Monday, June 29, 2009

COMMENTARY on racism, Supreme Court rules for status quo

Another good reason why Sotomayor should be confirmed

by Jarvis Tyner

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the New Haven firefighters is not a reason to keep Judge Sonia Sotomayor off the court as some on the right are pushing, but rather it shows how urgent it is that she be confirmed.

Justice Ginsberg in her dissenting opinion pointed out that the majority on the court “ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the test New Haven used. The court similarly fails to acknowledge the better test used in other cities which have yielded less racially skewed outcomes.”

The impression is given that no blacks or Latinos passed the test and therefore none were qualified for the job. The fact is that there were eight openings for lieutenant and 77 fire fighters took the test. Thirty-four passed including 25 whites out of 43, three Hispanics out of 15 and six African Americans out of 19. The top 10 scorers were white. There were seven openings for captain and 41 took the test with 22 passing. Twenty-five whites took that test and nine failed, 16 passed; eight Hispanics took the test and five failed and three passed; eight blacks took the captain test, five failed and three passed. The top nine were seven white and two Hispanic. This is all according to The New York Times.

One white fire fighter said he passed because he studied for eight to 13 hours a day. Another one on national television at a press conference of white firefighters said it takes “hard work” to move ahead, suggesting that blacks and Latinos don’t work hard enough and that was the reason they didn’t get higher scores.

The nature of the test and who got help and who didn’t get help in preparation for the test needs to be looked into.

Also the city of New Haven is now majority African American and Latino and it seems to me that an affirmative action program in their fire department is very much in order.

It’s important to know that there is a long history of struggle with both the New Haven firefighters union and fire department over its racist policies. Black firefighters had to set up an organization called the “Fire Birds” to combat the entrenched exclusionary policies they face getting hired and advancing in the department. The majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ignored all this. Why?

The majority avoided these deeper questions, which speaks volumes about what is wrong with the current composition of the court. To put it frankly, from its many rulings, the majority seems to be in support of the racist status quo and not committed to the elimination of racial discrimination as it continues to be practiced throughout this land.

Sotomayor and her colleagues on the appellate court ruled in favor of New Haven’s attempt to address these deeper issues of eliminating racial discrimination.

So now, the right-wing racist trash talkers in the media are trying to use this ruling to stop the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor. The racist Rush Limbaugh is back to calling her “a racist” again. They are working overtime to destroy the racial unity that elected Barack Obama and the new Congress. They’re attempt to stir-up hatred and division at this time of economic crisis and war must be answered with greater unity. .

The fact that Judge Sotomayor was in the majority at the appellate level that rejected the white fire fighters suit is another reason why she must be confirmed. Speak out!

Jarvis Tyner ( is the executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA.

Reprinted from the People's Weekly World on-line edition June 26, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Call Governor Rell Now And July 6th & 7th Rallies

Gov. Rell is now in negotiations with the Democratic leadership to develop a State budget for the next two years. Thousands of people have marched, rallied, wrote letters, and made calls with the demand to pass a FAIR BUDGET. We demand that the Governor supports a budget that will TAX THE RICH, CLOSE CORPORATE LOOPHOLES, AND WILL NOT CUT VITAL STATE SERVICES.

If you have called the Governor's office, call again. If you have not yet called, now is a good time to call. The Governor's office number is 860-566-4840 (toll free: 800-406-1527)

Keep your message simple and clear. Support a fair budget, tax the rich, close corporate loopholes, and maintain vital State services.

Connecticut is one of the richest States in America. The richest people of this State pay about 4% of their income in taxes and the lower income bracket pays about 10%. At this time of crisis we demand a FAIR BUDGET.

