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Please join us for this month’s membership meeting. We’ll have updates on our Living Wage and Just Health Care campaigns. Our new intern, Wallace Mazon, will offer a short presentation on Medicaid Expansion in FL, and we’ll also hear a report-back from locals who attended the Democratic National Convention and People’s Summit in Philadelphia.

The meeting will start at 6:30pm but pizza and drinks will be available starting at 6pm. The meeting will be held at the Emmanuel Mennonite Church (1236 NW 18th Ave., Gainesville). Be sure to invite a friend!

HC human right

Please join the Alachua County Labor Coalition Tuesday, July 26th at 6:30 pm to listen to and ask questions of a panel of state and federal candidates running for elected office about their views of Health Care Issues, including single payer health care and Medicaid expansion in Florida.

 

Every year in July, the Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) joins organizations around the country to celebrate the birthday of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is the culmination of a decades-long debate about universal health coverage for all, and is the largest single program to improve national access to health coverage and services. Before its passage in 1965, 44% of those age 65 and older were uninsured.

 

The ACLC has advocated for a single-payer health care system for over 20 years, along with advocating for other working class issues such as a Living Wage for all. The ACLC has also been working with a coalition of over a hundred groups across Florida to expand Medicaid in Florida.

 

We have confirmations of attendance from Rod Smith, candidate for State Senate district 8; Marihelen Wheeler, candidate for FL House 21; Tom Wells, candidate Congressional District 3; and a representative from Alan Grayson’s campaign, U.S. Senate candidate. Other invited candidates include Ken McGurn, Keith Perry, and Congressman Ted Yoho.

 

Chad Hood, a doctor at the Gainesville VA and Health Care Liaison for the ACLC will moderate. Scott Darius, Advocacy Director of Florida Chain, a state-wide organization that promotes expanding Medicaid coverage in Florida, will also be at the forum to field questions.

 

Food and beverages will be served at 6pm at the Mennonite Church at 1236 NW 18th Ave. Panel follows at 6:30 PM, ending with a birthday cake for Medicare and Medicaid. For more information call 352-375-2832. Free and open to the public–please be sure to invite your friends! 

While the ACLC does not endorse candidates, we do poll them to learn where they stand on issues that are important to our members. In May we began sending out questions regarding the Living Wage and access to health care to candidates at the local and state level. Below are the responses that we’ve received thus far. Needless to say, this election cycle will be an extremely important one for our community, our state, and our nation. We strongly encourage Labor Coalition members to familiarize themselves with the various candidates for office and to get involved in their campaigns.

Tom Wells is the only candidate for federal office who has replied to our Candidate Questionnaire:

1. Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage? If so,what wage do you think this should be?

I agree with Bernie Sanders that the minimum wage should be increased to $15.  I argue that it should in fact be higher (e.g. consonant with productivity increases referenced to the 1960’s), that it should be increased post haste – not over a span of years, that it should apply to all workers (domestics, tipped wait staff, farm workers), and – once escalation to a just wage is accomplished – that it be indexed to CPI.  My father taught me that honest labor, in any capacity, deserved respect.  A living wage is the minimal measure of respect.  To those now making $15, or any wage in excess of the present minimum; be not dismayed. You have earned that.  And your wage justly should be increased in proportion.  If you were making 2 times the minimum, you should continue to do so – but this will never be a matter of law.  You have 2 choices:  You can ask your boss – it might happen.  You can organize & negotiate with your boss.  That’s called a union.  We are all members of a magnificent union: the United States.  We decide collectively what min wage honors the social contract – a process that has been abrogated as moneyed interests have for 35+ years corrupted Congress.

2. Do you support bringing the United States in line with nearly all of the rest of the industrialized world by replacing the Affordable Care Act with a publicly financed national health program, also known as “Medicare for All”?  Would you support legislation that would make health care affordable and accessible to all by joining the 62 other representatives that have signed on as co-sponsors to H.R. 676?

I have long espoused universal health care – health care as a human right; as has Bernie Sanders; as did the Democratic Party prior to the Clintons & I support any rational move in that direction.  Specifically I will support H.R. 676 until/unless I am convinced that a better option has been crafted.

It is my expectation that these 2 matters will yield dramatic bottom-up expansion of the economy, dramatically reduce poverty – and the welfare budget, and bring U.S. health care outcomes into line with the results of countries where these are givens.

While the ACLC does not endorse candidates, we do poll them to learn where they stand on issues that are important to our members. In May we began sending out questions regarding the Living Wage and access to health care to candidates at the local and state level. Below are the responses that we’ve received thus far. Needless to say, this election cycle will be an extremely important one for our community, our state, and our nation. We strongly encourage Labor Coalition members to familiarize themselves with the various candidates for office and to get involved in their campaigns.

