Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

18 states refuse to run insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions


18 states refuse to run insurance pools for those with preexisting conditions

By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer

Eighteen states have said they will not administer a stopgap program to provide insurance coverage to people whose preexisting conditions have left them uninsured, forcing the federal government to do the work.

The states’ decisions increase the challenge the government faces as it sets out to translate the far-reaching health-care legislation into action, and they hint at the complexities to come.

At issue is a provision to extend temporary relief to people with preexisting medical conditions beginning this year, instead of making them wait until 2014, when insurers will be prohibited from turning people away or charging higher premiums based on health status. The health-care law sets aside $5 billion for the “high-risk pools.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told state officials last month that she wanted to build on state programs, and she asked state governments to let her know by April 30 whether they would run the pools at the state level.

As of Monday, 29 states plus the District of Columbia had said they would do so, and 18 said they would leave the job to HHS. Others were undecided.

Some governors said they were unwilling to take on the task because it appears that Congress has allocated too little money.

Meanwhile, it was unclear how soon coverage will be available. The pools will be funded by July 1, but the earliest enrollment dates will vary, depending on such factors as whether states must first adopt new laws or regulations, said Jay Angoff, director of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

“There’s not a date certain,” Angoff said. “Some states will be able to come up with this more quickly than others.”

The health-care law says that the high-risk pools are meant to give people with preexisting conditions “immediate access to insurance,” and it requires that they be established within 90 days of the law’s March enactment. To qualify, individuals must have been uninsured for six months. The premiums are supposed to match those for a “standard population.” Out-of-pocket expenses will be capped ## in the case of individuals, at $5,950.

The states that declined to administer risk pools are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming, according HHS.

Most of those states are led by Republican governors. Three of them ## Delaware, Tennessee, and Wyoming ## are led by Democratic governors. Florida’s governor was elected as a Republican but is now running for a Senate seat as an independent.

HHS has been exploring the possibility of hiring nonprofit insurance companies to operate the pools.

Most states already have high-risk pools, but they can be prohibitively expensive and they generally do not meet the new federal requirements.

The chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has predicted that the $5 billion allotted for the new program will run out as early as next year.

In a letter Friday to Sebelius, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said the state, which will not establish its own high-risk pool, estimates that the $113 million in federal funds available to it will be used up within 22 months. Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources, William A. Hazel Jr., said Monday that setting up the pools “is an enormously complicated undertaking.”

Maryland opted to run its own high-risk pool. John M. Colmers, the state’s secretary of health and mental hygiene, said he did not know if federal funding would be sufficient, but he said the fact that Maryland already has such a pool might mean that the new demand will not be as heavy.

If funds run out, state and federal governments could face difficult choices: reduce benefits, raise premiums or limit enrollment.

“I don’t think any of those options are very attractive,” said Jean P. Hall, an associate research professor studying the matter at the University of Kansas. If it comes to that, “I strongly suspect that they will come up with more money.”

33 States Reported Job Growth in March


33 States Reported Job Growth in March

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania recorded sizable gains in employment in March and were among 33 states posting increases.

In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.

By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation’s highest unemployment rate and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses in the month.

Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.

The department’s report Friday showed how the job gains and losses were distributed among the states.

The increases in nonfarm payroll employment occurred in 33 states and the District of Colombia. In February, only 23 states had seen job gains while 27 states and the District of Columbia had recorded job losses…..

Read the rest of this article at



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

– Wage Hikes for 800 Office Cleaners –

Wilmington, DE – Janitors in Wilmington and New Castle County have won a historic area-wide contract with wage increases, health insurance, paid vacation and other benefits. After months of negotiations with area cleaning contractors, nearly 800 office cleaners, some of whom currently make as little as $7.25 with no health benefits will see their wages rise to $9.25 by the end of the 2 year contract, and for the first time full-time workers will receive employer-paid health benefits.

