Article 43


Sunday, September 05, 2004


Welcome to - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America.  It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.

This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.

In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE.  Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.

Everything here can be viewed anonymously.  Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.

There’s no third-party scripts here like privacy-eroding WEB COUNTERS, hidden datamining widgets like Pay-Pal donation boxes, or AMAZON DOT COM tracking stuff.  The RSS feeds are pulled by the server, and have no relation to anything you may be doing here.  Standard Apache WEB LOGS of info like IP, and pages visited are rotated every few days, and used internally to check the web server’s performance.  Logs of suspicious activity may be shared with law enforcement, or other ISPs, to deal with troublemakers.  Nothing here is for sale, and donations are not solicited.

If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.

Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author.  If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity.  Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY

Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.

Information on the Pension Class Action Lawsuit against AT&T is HERE.  More pension-related articles are HERE.

Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.

Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.

If you’re looking for telco nostalgia, you won’t find it here.  Check out THE CENTRAL OFFICE, BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL, MUSEUM OF COMMUNICATIONS, TELEPHONE TRIBUTE, and THE READING WORKS websites instead.

This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.

Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.

...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files

No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy

Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein

He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
- Aquinas

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein

Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley

As we head into another depression, fueled by selfish corporate greed, and a corrupt, SOCIOPATHIC US government, MIKE WHITNEY wrote a solution in 2007 that still makes a lot of sense to me :

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.

Posted by Admin on 09/05/04 •

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

NWO - Lockdown

 image: global reset

Americas Economy Cannot Survive Another Lockdown, And The Cult Of The Reset Knows It

By Brandon Smith
Birch Gold Group
November 19, 2020

The U.S. economy has been on the verge of collapse for at least a decade, ever since the crash of 2008 and the subsequent explosion in fiat stimulus from the Federal Reserve. While the mainstream media has always claimed that central bankers ғsaved us from another Great Depression, what they actually did was SET US UP for a far worse scenario - a stagflationary implosion of our society.

Here is the primary problem: By injecting trillions of bailout dollars into the system, the Federal Reserve prevented the economy from going through its natural purging cycle. This cycle would have been painful for many, but survivable, and it would have removed large amounts of excess debt, parasitic corporations that produce little or nothing of use, as well as numerous toxic assets with no legitimate value. For a real free market to function, weak or corrupt elements must be allowed to fail and die. Instead, central banks around the world and most prominently the Fed kept all of those destructive elements on life support.

This has created what amounts to a zombie economy: “a system that needs constant outside support (stimulus) in order to continue moving forward.” In the process of keeping zombie corporations and other parts of the body alive, healthy parts of the economy, like the small business sector, get devoured.

The zombie economy is, however, highly fragile. All it takes is one or two major shocks to bring it down, and the moment this happens the whole facade will disintegrate, leaving the public in panic and disarray. This is what is happening right now in 2020, and it will get much worse in 2021.

Bailouts encourage and reward unhealthy financial behavior, and this is why national debt, corporate debt and consumer debt have recently hit historic highs. When every pillar of the economy is encumbered with the weight of debt, any instability has the possibility of bringing all those pillars down at once. The Federal Reserve turned the U.S. into an economic time bomb, and the Fed is itself more like a suicide bomber than some kind of fiscal savior.

The “Great Reset”

I first heard the term “global reset” or “great reset” back in 2014/2015. I wrote an article about how the reset was actually a long term process in my article THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC RESET HAS BEGUN. Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF back then, and she mentioned it briefly in multiple interviews.

I made a mental note of it because it seemed planted into the discussion very awkwardly, as if it was scripted. I rarely heard it mentioned for years after that. In 2020, as we descend into social and economic chaos, I’m seeing the phrase used EVERYWHERE IN THE MEDIA ND BY GLOBALISTS.

Over the past decade, globalist institutions have come up with numerous phrases that seem to refer to a worldwide planned and dramatic shift in human society sometime in the near future. The “great reset” is just another phrase for “the new world order.” It is important to understand that the reset these people are talking about has actually been engineered and staged for many years. This is not something that just popped up in 2020 - they have been talking about it since at least 2014. And before that, they talked about the “new world order,” and “multilateralism” and the “multi-polar world order,” and Agenda 2030, etc.

