Friday, October 30, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Avery Workers' Rights in 10 Year Battle

by Joelle Fishman

Reprinted from People's World daily on-line

Hartford, CT -- After a ten year battle, including a two and a half year strike, current and former nursing home workers at Avery Heights won a US Supreme Court ruling this week upholding the responsibility of the corporation to pay nearly $3.5 million in lost wages, interest and pensions. The ruling is being hailed by labor lawyers as precedent setting.

“We’ve waited a long time for justice,said Herman Davies, Jr., who has worked in the Avery Heights housekeeping department since 1991. Of course the money is important to us after all these years, but it’s even more important to see right win out over might.”

According to the NLRB’s estimate, Herman Davies’ share of that justice now comes to more than $75,000 in back pay and interest.

In November 1999, more than 180 members of District 1199 health care workers union went on strike against Church Homes, Inc., owner of Avery Heights, a 154-bed nursing home and affiliated assisted living facility with 500 residents.

During the strike, Church Homes secretly and illegally hired permanent replacement workers, deliberately concealing their intentions during contract negotiations. In response to charges filed by the union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Church Homes had “an independent unlawful motive in hiring” the permanent replacements and ordered that strikers be rehired with back pay.

Church Homes refused to comply, and the strike and picket lines continued for two and a half years. This was the longest strike in District 1199’s history. The labor action disrupted traffic at the busy intersection of New Britain and Newington Avenues, and drew national attention.

This week the sidewalks were filled again, as current and former Avery Heights workers gathered to announce their final legal victory. On October 13, 2009 the U. S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the NLRB decision that had twice been upheld in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Church Homes has already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to three Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who were found to be illegally fired during the strike. On April 27, 2007 the NLRB ordered the corporation to pay a total of $286,411 in back wages and interest, and to make $45,459 in pension contributions on their behalf. Checks were issued to the workers and to the union’s Pension Fund on June 15, 2007.

“We knew that if we persisted, we’d prevail,” said Carmen Boudier, president of New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199. “Justice is finally being done here but it took ten years to arrive – this country’s system of labor law is truly broken.”

The ruling underscores the significance of the labor movement's campaign to win labor law reform including the Employee Free Choice Act, which would protext workers' right to organize.

Labor law scholar Michael Wishnie, a professor at the Yale Law School, said “This decision has broad implications for national labor law. For years, employers have used their power to hire permanent replacements as an excuse to try to destroy unions. This decision means that when permanent replacements are hired as a pretext for union busting, they must be displaced by returning strikers, and that employers abuse this law at their real financial peril.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reaffirming School Integration

A national conference entitled "Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy" will take place at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC on November 13th, 2009.

The conference will bring together a wide range of government officials to converse with educators, parents, civil rights advocates and scholars who support racially and economically integrated K-12 public schools.

The conference participates will discuss:

* Current legal guidelines governing school integration

* The federal education budget and policies to promote K-12 school integration

* Using "Interdistrict" strategies to achieve integrated schools

* Programs linking housing opportunity to integrated schools

The cost of the conference is $ 50 General and $ 25 Students. Some scholarships are available for Hartford parents that include transportation and housing. Go to for more information. For general information about the conference see

Some of the sponsors include: NACCP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., The ACLU Racial Justice Program, Poverty & Race Research Action Council and Howard University School of Law Education Rights Center.

By Tom Connolly

Friday, October 23, 2009

Healthcare Advocates Turn Out for Obama and Dodd

Stamford, CT Oct 23, 2009 -- Healthcare, union and religious activists came together outside the Stamford Place Hilton Friday to welcome President Obama to Connecticut and rally in favor of a strong public option with no taxation of healthcare benefits. Obama was in Connecticut for a fundraiser for Senator Chris Dodd.

Across the street, Dump Dodd "teabaggers" carried signs demonizing President Obama and Senator Dodd, government healthcare and environmental protection.

In the traffic came many honks of support for healthcare reform, but the biggest cheers came from school buses with children pressed against the windows shouting, "Obama, Obama!"

The multi-racial healthcare reform supporters were a stark contrast to the all-white Dump Dodd crowd. Several families from Stamford who had never participated in a demonstration before came out to support the public option, joining with long time activists who had taken part in the national call-in day to Congress on October 20.

The Dump Dodd group has attempted to create hysteria in Connecticut by scapegoating Dodd for the Wall Street financial scandals. Seizing on this opportunity, the national Republican Party has named Dodd their number one target in 2010 in their attempt to re-take the Senate majority.

Dodd, with a lifetime pro-worker voting record over 90% has the strong support of organized labor. Picking up from where Sen. Kennedy left off, Dodd has the lead in committee negotiations on healthcare, and has pledged to stand firm for inclusion of a public option.

