Donate Today! Help us help others.

Lynch Coaching

Translate

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Compromise reached on union health care coverage

Obama has cut a deal with unions and Democrats to exempt union health plans from any planned increased taxes on insurance under Health Reform. The exemption expires in 2018, according to coverage by the Washington Examiner. The competing Washington Post reports Republicans are angry, calling it a give away to unions. Of course not one Republican in the Senate voted for the Senate plan, even with the tax on "cadillac" plans including unions, so the numbers are not likely to change as a result of the compromise.

The other concessions union leaders secured from the White House:

-- Raising the threshold at which family plans are taxed from $23,000 to $24,000 and for single plans from $8,500 to $8,900, with the threshold increasing annually at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent;

-- Further raising the threshold if health care costs grow faster than expected from 2010-2013;

-- Exempting dental and vision costs from the tax, beginning in 2015; and

-- Raising the threshold for plans that have significant numbers of women or older workers;

This blog reported earlier on strong grass roots oppostion by unions, including the Screen Actors Guild,  to taxing the health plans of workers who negotiated the coverage at the risk or or loss of other benifts or pay.

Heath Care Reform junps another hurdle






Unions win delay on taxing health care plans



A deal has been reached with organized labor to move the health care bill forward.

Whether it is a victory or a loss, depends on your point of view. If you, as I do, want to see the end of preexisting conditions, the creation of guarenteed portability of health care at reasonable costs and near universal access to proper care (of couse this falls way short of universal health care), then you applaud the president on the compromise and on moving forward. If you, like SAGWatch, prefer to see the glass as half empty, you see it as a loss due to the sunset on the compromise. Labor leaders, in private, say that when the bill works and as the economy recovers, it could be back to the drawing board and the tax may be dealt with at a later date...





Compromise reached on union health care coverage

Obama has cut a deal with unions and Democrats to exempt union health plans from any planned increased taxes on insurance under Health Reform. The exemption expires in 201, according to coverage by the Washington Examiner. The competing Washington Post reports Republicans are angry, calling it a give away to unions. Of course not one Republican in the Senate voted for the Senate plan, even with the tax on "cadillac" plans including unions, so the numbers are not likely to change as a result of the compromise.

The other concessions union leaders secured from the White House:

-- Raising the threshold at which family plans are taxed from $23,000 to $24,000 and for single plans from $8,500 to $8,900, with the threshold increasing annually at the rate of inflation plus 1 percent;

-- Further raising the threshold if health care costs grow faster than expected from 2010-2013;

-- Exempting dental and vision costs from the tax, beginning in 2015; and

-- Raising the threshold for plans that have significant numbers of women or older workers;

This blog reported earlier on strong grass roots oppostion by unions, including the Screen Actors Guild,  to taxing the health plans of workers who negotiated the coverage at the risk or or loss of other benifts or pay.






Here is a copy, from SAG Watch, of the letter sent by SAG President Ken Howard on behalf of SAG asking for relief from the proposed heatlh care tax:


January 13, 2010
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Madam Speaker:

The Screen Actors Guild and its 120,000 members wish to express our sincere appreciation for your efforts in the thoughtful crafting of comprehensive health care reform legislation.

You are approaching, in the coming months, a critical time in finalizing the ultimate outcome of this effort. A primary goal inherent in the policy of health care reform is the reduction of benefit costs for working and middle class America. However, SAG has serious concerns that the excise tax provision in the Senate version of the health care reform legislation will substantially undermine this essential goal.

The Senate bill will place a tremendous tax burden on the health plans of the members of SAG, as well as other middle and working class union members, to finance the costs of the legislation. The proposed excise tax on health coverage above the “annual limitation” amount will have the effect of potentially penalizing the SAG multi-employer health plan for providing quality coverage to our members. The excise tax will result in increased costs to our plan that could be spent expanding the availability of benefits and reducing costs to the membership.

Our members’ participation in our multi-employer health plan is a product of years of negotiation. SAG, and other unions, engaged in these negotiations for health benefits in order to keep up with the rising cost of health care. Higher wages were sacrificed at the bargaining table in order to obtain quality health benefits for union members.

Unfortunately, the Senate bill’s tax provision would tax the very health plans our members sacrificed higher wages to acquire. Such a result fundamentally undermines the primary goal of meaningful health care reform, the creation of affordable health benefits.
The Senate version of health care reform is unacceptable as it will increase the cost incurred by health care plans to provide benefits and undercuts the cost reduction rationale for the legislation in that it will increase the cost of providing quality healthcare for working and middle class Americans such as our members.