The reset is the catalyst phase of an agenda that has been in the works for a long time now. The goal, as they have openly admitted many times, is to centralize the entire globe into one monetary structure, one highly interdependent and socialized economy, and eventually one faceless and unaccountable governing body.

One of the biggest obstacles to the finalization of the reset and the formation of the new world order has been liberty-minded populations across the planet most of all, the liberty-minded people within America. The U.S. has to be destabilized or eliminated; the old world order has to be brought down before the new world order can be introduced. The people have to be beaten down and desperate, so that when the GLOBALISTS OFFER THEIR “RESET AS THE SOLUTION, the people will gladly accept it without question - simply because they want the economic pain and uncertainty to stop.

A common statement made by globalists from Klaus Shwab at the World Economic Forum to the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is that the coronavirus pandemic is the “perfect opportunity” to trigger the “great reset.” As globalist Rahm Emanuel is famous for admitting, i"n crisis there is opportunity to do things you were not able to do before.”

In other words, when people panic in the face of crisis, they become easy to manipulate. And, if a crisis doesn’t happen naturally, then why not create a crisis from thin air and use that to cause panic?

Enter the economic lockdowns...

The lockdowns have not only been proven to do nothing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but they are also a clear attack on what’s left of our economic system. The small business sector in particular is being gutted as more than 60% of those that shut down during the first lockdown were unable to reopen. Small businesses provide more than half of all employment in the U.S.. When they collapse, the U.S. economy will have nothing left except the big-box corporations that the Fed put on life support over a decade ago.

Real unemployment, which is already at 26%, will skyrocket even further if a second national lockdown is initiated. The speedy collapse of the U.S. economy will be assured, and the “great reset” can commence. At least, that is what the globalists want to happen.

With the U.S. presidential election currently being contested, it is hard to say how the next few months will play out in detail. As I have been pointing out since July, a contested election is the best possible scenario for the globalists because it creates a Catch-22 situation:

If Trump stays in office, the political left will accuse him of usurping the presidency and there will be mass riots in the streets. Conservatives will be tempted with the idea of bringing in martial law to suppress rioters, and such measures will undermine the flow of the U.S. economy, causing its fragile structure to implode.

If Biden enters the White House, then he will attempt a Level 4 lockdown similar to the lockdowns we have seen in Australia, France, Germany and the UK; perhaps even worse. Our economy will crumble, conservatives will revolt, and Biden will attempt martial law measures.

Either way, the globalists get their crisis, and therein their opportunity.

Surviving the lockdowns and deterring the globalists

But here is where things get less certain for the elites. If liberty-minded Americans organize immediately for security and mutual aid, we can defuse the Catch-22. If we provide for our own security within our own communities, there will be no rationale for Trump to institute martial law. Community security is an awesome deterrent against leftist rioting and looting, and basic economic trade can continue.

By extension, if we organize our own community security as well as localize our economies with barter and trade, we also act as a deterrent to Biden and any ideas he might have of enforcing national lockdowns. The point is, we cant allow the globalists to dictate the terms of the crisis. We must act to change the rules of the game.

The reset is not a natural inevitability, it is a con, a trap. No matter how bad the crisis in our nation becomes, it is the people - namely the liberty-minded people who will determine the future, not the globalists. Their plan relies on our panic. Instead of panic, let’s show them a unified front and a plan of our own.


Posted by Elvis on 11/24/20 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO
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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Is Duke Energy Smart Meter Ripping Me Off

image: smart meter

Out of the nine meters tested, five of them were found to give readings higher than the power actually consumed. In one case it was 582 percent higher, though in two others, the meters recorded 30 percent less power usage than actually took place.

Although the largest discrepancies seem likely to be due to problems with the meters themselves, many of them struggled with specific appliances used in peoples’ homes. Energy saving lightbulbs, LED bulbs, and dimmer switches all seemed to cause the most variation when it came to the meters outputs.
- Digital Trends

The inaccurate readings are attributed to the energy meters design, together with the increasing use of modern (often energy-efficient) switching devices. Here, the electricity being consumed no longer has a perfect waveform, instead it acquires an erratic pattern. The designers of modern energy meters have not made sufficient allowance for switching devices of this kind.
- Electronic Energy Meters’ False Readings

Seven months ago Duke Energy exchanged the electric meter on my house to an ITRON OPENWAY SMART METER.