“What’s striking is that the men and women who clean the very banks that prompted this economic crisis have successfully fought for higher wages,” said Mike Fishman, President of 32BJ, the largest property service workers union in the country.

The contract will raise industry standards at more than three quarters of the commercial office buildings in Wilmington, and New Castle County including Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase.

Under the new 2 year contract, which will go into effect on January, 2010 in Wilmington and in 2011 in New Castle County, office cleaners will earn a minimum wage of $8 per hour or receive a raise of at least 40 cents per hour. Average hourly wages will increase as much as $2 over the life of the 2 years contract, with an annual increases of 70 cent an hour effective January 2011 and a raise of 55 cents an hour on December 31, 2011 for Wilmington workers and a year later starting January 2011 for New Castle County workers. In both areas, for the first time, all full-time workers will receive employer paid quality health care.

“This is the beginning to a better life,” said Willie Grant an Arthur Jackson office cleaner who has been working for almost 3 year for the cleaning contractor in Wilmington. “I suffer from a heart condition, thank God we’re finally going to have healthcare.”

For several months, the union has negotiated on behalf of office cleaners who maintain buildings in Wilmington and New Castle County buildings and facilities. These office cleaners now join thousands of other 32BJ SEIU members who have won contracts improving standards for janitors across the country.

“This is an inspiring victory for 32BJ members, their families and the community of Wilmington,” said Kevin Kelley, Wilmington Council member. “These workers have shown that by uniting together in a union they can win the living wages and health care they deserve.”

With more than 110,000 members in eight states and Washington D.C., 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: I had the pleasure of marching in Wilmington last year with this great union local. This is a huge win for hard-hit Delaware workers. I apologize for not getting this up sooner but I did not get the press release when it was first issued. Hats off to all my friends at SEIU 32BJ! GREAT JOB!!!!!

Chart: Has Your State Left Federal Unemployment Money Unclaimed?


Important information for workers in every state.

Please share this link widely.

Delaware State Worker Pay Cut Fight: Part 2


Delaware State Worker Pay Cut Fight: Part 2

The fight against the proposed 8% pay cut for state employees in Delaware has grown dramatically in scale and intensity in recent weeks. This week, the State Workers United for a Better Delaware coalition has scheduled a Legislative Commitment Rally on Thursday, June 11th on the Legislative Mall in Dover, Delaware.

The crowd will begin gathering at 4pm. Speeches and the public signing of a No Salary Cut Commitment Pledge by legislators will commence at 6pm. At the time of the writing of this article more than a dozen legislators have already announced support for the pledge.

Organized labor has been rallying strongly behind the state workers in opposition to the pay cuts. Union leaders believe that the budget deficit can be solved without resorting to massive pay cuts for workers in Delaware. They have not been shy about proposing numerous alternatives and criticizing the basic unfairness of placing an excessive burden on a relatively under-paid group of workers.

Traditionally, state government employees have been paid significantly less than either federal government employees or workers in the private sector. They traded job security for significantly lower pay. Union leaders think that asking underpaid employees to further reduce their wages cannot be justified for the vast majority of state employees.

Amos B. McCluney, Jr., Chairman of the UAW Local 1183 Retiree Chapter and former Delaware State House member stated, “As a former Delaware state legislator, I realize that not all state workers can afford a pay cut. Lower paid state workers are the guys who are already maxed-out. They are already living paycheck to paycheck. If you cut their pay 8%, they would have to drop their 401K, get an inferior healthcare plan and still not be able to keep their bills current.

It is a different story when it comes to the very highest paid state workers in essentially upper-management positions. The highest paid state employee in Delaware makes around 480,000.00 per year. He can afford a pay cut. He is not going to miss it.”

The importance of finding equitable alternatives seems focused on tax fairness instead of pay cuts. For example, Harry Gravell, President of the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council explained that “many out of state contractors and sub-contractors evade payment of Delaware taxes by various legal and illegal mechanisms. Closing the tax evasion loopholes by these unethical contractors would certainly generate enough additional tax revenues to close the budget gap and more. There would be no need to cut the pay of state workers.”

