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Stop The Uberisation Of Royal Mail

This morning, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) leadership met with Royal Mail Group’s senior management. We hoped this meeting would begin resolving the ongoing industrial strife that has seen hundreds of thousands of employees take strike action against degrading real-terms pay cuts and the deterioration of workplace conditions. However, they had other ideas. While we waited, managers began being briefed across the country about new plans for the ‘modernisation’ of the company. One of the company’s CEOs, Simon Thompson, handed us two letters.

Detroiters Say ‘Hell No!’ To DTE’s Proposed Electricity Rate Hike

Detroit, Michigan - Recurring power outages have become a fact of life in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. The most recent mass outage left hundreds of thousands in Metro Detroit without power following a brief windstorm on August 29th. Four days on, tens of thousands were still unable to run their medical devices and prevent their food from spoiling. With outages becoming more severe and more frequent as the climate crisis worsens, profit-driven utilities want to take more out of the pockets of working people struggling to afford their unreliable energy service. Even before the most recent outages, the frustration in Detroit and surrounding areas was palpable. On Monday, August 22, hundreds demonstrated and turned out to a public hearing held by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to denounce DTE’s latest exorbitant electricity rate hike amid soaring inflation and perennial outages.

Protest Demands Biden Administration Terminate Medicare Privatization

Seattle, Washington - Approximately 75 spirited protesters celebrated the 57th anniversary of the enactment of Medicare here on Friday, July 29, with a picket line and rally outside the Columbia Center chanting, “Whose Medicare? Our Medicare!” and “Medicare is not for profit! Keep your corporate hands off it!” The Columbia Center is where the Northwest Regional Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Ingrid Ulrey, has offices, along with other staff of HHS, including the Division Director of the Center for Medicare Services (CMS). The protesters demanded that President Joe Biden and Congress terminate ACO REACH, which stands for Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health. It’s an impressive sounding name, but it amounts to letting a profit-seeking third party like an insurance company or private equity-backed firm step in and get paid by Medicare to manage the care patients receive.

US Labor Fights Back Against Amazon’s Expansion Into Healthcare

On July 21, Amazon announced that the corporation would buy One Medical, a national chain of healthcare clinics and services based in San Francisco, for $3.9 million. In response, unions and labor organizations marched in San Francisco’s Financial District against the deal on July 26. The march was attended by the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union (ALU), with ALU president Chris Smalls leading chants at the helm of the protest, as well as the California Labor Federation, San Francisco Labor Council, ALU, California Nurses Association, Teamsters Local 665, and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). “We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services, in a July 21 statement.

The Sickness Of Our Healthcare System Is Rooted In American Exceptionalism

July 30 will be the 57th anniversary of the passage of Medicare, widely celebrated as Medicare's birthday. People are taking action across the country this week in support of a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system culminating in a national march and rally in Washington, DC on Saturday (find info at Clearing the FOG speaks with Dr. Ana Malinow, a leader of the group National Single Payer, about the growing privatization and corporatization of the US healthcare system and how people are organizing to fight back and win a system in which everyone in the US will have the care they need without fear of financial ruin. She also discusses how American Exceptionalism is an obstacle to changing the system.

Amazon Joins The Medicare Privatization Spree

Amazon, the $1.25 trillion company founded and led by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, has announced that it is acquiring One Medical, a private equity-backed primary care provider that generates over half of its revenue from Medicare. While Amazon’s profits from its core consumer retail business are dwindling, in part because of heightened competition from brick-and-mortar retailers that were shut down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporation’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, continues to enjoy robust profits thanks in part to generous government contracts. Now Amazon could be attempting to build on that federal largesse by seeking to milk revenue from Medicare, the national health insurance program for seniors and people with disabilities.

‘Value-Based Care’ Is A Pretext For Privatization

Later this month, right before Medicare’s 57th birthday on July 30, corporate health care and the government players who facilitate their lucrative businesses, will gather for a summit on value-based care.   They will speak of driving health equity, of reaching underserved communities, of coordination of care, and accountable care.  They will insist that physicians share in risk just like insurance companies.  They will advocate the transformation of health care to value-based care, supposedly founded on payment for quality rather than quantity, value instead of volume, and outcomes not fee-for-service.  They will assert that this transformation brings equity, improves care, and saves money. They have no evidence to back up their assertions. 