My average kwh/day usage syrocketed about 20% to near 100kwh/day on the bill right after, and every bill since.

I filed complaints at the state’s Attorney General and Public Services Commision. Neither contacted me directly, but both forwarded the complaint to Duke.

The folks at Duke were dismissive of any issues with their smart meters when I talked about my usage numbers and FEAR OF EM RADIATION.

A Duke employee tested the new meter with a contraption that did a high load test, and a low load test. The guy said both readings were “a little over” (meaning I’m getting “a little” overcharged), but are within legal limits, and suggested I get my AC checked, which I did the following week for $75 to find out it’s working fine.

A call from a lady at Duke’s executive office after that told me it’s my problem, and if I want the meter tested again - I’ll get billed $100 dollars. 

I begged the lady put the old meter back in.

She refused.

I increased the AC thermostat four degrees hoping to lower my electric billl that’s over $400/month.

The kwh numbers don’t seem to be budging.

What else can a consumer do? I feel trapped.

The government brushed me off better than Duke did.

Now what?


Smart meters might not be so smart
Research from the Netherlands has found meters that overestimate energy usage by 582 times.

By Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
March 6, 2017

A STUDY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE and Amsterdam’s University of Applied Sciences believes that smart meters need extra schooling. Researchers have published a report claiming that the meters are greatly exaggerating the amount of energy that’s being used. That’s a problem, since 750,000 homes have recently installed them, and the Netherlands government wants one in every property by 2020.

Professor Frank Leferink began investigating the issue after hearing rumors that the devices were wildly overestimating power use. The grumblings seem to have merit, since some of the meters that were tested claimed that energy use was 582 times higher than the reality. It’s bad hardware, rather than fraud, that’s the cause of the issue—since the meters don’t understand how modern, energy-efficient devices like LED bulbs work.

As UT NEWS EXPLAINS, Netherlanders who want to resolve this issue don’t have much hope, at least not right now. You can only ask your energy company to check a meter if it’s not functioning properly, not object to its results. Since the hardware functions, you’ll be slapped with a bill for the inspection cost, even though the underlying principles are faulty. Which is nice.


Posted by Elvis on 11/15/20 •
Section Dying America
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Friday, November 13, 2020

Meat Packers and Covid19

image: meatpackers

Over at the CALL CENTER they had a draconian policy called a ”POINT BASED ATTENDANCE” system.

Every day you’re absent or (even a minute) late for work, you get an attendance “point” on your permanent record. 

10 points = you’re fired.

When I got the flu it knocked me out and kept me home for two weeks straight without pay = 10 points.

To not get fired the boss insisted on a doctor’s note that put me out a few hundred dollars thanks to medical insurance’s yearly deductable.

Think that’s bad?

Let’s talk about meat packers and covid-19

It’s a lot worse than not showing up for their “essential” job because they’re sick.

President Trump made them go back to work, but didn’t make their employers provide masks or PPE.

DONALD TRUMP, invoking the Defense Production Act, has ordered meatpacking plants to stay open no matter the cost. Plants won’t even close for a deep cleaning when a deadly pathogen is found. The president said he is protecting companies from liability - you know, in case somebody keels over because of someone else’s negligence.

Talk about putting people in harm’s way and treating them as disposable.

I wonder how many of them have any kind of MEDICAL INSURANCE .


Meatpacking Workers Say Attendance Policies Force Them to Work With Covid-19 Symptoms

By Heather Schlitz
Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
October 20, 2020

As the pandemic rages, punitive ATTENDANCE POLICIES at corporate meat plants coerce sick workers into showing up, according to activists, experts and the workers themselves.

This story is part of a collaborative reporting initiative between the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting and USA TODAY Network and is supported by the PULITZER CENTER ON CRISIS REPORTING.

This story is embargoed for republication until Oct. 30

In April, despite his fever, a meatpacking worker continued to carve neck bones out of pig carcasses at a JBS plant in Iowa.

Two weeks later, he would test positive for COVID-19. But in the meantime, he said, he kept clocking in because of a punitive attendance system widely used in meatpacking plants: the point system.

Under the policy, workers usually receive a point or points for missing a day. If they gain enough points, they’re fired.
according to a
For a few months earlier this year, as case counts swelled, Tyson Foods suspended its point system, and Smithfield Foods said it has halted its version for the time being.

