The insurance companies are happy. And so am I. I guess.

In the summer of 2009, Anne and I drove to Wakarusa, Indiana to support Obama’s plan for health care with a public option.

Great. The Supreme Court decided people without health insurance shouldn’t die.

What a country.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Obamacare got past the crazies like Scalia, Alioto and Thomas on the Supreme Court. Millions of people are better off because of the decision. I don’t treat that lightly.

I’ve read a lot of articles in the last 24 hours that tried to explain the Roberts’ vote. I now know more about the Commerce Clause than I ever thought I would.

I’ve decided that Roberts’ change of heart was a Roger Sterling thing.

Of all the jerk guys on Mad Men, Roger is the biggest pig of them all. But this season he dropped some acid and he mellowed out. A little.

I think Roberts dropped some acid and had a vision.

He saw poor people.

In a couple of days, he’ll crash and realize what he’s done and be really pissed off.

That’s my theory, anyway.

Meanwhile, they  put the final nail in the coffin of single-payer health care in my life time. Which given the power of money in elections as a result of Citizens United (why didn’t Roberts do some acid on that one?) was probably true either way.

A little reported story coming out of the court decision is that the part of Obamacare that guaranteed Medicaid for all poor people in the United States was thrown out. Millions of people in poverty that were going to be covered now won’t be.

Poor people.

Even Obama’s appointed Justice Kagan voted against that one. I don’t think she does acid.

The in box. Candy in the classroom.

When I wrote about candy in the classroom the other day, I was targeting the bureaucratic and dishonest way in which some administrators deal with issues. The issue of food allergies and the issue of childhood obesity, on the other hand, are real.

A friend writes:

Hi Fred,
I live in fear that the school will give a peanut type candy to my child. It already happened once. In a “nut free” classroom, my boy was given candy with nuts to put in his backpack. While driving the couple of blocks home, he got to it, ate it and had a severe allergic reaction. His lips started cracking, throat started closing and his eyes bulged huge. In the emergency room, I watched as he was given epinephrine  and monitored his breathing. This has to be one of the most frightening experiences of my life, to watch and wait to see if my child was going to be okay from a stupid candy bar. I had to watch him for days, as the severe reaction could return at any time, until the peanuts were completely out of his system. Did the school know about their allergy? Yes! Did the teacher know about their allergy? Yes! Was the teacher too busy to check to see what candy came into the classroom? Yes! Did she look to see if they put it in their backpacks? No! Could it have cost them their lives? Yes! I should be able to go to work and not live in fear that the school will accidentally kill my children with candy. It could have been a funeral all because we don’t want to take the fun out of a school party. Believe it or not, there are other ways of having fun at a school party that don’t include food. He is now learning to read the allergens on all food products. But let’s face it. He is impulsive like any other child, and loves candy. He trusts friends, family and teachers, no matter how often I tell him how severe their allergy is and the fact that he could die from it. Everyone makes mistakes. Life and death mistakes for a classroom party are not necessary.

Pritzker poisons NATO officials.

Penny Pritzker. Hyatt owner. Pal of Obama and Emanuel. Member of CPS Board of Ed.

The McCormick Hyatt is where most of the NATO delegates were staying this weekend. It is attached to the gigantic McCormick Convention Center and was in the Green Zone.

As readers of this blog know, Hyatt is owned by the Pritzker family. The Pritzkers are close friends and financial supporters of President Obama and Mayor Emanuel. Members of the Pritzker family are major backers of the anti-teacher union group, Stand for Children.

Penny Pritzker was appointed by Emanuel to the Chicago Board of Education.

The Pritzker’s have refused to come to a labor agreement with UNITE HERE, the union that represents their hotel employees. The dispute has gone on for over two years.

UNiTE HERE has asked folks not to stay at Hyatt Hotels.

Did NATO officials listen?

No.

They got food poisoning.

Where I come from, that’s called justice.

What if Senator Mark Kirk had worked at Wal-Mart?

