Washington, D.C.: Census reports poverty increase, health care decrease
“Bush loves the poor. That’s why he is making so many of us,” one union retiree said. And the statistics prove it.

In a U.S. Census report issued September 30, Americans living in poverty skyrocketed to 11.7 percent or 32.9 million people in 2001. The agency counted 41.2 million people without health insurance. Medicaid enrollment increased from 29.5 million people to 31.6 million.

For the first quarter of 2002, The Center for Disease Control says, 1.5 million adults lost their health care. The Kaiser Family Foundation found health insurance costs have increased by 12.7 percent so far for 2002. For a family of 4, the yearly cost of health insurance is $7,954 in 2002, up from $7,053 in 2001.

Sacramento, Calif.:
Historic paid family medical leave
For the first time in the nation, a paid Family and Medical Leave is the law here. Starting July 1, 2004, this state’s 13 million private and public sector workers will be paid 55 percent of their wages to take care of a sick child or family member, or after a birth or adoption for up to 6 weeks per year.

Governor Gray Davis (D) signed the bill on Sept. 23, after an intense struggle led by the AFL-CIO, women’s organizations and religious groups.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney hailed the “landmark legislation” adding, “The measure will give working families the flexibility and benefits to take time off from work for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for sick family members.”

Orlando, Fla.:
Part-time workers join the union
The Service Trades Council, AFL-CIO, already representing 25,000 full-time workers at Disney World, welcomed 5,000 new members in September. Part time workers at Disney World are now protected by union contracts with the entertainment multi-national corporation.

The victory came as a result of a 2001 contract between the Council and Disney, which included a “neutrality” clause which guarantees workers’ democratic rights to join the union and bargain for a contract. “Neutrality” helps to protect workers from corporate harassment and firing. Florida has been a “right to work (for less)” state since 1968.

Denver, Colo.:
2,000 protest plans for war on Iraq
Denver joined the nation’s growing anti-war movement Sept. 27 when one of the biggest protest crowds the city has seen in years marched against a possible U.S. attack on Iraq.

More than 2,000 people, chanting “no war for votes,” gathered outside the City and County Building and then marched to the Adam’s Mark Hotel, where President Bush was speaking.

Denver’s march was one of the largest of the anti-war demonstrations held recently around the country. Anti-war demonstrators were arrested recently outside congressional offices in Seattle and Minnesota. More protests are being held, and they’re attracting more participants, the Denver Post reported.

Pittsburgh, Pa:
Peaceful resolution to Iraq crisis
Over 400 Allegheny County residents surrounded the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on Sept. 19, demanding a peaceful resolution to the Bush administration’s war crisis with Iraq. Elected officials, activists, students and union people rallied to a chorus of supporters driving in one of the busiest intersections in the city. Lobbying the Western Pennsylvania congressional delegation has been underway and continues.

New York City: Vigils and lobbying on Iraq
Peace-loving New Yorkers are rallying and holding weekly vigils demanding a peaceful resolution to the Bush administration’s war drive with Iraq. An overflow crowd jammed a west-side Presbyterian church Sept. 23 to hear peace and justice activist, Simon Harak, deliver a first-hand account of the conditions inside Iraq.

Westside Peace Action is holding Saturday vigils and is part of a community coalition lobbying their Congressional delegation to reject Bush’s Iraq war authorization.