-- Joelle Fishman

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parents protest to improve Spanish Language Translation in Schools

by Claudia Bosch and Megan Fountain

New Haven, Wednesday October 14 – The grassroots parent organization Teach Our Children (TOC) rallied at the Board of Education yesterday to protest the lack of translators at mandatory parent orientations. The New Haven Superintendent Dr. Reginald Mayo promised TOC in a meeting on August 5, 2009, that he would provide Spanish translators at parent orientations in every school, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year. The promise was not kept. At least nine schools had no translator at the orientation, according to a preliminary survey conducted by TOC.

Twenty parents, members of TOC, rallied outside the Board of Education with their children and community supporters, chanting “Tear down the wall, Translate for all!” and “Dr. Mayo don’t wait, Educate, Translate!” In order to demonstrate that parents were being left out, TOC entered the Board of Education public meeting with tape over their mouths.

Alberto Nieves, a TOC parent who was at the meeting with Dr. Mayo, testified to the Board of Education about his experience attending the parent orientation at his daughter’s school. “I was disappointed,” said Nieves. “Dr. Mayo had promised a translator, but there was none. The principal passed out a manual with basic information about school policies. It was in English only.” At Bishop Woods 17.3 % of students come from Spanish-speaking households.

Lack of translators should concern all parents, according to Claudia Bosch, a parent leader of TOC. “26% of New Haven students come from Spanish-speaking households,” said Bosch. “Thousands of children are missing out on educational opportunities, because their parents are not in communication with the school. How can New Haven become the best urban district in the nation if a quarter of the parents are being excluded by not providing necessary translation?”

“It’s unfortunate that we have to protest to make our voices heard, but we have tried all other channels,” says TOC parent Nilda Aponte, an organizer of the protest. In August the group was promised translation of the NHPS web page, which has been fulfilled, and translators at the orientations, which has not. Just before the demonstration the Superintendent scheduled another meeting with the group on October 19.

Eduquemos a Nuestros Hijos, una organización de base popular de padres de New Haven, Connecticut, se manifiesta al superintendente Reginald Mayo que mejore los servicios de traducción para padres hispanohablantes.

por Claudia Bosch and Megan Fountain

Jueves 14 de Octubre de 2009. New Haven. Eduquemos a Nuestros Hijos (TOC, por sus siglas en inglés) se presentó ayer ante la Junta de Educación para protestar por la falta de traductores en las reuniones orientativas obligatorias para padres. El Dr. Reginald Mayo, superintendente de New Haven, prometió a TOC en una reunión el 5 de agosto de 2009 que proveería traductores de español para las orientaciones de padres en cada escuela, empezando el curso 2009-2010. Esa promesa no se cumplió. Al menos nueve escuelas no tuvieron traductores en la orientación, según una encuesta preliminar realizada por TOC.

34 padres miembros de TOC y sus hijos se presentaron en la Junta, y 12 aliados de la comunidad les acompañaron. Para poner de manifiesto de modo visual el problema de la falta de comunicación, TOC entró a la Junta de Educación con la boca tapada.

Alberto Nieves, un padre líder de TOC que estuvo en la reunión con el Dr. Mayo, asistió a la orientación sin traducción de la escuela Bishop Woods. “Me siento defraudado”, dice Nieves, “El Dr. Mayo prometió un traductor, pero no hubo ninguno. El director de la escuela distribuyó un manual con información básica sobre la normativa de la escuela. Era sólo en inglés”. En la escuela Bishop Woods, el 17,3% de los estudiantes proviene de hogares hispanohablantes.

La falta de traductores debería preocupar a todos los padres, según Claudia Bosch, una madre líder de TOC. “El 26,2% de los estudiantes de New Haven proviene de hogares hispanohablantes”, dijo Bosch. “Miles de niños están perdiendo oportunidades educativas, porque sus padres no pueden comunicarse con la escuela. ¿Cómo va a convertirse New Haven en el mejor distrito urbano de la nación, si una cuarta parte de los padres está siendo excluida por no proporcionar la traducción necesaria?

Nieves, que también es hispanohablante y asiste a todos las reuniones de padres, está de acuerdo. “Cuando contemplo la diferencia de logros académicos que existe entre los estudiantes hispanos y no hispanos de New Haven, me enojo, porque nuestras escuelas pueden hacerlo mejor”, dice Nieves. “Hay muchos padres como yo, que quieren participar, que quieren informarse por sí mismos, y que quieren la mejor educación para sus hijos. Si hubiera traductores, todo el mundo saldría beneficiado”

“Es desafortunado que tengamos que protestar para hacer que se oigan nuestras voces, pero ya intentamos todas las otras vías”, dice Nilda Aponte, Líder de TOC. Los padres de TOC hablaron con varios administradores sobre la falta de traductores.