Phil Kadner in the Southtown:

Kirk’s facing a difficult recovery process. But he’s a lucky guy.

Millions of Americans have no health insurance. No job security.

Millions of other workers would discover that their health insurance didn’t cover the costs of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago when they needed it.

But instead of using his emotional video to talk about that, instead of saying that every one of his constituents deserves the same opportunity to resurrect their lives in a medical emergency, Kirk talks about cutting budgets and taxes.

Is that really the top priority of this country? Is that really what people want?

I would like to know why Kirk hasn’t told his doctors, “You know, this country is facing a dire budget crisis, I don’t want to waste federal tax dollars on my medical care. I want to make a point about what’s really important.”

No. He wants to get well. He wants to get back to work. And he wants the best treatment money can buy.

I don’t blame him.

But I think every American — each housewife, every child, every person who works at a fast-food restaurant — deserves the same thing.

The in box. A final push on retiree health insurance.

The petition to Governor Quinn that you signed is creeping up on 24,000 signatures!  The response has been nothing short of amazing!

We currently have plans to present the signatures to Governor Quinn’s office on Friday, March 16, during the Representative Assembly of the Illinois Education Association — four short days away.

If you are a delegate to the IEA-RA and you want to help us — Save Our Pensions – PLEASE Contact me before the RA or at the RA….!  (gardenoprf@sbcglobal.net – Bob Haisman)

So we are making one last push for signatures.

Here’s how you can help!  Send an email to your friends asking them to sign the petition!

Instead of using the subject line “Governor Quinn:  Please Do Not Cut Our Health Insurance”, send it to your siblings with the subject line “Governor Quinn:  Please Do Not Cut My Sister’s Health Insurance”.

To your children use the subject line: “Governor Quinn:  Please don’t cut my Mom’s Health Insurance!!!”

To your Teacher Friend (BOB) use the subject line: Governor –”Please don’t cut Bob’s health insurance!!”

Anything to make it more personal.  Change the subject line to fit your needs, pass the email along to your teacher friends and colleagues, your relatives, your neighbors,  ANYONE that cares about your well-being!
Don’t forget to include the link to the petition. SIGN HERE!  http://signon.org/sign/governor-quinn-do-not?source=s.em.cr&r_by=2781010&mailing_id=2617

Together we can draw attention to this critical issue.

Thanks for all you do.  Bob Haisman –gardenoprf@sbcglobal.net

If you are a delegate to the IEA-RA and want to help Save Our Pensions – PLEASE Contact me ASAP!  (gardenoprf@sbcglobal.net – Bob Haisman)

What’s wrong with this picture?

Today on Capitol Hill, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel to discuss the birth control mandate in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Specifically, whether or not requiring insurers to cover birth control violates religious freedom of people who don’t believe in science. California Republican Darrell Issa chaired the panel. What’s wrong with this picture?

Women workers at Hyatt face huge health risks.

A study found that women hotel workers were 1.5 times more likely to suffer injuries than males. Injuries to Hispanic women hotel workers were double that of white women. Meanwhile, Asian and Hispanic male employee injuries were 1.5 times greater than whites.

Susan Buchanan, MD, of the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health, is the lead author of the study, presented at a recent meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia. “These alarming results raise many questions as to why injury rates are so high for women and Hispanic and Asian workers in the hotel sector,” she said.

Not surprsingly, the Chicago-based Hyatt Hotel chain dismissed the results of the study.

“While we take seriously all valid research regarding workplace safety, we have not had the opportunity to thoroughly review the data and design of the Unite Here study,” said Amy Patti, a Hyatt spokeswoman. “However, it is clear to us that the union’s conclusions are not consistent with the workplace environment in our hotels.”

John Wilhelm, the president of Unite Here, disagrees with Patti. “Hyatt, with the highest reported injury rate for housekeepers, needs to make changes immediately that will keep housekeepers safe and pain-free at work,” he said.

Unite Here’s labor contracts with Hyatt in Chicago and San Francisco ended in August. Union workers in San Francisco protested the stalled talks with a three-day strike before returning to work in November.

