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Miners arrested in fight to end Peabody’s stealing of health benefits

  • Posted: Feb 19th, 2013

2/17/2013
By Kay Tillow

St. Louis, MO.  February 13, 2013.  Shirley Inman was arrested for
peaceful, civil disobedience as she protested at the Peabody Energy
headquarters against the corporate threat to rob miners and their families
of the health benefits they have earned.  Inman, a member of United Mine
Workers of America Local 2286 in Madison, West Virginia, spent 18 years
driving a coal truck.  Head held high, Inman faced arrest with a
determination much greater than her petite stature.  She is serious about
this fight.

“If I can’t get my medication for my heart disease, I won’t be around much
longer,” said Inman. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and I have coronary
artery disease. Health care isn’t an option for me; it’s what I need to
survive. I’ll do whatever it takes to make these corporate executives keep
the promises they made — and if that means going to jail, so be it.”

Inman was arrested with nine of her union brothers, including UMWA
Secretary Treasurer Dan Kane.  This was the second set of arrests at
Peabody Energy, and it looks like there will be more to come.  On January
29 UMWA President Cecil Roberts was arrested with the first group, but he
was not present for this rally because of negotiations.

In 2007, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off a large chunk of their
health care and retirement obligations to a new entity called Patriot
Coal.  In a financial and bankruptcy transaction that UMWA Vice President
from Alabama, Daryl Dewberry, described as “nickel slick”, Peabody Energy
and Arch Coal are trying to wash their hands of responsibility for the
health benefits for which they had signed contracts.

There was an air of militancy as more than 1,000 miners and supporters
marched to the park and rallied between the St. Louis arch and the Peabody
headquarters prior to the arrests.  There was emotion also.  Health care
hits close to the heart.  The union has challenged the theft of benefits
in court, and the case has been moved to St. Louis.  Concerned that
bankruptcy law may not be adequate to protect these benefits, the miners
say they will win this battle by appealing to a higher moral law.

Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer explained.  “They intentionally put
Patriot in the position for bankruptcy.  They want this in the bankruptcy
court—they don’t want it in the court of public opinion.  This is about
every man and woman who works for a living.  Health care and pension are
not gifts.  You paid for it.  But these companies are using bankruptcy
more and more.  Lawyers will get paid.  Million dollar bonuses will go to
executives.  The heads of Patriot won’t suffer.  Those who did the work
walk out with nothing.  That has to stop.  We don’t want their sympathy.
What we want is justice.”

“We want what we’ve earned,” said Kane.  “They want to go to their
palatial homes—but they deserve a cell next to Bernie Madoff.  I’m tired
of an economy that walks all over the workers.  I look for a day when we
win the fight so every person who wants to can be in a union without
interference.  And next, I look for a day when each and every one drops
their tools and sits down for a day and tells the executives here’s what
it’s like without us.”  The protesters roared approval.

Dewberry said the UMWA was founded in 1890 “when it was not popular to
have all creeds and colors together, but we did it and we’ve been doing it
for over 100 years.”  He said that miners are “used to adversity and we
are all our brothers’ keepers.  Peabody left scars in Alabama.  Arch left
scars in Alabama.  They left black lung.  Miners took less benefits to
assure health care.”

“Know this, Peabody, we’re seasoned and we ain’t backing down from
nothing,” continued Dewberry.   “Our members have been shot at and burned
out and turned out since 1890 and nobody is going to turn us around.”  He
then compared the times with an earlier era when Abraham Lincoln said,
“…©orporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high
places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to
prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all
wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”
Dewberry declared of Peabody “They don’t know what a fight is, but we’ll
take ‘em on.”

James Gibbs, UMWA Vice President from West Virginia and a third generation
coal miner spoke.  “I think about Peabody and Arch and how they lied to
our retirees who today walk with canes and walkers and carry bottles of
oxygen after working all these years.  They were promised health care for
all their lives.  We’re not going to let Peabody get by with this.  It’s
not right.”

