Friday, July 31, 2009

It can often be hard for those of us who live in the civilized world (ie industrially developed countries and many who are not so developed) to comprehend the situation surrounding health care in the USA. Despite spending more per capita on health services than any other country in the world the outcomes,as measured by such things as life span, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality,etc.,etc.,etc. are far behind many other countries in the world. One of the problems in the USA is that health care is covered by a patchwork of insurance plans with a minimal participation on the part of government in a few aspects. The result has been extreme cost overruns for numerous reasons. One reason is that the patchwork of insurance companies has led to the growth of numerous bureaucracies, all of whom have to take their cut, that provide living proof that "private" managers are at least as bloodthirsty as public ones. The other is that the proportion of the population who are covered under public plans are covered by a number of different agencies which also increases the costs of bureaucracy. Finally, and perhaps this is inherent in American culture, those who do have the means-and the legal clout to make insurance companies compliant- demand stupendously aggressive medical interventions of dubious social, or even individual, value. Everybody goes along with this. Insurance companies are reluctant to challenge those who have easy access to lawyers. The medical industry will rapidly rush to fulfill whatever demand, with great financial rewards, that such people generate.
Meanwhile a large proportion of the American population is not covered at all by health plans. Those who are are subjected to continued uncertainty as most are covered by employer provided plans that depend upon a)the financial stability of the employer and b)the willingness of the employer to play by the terms of the social contract and not attempt to cut the coverage back at any convenient opportunity. The following from the website of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) tells of one such instance. This is the case of the Starbucks corporation who are attempting to cut the health benefits, such as they are, of their employees. They are opposed by the IWW affiliated Starbucks Union, recently in the news here in Canada for having organized and gained bargaining rights at a Starbucks outlet in Qu├ębec City. Here's the story from the point of view of the Starbucks Union.
IWW Starbucks Union Condemns Starbucks Doubling Health Insurance Costs:
For Immediate Release:
IWW Starbucks Workers Union
Media Contacts:
Aaron Kocher - 612-220-6454
Liberte Locke - 917-693-7742
July 28, 2009
IWW Starbucks Union Condemns Starbucks Doubling Health Insurance Costs Health Coverage Cuts Come Amidst Soaring Profits
Starbucks, amid massive profits, announced on Monday that it will slash at employee health care benefits. The company announced that premiums for its most economical employee health care package will nearly double, along with across the board increases in out-of-pocket expenses. This slap in the face to workers comes just one week after the announcement of $256 million in profits for the quarter, far exceeding internal and Wall Street expectations.
These cuts are an insult to Starbucks workers, and the thousands of workers who have been laid off in the last year. The increased costs of health benefits will be a barrier to many workers thinking of enrolling, forcing them to make the hard decision between health care coverage and feeding their families.
We expect more from Starbucks as a leading Fortune 500 company that builds its brand image on its treatment of its "partners", what it calls employees. Starbucks has a responsibility to provide affordable, quality healthcare to its workers, who are responsible for its enormous profits. Instead, Starbucks continues to use health care benefits as a marketing tool, while actually covering a lower percentage of its workforce than the notoriously unethical Wal-Mart.
Starbucks has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to compensate us fairly. We believe as workers we must organize together to hold Starbucks accountable, and give us the respect and dignity we deserve.
About the IWW Starbucks Workers Union:
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of over 300 current and former employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for secure work hours, a living wage, and respect on the job. The union has members throughout the United States and Canada, fighting for positive change at the company and defending baristas treated unfairly by management.

1 comment:

Smite Liberalists said...

those evil rich people.. cannot wait until only the poor are left.. there will be so many jobs available at high wages then!!