Every fifth employee in the study worked in housekeeping, and had the highest risk of being hurt, researchers found.

Hyatt ranks low for workplace safety.

The Pritzker-owned Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels, which includes the Hyatt Rosemont where the IEA holds its annual state convention in the Spring, is one of the least safe places to work among the five major hotel chains.

WBEZ reports:

A peer-reviewed study of 50 hotels in the United States suggests that Hyatt housekeepers are almost twice as likely to suffer on-the-job injuries as their Hilton counterparts. Looking at all hotel jobs, Hyatt places fourth for safety among the top five hospitality chains.

Buy one, pay for two. Helping a teacher in need.

Francis Lewis High School teacher Arthur Goldstein sends this today. The story makes me more sad than angry. If you teach in NY City schools, you can help.

At Francis Lewis High School, we want to help our sick friend and the Department of Education has offered us a deal. They’ll let us give him our sick days under these terms — buy one, pay for two.

Our colleague is suffering from a nasty reoccurrence of cancer that requires a very aggressive treatment. His doctor has had good results with this treatment, but it entails weeks of hospitalization, and our friend will be out of commission for six months at the very least. During his first bout with this cancer, he exhausted his sick days, and ended up owing the DOE one sick day.

It’s true we have the option of donating our sick days so as to keep our friend on payroll and covered by health insurance. It’s good karma, help thy neighbor, the golden rule, or whatever you wish to call it. It’s as American as mom and apple pie. But a quirk in the city’s pay rules for teachers means our sick-day donations are seriously limited. It’s almost like the city opposes mom and apple pie.

The New York City Department of Education, to be fair, doesn’t precisely oppose it, but they don’t exactly support it either.  Why, then, would I suggest they oppose mom and apple pie?  For one thing, any red-blooded American mom would probably give you a full slice of pie. The DoE thinks mom is some wild-eyed extremist and is having no part of her or her nonsense.

So it’s too bad, mom, but for every two days donated, our colleague receives only one. Math teacher Angelo Vetrano (who suggested I write this) donated twenty sick days, but our colleague will receive only ten. Social studies teacher Brian Kellar, and guidance counselor Bryan Brown donated six days each, but our colleague gets six total.

Sure, it’s lucrative for the DOE to get two for one. Each time they do that, they profit. A substitute teacher costs $155 a day. But the DOE collects two days worth of real teacher pay, even more, for each day we give. So if my colleague gets the hundred (or so) days he needs, the DOE stands to save thousands. What are they going to do with that money?  Will they demolish my trailer and create real classroom space for my kids?  Will they use it to reduce the highest class sizes in the state?

After all, it isn’t as though they haven’t already received hundreds of millions of dollars to do precisely that.  Why, then, do they need so badly to make pocket change off of our ailing friend?  Why does anyone want to profit off his misery, particularly when the profit is, relatively, so small?

Here’s a chance for the chancellor to reach out and show what a good guy he is. It’s contract negotiation time, and that’s a perfect time to rectify this situation. I’m fairly certain no UFT member, from a lowly teacher like me right up to President Michael Mulgrew, would oppose direct contributions of sick days to ailing colleagues.

While they’re at it, why not lift restrictions on who can contribute? Current regulations state that members with fewer than 50 or more than 180 days cannot contribute at all. In a case like this, it’s hard to fathom why that’s productive. Particularly egregious is the latter restriction. Why penalize teachers for spending over 18 years without a sick day? Teachers who go over 20 without a sick day really lose out — in September any days over 200 simply disappear into the DOE Phantom Zone.

Linda Silverman donated six days, even though she’s not personally acquainted with our friend.  As a math teacher, she understands fractions very well, so she’s not crazy about the rules.  But she looks at it another way.

“Ultimately, it means nothing to me, and everything to him.”

It would be nice if Tweed adopted some fraction of the Silverman philosophy.

P.S. — If you’re a teacher and would like to help our friend, email afriendinneed@francislewishs.org.