I hope you will continue to support working families and oppose the Senate excise tax provision.

Sincerely,
Ken Howard
National President
David P. White
National Executive Director

Net Neutrality

(Upate: Variety reports a positve ear for union objections to any restrictions on Internet access or speeds.)

The Screen Actors Guild, DGA, AFTRA and IATSE are posting a filing with the FCC regarding the issue of Network Neutrality.   In the coming months, The FCC will be issuing a new broadband plan.  We are weighing in on this issue because of the enormous opportunity this presents to have the broadband plan address internet theft.   The press release below announces the FCC filing.

In the most basic terms, the filing supports the concept of availability of broadband Internet access to all Americans in order to allow for the lawful flow of content; however a broadband policy will be incomplete as long as it fails to address theft of content via unlawful Internet distribution.  Internet theft threatens grave harm to the output of our nation’s creative industries, and to the artists and craftspeople who make up the membership of the Guilds and Unions.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 14, 2010


JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING JOINT FCC FILING ON NET NEUTRALITY

LOS ANGELES - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) today released the following statement:


“The FCC has called for public comment on a set of proposed rules that address the concept of ‘network neutrality.’ While the Guilds and Unions support the principle that all lawful Internet traffic should be treated equally, no discussion of net neutrality can be complete without consideration of the effects of any form of Internet regulation on the illegal digital theft of copyrighted content and the resulting impact on jobs, creativity and innovation.

“As Guilds and Unions representing more than 300,000 workers in the entertainment and media industries, we urge the FCC to ensure that any policies laid forth to preserve a free and open Internet also strengthen the distinction between the lawful and unlawful transmission of Internet content. We encourage the FCC to take all appropriate steps to keep the Internet from becoming a haven for the theft and illegal transmission of motion picture, audiovisual and sound recording works.”


The summary portion of the joint filing follow:

Summary
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“AFTRA”), Directors Guild of America (“DGA”), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (“IATSE”), and Screen Actors Guild (“SAG”) (collectively the “Guilds and Unions”) support the availability of broadband Internet access to all Americans in order to allow for the lawful flow of content; however, broadband policy will be incomplete as long as it fails to address theft of content via unlawful Internet distribution.

Internet theft threatens grave harm to the output of our nation’s creative industries, and to the artists and craftspeople who make up the membership of the Guilds and Unions. In this rulemaking, the FCC has an opportunity to greatly improve the odds for combating online theft of our members’ work. The Commission should ensure that any rules it adopts will strengthen, not weaken, the rights of those who create this American resource.

The Guilds and Unions represent over 300,000 workers who create a multitude of diverse films, television programs, and sound recordings that are sought-after by consumers around the world. Protection of their lawful rights to earn a living from the sale and distribution of that content should be one of the principal goals of this proceeding.

In the NPRM, the FCC states that it seeks to balance the public interest in a “free and open Internet” with the interests of a free market and spurring innovation among Internet service providers (“ISPs”).

The Guilds and Unions fear that the Commission may be overlooking the heart of what consumers want from a “free and open Internet” – the content. Stopping the unlawful distribution of content should be one of the goals of the Commission’s broadband policy, and part of the definition of “reasonable network management.” Any definition of “nondiscrimination” and “reasonable network management” that this Commission seeks to enforce should permit the ISPs to use all available tools in a competitively neutral manner to detect and prevent the illegal downloading of copyrighted works. Just as reasonable network management practices today are employed to improve the quality of service to end-users (for example, to avoid excessive congestion, and to block viruses), they should be permitted to block other harmful distribution via the Internet – namely, content distributed in violation of copyright, depriving our members of jobs and compensation.

At the same time, recognizing the pitfalls of media consolidation, we believe that any Internet regulations must also safeguard the protection of consumer interests and the promotion of a competitive atmosphere as this new market continues to develop.

The FCC should facilitate the use of all available tools to combat online theft, while enacting appropriate safeguards to protect consumers. The FCC rules should encourage ISP notification of end-users who try to access copyright-infringing material. Following such notification, appropriate steps to block access to that content should be permitted. As long as these steps are implemented in an impartial manner, end-users should be able to view all lawfully distributed content of their choice.

A limited degree of transparency is appropriate. End-users should be informed of their rights, and FCC oversight should ensure that ISPs do not behave in an anti-competitive manner. But the rules should not require disclosure of specific tools or processes used to screen for stolen material. Excessive disclosure could undermine efforts to combat online theft.

