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Wisconsin Lawmakers Pass Right-To-Work Bill As Thousands Protest

The Huffington Post reported today that, despite wide protests, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin State Senate fast-tracked a bill that would make the state the 25th "right-to-work" state in the U.S.. Gov. Scott Walker, a vocal opponent of labor, has promised to sign the bill if it passed.

This is not only a sad day for the working people of Wisconsin, but a blow to organized labor across the country, as now one half of our nation's fifty states have drank the Kool-Aid that is "right-to-work."

This comment from "Sevenninetyeight Member" says it all:

"I've worked both Union and non Union as a pipefitter and welder. Working non Union, my wages varied from $12 to $15 per hour. I had to furnish all small hand tools, welding hood, gloves, safety glasses and hard had. I had to pay a weekly premium for my health insurance. My last non Union welding job consisted of 50 hours a week in a fabrication shop. After taxes, my take home was $432 a week. 

Working as a Union pipe fitter, I furnish no tools, no hard hat, not safety glasses, and pay no weekly premiums out of my negotiated wage. My wages average, depending on state, between $25 and $30 per hour. My average take home is around $800. 

As a non Union employee, if any tool is lost, stolen or broken, I had to replace it out of pocket. 

As a Union employee, the company furnishes. 

These companies are saving more than just hourly wages. They are passing along tool costs and insurance cost to workers.

In the end, the worker loses. 

Good luck, Wisconsin."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/wisconsin-right-to-work-bill_n_6752750.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

 

Network Blues: Big Bills Surprise Some E.R. Patients

By Carrie Feibel, Houston Public Media November 11, 2014

“In-network” and “out-of-network” – for people with health insurance, those words mean one thing: money. If you don’t want to get charged extra, you get your treatment done in-network. It sounds straightforward, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, even when patients think they’re playing by the rules.

Jeffrey Craig Hopper, a probate attorney in Austin, Texas, knows all about following the rules. Still, accidents happen. Last June he was coaching a Little League practice session when an errant baseball smashed into his face.

His wife Jennifer Hopper remembers rushing to the field.

“His eye was swollen shut enough that we weren’t sure if he could see,” she said.

Even in that moment of panic, Jennifer made absolutely sure to drive him to a hospital in Austin that was part of their insurance network.

In the end, Jeffrey was okay. He broke some facial bones around his eye, but they healed and his vision was fine. The family settled the co-payments for the emergency room but was surprised when they later received a separate bill for more than $700 from the emergency department doctor.

No other consumer services are sold to us this way,” she said. “It would be like going into a restaurant, and ordering a meal and then getting a bill from the waiter, and from the restaurant separately, and the cook separately and the busboy separately. And some of them will negotiate with you on the price, and some of them will accept coupons, and the others don’t.

“It felt kind of random,” Jennifer said. “How do I know who’s going to charge me, and who’s not going to? So that was the first question.”

Like many patients, the Hoppers assumed that doctors working at an in-network hospital would, of course, be “in network.”

As it turns out, that’s not necessarily true. Emergency room doctors, radiologists and anesthesiologists often don’t work for the hospital. They work for themselves, often in large practice groups, and it’s up to the doctors to sign their own deals with insurance companies.

Many of them don’t. In those situations, the doctors can bill the patient for whatever the insurance company wouldn’t cover  because the care took place outside of the approved network, a practice known as balance billing.

“I couldn’t let that go, it just felt wrong,” Jennifer said. “Because there was no way out. There was obviously no way we could have avoided the situation, given our emergency.”

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning Austin think tank, recently analyzed ER billing by the three biggest insurers in Texas – Humana, Blue Cross and United.

Its report found that in over half of Humana’s Texas hospitals, none of the ER doctors was actually in Humana’s network. For United, this occurred at just under half of the hospitals and for Blue Cross, at about a fifth.

The report’s author, Stacey Pogue, said balance billing is unfair to patients.