Below are pictures of the recent rally and march on the Governor's mansion to demand Health Care for All and asking the Governor to sign the SustiNet bill that was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Also see the articles below "Remember the People Behind the Numbers," June 23, 2009 and "CT Budget Battle Update - Time to Act," June 19, 2009. These are just a few of the examples of people's actions to maintain and promote vital services in Connecticut. [Click on the picture for full screen view]

Mr. Miller, above, is a decan in the Catholic Church in Connecticut. He supported SustiNet and Health Care for All and spoke of the eleventh commanment: "Thou shall not be a bystander!" He encouraged all, especially the young, to get more involved and fight for justice and equality.

................................March to the Governor's Mansion!

John Olson, President of the AFL-CIO, above, spoke in support of SustiNet and Health Care for All

.........................Part of the crowd at the Gov. Mansion Rally

.........................JULY 6, RALLY AND PRESS CONFERENCE

Save the Date and Join Us!

Better Choices for Connecticut Press Conference
Re: Governor's July Budget Cuts to Vital Services!
Monday, July 6, 12:00 Noon
The Governor's Mansion
990 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT


The Governor issued an Executive Order to keep the state operating as we enter the new fiscal year without a budget agreement. However, the Governor has eliminated funding in July for important services that Connecticut residents depend on, including student financial aid, AIDS services, Family Resource Centers, LifeStar Helicopter, and many, many more.

The July allotment list is attached. Take a look at what the Governor has not funded for the month of July.

In Solidarity,
Council 4 Action Center

........................HEALTH CARE RALLY -TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2009

Next Tuesday, July 7, there will be a health care rally and vigil at the Capitol to send a strong message to the governor that we can't wait for health care reform.
We will meet on the north steps of the Capitol (facing Bushnell Park) at 3pm.
RSVP today for the rally and vigil -- and don't forget to invite your friends and family!
Governor Rell's deadline to act on SustiNet is July 8, so this rally will be our last chance to tell her that Connecticut needs health care we can count on. Just this weekend the Hartford Courant reported that Anthem Blue Cross wants to raise individual policy rates by as much as 30%. This is why Governor Rell must sign SustiNet into law.

The rally is sponsored by healthcare4every1 coalition.

By Tom Connolly

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remember the People Behind the Numbers and Health Care for All


There were two back-to-back actions at the State Capitol today. There was a rally outside the State Capitol to stop Gov. Rell's cuts in services. It was followed by a press conference and march to the Governor's office supporting HEALTH CARE FOR ALL!

The first action was a rally coordinated by AARP and included representatives for over 30 community organizations. One of the main themes of the rally was "REMEMBER THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE NUMBERS!" People with severe physical and mental disabilities spoke passionately about their life struggles and how Gov. Rell's cuts in services will hurt them.
A singing group led by Elaine Kolb, a disablity rights activist, summerized the feelings of the group with their song.

We want to live in FREEDOM NOW!
We want to LOVE & WORK & PLAY!


Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chris Donovan, the Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, Senate President Don Williams, other legislators and concerned citizens urged Gov. Rell to sign landmake healthcare reform today.

In a message to Gov. Rell, Speaker Donovan said, "We implore you not to allow Connecticut to fall behind in a healthcare reform movement that is right and decent and whose time is now. Sign the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership and SusitiNet bills and bring affordable healthcare to every Connecticut family."

A recent New York Times poll states that 85% of respondents supported government-backed healthcare as a competitive option. Speaker Donovan concluded his remarks by stating, "Let us not use the current recession as an excuse to neglect our responsibilities to the families of Connecticut. We, and they, can't afford to wait any longer."

After the press conference the group marched up to the Gov. office and presented the two bills to her representative for signing.

Legislators and Supporters Heading for the Governor's Office.

The presentation of the SustiNet and the Connecticut Healthcare Partnership legislation to the Governor's representative for her signing.

By Tom Connolly

Friday, June 19, 2009

CT Budget Battle Update - Time to Act!