As the Guilds and Unions representing the working face of our industry – people whose creativity and skills make possible the films, television programs and recorded music that are enjoyed by consumers around the world – we appreciate the Commission’s awareness that our members’ jobs, ability to support their families, and contributions to American culture and economy are at stake.

Video Game Writing Award Nominees Announced

WGA goes for vidgame sequels

'X-Men,' 'Assassin's' among nominees

Opting mostly for videogame sequels, the Writers Guild of America has tapped "Assassin's Creed II," "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" and "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" as nominees for videogame writing along with "Wet" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

The winner will be announced Feb. 20 at the WGA's simultaneous awrads ceremonies at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles and the Hudson Theatre at the Broadway Millennium Hotel in New York.

The WGA created the vidgame trophy three years ago and has awarded it to the writers of "Dead Head Fred" in 2008 and "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" last year.

Of this year's nominations, "Wet," "Wolverine" and "Uncharted 2" all had a single credited writer while "Call of Duty" had nine. This year's nominations included:

Ubisoft Entertainment's "Assassin's Creed II." Story by Corey May, Script Writers Corey May, Joshua Rubin, Jeffrey Yohalem.

Activision's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." Written by Jesse Stern, Additional writing by Steve Fukuda. Story by Todd Alderman, Steve Fukuda, Mackey McCandlish, Zied Rieke, Jesse Stern, Jason West. Battlechatter Dialogue, Sean Slayback.

Sony Computer Entertainment's "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," written by Amy Hennig.

Bethesda Softworks' "Wet," written by Duppy Demetrius.

Activision's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," script writer Marc Guggenheim.

Unlike its feature film and TV awards, the nominated vidgame scripts aren't required to be written under WGA jurisdiction. To be eligible, games must have been released between Dec. 1, 2008 and Nov. 30, 2009; the work must contain separate writing credits, and the credited game writers must have been and/or must have applied to become members of the WGA's Videogame Writers Caucus at the time scripts were submitted.

Read the full article at:
http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118013788.html

Haiti Earthquake




How much did you follow the aftermath of the Haitian Earthquake?

What media did you follow and why?

If you did not follow or pay attention, what are your reasons?

If you did, what drew your interests and why?

There is a solid communication, psychology and marketing theory that states that Americans focus on one person. The larger the scope of the tragedy, the less we focus on it.


If you want to get money for disaster relief, non-profit fundraisers will tell you focus on one young victim. If you look at a family, the amount will go down, and if you focus on the event, after a short spike it will dry up to next to nothing.

Why is that?

What is is in our nature that make this possible?

 Should the US have done more?

Should the US have done less?

Would you send money instead of buying new shoes, a big mac, going to a movie?




From President Barack Obama:

"On Tuesday, a catastrophic earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, but the death toll -- already in the thousands -- is climbing fast.

This is the worst earthquake to hit the area in more than 200 years. Entire communities have been ripped apart and as many as 3 million people have been directly affected, including tens of thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti.

Our neighbors in Haiti are racing to confront the enormous devastation -- and the OFA community can help.

Click here for more information about essential relief efforts and ways you can help today.

Footage is pouring in of homes collapsing, Haitians carrying injured family members, and hospitals being overrun in what was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives. Personnel from the United States and our partners in the international community are on the ground in damaged areas right now, working side by side with the Haitian people. They're providing much-needed food, water, and sanitation supplies, saving lives and helping local communities start to rebuild.

Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home, I encourage those who can to reach out and help. It's in times like these that we must show the kind of compassion and humanity that has defined the best of our national character for generations.

Click here to find out what you can do:

http://my.barackobama.com/Haiti

As this story continues to unfold, I hope you will continue to keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the many Haitian-Americans who have done so much to enrich our country and who are worried about friends and loved ones in this time of need.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama"



Hollywood joins in


Hollywood responds, as George Clooney helped MTV Networks to organize a major telethon which will air Friday January 22nd on all major networks plus seven cable networks. Variety reports that the count of networks airing the live music, entertainer, news and charity event is growing daily.

The Screen Actors Guild and other unions are joining in efforts to speed aid for Haiti. SAG suggest donating to the following relief agencies:

Doctors Without Borders

Partners in Health

Red Cross International Response Fund You can also send the Red Cross International Response Fund a $10 donation by texting “Haiti” to 90999. The money will go directly to relief efforts in Haiti.

RN Response Network

Solidarity Center Education Fund




USGS: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/us2010rja6.php

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/01/13/haiti.earthquake/index.html

Photo's: the Economist: http://www.economist.com/world/americas,/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15287363

also CNN, Fox News and New York Times.