However, the point system has endured at Tyson and JBS plants throughout the pandemic, and it has continued to coerce people with potential COVID-19 symptoms into showing up to work, said plant employees, their family members, activists and researchers.

“People are afraid now to lose points, and they start to go to work even when they’re sick,” Alfredo, a machine operator in a Tyson poultry plant in Arkansas, said through an interpreter. He asked to be identified only by his first name out of fear of retribution.

“If they see that you can walk, they’ll tell you to keep working,” he continued. “If you cant stand on your own, they’ll send you home.”

Spokespeople for the country’s two biggest meat processing companies said employees are encouraged to stay home while ill.

“Our current attendance policy encourages our people to come to work when they’re healthy and instructs them to stay home with pay if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for the virus,” Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said.

“Regardless of our attendance policy, at no point during the pandemic have we assessed attendance points against team members for absences due to documented illness,” JBS spokeswoman Nikki Richardson said.

“Still, the point system has likely contributed to the virus’s spread,” said Jose Oliva, co-founder of the HEAL Food Alliance, a non-profit that organizes food industry workers.

“It’s probably one of the better propagators for the coronavirus that we’ve seen,” he said. “It’s absolutely disastrous to have a point system in the midst of a pandemic.”

Workers at one Tyson plant and two JBS plants said the only way they can stay home without penalty is if they test positive for the disease. They are required to go to work if they’re waiting for test results, they said.

Once he tested positive, the Iowa worker, 50, was allowed to miss work without racking up points, he said. He requested anonymity because he fears losing his job.

Complicating the situation is that many workers struggle to access testing or avoid COVID-19 tests due to the cost, wait times and fear of being targeted by immigration authorities, workers and advocates said.

The point system varies from plant to plant.

At the JBS plant in Greeley, Colorado, where about 300 workers have contracted the virus, employees can rack up six points before they’re fired, according to a documentshared by the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

At a JBS plant in Marshalltown, Iowa, its seven points, and at a Tyson poultry plant in Arkansas, where hundreds of workers have fallen ill, it’s 14 points, according to screenshots and photos shared by meatpacking workers in those plants.

At the Tyson plant, the company’s general attendance policy notes that “approval of prearranged absences is based upon the business needs of the Company. Even if workers give the plant proper notification that theyll miss a day, they receive a point, ACCORDING TO A COPY OF THE ETTENDANCE POLICY.

(Read the whole attendance policy at the end of this article.)

Mickelson said the documentdid not accurately reflect the companys attendance policy during the pandemic, as workers have been encouraged to remain home if theyҒre sick.

The point systems enforcement can also depend on the supervisor. They can bend the rules for employees with whom they have a good relationship, workers said.

While requiring employees to wear masks and installing plastic barriers between workers can reduce the transmission of the virus, the disease will keep spreading if plants donҒt isolate and quarantine sick workers, said Shelly Schwedhelm, executive director of emergency management and biopreparedness at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

To curb the viruss spread, Ғget rid of the point system and dont deter people from calling in ill,Ӓ she said.

After the Iowa meatpacking worker tested positive, he stayed home for two weeks before returning to the plant.

During the day, he did jumping jacks in his basement in hopes of strengthening his body enough to fight the virus and recited gasping prayers over the phone with his pastor. At night, he walked alone through his deserted neighborhood, worried he wouldnt wake up again if he fell asleep.

He said the company is “making us go back to work because some damn hogs got to die. But they donԒt care about human life. They care more about the damn hogs than they do about people.

New system for the pandemic

Before the pandemic, the JBS plant in Greeley allowed 7.5 points before a firing. Now, itҔs six, said Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, the union that represents the plants 3,000 workers.

ҒThe attendance policy became even more restrictive, she said.

Six workers died at the plant, making it one of the deadliest publicly reported meatpacking plant outbreaks in the country, according to Midwest Center tracking.

Sick employees can only recoup points at the Greeley plant if they have a doctorӔs note and if they call into an English-only attendance hotline, a problem for a workforce that speaks more than 38 languages, Cordova said.

To remove points from their record, workers must submit to the union screenshots of their call history to the hotline. Many workers find it to be a convoluted process, Cordova said.