“No other consumer services are sold to us this way,” she said. “It would be like going into a restaurant, and ordering a meal and then getting a bill from the waiter, and from the restaurant separately, and the cook separately and the busboy separately. And some of them will negotiate with you on the price, and some of them will accept coupons, and the others don’t.”

The Texas insurance industry has said it would like ER doctors to join their networks, but it can’t force them to.

The ER doctors counter that insurance companies often don’t pay them enough when they join networks.

The economics of ERs are complex, explained Dr. Bruce Moskow, president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians.

“In an emergency department, we see everyone and we’re not even legally allowed to ask if they’re going to pay their bill,” Moskow said. “Large numbers of people pay nothing.”

There is a mediation process in Texas for some of these out-of-network bills, but it’s only for certain types of insurance and certain situations.

Some states have tried to tackle the problem in different ways. In California, ER doctors can’t send a separate bill to HMO patients. In New York, a newly-passed law requires out-of-network doctors and insurers to hash out payment on their own, and leave patients out of it.

Texas insurers have indicated they’d be receptive to more changes, such as expanding the mediation process. It’s currently restricted to balance bills over $1,000 and certain types of PPOs.

“Just get the consumer out of it,” said Jamie Dudensing, the CEO of The Texas Association of Health Plans. “If you just leave it between the health plan and the physician, the consumer’s not dealing with this issue. Let us work this out through the private market.”

Jennifer Hopper said she spent weeks appealing the physician’s bill, going back and forth between the doctor and the insurance carrier. Eventually she filed a complaint with state regulators. After that, her insurer ended up paying part of the physician’s bill.

People are typically advised to do their “homework” ahead of time and know who’s in their network and who isn’t. But Pogue said that isn’t always possible, especially in an emergency.

“If you’re wheeled into the emergency room door, you can’t ask the emergency room physician who runs up to stabilize you ‘Are you in network or out-of-network?’” she said. “That physician needs to be concentrating at that point on giving you life-saving care, not rattling off the list of insurance companies that he or she contracts with.”

Hopper has tried to do her homework by figuring out where to go for a possible future ER visit. Online, she searched her health plan to find ER doctors who were in-network. But she found less than five at the hospitals her plan used in Austin. She doubts the odds of getting those doctors the next time she or a family member needs care.

“So the reality is, all the transparency in the world doesn’t change the fact that knowing everything, I could not be sure I would get a different outcome,” she said.

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes Houston Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/network-blues-big-bills-surprise-some-e-r-patients/

 

HP Employee Purchase Program

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With the holidays approaching, we'd like to remind our members about the HP Employee Purchase Program available to all u-Benefit participants. HP Inc is a leading provider of personal computing, printing, and networking products, including:

Visit the HP page in our u-Benefit section for more information on how to access these discounts.

NEW Health and Fitness U-Benefit from GlobalFit!

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Great Options, Big Savings

Groundbreaking when established in 1992, GlobalFit’s Gym Network is now the largest and most comprehensive gym network of its kind.

  • 1,000s of gyms of all types including traditional health clubs, medical fitness facilities, yoga, Pilates, boxing, rowing, and other specialty studios.

  • An extensive list of popular nationwide and large chain clubs including 24 Hour Fitness, Bally, Curves, Anytime Fitness, plus regional chains (New York Sports Clubs, etc.) and local favorites.

  • Guaranteed Lowest Price – If a gym publishes a lower price on the same membership, we will beat that price – Guaranteed!

  • Frequent limited-time specials to incentivize gym enrollment.

Comprehensive & Flexible Membership Options

  • Full Access Memberships with the same privileges as full-cost retail memberships.

  • Flexible Membership Options including month-to-month terms at many locations.

  • Travel Pass Program to use other Network Gyms when away for business or pleasure.

  • Freeze Options to put your membership on hold (with no billing) for up to two months per year.

  • Transfer Options to easily and affordably move your membership to another Network Gym.

For more info and a special member link, visit the GlobalFit page in our u-Benefit section.

NEW U-Benefit from AT&T!