Reflecting the common heritage of the union with the civil rights
movement, Gibbs related the story of Rosa Parks.  Then he told of his
father who worked the last 30 years in the mine with an artificial leg,
“yet Pittston didn’t mind a bit to try to take their benefits.  But
Pittston didn’t win that fight.  We win when we are right.”  He was
referring to the 14 month struggle in 1989 when Pittston sought to
discontinue medical benefits to miners, retirees and the disabled.
Pittston was met with massive resistance when miners and their families by
the thousands engaged in non-violent civil disobedience to bring the
company to its knees and to a contract.

The ten volunteers for civil disobedience led the crowd to the street
beside the gleaming Peabody Energy headquarters where they were arrested.
The police secured their wrists with white plastic handcuffs and took them
away.  UMWA Vice President Steve Earle announced “We’ll be back in a
couple of weeks.”

The UMWA is taking on a big fight that will impact all workers and our
ability to stop crooked bankruptcies from destroying health coverage.
Please sign the petition to support the miners here:
http://www.fairnessatpatriot.org/take-action/sign-the-petition/

Then ask your local union to endorse HR 676, national single payer health
care, so that we can free our health care from corporate control and
assure all medically necessary care for everyone.

Sample resolution is here:
http://unionsforsinglepayer.org/tools/sample_resolution

You can watch the video of the February 13, 2013 rally and sit in here:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mineworkers

(The video begins with Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan
introducing Paul Whiteley to sing about  Peabody–lyrics by Paul and
Bill.)

Background on single payer:  Cecil Roberts speaks on single payer health care here: http://tinyurl.com/aspchla
Distributed by:
All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551

Email: nursenpoataoldotcom  (nursenpoataoldotcom)  
Web: http://unionsforsinglepayer.org


Health Care Justice: Lessons from Taiwan

  • Posted: Jan 5th, 2013


Claudia Chaufan, MD, Ph.D. and professor of Nursing at UC San Francisco, describes her experience with Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program that covers 100% of Taiwanese.  This conservative, staunchly capitalistic country switched to a single payer system 18 years ago after studying the best and worst healthcare systems around the world.


The Presidents Speak Out for Single Payer Healthcare

  • Posted: Nov 5th, 2012

On Oct. 29, 2012, at a satellite session of the American Public Health Association’s annual conference in San Francisco three past, present or future presidents of physician associations explained eloquently why they support single payer healthcare.  The session was organized by Single Payer Now.  Click a video below to play it, then click on its bottom right corner to expand it.

I  Introduction

Don Bechler, Organizer, Single Payer Now     YouTube Preview Image

II  Economics of Single Payer

Walter Tsou, MD, past President of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and former Philadelphia Public Health Commissioner.  YouTube Preview Image

III  A Physician’s Perspective on Single Payer

Andy Coates, MD — President Elect, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP)  YouTube Preview Image

IV  Audience Q&A

YouTube Preview Image

V  How Hawaii is embracing Single Payer

Stephen Kemble, MD, President of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Medical Assn.  YouTube Preview Image


Health Care Myths — the Video

  • Posted: Sep 30th, 2012

Debunking the “free Market” myths of the medical-industrial complex and the healthcare insurance industry in particular. A summary of Health Care Wars: How Market Ideology and Corporate Power are Killing Americans by John Geyman, M.D.

Health Care Myths from Single Payer Now on Vimeo.


Message from Senator Leno Regarding SB 810

  • Posted: Feb 4th, 2012

January 31, 2012

Dear Friends,

Most of you have likely heard the disappointing news that our bill, SB 810, the California Universal Health Care Act, failed to move off the Senate Floor by January 31st, meaning it cannot advance further in the legislative process this year. Despite our unwavering advocacy, too few members were willing to cast votes in favor of SB 810 this year, including several members who had voted for the legislation before.  Unfortunately this means that Californians will continue to have a broken health care system in dire need of change, but that is not for lack of effort.

I want to thank and recognize the valiant efforts of the many groups and individuals who worked so hard to make our universal health care bill a reality.  First, the California School Employees Association and California Nurses Association led lobbying efforts on behalf of SB 810 all year.  Also, Campaign for a Healthy California, Health Care for All, California Physicians for a National Health Plan, California One Care, Single Payer Now, California Alliance for Retired Americans, California Health Professional Student Alliance, League of Women Voters and many other groups organized their members to advocate on behalf of the bill.

