In Defense of the ACA

By Bethany Swanson
USW Intern

Everyone deserves affordable health care, and being sick should not disqualify a person from getting insurance. Most Americans agree that health care is a fundamental right, but that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from attacking protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

This month, the Justice Department announced it would not defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against a lawsuit brought by 20 state attorneys general. The lawsuit claims that Congress’s repeal of the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance renders the rest of the law unconstitutional. The Justice Department argued that because Congress eliminated the ACA’s individual mandate as of 2019, the court should strike down the ACA directive that insurers cover everyone who seeks insurance and charge everyone the same rate, whether or not they have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma and cancer.

If the 20 red states and the Justice Department prevail, nearly 17 million people could lose their insurance.

The ACA stopped the common insurance practice of  rejecting applicants who were ill or had pre-existing conditions. And the ACA’s community rating provision forbid insurers from raising premiums based on a person's health history. One of the major victories of the ACA was incorporating these provisions and guaranteeing that those with pre-existing conditions could obtain and afford health insurance. Because Republicans failed to repeal the law outright, they’re now picking away at what makes it work, even its most popular and important aspects like the provisions protecting people with common health conditions.

Americans should not live in fear or face bankruptcy because they fall ill. Instead of undermining Obamacare, Congressional Republicans must work with Democrats on a bipartisan solution to protect coverage and lower health care costs for all Americans. 

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!