Gravell went on to state, “An aggressive effort by the Attorneys General, Labor Department and Governor to go after out-of-state construction industry tax cheats would help create jobs for the citizens of Delaware and protect the interest of honest contractors in Delaware facing unfair competition.”

Brian McGlinchey, Regional Director of Government Affairs for the Laborers’ (LIUNA) union and prominent Democratic Party activist contends that “we can find other sources of revenue to address the short-term budget deficit while we seek fairer solutions. We can certainly tap the Rainy Day fund. We can look at possibly finding some additional revenue from out-of-state corporations, legally headquartered in, but not actually having operations in Delaware.

We need to get more creative in finding solutions that do not lower the standard of living for tens of thousands of struggling working class and middle-class Delaware families. We need to grow our way out of this budget deficit. Pay cuts of this magnitude are not the right answer because pay cuts will not promote economic growth, more jobs or higher tax revenues.”

In Part 1 of this series of articles, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 1029 was accidentally not included as a member of the State Workers United for a Better Delaware coalition.

Sam Lathem, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO noted that, “Delaware workers are angry about the employment and tax policies pursued in recent decades at their expense. Tax cuts have long been focused at providing breaks for the wealthiest segment of society and large corporations instead of the working poor and the middle-class. Workers are being driven out of the middle-class by unfair government policy and excessive corporate power. Pay cuts for state workers only make the problem worse. Cutting the pay of workers reduces the buying power of consumers which leads to even more job losses. Job losses reduce tax revenues that already are stretched thin by misguided, excessive tax cuts for those most able to afford to pay taxes. We are putting the burden on the wrong segment of our society.”

AFSCME Council 81 Executive Director Michael Begatto clearly expressed the importance of finding a more equitable solution to the state budget problem. Begatto said, “Delaware public employees provide the vital public services that make Delaware happen. Public employees in Delaware are underpaid, understaffed and overworked and their health insurance rates are increasing by 50%. That means state employees and their families are already sacrificing to help balance our budget.

An 8% pay cut for public employees would be an economic disaster for Delaware. It would take 91 million dollars out of Delaware’s economy. That will deepen our recession. It would hurt small businesses. It would be bad for every Delaware taxpayer.”

The crucial roles played by state workers in economic recovery and proving essential services were highlighted by Pamela T. Nichols, Director of Communications of the Delaware State Education Association, “We have teachers, school nurses, other school specialists who will lose 18, even twenty percent of their normal salary if all of the administration’s salary cuts go through. It’s not just 8% to the base. This is really worse than short-sighted, it is worse than short-sighted to think that taking $91 million out of Delaware’s economy will help us out of economic recession. Cutting salaries to balance the budget is misguided - chasing economic chaos with more economic chaos makes no sense. It will not increase spending or create jobs. It will do just the opposite.

I also think that Delawareans get the connection between devastating public servants and devastating the services they provide. They understand that hurting teachers, for example, hurts education. Times are tough for everyone. We understand that. But devastating more families won’t increase spending or bring jobs and businesses to our state.

There are certainly more responsible ways to shore up our economy, lots of ways, all of which are being discussed by legislators now. Many of them are ideas that will not hurt Delaware’s families, adversely affect any one group, or create more economic downturn.”

When it comes to alternatives, several prominent legislators have pointed to a series of tax cuts enacted for those in the highest income brackets over the years. They indicated that the first 4 or 5 of those tax cuts were passed based on the premise that they would create additional economic growth in Delaware.

However, these same legislators noted that the most recent 4 or 5 tax cuts for upper income Delawareans were passed because the state budget at that time was in surplus. They contend that those recent cuts are not necessarily still justified since the government surpluses are now deficits. Some legislators think it might be a good idea to create additional tax brackets at the highest income levels.

