Tag Archives: health insurance premiums

Trump needs to fire some staff – especially Bannon

But first …

*****

By Steven R. Maher

In the wake of the disastrous end of his “repeal and replace” Obamacare legislation, President Donald J. Trump should fire some of his staff. It’s what a smart businessman usually does after such a debacle.

After he withdrew the legislation, Trump said he wanted to work with Democrats in the future on health care. He also clearly wants to work with the “Freedom Caucus,” the successor to the “Tea Party” – a group that thought throwing 24 million Americans off their health insurance didn’t go far enough.

The website “Business Insider” reported on Saturday March 25, 2017, that White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon said to Freedom Caucus members: “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that Bannon and Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short wanted a vote on Trump’s health care bill because they would be able to compile an “enemies list” of Republican Congressman to take revenge on.

“You know, the last time someone ordered me to do something, I was 18 years old,” one Freedom Caucus member was quoted as saying. “And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

Trump also supposedly said during one meeting that he was not going to negotiate further on his insurance program, and Trump wanted their votes.

Not private sector

This “take it or leave it” approach might work in the private sector where everyone works for the boss, but it can be fatal in ego driven Washington, where Trump needs the votes of independently elected representatives.

Trump has two choices: If Trump expects to win enough Republican votes to pass his legislation on every major issue, he will be turning veto power on his Presidency over to a group of conservative extremists who will not compromise on issues that cry out for bi-partisan support. If he wants to find common ground with the Democrats, Trump will be writing off the Freedom Caucus.

Either way, Trump should clean house. A first good step would be to fire Bannon and Short. Both have alienated the Freedom Caucus. The Democrats despise Bannon for his involvement in Breitbart and see him as the evil genius manipulating Trump for his own obscure goals. Getting rid of Bannon would demonstrate that Trump is serious about changing his approach and would make it easier for Trump to reach out to either the Freedom Caucus or the Democrats.

Bannon feuds with Ryan

The one to watch is White House Chief of Staff Rence Priebus. Priebus reportedly urged Trump to work on his health plan first. He is a close ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, with whom Bannon has also been feuding. This is another reason for Trump to fire Bannon. Not only is Bannon alienating the Freedom Caucus, he is straining the relationship between Trump and Ryan. If Trump fires Priebus, Washington insiders would take this as a victory of Bannon over Ryan.

Trump will undoubtedly find many scapegoats for his defeat on health care. Whether he learns the harsh lessons Washington taught him on March 24, 2017, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Trump faces two upcoming issues on which he is also likely to be opposed by the Freedom Caucus. As the New York Times reported Saturday: “Mr. Ryan repeatedly counseled the president to avoid seeking vengeance – at least until he has passed spending bills and a debt-ceiling increase needed to keep the government running. In the end, the president decided to back down.”

City-budget talk: the good, the bad and the ugly

By Worcester District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller

I am writing this after a recent Worcester City Council budget meeting. By the time you read this, changes may have happened because this coming budget is still a work in progress. Here is where we stand now:

The CHALLENGE a week ago: find ways to close a $7,000,000 budget gap.

The STRATEGY: negotiate with our City’s unions on health care reform and wage increases. This is actually 3 pieces: (1.) City Manager O’Brien has developed a local health plan that significantly reduces costs to both employees and the city. (2.) We are asking city employees to pay 25% of the cost of health care. (3.) We are asking employees to take 0% wage increases for this coming year.
The PROMISE: the money saved with each union who agrees to accept these 3 conditions will go back into that same union to save jobs for the union and services for the taxpayers.

(Note: The City Manager moved all non-union city employees to these 3 conditions, including himself and his Administrative staff, earlier this year and preserved jobs and services. The City Council has also accepted these conditions, although there are no job savings that result and not all councilors use the city health coverage.)

The WRINKLE: All unions must agree to all 3 conditions in order to generate enough city-side savings to restore overtime accounts. This means that services that rely on overtime will be cut even if the union that works in those departments accepts the 3 conditions. You will see how this plays out further into this article.

The PROGRESS-to-date:

WORCESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT union has agreed to the conditions. This saves 35 firefighter jobs, 1 Ladder Company, 1 Engine Company, and preserves our present average response time of 5 minutes and 49 seconds (the PROMISE). THANK YOU WFD! It does not, however, restore the overtime account (the WRINKLE) because not all unions have signed on as of now. Because of the overtime loss, brown-outs and temporary closings of companies will be used during periods of summer vacation and the like (NOT GOOD FOR US).