They’ll give the point, and then the worker has to fight to have it removed,ғ she said. They make it really difficult to call in while sick, so workers are compelled to come into work even if theyԓre symptomatic.

Richardson, JBSҔs spokeswoman, said their new point system is more forgiving now because it allows workers to miss multiple days in a row. The company reset all its employees points to zero in late July, she said.

Tyson temporarily relaxed its point system in March but brought it back in June, even as case counts swelled.

The timing of TysonҒs decision was no coincidence, said Don Stull, a professor at the University of Kansas who has researched meatpacking for 35 years.

As that initial attention being focused on the industry began to wane, they started trying to run as near to pre-pandemic levels as they could. So they needed as many workers as they could get,ғ he said.

Mickelson, Tysons spokesman, said StullԒs claim was not true.

Few other opportunities

Large meatpacking plants are often in rural areas without many jobs opportunities. That leaves workers in a bind when dealing with the point system, workers and advocates said.

Eric Lopez, a sales manager at U.S. Cellular, said his mother works at the JBS plant in Marshalltown. A Mexican immigrant with no formal education who doesn’t speak English, she had few jobs available to her in Marshalltown other than the pork plant, he said.

She knows people with symptoms have continued showing up to work, he said, and it’s caused her to break down after coming home from work because she fears catching the virus.

For decades, the meatpacking industry has relied on immigrant, minority and poor workers, a demographic that activists and researchers said the primarily white meatpacking executives have exploited.

“Companies are run by old, white guys who think of workers as a piece of machinery,” said Joe Henry, the political director for the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa, a Hispanic civil rights organization.” They see them as people with different skin colors and different languages that they can just go ahead and treat like animals.”

Tyson and JBS strongly denied this characterization.

“That is completely untrue,” said JBSs Richardson, whose response echoed Tyson’s. “We have done everything possible to both protect and support our team members during this challenging time.”



OSHA fines meat packers for Covid failures (sort of)

By Marion Nestle
Food Politics
September 20, 2020

I have OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION (OSHA), the federal agency ostensibly responsible for” ensuring safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.”

You don’t believe me?  Try this.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CITES SMITHFIELD PACKAGED MEATS DEPARTMENT OF LABOT CITES CITES SMITHFIELD PACKAGED MEATS CORP FOR FAILING TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES FROM CORONAVIRUS: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

Or <this.  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR CITES JBS FOODS INC. FOR FAILING TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES FROM EXPOSURE TO THE CORONAVIRUS: The U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited JBS Foods Inc. in Greeley, Colorado, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed $15,615 in penalties.

They have to be kidding.  We are talking here, according to Leah Douglas’s statistics, about how more than 2500 Smithfield employees and more than 2700 JBS employees have been confirmed with Covid-19.

If these are the maximum penalties (!), how about assigning them to every one of those cases.

The companies can certainly afford it: Smithfield had $13.2 billion in sales in 2019, and JBS had $51.7 billion.

Never mind, even that pittance penalty is too high for the meat industry to accept.

Furthermore, Smithfield is appealing the fine.  A representative said the fine is

“wholly without merit” because the company took “extraordinary measures” to protect employees from the COVID-19 virus. And during the pandemic, Smithfield took direction from OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Translation: It’s not our fault.  Its OSHA fault, the CDCs fault, the USDA’s fault.


Today [September 10], the UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS (UFCW) INTERNATIONAL UNION, which represents1.3 million workers in meatpacking plants and other essential businesses, condemned the new U.S. DEPARTMNET OF LABOR FINE ON SMITHFIELD FOODS as completely insufficient in the wake of the company’s failure to protect meatpacking workers at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota which reported nearly 1,300 COVID-19 infections and at least four deaths among its employees. As the union for Smithfield workers at this plant, UFCW called today’s fine by the Trump Administration insulting and a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to help those already infected or prevent future worker deaths.

It issued a similar statement on the JBS fine.