There are many other alternatives being proposed. Many of these, like the Kowalko Plan proposed by State Representative John A. Kowalko, Jr., were mentioned in Part 1 of this series of articles.

It has become clear that there will be a huge political price to pay for any legislators who support budget deficit solution measures that reduce the incomes of Delaware workers. With higher fuel prices, higher food prices, higher medical costs, higher insurance costs and more, Delaware workers understand that any government action aimed at reducing wages for any portion of the workforce will inevitably result in more pressure to reduce wages for other segments of the workforce. Delaware workers cannot afford lower income levels.

The usual tactic of divide and conquer concerning pay rates will not work although the usual suspects in Dover are already floating some proposals of this type. Anti-working class bias is alive and well in the Delaware legislature.

Certain Republican legislators are trying to exploit the budget deficit by trying to eliminate prevailing wage laws in the construction industry. This is another unfair proposal to drive down the standard of living for Delaware workers. These same legislators are completely ignoring the massive tax evasion and violation of labor laws by unethical out-of-state contractors who are often exploiting illegal aliens.

The pay cut proposals being pushed in Dover have united Delaware workers in an unprecedented fashion. The anger they have generated runs very deep. The sense of injury is turning into a very deep and lasting resentment that legislators will be facing for years to come. It is unlikely to go away before the next state election.

Sadly, alternatives are clearly available that are fairer and have many additional benefits for small businesses and the citizens of Delaware. The question remains “will the state legislature look at the alternatives that create jobs and opportunity or will they be blinded by an anti-working class bias?”

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic . Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Suite 303, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email:

“State Workers United for a Better Delaware” calls for a Legislative Commitment Rally this Thursday, June 11 on Legislative Mall


For more information, contact Vincent Fiscella, Delaware State Troopers Association, at 302-598-6465 (cell), or Pam Nichols, communications chair, DSEA, 302-734-5834

“State Workers United for a Better Delaware” calls for a Legislative Commitment Rally this Thursday, June 11 on Legislative Mall

Media Advisory

What: Commitment Rally for state employees and legislators

Where: Legislative Mall, Dover

When: July 11, 4pm gathering; 6pm speeches and signing of No Salary
Cut Commitment Pledge by legislators

WHY: To recognize those legislators who stand with us in their desire to find $91.7 million in order to eliminate the 8% salary cut proposed by Governor Markell for all of Delaware’s 32,000 state workers.

To once again show our solidarity for a fair and responsible solution to the recession that will promote long-term economic growth, not harm it by taking $91 million out of the economy and devastating 32,000 state workers and their families with salary cuts of 8-10%, even more.

As the General Assembly’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee continues to develop the state’s 09-10 budget, “…We invite them and their legislative colleagues to stand up and be counted, to find funding solutions that are fair and responsible, solutions that will grow our economy, not shrink it,” says Coalition Chair, Sgt. Vincent Fiscella, president of the Delaware State Troopers Association.

Pam Nichols

Communications Chair for State Workers United for a Better Delaware

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Pamela T. Nichols
Director of Communications
Delaware State Education Association
136 E. Water St.
Dover, DE 19901

FAX 1-302-674-8499

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I strongly urge every union activist in Delaware and surrounding communities to attend. If this pay cut for workers approach wins the day in Delaware, we can expect the same approach to be used in other states!




Tom Carper “Saddened and Dismayed” By Closing Of GM Plant in Newark

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2009) - Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) commented today on the closing of the last auto assembly plant on the East Coast, Delaware’s GM Boxwood Road plant.

Sen. Carper talks about the importance of getting assistance to GM workers, retraining efforts and ultimately finding new use for the GM facility.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Carper and the Delaware delegation released a statement in support of the GM workers, their families and the community. The delegation said:

“The men and women at the Boxwood Road plant have done everything that’s been asked of them. Even when the going was tough, they never gave up. Throughout the years, the workforce there has served as a role model when it comes to labor-management relations, as well as with their commitment to productivity and quality. Our principle job as elected officials in Delaware has been to tell that story to as many people in GM’s top management since 1992 in our ongoing effort to keep the plant open and operating.