En Octubre de 2008, TOC convocó una reunión con 44 miembros de la comunicad, incluyendo a padres, curas y concejales, quienes urgieron al Dr. Carlos Torre, presidente actual de la Junta de Educación, a que se ocupara de la falta de servicios de traducción. “Todos nos dijeron que debíamos hablar con el superintendente”, dice Aponte, “de modo que, después de llamar su atención sobre el tema por casi un año, por fin obtuvimos una reunión con el superintendente en agosto de 2009. Le propusimos seis modos de mejorar el acceso a los padres hispanohablantes. Él nos prometió dos cosas: la traducción al español de la página web del NHPS, que sí se cumplió, y la presencia de traductores en las orientaciones, que no se llevó a cabo.”

La lista de propuestas mejoras también incluye la traducción al español de todos los documentos y boletines escolares, especialmente los que requieren la firma del padre; la traducción al español en las reuniones públicas de la Junta de Educación; la disponabilidad de interpretes en el sistema escolares y en cada escuela; y una guía telefónica de los interpretes que trabajen para el sistema escolar para que los padres puedan hacer citas con ellos.

TOC tiene la intención de continuar el diálogo con el Superintendente. Aponte explica, “Durante nuestra reunión el 5 de agosto, Dr. Mayo se prometió considerar las demás propuestas nuestras, desarollar un plan detallado, y reunirse otra vez con nosotros. Ayer nos dejó saber por correo electrónico que estaba disponible para reunirse con nosotros el lunes 19 de octubre. Estamos ansiosos por la implementación de nuestras propuestas. Continuaremos insistiendo en estos cambios hasta que todos los niños tengan igualdad de oportunidades en New Haven.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Take Action for Health Care NOW

From Healthcare4every1

he U.S. Senate will soon vote on a national health care reform bill.

Senator Joe Lieberman needs to hear from Connecticut residents NOW. He does not support inclusion of a strong public health insurance option in the Senate's health care reform bill.

A public health insurance option is a cornerstone of strong health care reform.

Strong national health care reform will boost bold state reform - such as Connecticut's SustiNet, which will provide a quality, affordable public health insurance choice.

Tell Senator Lieberman that we need his support for national health care reform that includes a strong public health insurance option.

Help make sure everyone has health care they can count on.

Please call Senator Lieberman today - toll free at: 1-877-264-4226.

Thank you!

Lynne Ide
healthcare4every1 Campaign Manager

From Health Care for America NOW!

It's a crime that insurance companies rack up profits by denying patients treatment even when doctors recommend it, by discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and by keeping premiums and out of pocket costs high so that care is unaffordable even for those who have insurance. Enough is enough!

Anti-care. Join us to thank Anthem CEO Larry Glasscock. Friday, Oct 16 - National Boss Day

Criminal. Expose the truth about CIGNA. Thursday, Oct 22.

Trick or Treat. Thursday, Oct 29. Halloween event at health insurance executives' homes

Info: 860-995-3389 or

From Organizing for America

Good afternoon,

Health care bills will start to merge soon so we must let Congress know now how strongly we feel about the need for meaningful health insurance reform. Please help by participating in any of the following events some time in the next ten days:

Tuesday, October 13 6-8pm

Phone Bank for Health Care in Trumbull with Special Guest State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo

Thursday October 15 6-8pm

Weekly Phone Bank for Health Care at Blue State Coffee in New Haven

Saturday, October 17 9am-12noon

Camp OFA Training in Messaging, Phone Banking and Canvassing at OFA HQ in Hartford

Saturday, October 17 12:30 - 4:30

Phone Bank for Health Care at OFA HQ in Hartford

Tuesday October 20 6-8pm

Phone Bank for Health Care at OFA HQ in Hartford

If you have any questions or would like to get involved in any other way, please let me know.

Thanks so much for all of your efforts - past, present and future!


Jen Just

Connecticut State Director

Organizing for America

Phone: (203) 824-9775

Thursday, October 8, 2009

United Health Group Insurance Company - Decleared a Crime Scene

Photo Above: Renae Reese lies "dead" at the crime scene in front of United Health Group insurance company to symbolize the over 44,000 people who die each year because they lack health insurance. [Click on photo for full screen]

The United Health Group insurance company, located at 450 Columbus Ave, in Hartford, was declared a crime scene today by Connecticut Health Care for America Now coalition made up of labor, community and faith-based organizations.

Photos Above: The Connecticut Health care for America Now coalition crime technicians taped off the United Health Group's building and entrance to declare it a crime scene.

The criminal actions of UnitedHealth Group is a matter of public record and includes:

* Its President/CEO has been allowed to accumulate over $1.6 billion in stock options.