The meat industry has rallied to the defense of its Big Meat members.  To wit: MEAT INSTITUTE ISSUES STATEMENT ON OSHA CITATION RELATED TO COVID-19

The meat and poultry industry’s first priority is the safety of the men and women who work in their facilities [every time you read a statement like this, think of a red flag on the playing field - a warning that it means just the opposite]. Notwithstanding inconsistent and sometimes tardy government advice, (don’t wear a mask/wear a mask/April 26 OSHA guidance specific to the meat and poultry industry) when the pandemic hit in mid-March, meat and poultry processing companies quickly and diligently took steps to protect their workers. Companies had to overcome challenges associated with limited personal protective equipment. Most importantly, as evidenced in trends in data collected by the FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK and THE NEW YORK TIMES, these many programs and controls once in place worked and continue to work. Positive cases of COVID-19 associated with meat and poultry companies are trending down compared with cases nationwide.

The Meat Institute actually has the nerve to cite Leah Douglas’s data to support its defense - this, while meat companies are refusing to provide accurate data.  (Even the union cites much lower figures despite its REPORTS OF WORKERS being forced to stay on the lines without masks despite being ill or risk losing their jobs).

It details its arguments that all those illnesses and deaths are OSHA’s fault in yet another PRESS RELEASE SEPTEMBER 14.

I suppose we will now go through all this again for Tysons, where more than 10,000 workers have become ill.

Expect another of OSHA’s “slaps on the wrist” followed by the Meat Institutes objections.


Posted by Elvis on 11/13/20 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Price of a Caronavirus Test

image: caronavirus

Back in March 2020, CDC DIRECTOR ROBERT REDFIELD went on record saying the goverment will pay for testing and treatment of coronavirus regardless of insurance coverage.

Watch him speak his empty words HERE:

image: cdc director redfield

Here’s the LAW Representative PORTER pointed out that gives him the power:

The Director may authorize payment for the care and treatment of individuals subject to medical examination, quarantine, isolation, and conditional release

In the eight months that passed since, I haven’t been - and probably won’t be - tested.

I splurged for a mask to wear in public to help protect others, but if the disease winds up in my body, I hope it isn’t painful, and kills me quick, cause I can’t afford to get it fixed.




Q&A: How much does it cost to get a COVID-19 test? It depends.

Josh Sharfstein, professor of practice and vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on the nuances of insurance coverage and expenses that accompany COVID-19 testing.

Widespread testing for the novel coronavirus has proven an essential tool in fighting the spread of the disease. Testing allows public health officials to track the viruss path, understand disease prevalence, and determine the need for isolation and quarantine. As the demand for COVID-19 testing has grown, so too have questions about who bears the cost. To understand more about the nuances of insurance coverage and expenses that accompany COVID-19 testing, we reached out to Josh Sharfstein, Professor of Practice and Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

How much does a viral test for COVID-19 cost?

There is a wide range in charges. An investigation by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that the cost of a test can range anywhere from $20 to $850, with $127 being the median cost. Currently, the Medicare reimbursement rate for a COVID-19 test is either $51 or $100, depending on the type of test offered. For those who end up paying out of pocket, there was a smaller range of $36 to $180 per test. Again, any test would also likely require additional charges for specimen collection and a physician’s visit, which could potentially add to the cost significantly.

Does the cost vary depending on where you live?

Yes, in part. The cost for a COVID-19 test may vary a great deal based on type of laboratory where the test is processed, region of the country, insurance provider, and other factors. This unpredictability of cost is part of the larger, fragmented healthcare system in the United States that leads to a wide variability in medical expenses.

Does insurance cover the costs of a COVID-19 test?

Federal law requires insurers to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests, but unfortunately patients are still being charged for related expenses. The law does not require insurers to cover the cost of the medical consultation or doctors referral that may be required before a test will be administered. Another reason is that federal guidance only requires reimbursement for “medically appropriate” testing. An insurance provider might decide that certain types of testing (such as testing after a trip) may not be considered “medically appropriate.”

What about the uninsured?

The federal government has provided a path for reimbursement for COVID-related testing and treatment expenses for the uninsured, including testing. Details about this program are available here. There is no requirement that clinics or physicians avail themselves of this program. As a result, it is possible that the uninsured could still be charged for testing by their healthcare provider.

Why is there so much confusion about pricing and payment for COVID-19 tests?