“Going forward, we have requested assistance from the Administration to our community - and to communities like ours - which will be hit hard by closure of GM facilities. The three of us will continue to work hard to obtain the help that the workers will need to get through this challenging time in their lives, and to put their lives back together. We’ll also take up GM on its offer to explore what to do with the plant and the real estate surrounding it. We will continue to fight the good fight.”

Gov Howard Dean Emergency Meeting in Delaware


Governor Howard Dean Presents: The Public Health Insurance Option – A Prescription for Guaranteed, Affordable, Health Care for All
Join Democracy for America, Health Care for America Now, and the SEIU Change that Works Campaign for a special guest, Governor Howard Dean, who is offering up a prescription for change in health care reform this year. What is a “public option?” Why is it so important? What can we all do collectively to help win REAL changes in health care reform in 2009 that bring quality, affordable, health care for everyone in America?

Where: Delaware Building Trades Council Sheet Metal Workers Hall

911 New Way Wilmington DE 19805

When: Friday May 29th, 3-5pm

What: Dr. Howard Dean speaks on Health Care Reform, a “public health insurance option” - and what we can all do to achieve it in 2009.

This event is FREE and open to the public

Jennifer A. Hill
Change That Works Delaware
State Director

Delaware State Worker Coalition and Allies Fight Massive Pay Cuts: Part 1


Delaware State Worker Coalition and Allies Fight Massive Pay Cuts: Part 1

Most states are facing tough economic times and having great difficulty balancing state government budgets. This is certainly true in Delaware and surrounding states. Pay cut proposals for state workers were floated in Maryland and Pennsylvania but quickly rejected. Other solutions managed to at least temporarily stem the tide of red ink were found without unduly punishing state employees.

In Delaware, the Democratic Governor Jack Markell has put his political weight behind a massive 8% pay cut for state workers. The proposal is almost universally opposed by every labor union in the state and the vast majority of the progressive community. The reception for the massive pay cut proposal in Democratic Party circles has been fairly cool to outright hostile. Opposition to the pay cuts has been growing and getting increasingly organized.

All those opposition groups contend that the Governor did not give enough consideration to alternatives like tapping the Rainy Day Fund, the detailed set of proposals by State Representative John A. Kowalko, Jr. commonly referred to as the “Kowalko Plan” or specific ideas coming from actual state employees. Alternatives have been either under-reported or utterly disregarded by most of the media in the state. Representative Kowalko has offered to present his plan to any group of citizens in the state desiring to learn about the “Kowalko Plan.”

The State Workers United for a Better Delaware is a coalition of labor organizations in opposition to the proposed 8% across the board pay cuts for state workers. Included in the coalition are the Delaware State Troopers Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 81, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), DSEA-Retired, Teamsters Local 326, the Correctional Officers Association (COAD), Communications Workers of America Local 13101, the State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), FOP Lodge 3, FOP Lodge 10, FOP Lodge 11, the Delaware Attorney General Investigators Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27. The proposed pay cuts will impact 33,000 state workers in Delaware.

According to police sources, an estimated 2,500 state workers and supporters rallied in front of Legislative Hall in Dover the evening of May 6, 2008 to officially launch the coalition. This was one of the largest labor union crowds gathered in Delaware in recent memory.
While there were numerous prominent speakers sharing comments from the stage, workers and allies in the crowd were eager to share their views on the proposed wage cuts and the current economic situation in Delaware.

Jeff Pittman, a spokesperson for AFSCME, stated that “the proposed 8% pay cuts will hurt all Delaware taxpayers. It means 8% less in the pockets of all state workers. There will be 8% less spent with small businesses in Delaware. There will be 8% less from state workers in collection plates at churches and 8% less in donations to charitable causes. Altogether, $91 million will go missing out of the Delaware economy.”