Puerto Rico: Major Protest Over Energy Privatization

Hundreds of people marched on Wednesday in Puerto Rico's capital San Juan to demand that the island's government cancel its contract with power grid operator LUMA Energy over chronic power outages and frequent rate hikes. Demonstrators including union leaders and community activists say LUMA has steadily increased power rates despite frequent outages including one in April that left more than one- third of the island in darkness. read more Protestors shouted slogans including "There goes LUMA, there goes LUMA with another increase" and "LUMA, a bunch of morons who burn substations." Power rates have gone up five times since LUMA began operating Puerto Rico's transmission and distribution system on June 1, 2020. The last rate hike, which took effect at the start of July, pushed rates up by 17.1%.

Privatizing Medicare

Capping five decades of battle by the labor movement for federal healthcare for elders, Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. Funded by payroll taxes under Social Security, the new program provided comprehensive, low-cost care for retirees and the disabled. Medicare was part of the largest government domestic expansion since the depression-era New Deal. Shaken by civil rights protests, labor strikes and student anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, politicians responded with some valuable reforms. Medicare joined the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, federal aid for education and housing, Head Start programs and food stamp allotments as victories of the Civil Rights era. Medicare proved wildly popular. Most of organized labor and virtually all organizations of seniors supported it. Adults no longer faced bankruptcy paying for medical care.

A Veterans Health Commission Dies An Early Death

When Joe Biden ran for president in 2020, he marketed himself as a pragmatist, eager to collaborate with Republicans and capable of bridging divides because of his long experience in the Senate and as vice president. Despite this résumé, in late June Biden was rebuked by Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle. They came together, unexpectedly, to block his nominations to a presidential commission that no one at the White House or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) thought would be that controversial.

NYC Teachers Criticize Massive School Budget Cuts

At the end of the school year, Annie Tan, a special education elementary school teacher in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, New York, said teachers typically have a party. This year, however, that celebration was mired by the loss of 16 teachers from her school who are being excessed (ie, moved to different schools and positions) as a result of massive public education budget cuts that are being enacted by the New York City Board of Education and Mayor Eric Adams’ administration.  The loss of those teachers, and the resulting vacancies that will remain unfilled, means that Tan’s students will continue to not have an art program, and dual-language programs will be limited for students who are still learning English. 

Senate Urged To Block Biden’s Pro-Privatization Nominee For Social Security Board

Defenders of Social Security on Tuesday urged the U.S. Senate to block President Joe Biden's little-noticed nomination of Andrew Biggs—an American Enterprise Institute senior fellow with a history of supporting Social Security privatization—to serve on the independent and bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. Social Security Works, a progressive advocacy group, is leading the charge against Biggs, highlighting his role in the George W. Bush administration's failed attempt to privatize the New Deal program in 2005.

Valedictorian Rips Into Erosion Of Public Education In Graduation Speech

Los Angeles, CA - On June 6, Axel Brito, Hollywood High School Class of 2022 valedictorian, gave a powerful speech during his senior graduation ceremony at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. His speech is an indictment of the entrenched corruption within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at the expense of quality education and services for students and the working conditions of teachers and school workers. Video footage of Axel’s speech has gone viral on social media, having been viewed over 2.6 million times on TikTok, over 24,000 times on YouTube and over 11,000 times on Instagram.

Machinists’ Retirees 751 Resolve To End ACO REACH

On June 13th the International Association of Machinists IAM 751 Retirement Club voted overwhelmingly to end the privatization of Medicare and to send their resolution to their congressional delegation, to President Biden, and to Secretary Xavier Becerra at Health and Human Services. Machinists’ District 751 represents 27,000 members who work at Boeing and some smaller shops across the state of Washington.  It is one of the largest organizations within the IAM. The privatization scheme the 751 Retirement Club opposes is ACO REACH, formerly called direct contracting entities (DCE).  It is a pilot program in which seniors who chose traditional Medicare are placed, without their consent, into plans that are run by insurance companies, private equity, and venture capitalists who can take as high as 40% in overhead and profit from the Medicare program.

25 Issues Of Increasing And Serious Concern In India

There is increasing worry that in some areas of critical importance the situation in India has been deteriorating steadily during the last eight years or so. As India is home to about 18 per cent of people in the world, this is clearly a matter of urgent concern. Hence a review of these disturbing trends is urgently needed with a view to suggesting suitable remedial actions for checking this deterioration. Inequalities have been increasing recently to record levels. According to the World Inequality Report, after years of significant reduction of inequalities in the post-independence period, inequalities are coming back to their colonial levels in recent times. This report tells us that the bottom 50% have only 6% of the wealth, while the top 1% have 33% of the wealth. The bottom 50% have only 13% of the income, while the top 1% have 22% of the income.
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