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YOU COULD BE SAVING UP TO 15% ON THE MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE OF QUALIFIED WIRELESS PLANS

At AT&T, we are the one and only national unionized wireless provider, with 45,000 of our employees represented by the Communications Workers of America.

 In addition to the AT&T Sponsorship Program discount, you’ll also enjoy these benefits:

  • Unlimited usage on the AT&T national Wi-Fi network, at no additional charge.

  • AT&T Mobile Share Value Plans also give you UNLIMITED talk & text for all pones in plan.

  • Share data on up to 10 devices and save with AT&T Mobile Share Value Plans.

(refer to contract for specifics and restrictions)

 

To purchase online visit:
http://www.att.com/getIRU


To find the AT&T store closest to you visit: 

www.att.com/find-a-store

 

And visit the AT&T page in our u-benefit section for details and to find you member access code.

Keep IUJAT Members Working

KEEP IUJAT WORKING is a program in which members of IUJAT are encouraged to purchase goods and services from IUJAT employers and receive special members-only discounts. Together we can help safeguard each others’ future; by helping IUJAT employers thrive, you help fellow members—and save money.

It’s easy to do—for instance, if you heat your home with oil, buy your oil from an IUJAT employer and have it delivered by your fellow members; if you need to purchase a car or have your car serviced, support an IUJAT shop where IUJAT members will do the work; in turn, when our members require the services or goods your shop provides, we will refer them to you whenever possible.

As an added incentive, the IUJAT businesses you patronize will provide IUJAT member-only discounts. Our union has such a large and diverse group of employers that you may be surprised at the array of services available and businesses that participate. Please urge your employer to participate, as keeping youremployer’s business thriving helps to protect your future. All employers are welcome. And, since our employers are so diverse, we are able to refer members to a very broad range of discounted services and products.

Please support your union and the jobs of all IUJAT members by participating in this program.
When you are in need of a particular service or product, we will refer you to participating IUJAT employers in your area. To learn more about the participating companies in your area, or to participate in the program, please contact

Jessica Lago: 718-658-4848 ext. 1261
or email: keepworking@iujat.org


Going into HOME HEATING OIL SEASON, consider calling us to find an IUJAT supplier. Your fellow union members will deliver your heating oil, provide oil burner service, and you will get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT on posted OIL RATES as well as a FREE SERVICE AGREEMENT!


automobile sales & service • retail tires • auto glass • marine, boat & pool • home heating oil service • residential & commercial air conditioning • electrical installation & service • plumbing & heating • alarm systems & home security • roofing • flooring • concrete & nikolok pavers • ambulette service • nursing homes • disability law firms • printing • signs • movers • charter buses • carting & sanitation service • and many more!

IUJAT President's Message

Sisters and Brothers,

As many of you know, in addition to being International President of the IUJAT, I serve as Business Manager of the United Welfare Fund (UWF). The UWF provides medical benefits to many IUJAT members. Effective April 2014, the UWF is self-insured, utilizing the Oxford/United Healthcare network of providers and hospitals. The prescription program continues to be administered through 4D Pharmacy management. Being self-insured means that the UWF actually pays the claims out of contributions collected, taking on the role of insurer along with the risks that entails.  

There were many reasons why the UWF made the change to a self-insured plan:

  • The UWF now has the ability to customize our plan designs to meet the needs of our Union members, instead of being limited to “cookie cutter” plans from an insurance carrier.
  • The UWF will enjoy substantial savings from taxes and administrative costs.
  • The UWF will now have more control on claims administration.
  • Finally, there will be less of an impact on our members, our plans, and the UWF from changes related to the Affordable Care Act.  

As always, the primary objective of the UWF is to provide the highest possible quality benefits to participating Union members and their families, while keeping costs down. To meet this objective it is imperative that we educate our participants about how to make wise and healthy lifestyle choices. One of the best ways to reduce future health costs is to take preventive measures today. As a group, the participants of the UWF have above average issues with high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, the frequency of our wellness visits (although improving) are way below the norm. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 75% of all health care spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented.