UFCW Local 27 Assistant Organizing Director Brian Nesbit said, “An 8% pay cut would have a devastating impact of the spending power of Delaware residents. We already have an income crisis in America. The last thing we should be doing is cutting the wages of working Americans.”

Vice President of the Delaware State Troopers Association Thomas Brackin was very positive in his comments about the labor support, “this issue has galvanized the entire labor movement. We have received calls from every labor union in the state. To have everyone together and united on this issue is unprecedented and wonderful.”

He went on to say, “Across the board pay cuts are a quick fix solution however this is a long term problem and the only way to get out of a deficit of this magnitude is to grow your way out not cut your way out. When you negatively impact the buying power of the State’s 30,000 employees you simply deepen the problem. Frankly I am disappointed that rather then make the difficult and unpopular decisions to enhance revenue the governor and his staff took the easy way out with across the board cuts for State Employees knowing they will be back to the drawing board next year without a better long term solution.”

As if to prove Brackin’s point on labor solidarity, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1183 Financial Secretary Alena Bandy was spotted in the crowd. There are no state workers represented by UAW Local 1183.

Although they are not subject to the proposed pay cuts, the entire leadership of ATU Local 842 attended the rally. This union local stands solidly with the state workers fighting the proposed pay cuts.

Wali Rushdan, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 842, remarked, “The thing about unions is that we stick together. This rally and effort shows that unions are coming together in support of state workers. If they fail, we all fail. Pay cuts for state workers puts pressure on all workers in Delaware. It sets a really bad precedent! We have to make politicians understand that we have a backbone and are willing to prove it.”

Teamsters Local 326 President John J. Ryan, Sr. was accompanied by at least 15 fellow members of his local. Ryan stated, “Although we only represent 12 state workers (Harbor Patrol Officers) out of our approximately 2,000 members, we are here to support all our brothers and sisters working throughout the state. It is important to note that there are alternatives to the proposed pay cuts. For example, we could save a great deal of money if we changed the way group homes are organized and financed. Doing this would help create more jobs for Delawareans instead of out-of-state contractors.”

Delaware Working Families Party Organizer Daniel Charlton expressed his opinion by stating “Delaware’s state workers are the ones providing essential services to the rest of our residents. We cannot ask them to sacrifice 8% of their income without looking at fairer options. There are better ways of closing the budget gap than asking only state workers to sacrifice. This is a time when we all need to come together to work for the best solutions and singling out state workers does not meet that standard.”

The National Treasurer of the FOP Thomas F. Penoza is a Delaware resident. Recently, he helped found and serves as President of the Delaware Attorney General Investigators Association. Penoza stated “Markell wants us to keep providing services to the citizens of Delaware but is asking us to make an unreasonable contribution to the total sacrifices needed to balance the state budget. The proposed pay cuts are putting too much of the burden on too few.”

Doug Watts, President of FOP Lodge 10 said his union represents about 260 members in Delaware. In regards to the pay cut proposal, Watts said, “I do not think this is fair. The Governor said the budget solution should be fair, shared and compassionate. I do not see these features in his state worker pay cut proposal. It is not fair to balance the entire state budget on the backs of 33,000 state workers.”

Brian P. Douty, Secretary of the FOP State Lodge, clearly stated his organization’s position. “The Delaware FOP represents over 2,200 law enforcement officers in this state encompassing 14 local lodges that include Probation and Parole, the Capitol Police Department, Alcohol and Tobacco, Fire Marshals and DNREC, in addition to municipal law enforcement agencies. All of us protect and serve the citizens of Delaware. We are providing valuable services and facing danger daily. We should not be facing these proposed severe pay cuts in return for doing our duty as law enforcement professionals.”

DSEA Executive Board member Tom Chapman shared his views, “We are in full support of the citizens of Delaware during these tough times in the state. We understand that there is a budget crisis. However, we cannot balance the state budget on the backs of lower and middle income workers which make up the vast majority of state workers.”