 

The Alachua County School Board is another of our community’s largest employers, with many workers still making below a Living Wage. Here’s what our candidates for School Board had to say on this topic:

1. Do you support paying all Alachua County School Board workers a living wage? This includes part-time, full-time, instructional, ESP, temporary, and contracted workers.

*Juliun Kinsey: “Yes, anyone who is responsible for the safety and well-being of children deserves to be paid no less than a living wage. This issue is personal for me and will be a priority if I am elected. My mother is a paraprofessional currently earning $10.89 an hour. She has two other jobs to supplement the school board’s failure to offer a living wage.”

*Leanetta McNealy: “I would be in support of paying Alachua County School Board workers in a responsible way. We are currently working toward increasing our employees salaries which also includes one of the best benefit packages in the state which the Board pays an additional $3.00 per employee.”

*Eileen Roy: “Yes. The Alachua County School Board already pays all workers who work half-time or more benefits, including retirement and 100% of health care premium. For full-time employees, these benefits total $3.05/ hour and for half-time or more, they total even more—up to $5 hour.”

2. Do you support a phase-in over the next 5 years to increase the Alachua School Board’s minimum wage to 125% the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), currently at $14.60 an hour?

*Juliun Kinsey: “Yes, the total amount of the annual budget is more than $333 million. Surely the Alachua County School Board can (and should) phase-in this appropriate minimum wage increase.”

*Leanetta McNealy: “I would want to pursue our increases in a responsible way. The equity between job classifications such as ESP’s, instructional, and administrators, would create a significant impact on our budget. It would be wonderful to be able to do this, but given the significant financial impact to the District it would require a substantial increase in funding from the State.”

*Eileen Roy: “Yes, especially if one includes benefits.  The lowest paid  school board employee presently makes about $10.00/hr.  Benefits for full-time equal $3 more, so we should be able to reach this goal if benefits are counted.   It is always my goal.  Bear in mind that the School Board cannot raise our millage like the city or the county.  Our millage is set by the state, so we have limited control.”

 

While the ACLC does not endorse candidates, we do poll them to learn where they stand on issues that are important to our members. In May we began sending out questions regarding the Living Wage and access to health care to candidates at the local and state level. Below are the responses that we’ve received thus far. Needless to say, this election cycle will be an extremely important one for our community, our state, and our nation. We strongly encourage Labor Coalition members to familiarize themselves with the various candidates for office and to get involved in their campaigns.

 

We asked candidates for County Commission where they stand on our recent Living Wage victory and there was more or less consensus:

1. Do you support the 2016 Alachua County Minimum Wage Ordinance which set a standard wage for contracted employees?

*Mike Byerly: “I support it, and voted for it.”

*Chloe Goldbach: “Loopholes that allow contract employees of the county to paid less than minimum for county employees should not have existed in the first place so I therefore definitely support the minimum wage ordinance.”

*Captain Craig Herda: “I have yet to read the Ordinance, therefore I would not be able to comment at this time.”

*Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson: “YES, I encouraged the ordinance and voted for its passage. Furthermore, I am continuing to advocate for changes to compensation formulas that will reduce the widening gap between the top and bottom earners.”

*Kevin Thorpe: “ABSOLUTELY.”

2. Do you support paying all Alachua County Commission workers a living wage? This includes part-time, full-time, temporary, and contracted workers.

*Mike Byerly: “I support it, worked to weed out undermining exemptions, then voted for it.”

*Chloe Goldbach: “Yes, I do support paying all Alachua County Commission workers a living wage providing that this does not stop here and plans are put in place to eventually expand this towards paying living wages in the private sector as well. Everyone in the county should have access to a living wage.”

*Captain Craig Herda: “Yes, I do support paying workers for work done.  Everyone in this country needs to receive a “living wage”. However, I am also a proponent of Government representatives, if they already are financially secure, to serve their government without renumeration.  It should be a honor to perform your civic duty.”

*Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson: “YES, except for the very few exemptions which were made for valid reasons by the majority of the County Commission. We have a serious obstacle in raising all non-profit contractors to the Living Wage, but we must try.”

*Kevin Thorpe: “ABSOLUTELY.”

3. Do you support a phase-in to increase the County government’s minimum wage to 125% the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) by 2020, currently at $14.60 an hour?

*Mike Byerly: “I do support that goal, and will work towards it.”

*Chloe Goldbach: “Yes, I support this.”

*Captain Craig Herda: “Yes. We need to come in line with the Federal Guidelines for wages. And expanding on that, the wages need to be enough to sustain a living. But of course, no one should get “rich” off the government.”

*Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson: “YES, and the expensive part of this is not the cost of raising the lowest workers’ wages. Rather, it is dealing with the ripple effect of “wage compression” up the ranks.  Union leaders need to be part of the solution to this.”

*Kevin Thorpe: “ABSOLUTELY.”