Early on in the pandemic, in March, several faculty members at Johns Hopkins - myself included - recommended a very different approach to the piecemeal strategy adopted by the federal government. The idea would be to build a crisis insurance system centered on paying to test for and treat COVID-19, and to use the existing Medicare infrastructure and network to provide a payment system for all providers. Since the scale of the problem is national, a federal program would have the capacity to negotiate prices on a global scale, which would help reduce costs. It would also provide an easy route for billing among the large influx of requests for tests and materials that are inundating labs, emergency departments, and hospitals. Additionally, centralizing the expenses from coronavirus care under a crisis insurance program would greatly improve our data collection efforts as we continue to track the virus. Such an alternative path would have prevented many of the current frustrations with accessing and paying for diagnosis and care.



COVID Testing Is Supposed to Be Free. So Why Are People Still Getting Huge Bills?

By Kristen Bahler
CNN Money
August 18, 2020

Free, universal coronavirus testing is critical to flattening the arc of infection. But while federal law aims to make such testing EASY TO ACCESS and WIDELY AVAILABLE, those efforts have fallen short for many Americans.

The U.S. healthcare system - chaotic in any normal year - is being stretched tissue-paper thin by a flood of coronavirus cases, and squabbling between insurers and legislators about who should pay for that influx isnt making things easier.

So while President Donald Trump has signed multiple orders designed to ensure Americans can get tested for COVID-19 for free, regardless of their insurance coverage, policy loopholes have left numerous ways for patients to get stuck with a bill anyway. (See: The California essential worker who was charged nearly $2,000 for COVID-19 testing, or the woman in Austin, Texas who got a $6,000 bill, according to NPR and the NEW YORK TIMES, respectively.)

Here’s everything we know about how much coronavirus tests actually cost and why some people are having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.

[Note: The type of testing referenced throughout this story refers to the COVID-19 diagnostic test, not the antibody test. A complete guide to the where to buy coronavirus antibody tests and how much they cost CAN BE FOUND HERE].

How much is a COVID-19 test SUPPOSED to cost?

Prices for coronavirus testing aren’t federally regulated, according to a REPORT from The Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (Peterson-KFF). Like other types of medical fees, insurance companies have to negotiate the cost with the providers and labs that dole out the tests.

The CARES Act requires hospitals and other medical providers to disclose the CASH PRICE of COVID-19 tests on their websites, which, in theory, could help could people looking to take the test know exactly how much money they’ll be out if they end up having to pay for it on their own. But not all medical providers are following that CARES Act rule - and those that are publicly posting coronavirus test prices are disclosing costs ranging anywhere from $20 to $850 per test, according to the Peterson-KFF report. That’s quite a spectrum, and it doesn’t include fees for other services that may be required, like doctors visit charges, specimen collection, or other types of diagnostic testing.

How to get free COVID testing

Insurers are legally required to pay for in-network testing, so try to find a medical facility where you know you’ll be covered. Many insurers have also agreed to cover the cost of a COVID test if its done at an OUT-OF-NETWORK facility, but you’ll want to reach out to your insurance company (or Medicare/Medicaid provider) before your visit.

As of this writing, the government is REIMBURSING MEDICAL PROVIDORS that give coronavirus tests and treatment to uninsured Americans, as long as certain qualifications are met. So as long as you have a SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND A STATE I.D., you should be able to get a test for free or for a nominal fee - even if you don’t have insurance.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Insurers aren’t required to pay for fees incurred by patients who seek a COVID-19 test but don’t actually GET the test. So if a doctor decides not to test you for the virus, or the facility has run out of tests completely, you could still be on the hook for whatever fees you happen to rack up during your visit from a strep test to a five-night HOSPITAL STAY.

THE RULES for out-of-network coverage are even more muddled, which can be particularly burdensome for people living in rural and low-income pockets of the country where medical providers ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN.

“Such charges - can be financially burdensome or prohibitive for uninsured or self-pay patients, especially given the current labor market and high rates of unemployment,” the KFF report says.

Where to get a coronavirus test

Your state and local health department websites should have a list of the hospitals, clinics, and “drive-thru” screening facilities offering COVID-19 tests in your area, according to the CDC.

Many doctors and medical centers are scheduling TELEHEALTH APPOINTMENTS over video prior to administering the test in-person, so make sure you know what the procedure is before trying to get a walk-in appointment (you might get turned away if you just show up). Pharmacies like CVS and WALGREENS are also operating pop-up testing sites appointments for those facilities can be booked online.


Posted by Elvis on 10/13/20 •
Section Dying America
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