can take to create a system that would maximize the efficiencies promised by a single-payer system.

Specifically, the report addresses how a state can free itself from the strictures of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and channel the federal money that would otherwise be spent by the federal government pursuant to the ACA into a unified, state-administered system.

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By Siya Hegde

Many guest workers experience harsh working conditions that most Americans might expect to find in developing countries, but would be surprised to see in the US — and these workers lack the right to blow the whistle when they suffer illegal abuse or mistreatment.

Imagine what it might feel like to be held captive by someone who has presumed the responsibility as your legal sponsor in the United States. First your passport is confiscated, erasing your personal identity, and then you are compelled to work fourteen hours a day nonstop.

After hours of hard labor, physical and verbal threats, you return to a crammed confined living space with inadequate access to food and water that you share with two dozen others.

And you are denied the right to do or say anything in your defense.

Sounds crazy right? Unfortunately, this is the experience of many workers who are here in the United States working as a temporary guest worker on an H-2B visa.

Tens of thousands of low-skilled, temporary H-2B migrant workers travel to the United States every year.

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With a budget of $155.8 billion, one might think the US Navy could afford to make sure service members won’t needlessly suffer from exposure to toxic substances.

But the United States Navy has exposed workers to beryllium, a highly toxic metal, and then deliberately chosen not to test them for beryllium sensitization.

To determine beryllium sensitization, the price for the Beryllium Lymphocyte Proliferation Test is $266.00 per test ($133,000 to test the 500 service members who are likely to have been exposed).

In reaction to this, on September 5, 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region 9 issued “serious violations” to the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center South West located in Coronado California for “failing to put in place Safety and Health Programs, polices and procedure to protect employees from the hazards of Beryllium.”

Beryllium can cause in chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. It can be found in many industrial products, including coal slag, where it is used in abrasive sand blasting operations. Short-term exposure at low levels can cause immune system sensitization to beryllium in as little as two months.

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