Orthopedic, circulatory, and diabetes risks are predicted to be major cost drivers over the next year. The UWF will continue to encourage healthier lifestyles by promoting diabetes awareness, weight loss, and stop smoking programs. One such program you can take advantage of is to join a gym—almost all of our plans offer gym reimbursement.  You can get reimbursed for part—or potentially all—of your monthly gym fees if you go to the gym an average of two to three times per week.  We know that staying with an exercise routine isn’t easy, and this program can help you stay motivated
and healthy.

Since so many of our health issues are preventable, it makes sense to take steps to keep yourself (or get yourself) as healthy as possible. Go for regular checkups to catch any problems in their earliest stages. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Programs and advice are available to you through Oxford’s website: www.oxhp.com

Be well,

Steven R. Elliott, Sr.
International President
IUJAT

Protecting Your Right to Organize

Two United States Congressmen, Representatives Keith Ellison, D. Minn., and John Lewis, D. Ga., have proposed legislation to increase protections for workers who are trying to join a labor union. Calling their proposed law, the Employee Empowerment Act, it would make union organizing a civil right.

The Employee Empowerment Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to include these protections for labor empowerment activities and allow workers who face discrimination to pursue litigation in civil court and receive compensatory and punitive damages

See more at here

 

 

Advancing Employment for People with Disabilities

Expect. Employ. Empower.

On April 30, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor announced the 2014 official theme of National Disability Employment Awareness Month: "Expect. Employ. Empower." Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and honors the many diverse contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

"We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. "This year's theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation."

 

More information is available at:

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20140713.htm

Outsourcing and Business Responsibility

A new report has found that outsourcing drives down workers’ wages and leads to more labor law violations. The National Employment Law Project released a report entitled, “Who’s the Boss?” which provides an analysis of the impact of the current trend of outsourcing. It found that in some cases outsourcing is the result of explicit employer strategies to evade labor laws and worker benefits.

It’s findings include:

  • Median hourly wages for workers in janitorial, fast food, home care, and food service, all sectors characterized by extensive contracting and franchising, are $10 or less;

  • Once outsourced, workers’ wages suffer as compared to their non-contracted peers, ranging from a 7 percent dip in janitorial wages, to 30 percent in port trucking, to 40 percent in agriculture; food service workers’ wages fell by $6 an hour;

  • These same sectors see routine incidences of wage theft, with 25 percent of workers reporting minimum wage violations, and more than 70 percent of workers not paid overtime; and

  • Construction, agriculture, warehouse, fast food, and home care workers suffer increased job accidents compared with workers in other sectors.

This restructuring of employment arrangements may well foreshadow a future for work different from the employer-employee paradigm around which many of our labor standards were constructed, but should not spell the end of living wage jobs or business responsibility for work and workers.

 

The full report can be read at:

http://www.nelp.org/page/content/accountability-outsourced-work/

Job Growth On the Rise

According to the ADP National Employment Report for April 2014, private sector job growth increased over recent months. Since March 220,000 private sector jobs were created. Carlos Rodriguea, President and CEO of ADP states, “The 220,000 U.S. private sector jobs added in April is well above the twelve-month average. Job growth appears to be trending up and hopefully this will continue.” The strongest growth was in small and medium sized businesses.

 

For more information, read the entire report at:

http://www.adpemploymentreport.com/2014/April/NER/NER-April-2014.aspx

 

Raising the Minimum Wage

U.S. Labor Secretary Perez has taken a stance in support of raising the minimum wage. She states, “Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would benefit 28 million workers. And, as I've seen in my travels across the country, many employers see higher wages as an investment that makes good business sense. Raising the federal minimum wage is the right thing to do for our workers and the smart thing to do for our economy.” 

Union workers and union employers have known this for many years – when workers are paid a fair wage, their productivity, loyalty, and overall performance increases, which in turn, benefits the employer.

 

Read more of Secretary Perez’s statement here:

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/opa/OPA20140736.htm