NC JUSTICE NEWS: Unemployment Vote TODAY + McCrory Rejects Medicaid Expansion + Honoring Restaurant Workers on 2/13

February 12, 2013

HOUSE BILL 4: Unemployment vote in NC Senate TODAY

Today, the North Carolina Senate will vote on House Bill 4, legislation that would introduce the harshest cuts to unemployment benefits anywhere in the country.

House Bill 4 would slash maximum unemployment benefit duration and amounts for unemployed workers. It would make it harder for many lower-income workers to qualify for any unemployment benefits. Workers who have to leave jobs due to health or family issues would become ineligible for benefits. If House Bill 4 passes, North Carolina would offer only half the total weeks of benefits as North Dakota — the state with the nation's lowest unemployment rate.

It's not too late to stand with unemployed workers. Join us at 2:00 p.m. TODAY at the North Carolina General Assembly when the Senate debates House Bill 4. Own a white shirt? Wear it as a sign of solidarity for your fellow North Carolinians.

If you can't be there, consider taking a few minutes to send one last plea to your State Senator and urge them to vote NO on House Bill 4. Our state leaders need to hear from the North Carolinians who support unemployed workers cross the state. These last few hours are critical.

MCCRORY REJECTS MEDICAID: Expansion not in "best interest" of NC

This morning, the North Carolina House Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill rejecting Medicaid expansion as well as a state/federal health exchange. It will head directly the House floor for a vote.

It's been a disappointing day, particularly after Gov. Pat McCrory released a statement this morning saying that a state run health exchange and Medicaid expansion are "not in the best interest of North Carolina," just days after he asked the General Assembly to avoid making a hasty decision to opt out of the Affordable Care Act.

In short, both the NC House Health committee and Gov. McCrory oppose expanding the Medicaid program to cover 500,000 low-income, uninsured individuals across the state, as well as the creation of a health care exchange made possible by the Affordable Care Act. In turn, they are rejecting $15 billion in federal funds North Carolina would have received over the next decade, saving thousands of jobs for health care workers and rural hospitals, as well as money for any North Carolinian who buys health insurance.

$2.13 FOR RESTAURANT WORKERS: Love the hand that feeds you

There are approximately 350,000 North Carolinians who prepare and serve our food, and who work for some of the state's lowest wages, without access to crucial benefits such as health insurance and earned paid sick days. Tomorrow, February 13, is a date that happens to match the current federal and North Carolina tipped minimum wage: $2.13. Congress hasn't raised the tipped minimum wage in 21 years. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United will be hosting their annual day of action in recognition of the tipped minimum wage: $2.13 on 2.13.

As you go about your day on Feb. 13, keep a few facts in mind. Across the U.S., 90 percent of restaurant workers surveyed said they lack health insurance through their employers. 80 percent of North Carolina workers in food preparation have no access to earned paid sick days. Waiters and waitresses make up the largest group of tipped workers, who, in North Carolina, earn more than $5 less than non-tipped workers. And 1 in 4 North Carolina tipped workers live below the poverty line.

If you go out for a meal this Valentine's Day, don't forget to love the hands that feed you. The NC Justice Center will be releasing a new infographic tomorrow. Share it and urge your legislators to raise the minimum wage, institute earned sick days, and ensure health insurance coverage for all workers.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: Former FCC Chairman Dr. Michael Copps

Few developments in modern America pose a greater threat to the health of our democracy than the rapid consolidation of media corporations and the equally speedy demise of voter-funded elections. Increasingly, control of both our telecommunications infrastructure and our political campaigns rest in the hands of a comparatively tiny (and sometimes-overlapping) group of super-wealthy individuals and corporations.

For decades, Michael Copps has been battling these destructive trends and advancing common sense solutions — first as a longtime staff person in the U.S. Senate, then as Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and, from 2001 to 2009, as one of five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, Copps will join NC Policy Watch and Common Cause North Carolina for a Crucial Conversation event at the Junior League of Raleigh building at 711 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Don’t miss this important opportunity to hear from this incredibly knowledgeable voice of reason on these critically important subjects. Register here.

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Community event in Albemarle

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Tuesday, March 19 for a Campaign for Better Care community meeting at the Stanly County Senior Center in Albemarle and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

As the Affordable Care Act is implemented in NC, a crucial part, Medicaid, may be blocked by the NC General Assembly from being expanded so 500,000 currently uninsured working adults in North Carolina will not be able to get coverage. Join us to discuss what suggestions you have for changes in our health care system while you learn from representatives from the US Department of Health and Human Services, AARP, Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and the NC Justice Center.

The free event will be held from 11:30am – 1:00 pm at the Stanly County Senior Center, 283 North Third Street, Albemarle, NC.

To reserve your seat, contact the Senior Center at 704-986-3769 or or Nicole Dozier at or 919-856-2146.


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