HEALTH ACCESS CALIFORNIA ALERT

Friday, February 26th, 2004

* ELECTION TUESDAY: Vote YES on Prop 56 on March 2nd; Actions Needed

* HEALTH CARE STRIKE: Grocery Workers Reach Tentative Settlement

* BUDGET HEARINGS AND ACTIVITIES SCHEDULED: New Calendar of Events

VOTE ON TUESDAY, MARCH 2ND: YES ON PROPOSITION 56!

* Volunteers still needed!

Only a few days to go to pass Proposition 56: the Budget Accountability Act,

on ballot on Tuesday, March 2nd. The proposition would help prevent late and

irresponsible budgets that have led us to the current budget crisis, and has

threatened our health care system we all rely on. It looks like this may be

a low-turnout election, and so everything done to mobilize voters to vote

(and to vote YES on 56) is of special importance.

There will be phone banking and precinct walking this weekend, Monday, and

“get out the vote” work on Tuesday. Feel free to contact these location for

volunteering:

LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles): Call Ericka Smith, 213-368-8609

CONTA COSTA (Martinez, Pittsburg): Call 925-261-0225 or 925-228-0161

MONTEREY BAY (Castroville, Monterey): Call Steve Gonzales 831-840-5947

SANTA CRUZ (Santa Cruz, Watsonville): Call Lyndsay Butler 831-840-4373

SAN FRANCISCO (San Francisco): Call John Kosinski at 415-503-5747

SANTA CLARA (San Jose): Call 408-266-3790

SACRAMENTO (Sacramento): Call Martha Phillips 916-442-3838 or 916-927-9772

ALAMEDA (Oakland): Call 510-869-2253

(Fremont): Call 510-744-4340

(Hayward): Call 510-632-4242

Other Northern California locations: Tai Milder, 207-650-0710

Other Southern California locations: Tracy Zeluff 213-738-8408

GROCERY WORKERS GET TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT ON HEALTH BENEFITS

* Boycott Suspended; Actions Planned for Northern California Negotiations

Grocery store workers in Southern California will be also be voting this

weekend, on the compromise settlement reached between Safeway and other

southern California grocery stores, and the United Food & Commerical Workers

(UFCW) union. The key issue during a 137-day strike was the grocery stores’

demand to significantly scale back health care benefits. As of this writing,

the details of the settlement have not been made public.

As UFCW members decide on the tentative settlement, the California Labor

Federation has announced that it will suspend the start of its Boycott

Safeway campaign, which was planned with a range of senior, religious, and

other community organizations, including Health Access California.

However, even if the southern California grocery workers vote to approve the

settlement, the fight is not over. Northern California grocery workers are

gearing up for their own contract fights, largely over health care, for

later this year. Actions are already being planned, including action of UFCW

workers for March 14th in San Francisco. Health care advocates interested in

supporting this work should contact Susan Sachen of the California Labor

Federation at 510-663-4010, ssachen@calaborfed.org.

The grocery workers’ strike points to a disturbing trend of large employers

seeking to either scale back health benefits or drop coverage altogether.

Such a shift of only a handful of large employers is having a ripple effect,

as other competing employers feel pressure to do the same. Hundreds of

thousands of workers and their families find themselves uninsured, placing a

burden on public insurance programs and already-fragile health care system.

The strike illustrates the need to protect employer-based coverage, as will

be debated with the November referenum on SB 2.

NEW CALENDAR OF EVENTS; BUDGET HEARINGS AND ACTIVITY TO HEAT UP

* March and April the time to make case on budget cuts.

ATTACHED is a updated Calendar of events and activities for budget and

health advocates.

After the election on Tuesday, advocates will be moving into a new phase in

the budget process. In March and April, legislative budget subcommittees

will be holding regular hearings on the specifics of the budget, overseeing

departments, reviewing each proposed cut, and taking testimony on the

impacts of those cuts. Advocacy groups are scheduling lobbying days, town

halls, and press actions between now and the announcement of the May

Revision of the budget in mid-May.

HEARING ON HEALTH CUTS: The next hearing of interest in on MONDAY, MARCH

8th, by the Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 on Health, chaired by Senator Wes

Chesbro, at 1:30pm at the Capitol, Sacramento. Onm the agenda are many of

the health care cuts, including those to Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and

other public health programs. There will be an opportunity to testify.

NEW RESOURCES: The California Budget Project has just produced “budget

backgrounders” on both Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, which are useful

resources in preparation for that hearing. Get them at http://www.cbp.org.



Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

awright@health-access.org

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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