In the battle for a just and equitable state budget, Working Families is canvassing in various state senate districts, including that of conservative Democrat Joan Hartley SD 15. Canvassers are doorknocking and asking Hartley's constituents to call her while they are the door. It is proving an effective method, last a WF staff person said that probably 80 calls had been generated. Discussions are being held about setting a meeting in her district to discuss the state budget.

Council 4 AFSCME will be holding a meeting of its PEOPLE committee on Monday June 29 to discuss meetings of AFSCME members with state senators.
The retirements taken under the state's Retirement Incentive Plan (RIP) will probably have a detrimental effect on the delivery of state services and programs. Governer Rell talks of permenantly shrinking state government at a time when it is obvious that only government and public programs can solve the economic and social crises we face. She seems determined not to fill most of the vacancies created by these retirements. How do we run departments when no management is left? As demand for state services increases during this economic crisis how do less state workers continue to provide the same services? Governor Rell's no new taxes-shrink goverment stance must mean we should just trust the invisible hand of capitalism or perhaps divine intervention to pull us from this mess.

The call for "No Cuts, No Layoffs, Tax the Rich" can be integrated into every activity in anticipation of the special legislative session to determine a budget for the State of CT. The legislature must not be bound by what Republican Gov Rell has said she will sign. The guidepost should be the needs of the people in this economic crisis. The state workers have stepped up to the plate and taken $700 million in cuts (furlough days and healthcare co-pays). Those earning over $250,000 a year should pay an income tax at least equal to the percent of income that the poorest residents pay. And, it is time to stop corporate tax giveaways so that health care, housing, education and other human needs can be met.

On Wednesday, June 24 a statewide rally will be held at the Governor's mansion demanding that she sign the Sustinet healthcare bill into law. Expanding healthcare coverage to everyone and raising the funds by taxing the richest 5 percent their fair share can go a long way to solve this crisis. Call Gov Rell to sign Sustinet. Call your State Rep and State Senator to create a progressive income tax in our state and solve the economic shortfall.

Interfaith Fellowship to Lead Procession to Governor's Mansion

Interfaith Fellowship to Lead Procession to Governor's Mansion

June 18, 2009

The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care and allies

Procession from Minutemen Park to Governor's residence to appeal to Governor Rell. The Fellowship is asking that she sign the SustiNet plan into law. SustiNet would establish universal health care in Connecticut.

On this day, in addition to appealing to Connecticut’s Governor, participants of the procession are acting in solidarity with the national mobilization of concerned religious leaders and people of faith around health care for all.

WHERE: a) Assemble at 300 Capitol Avenue, Minutemen Park (in front of Legislative Office Building)
b) Proceed on foot north on Broad Street, west on Asylum Avenue
c) Appeal delivered at Governor's mansion, 900 Prospect Avenue

WHEN: Wednesday, June 24th 2009
a) 4:30pm- Fellowship and allies gather at Minutemen Park
b) 4:45pm- Procession leaves Minutemen Park
c) 5:30pm- Appeal to Governor Rell, 900 Prospect

-Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, Congregation Beth Israel, 860-233-8215,
-Abraham Hernandez, Christian Coalition for Social Change, 203-444-2625,
-Deacon David Reynolds, Connecticut Catholic Conference, 860-524-7882,

The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care is a multiracial and multicultural group of religious leaders of diverse faith traditions from throughout Connecticut who have come together to fight for quality, affordable health care for everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CCAG Action Alert

Dear Friend,

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) Connecticut Co-Chairs Tom Swan (CCAG Executive Director) and John Olsen (CT AFL-CIO President) need you to come to Washington, DC to lobby the Connecticut Congressional delegation to pass the HCAN and Obama health care reforms that include a public health insurance option!

Transportation will be provided, and you can click here to reserve your space on the bus.

Connecticut has led the nation on health care reform by passing the SustiNet and Healthcare Partnership bills in the CT General Assembly, and now we need to take on Washington!