* Its former CEO William McGire, resigned under scrutiny by government investigators and the US Senate and was given a multi-million dollar severance package.

* It has allowed its outside Board of Director members to cash in more than $160 million in stock options.

* It paid a record $ 7 million fine to the Securities Exchange Commission.

* It has a long history of securties fraud.

*It is a for-profit company that puts profits before health care.

ENOUGH!! It is past time for a public option and it is past time to take profit out of our health care system. How many more people have to die before Congress passes health insurance reform? Call your congress person now and demand health care reform and a public option! 1 (800) 603-7348.

Photo above: John Olson, President of the CT. AFL-CIO rallies the crowd to push for health care reform and a public option.

Other photos of the action below:

By Tom Connolly

Rep Courtney leads House members to oppose tax on health benefits

Reprinted from Peoples World daily on-line

by Joelle Fishman
October 8 2009

Congressman Joe Courtney (D) from Connecticut's 2nd CD, announced today that 156 House members have signed a letter he initiated urging Speak of the House Nancy Pelosi to reject any excise tax on high-cost health care benefit plans. The letter, signed by more than 60 percent ofthe House Democratic Caucus, was delivered to the Speaker on Wednesday.

Rep. Courtney and the 156 cosigners express their opposition to the Senate Finance Committee's proposal to place a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health care benefit plans, which the House members believe would be passed along by the insurers to working families and individuals. The letter was written in response to concerns voiced by labor and health care organizations in his district.

The letter was written in response to concerns voiced by labor and health participants in the annual luncheon of the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans (CT ARA) today cheered upon hearing that the letter had been submitted with 156 signatures gathered in a couple of days time.

The ARA activists went home to call Senator Joe Lieberman with the message that health care reform must include a public option, no taxes on benefits, and required employer participation.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A SustiNet Victory Party

The SustiNet bill was passed by the Connecticut state legislature after a veto by Governor Rell, a Republican. The legislation creates the framework for a public health insurance option that has the potential to provide health care for everyone in Connecticut and is being called a national model.

[Photos above: Click on screen for full view. Pictures of the SustiNet Victory Party]

At a recent victory party hundreds of activist from around the state gathered in downtown Hartford to celebrated the SustiNet legislative victory. The coalition of labor, community, small business and faith based organizations fought the insurance industry, the Republican Governor, much of he Republican party and won! To top it off, the victory took place in Hartford, the insurance capitol of the world. Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, thanked all parts of the coalition and said, "If we can get it done in the backyard of the insurance industry, we can finish the job together as a country."

There is an eleven member SustiNet board of directors that will report to the General Assembly in July of 2010 to outline an action program to provide health care for everyone in Connecticut. Enrollment in the program will begin in July 2012. If federal health care legislation is passed the Board of SustiNet will submit its recommendations to the General Assembly within 60 days. Go to for further information.

By Tom Connolly

Friday, October 2, 2009

90th Anniversary Reception and Greeting Book, December 6, 2009

Keep the Ball Rolling. . . . .
to win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!

Reception and Greeting Book, December 6. 2009

We are delighted to announce the recipients of this year's Amistad Awards which will be presented by the People's Weekly World on Sunday, December 6 at our annual anniversary reception, "Keep the Ball win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!" at 4 pm at the Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven.

The historic election of 2008 presents a great challenge and opportunity to organize bigger, broader and wider than ever to achieve basic needs for working people. While right-wing demagogues depend on bigotry and fear, the hope and unity of labor and people's organizations are key to bring our country out of crisis. We celebrate the contributions and example of three grassroots leaders who are mobilizing for social change.

Art Perry inspires workers to stick together, organize and stand up for their rights on a daily basis as political director of SEIU 32 BJ Justice for Janitors, having started out as a rank and file worker himself with a vision for a better world

Anna Montalvo is in the forefront of the ongoing battle of municipal and private sector workers to save jobs and services and raise living standards, through member mobilization, community involvement and political activism as president of AFSCME Local 1522

Gwen Mills is devoted to building community labor alliances at the local level to win a grassroots community agenda, as political field director of UNITE HERE in Connecticut and Rhode Island..

We invite you to renew your participation in our annual greeting book to recognize the recipients and honor those who have gone before. The deadline is November 20, 2009. Please return the clip-off below.

The reception is hosted by the People's Weekly World in Connecticut on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Enclosed is $_________ for a message in the 90th Anniversary Greeting Book
Centerspread $350 / full page $125 / half page $65 / Quarter page $35 / Name $10

Enclosed is $__________ for tickets at $10 each

Name____________________________Phone / e-mail____________________________________________________l

Street Address________________________________________City / State / Zip______________________________
Please return by November 20, 2009. Checks payable to People's Weekly World.
37 Howe St, New Haven CT 06511 e-mail: Phone: 203-624-8664