Finally, thousands of individual advocates made phone calls, attended meetings, marched and held signs at rallies, and sent letters, faxes and emails in favor of SB 810. Together, these efforts sent a strong message to legislators that the single-payer health care movement is here to stay.  I thank all of these passionate supporters from the bottom of my heart.

The single-payer movement is based on a long-term vision and strategy. This setback does not change our work to advocate for universal health care. We have always found the courage to speak out for health care for all, even when others around us told us it was not the right time. Ultimately, the powerful interests that favor doing nothing to repair our health care system can only be overcome by courage and determination – something our movement has in abundance.

I encourage you to continue building support for universal health care at the grass roots level within your communities. Reach out to your co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members about why their elected officials should vote for Medicare for All. Help build our case to the governor, other elected officials and those who are currently seeking office so that they know the people of California support single-payer legislation.

As the author of SB 810, I share your deep commitment to this cause, this movement, and the people behind it. We will not stop fighting until we have comprehensive health care for every Californian.

Sincerely,

Senator Mark Leno


Stop Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security

  • Posted: Nov 3rd, 2011

Please call you senator TODAY and tell them NO CUTS to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. These programs are under attack by the Super Committee.  Call toll-free 1–866-251‑4044 to reach your elected official and let them know you stand against any cuts to these vital programs.

“Taxes are what pays for a civilized society.“
–Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court (1902–1932)

From the Alliance for Retired Americans:

The latest news from Capitol Hill is not good for retirees.
As the “Super Committee” approaches its Thanksgiving deadline to cut at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending, the carving knives are coming out for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
As retirees, we know that these programs are how seniors stay healthy and out of poverty.  But we also know they aren’t to blame for our budget deficit.  We have a deficit because of decades of sweetheart deals to Wall Street and to big corporations and too many years of not asking millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes.
A specific cut being talked about would lower the formula for Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs).  This would be devastating for retirees – in fact, if this change took effect, a worker retiring this year at age 65 would lose $6,000 in benefits by age 80.
Take a minute today to stand up for today’s retirees and for all of us who still believe in the American Dream of a safe and secure retirement.
Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
www.retiredamericans.org

Doctors for the 99%

  • Posted: Nov 1st, 2011

Watch Video of Dr. Steve Auerbach on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on October 26, 2011. He discusses why corporate rule of our healthcare “non” system is making us sick!

Click here to watch clip


Video of Dr. Quentin Young in San Francicso

  • Posted: Sep 20th, 2011

Please watch this video featuring Dr. Quentin Young at our August 25th meeting. Dr. Young speaks about the current political climate regarding the national debate on single payer, and why it is crucial for us to continue organizing in the wake of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Video was shot by our friends from PNHP-CA.


The Battle for Single Payer in San Francisco

  • Posted: Aug 28th, 2011

In June 2011, a handful of overpaid lobbyists and executives from the health insurance industry met in San Francisco to lay plans to extract more money from American healthcare. But outside the conference hall, hundreds of activists demonstrated to demand single payer healthcare that would eliminate the insurance company middlemen entirely.


Medicare for All is the Democrats’ best option

  • Posted: Aug 23rd, 2011

Medicare for all is Democrats’ best option

ROBERT REICH

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Remember the health care debate? Congressional Republicans refused to consider a single-payer system that would automatically pool risks. They wouldn’t even consider giving people the option of buying into it…

…The president and the Democrats caved.…  They came up with a compromise that kept health care in the hands of private insurance companies.
The only way to spread the risk in such a system is to require everyone to buy insurance.

Which is exactly what the two appellate judges in Atlanta object to. The Constitution, in their view, doesn’t allow the federal government to compel citizens to buy something. “Congress may regulate commercial actors,” they write. “But what Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause is mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die.”

Most Americans seem to agree. According to polls, 60 percent of the public opposes the individual mandate. Many on the right believe it a threat to individual liberty. Many on the left object to being required to buy something from a private company.

Had the president and the Democrats stuck to their guns during the health care debate and insisted on Medicare for all, or at least a public option, they wouldn’t now be facing the possible unraveling of the new health care law…

Read full article here.