Monday, August 31, 2009

Labor Day Picnic

AFSCME Local 965 will be hosting our Labor Day Picnic on Saturday, September 5th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the UA Agri Park (Garland Ave ) 1/2 south of I-540). Bring your family and friends from work. Fun, games, and free food. Hamburgers and hot dogs should be ready by 11:00.

We are also extending an invitation and warm welcome to the Northwest Arkansas Labor Council and the families of member unions. Please join us for a celebration of working families and the dignity of labor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

The 1.6 million members of AFSCME join Americans of all walks of life in mourning the loss of our closest ally and most steadfast friend in the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy. During Senator Kennedy’s nearly 47 years as a servant of the entire nation, the labor movement developed an especially close relationship with him, and AFSCME was proud to stand with him in every political effort he made. We stood by his side when he ran against Jimmy Carter because Ted Kennedy was such a great champion for working people and families.

Senator Kennedy called health care reform the cause of his life, first advocating for national health care in 1966. He made a surprise return to the Senate last summer to cast the decisive vote for the Democrats on a Medicare bill. In his memory, we must continue to do all we can to realize his goal of health care reform.

Beyond what he achieved on the national stage, Ted Kennedy was an empathetic and caring man. He stayed in contact with families who lost loved ones on 9/11 and remained in touch long after the cameras were gone. The tragedies he experienced made him especially compassionate when others endured their own hardships.

For me this loss is particularly difficult. He was not just an ally, but a dear friend. But while Senator Kennedy will no longer raise his voice on our behalf, we will forever remember what he gave all of us: his life, his passion, his commitment to a more fair and equitable nation. In remembrance of him, let us all keep fighting for the causes he championed so willingly and so well, and rededicate ourselves to winning national health care reform.

- AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee on the Death of Senator Kennedy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Contrast to Mob Mentality

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a report last week on our Highway to Health Care event in front of the state Capitol in Little Rock — and the importance of Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s support of a public option. In the article, “Union backs public health-care plan during rally” (subscription-only), AFSCME’s Blaine Rummel pointed out that Lincoln has said she’s open to it.

He continued:

“If we allow [government] to compete with private insurance companies, it’s going to force private insurance companies to lower premiums,” Rummel said.

He said Obama’s plan will ensure that people keep coverage when they change jobs.

Sen. Lincoln sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which is playing a key role in shaping health care legislation. She has said she believes individuals should be given choices when it comes to health insurance. In a July guest column in the Democrat-Gazette, Lincoln said “Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals of a public plan.”

Rummel said the association wanted to provide a contrast to the “mob mentality” of protesters during recent public forums. Its literature has a rock ‘n’ roll theme.

There was no mob in Little Rock, as you can see in this photo — just a group of ordinary Americans who want to make their voices heard as we fight for real health insurance reform.

Little Rock residents were excited about reform at the Highway to Healthcare event on Monday evening. Find more on Flickr.

Monday, August 17, 2009

For a strong public plan option

A quality public health insurance option is a crucial part of health care reform to keep private insurance companies honest, hold down costs and ensure that everybody has a health care choice available. Key to holding down costs for families, for businesses, and for the federal budget is forcing insurance companies to compete. And the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies is a strong public plan option.

Unfortunately, the usual suspects opposed to reform are trying to hijack the reform process and attacking the public health insurance plan option because they are afraid of competition and they want to keep gouging working families. But unless we take decisive steps to stop the crippling rise of health costs, we will have squandered this moment of opportunity.

We will continue to relay that message forcefully to the Senate and the White House.

John Sweeney

Thursday, August 13, 2009

“Highway to Health Care Reform” Tour

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Highway To Health Care GraphicI'm Blaine Rummel, I work at AFSCME in Washington, DC, — and my most important work is health care reform. That's why this month, I won’t be in Washington. I'll be on the road for reform. Starting in North Dakota this Wednesday, AFSCME is taking the fight on the road with our Highway to Health Care Reform Tour; want to come along?

Highway to Health Care Rallies

Monday, August 17
Fayetteville, AR
10:30 AM, Fayetteville Square

Monday, August 17
Little Rock, AR
Barbecue and Concert
6:00 PM, Arkansas State Capital

Tuesday, August 18
Little Rock, AR
10:30 AM, Arkansas State Capital
Let me explain: Congress is on recess this month — but we're not. Health care isn't working for America’s middle class. It's too expensive and too uncertain — and it's crippling our nation's economy. That's why we've rented an RV and converted it into a mobile action center for a month-long road trip of our own. We'll crisscross the country — drive right through Arkansas where the most important votes are — to keep the pressure on Congress to fix health care and to do it now.

That's right. AFSCME is on the Highway to Health Care Reform.

Okay, so Karl, a great intern at AFSCME headquarters, and I are not exactly rock stars playing at arena shows. But believe me, we’re going to rock. We have to, and I hope you'll be right there with us when we deliver the loudest, strongest, message possible — from Bismarck, North Dakota to Bangor, Maine.

Join us. Please consider coming to our one-of-a-kind event in Arkansas and put yourself on our special Highway to Health Care Reform road map. Add your voice to the chorus of people telling Congress that real health care reform just can't wait.

We're closer to real reform than we've ever been — thanks for everything that you've done to help us get this far. We can't allow Congress's recess to slow us down.

Please join our Highway to Health Care Tour by sending a letter to Congress today and adding your name to our map: You can also download a special Highway to Health Care Reform poster.

Thanks for your continued pressure on Congress — summer vacation or not. I'll be sure to keep you updated with stories and other easy things you can do to help us pass real reform during the tour. Check back on the Highway to Health Care Reform website for regular tour updates, pictures and more.

Blaine Rummel
AFSCME Legislation Department