WORCESTER POLICE DEPARTMENT unions have agreed to the conditions. This saves 35 police officers, restores support to Community Policing, the Traffic Division, the School Liaison Program, and prevents demotions and 100 re-assignments (the PROMISE). THANK YOU WPD! Like the WFD, it does not restore the overtime account (the WRINKLE). So we will lose important programs like the Summer Impact, SWAT training (NOT GOOD FOR US). City Council voted, under the leadership of CC Bill Eddy, to hold the WPD budget for a few weeks to see if we could figure out a way to restore the Summer Impact. We all know that this program keeps us safe during highest risk summer months and we are not willing to kill it without a fight. The City Manager tells us that there is nowhere to find the money except by having all the unions agree to the 3 conditions (the STRATEGY).

That was the good news.

PUBLIC WORKS & PARKS: No union (Local 495) agreement yet. This means 19 layoffs, closing 2 yard waste sites (Foley and Clark Street) on Wednesdays and Saturdays, essentially the end of Keep Worcester Clean, no services for litter, overgrowth, trash, bulk items, graffiti. No parking enforcement except for downtown. New signage will only happen if $ can be found on an individual basis. No sweeping, no litter collection on business corridors, including downtown. Downtown trash receptacles will be emptied 3 times a week rather than 6. No park maintenance at 15 sites. No maintenance of veteran’s squares and monuments. THIS IS BOTH BAD AND UGLY FOR US.

INSPECTIONAL SERVICES: No union (Local 495) agreement yet. This means 6 layoffs, longer stretches between inspections, no Canada geese egg addling, neighborhood crime watch attendance reduced to every 3 months, reduced nuisance enforcement, reduced problem property reviews.

DEFINITELY NOT GOOD FOR US.

PUBLIC LIBRARY: No union (Local 495) agreement yet. This means 4 layoffs, reduced hours at Greendale branch, reduced outreach with WPS, must obtain a waiver to get State aid (if we fail to get the waiver the results will be 7 more layoffs and dramatic reductions at the Main branch), 10 Sunday closings at Main Branch, longer lines at the service desks. Also, fewer purchase of books, DVDs, audio books. All of this while the demands on the WPL are growing. OUCH! We have run out of Band-Aids. City Manager O’Brien tells us that he has groups that are interested in contributing money to the Library but only if the union agreement is in place – they are not willing to fund a system that no longer works.

CLERICAL POSITIONS: No union (Clerical Union) agreement yet. This means 8 layoffs in various departments. This will lengthen response times to housing court, assessment questions, and financial reports.

LESS WITH LESS.

Like I said at the beginning, the city budget is a work in progress. We need Local 495 and the Clerical Union to stay at the negotiation table and figure out how to stop the dire cuts in jobs and services. Our other unions have found a way to say “yes” and we cannot stop there.

Stay tuned.

So the Worcester Public School teachers want a contract …

By Rosalie Tirella

… and they, of course, are making asses of themsleves – totally out of touch with America’s 14% poverty rate, and almost 10% unemployment rate, totally oblivous to the fact that few AVERAGE American workers (professional or blue/collar) bring down $100,000 a year salaries – the way many of our Worcester Public School teachers do. Our school principals make around $130,000. Other professionals in our public school system make more than/around $100,000, too!

This is INSANITY!!!!!! THIS MADNESS MUST STOP!!!

Which is why Mayor Joe O’Brien this week called for an “objective” court-appointed mediator to step in and save the City of Worcester from these hogs.

I had lunch with one of my former Worcester Public School teachers a few months ago – a wonderful human being. A person who, like many teachers in the good ol’ days of WPS, went into teaching because she was absolutely passionate about kids and learning. “To be with you kids – oh, it was so special – … ” (How many WPS teachers would say that about their former pupils?)

Anyways, this former WPS teacher, a person who worked overtime many a day in our city schools (FOR FREE) and did wonderful things for students (FOR FREE) like rescue hundreds of used WPS text books out of WPS dumpsters to drive them to a boys’ residential school, was amazed – absolutely amazed! – that today the City of Worcester has a boat-load of teachers who make around/more than $100,000 a year! Continue reading So the Worcester Public School teachers want a contract …

Our teachers MUST pay their fair share!

By Rosalie Tirella

Well, here it is: crisis time again. Last week the Worcester City Council and School Committee met to discuss finances. Next fiscal year’s municipal budget looks grim, with a $26-million gap projected for the Worcester Public School system.

Right off the bat, City Manager Mike O’Brien needs to: CONVINCE THE WPS TEACHERS’ UNION TO EMBRACE REALITY!!!! Embrace reality and join the majority of working Americans and our other municipal unions and start paying (immediately) 25% of their health insurance premiums. Plus higher co-pays.

Teachers! This simple step – paying 25% of your health insurance premium – will save the City of Worcester $3 million! Like I said, the 25% contribution is something that’s been accepted by workers in the private sector for a while now, and the City of Worcester’s clerks and other groups have joined the rest of America. Continue reading Our teachers MUST pay their fair share!