Join HCAN groups including CCAG, CT State AFL-CIO, AFSCME, healthcare4every1, Organizing for CT, Planned Parenthood of CT, SEIU, United Action of CT, and many others to work for quality, affordable and accessible health care for everybody!

The bus to Washington D.C. is free of charge, and you can click here to reserve yourself a seat.

There will be pickup points in the Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport areas (exact sites are still being confirmed). More sites may be added to accommodate those who sign up to reserve a seat. Buses will leave the Hartford area at 11:50 PM Wednesday, June 24 and will arrive in Washington, DC at 8:30 AM. There will be lobbying visits, a rally, and a town hall forum to make your voice heard before we leave for Connecticut at 6 PM. Buses will be back around midnight.

For questions or more information, contact me by e-mail or phone (860) 995-3389. To reserve bus space, click here.

See you in D.C.,

John Murphy
CCAG Political Director

Health Care Action Memo

A Titanic Battle

The lines have been drawn in the sand in the battle for health care. At stake are the lives of 50 million uninsured and countless under insured. The Republican right-wing says they hope to bring the Obama administration down on this issue. Standing with the Republican right-wing are the AMA and the insurance and pharmaceutical companies which oppose any kind of expansion of Medicaid or other public health coverage. On the other side are a broad array of labor, peoples, faith based, small business and service organizations who have come together in historic coalition efforts most notably the Health Care for America Now.

The many-years fight for government-provided single-payer health care represents the most advanced demand. The proposal for a "public option" which health consumers could choose instead of a private insurance company plan has the support of the Obama administration. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has issued a guideline for a strong public option that would be government-run, cover everyone, and start right away. Republicans and many conservative Democrats in Congress refuse to consider single-payer. They are attempting to dilute any public option by stalling it for several years ("trigger") or taxing health care benefits.

If the battle for health care reform fails, it will be that much harder to win the Employee Free Choice Act which is being opposed by the corporations of every major industry because it would change the political balance of forces by making it more possible for workers to organize into unions and negotiate their first contracts.

Timeline and Action

Building up the broadest, largest coalition effort for public health care is the task of the moment. Bills are now being drafted by the Senate and the House. Each body is expected to vote on its bills by the end of July. Health care reform is on a fast track. Now is the time to make a difference in the outcome.

On Thursday June 25 while Congress is in session, Health Care for America Now is organizing a huge rally and lobby day for health care reform including for a strong public option. Buses are being organized by unions and local HCAN coalitions from the East coast and mid-west. To sign-up from your area and to help build the movement go to Pass the word to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.

On Saturday June 27, Oragnizing for America has called for a national service day of action for health care. To sign-up from your area visit the health care action center at

Many other actions are being organized including by Healthcare Not Warfare, Health Care Now and by local groups.

The door is wide open to get involved at the grass roots, join in with local union organizations, community organizations, student groups and health care coalitions. Congress and Obama need to hear from all of us.

Bring along the People's Weekly World to share, and pass along articles from the daily on-line. There is great coverage in every edition.

In the coming weeks, this fight is at the top of the agenda.

-- Communist Party USA

Monday, June 15, 2009

Congressional Progressive Caucus Principles for a Public Health Care Option

Congressional Progressive Caucus
80 Strong and Growing: Open to New and Different Ideas

The Congressional Progressive Caucus stands united behind President Obama’s call to provide high quality, affordability, and accessibility in healthcare choices for all Americans. The overwhelming majority of Congressional Progressive Caucus members prefer a single-payer approach. If a single-payer plan is not enacted, we agree with President Obama that there must be a robust public health insurance option like Medicare offered alongside the private plans. This public plan would provide a guarantee of coverage, affordable, high-quality and accessible healthcare, and lower costs – regardless of income, health status, race, employment, or gender. We oppose any conditions or triggers undermining and limiting the availability of the public option.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus calls for a robust public option that must:

• Enact concurrently with other significant expansions of coverage and must not be conditioned on private industry actions.
• Consist of one entity, operated by the federal government, which sets policies and bears the risk for paying medical claims to keep administrative costs low and provide a higher standard of care.
• Be available to all individuals and employers across the nation without limitation
• Allow patients to have access to their choice of doctors and other providers that meet defined participation standards, similar to the traditional Medicare model, promote the medical home model, and eliminate lifetime caps on benefits.
• Have the ability to structure the provider rates to promote quality care, primary care, prevention, chronic care management, and good public health.
• Utilize the existing infrastructure of successful public programs like Medicare in order to maintain transparency and consumer protections for administering processes including payment systems, claims and appeals.
• Establish or negotiate rates with pharmaceutical companies, durable medical equipment providers, and other providers to achieve the lowest prices for consumers.
• Receive a level of subsidy and support that is no less than that received by private plans.
• Ensure premiums must be priced at the lowest levels possible, not tied to the rates of private insurance plans.

In conclusion, the public plan, like all other qualified plans, must redress historical disparities in underrepresented communities. It must provide a standard package of comprehensive benefits including dental, vision, mental health and prescription drug coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusions. It must limit cost-sharing so that there are no barriers to care, and incorporate up-to-date best practice models to improve quality and lower costs. All plans, including the public plan, must include coverage for evidence-based preventive health services at minimal or no co-pay. All plans, including the public plan, should be at least as transparent as traditional Medicare.

Comparison of Health Care Plans

The DailyKos website

lists various national health care plans proposed by Congress with their estimated costs.

Referring to the list, it states, "Here is the independent analysis sponsored by The Commonwealth Fund (which actually supports the Obama/Baucus/Kennedy "Building Blocks approach) and with The Lewin Groups (supposedly still the reliable valid gold standard for doing such analyses even though owned by an insurance company)." Yet this "gold standard" list excludes and censors out John Conyers' Single Payer H.R. 676.

The website states the proposal, "Representative Pete Stark's (chairman of the House Way and Means Health Subcommittee) H.R. 193, The Americare Health Insurance Act...unlike that of Obama/Baucus/Kennedy actually controls total costs while getting to truly 100% universal coverage."

We need to continue to insist that H.R. 676, the gold standard of health care, be included in the measurements and compared with all the other proposals.

<> Henry <>

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Health Care Worker Speaks up for Union Rights

Workers' Correspondence

When the factory where I worked for 23 years closed down, I ended up i the health care industry. Working in the factory I became a strong union supporter. I learned that workers need a collective voice on the job to stand up for our needs and rights.

I work for a large health care company now that has locations across the country. They know all about the Employee Free Choice Act and they want ot make sure it does not become the law. One day the company held captive audience meetings for the staff. They had a powerpoint presentation all about how the union is not good for the workers. It had a message for the supervisors to treat us fair and listen to suggestions so the union would not seem necessary. It told the supervisors to talk up the benefits of working for this company. "We firmly believe that remaining union-free is one of the best ways for the company to remain competitive and successful," says the "Union Free" preamble.

A lot of my co-workers had never been in a union, and they did not know much about it. I brought in some information and petitions showing that with a voice at work, you earn higher wages and benefits and get better working conditions. A lot of my co-workers signed the petition for the Employee Free Choice Act. Now we are talking more about what it means.

Big companies know that we now have a President who supports workers' rights and will sign the Employee Free choice Act if Congress sends it to his desk.

It is up to us to spread the word far and wide that our country needs the Employee Free Choice Act to recover from the economic crisis. The best stimulus to the economy is put money in workers' pockets so we can spend on what we need and want. Better wages for workers will benefit the whole country, even the health care company I work for.

So, if your boss starts telling you that union dues is expensive and unions take your personal freedom away, don't be fooled. Their credo is FOE - Facts, Opinions, Examples from the company point of view, of course! Know your rights and know your facts. If we as workers across this country stand up together we can go anything.

-- A Healthcare Worker in Connecticut