Shula Reaves, Vice President of COAD brought the issue home by explaining how the proposed pay cuts would impact his family. “I think this proposed pay cut is terrible. We really cannot afford it. My wife also works for the state. We are going to take a double hit on both pay and health insurance. This is unfair to my children. We have not had a pay raise in 5 years.”

The State Workers United for a Better Delaware in coming weeks will be staging numerous additional events in Dover to fight the pay cut proposal. There will be more Coalition Lobby Days on May 27, June 3, June 10, June 17 and June 24.

Written by Stephen Crockett (host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, DE 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: .

Feel free to publish or post without prior approval.

Delaware Laborers’ kick off “First Annual Labor in Film Series” with free showing of Roger & Me


We would like to extend an invitation to you and your fellow union members. Please share this invitation with all our union brothers and sisters. Of course, not-yet unionized workers are welcome to attend.

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The Laborers” International Union of North America and LIUNA Political Leaque of Delaware are presenting a free screening of the award-winning documentary by Michael Moore Roger And Me on Thursday, May 21 at the Theatre N at Nemours (11th & Tatnall Streets, Wilmington, Delaware). This is first film in the First Annual Labor in Film Series. Showtime begins at 7pm.

Before the film begins, there will be a speaker. Sam Lathem, President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO will be introducing the film series. He will briefly address topics related to the role of labor unions, the labor movement and the auto industry in Delaware.

Roger and Me is Michael Moore’s award-winning first film about his hometown Flint, Michigan, and the impact that the GM plant downsizing had on the town. “Roger” is GM CEO Roger White, who Moore is trying to interview during the entire filming.

Additional details about this film are available at .

While his screening is free, we will have Fat Rick’s All-You-Can-Eat BBQ available at a very reasonable cost, which you must order in advance (so he’ll have enough food!). Doors open for the food and speeches at 6pm.

The discounted meal ticket price for “Laborers Union (LIUNA) Members is $5.00.

The $10.00 meal ticket price is for “non-LIUNA members”.

Click on applicable meal ticket price on the right side of this page to make meal reservations.

Upcoming films in the series include:

Thursday, September 10th: Unbought and Unbossed (Shirley Chisolm)

Thursday, November 5th: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk

Thursday, February 4, 2010: 10,000 Black Men Named George

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Any questions, please call Stephen Crockett @ 443-907-2367

Why I Support Brian McGlinchey for Delaware Democratic Party Chairperson -by Dana Garrett


Why I Support Brian McGlinchey for Delaware Democratic Party Chairperson

by Dana Garrett

I am a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Brian McGlinchey as the next Democratic Party Chairperson for the state of Delaware. I have known Brian for a few years and have found him to be an intelligent, friendly and resolute person. Brian is highly organized and creative as well as a first class strategic thinker. He is assertive without being aggressive, a distinction that Delaware’s civility-challenged, current Democratic Chairperson at times doesn’t comprehend.

Brian is a lifelong Delawarean and has been actively involved in Democratic politics for over twenty years. He has worked for the election of Democrats as both a campaign strategist and a fundraiser and presently serves as regional director of government affairs for the Laborers International Union of North America. Contrary to rumor, Brian is not employed by the Delaware State AFL-CIO. He serves as the legislative chairman, a non-paid position.

Brian is a true progressive. I know that one of his goals as chairperson is to champion grass roots political organizing and education programs for rank and file Democrats in Delaware. Brian is particularly fond of the Sen. Paul Wellstone way of grass roots political organizing. I believe that if Brian becomes the chairperson, the recent gains that Democratic candidates have made across Delaware will expand and deepen in their vote margins. Brian will see to it that Delaware Democrats get the training to help make it happen. (When has John Daniello ever done anything like that for Delaware Democrats?) Delaware Democrats will not have to rely on a catastrophic presidency like George Bush’s or another Obama tsunami to make electoral gains locally.

Be Glad that Brian McGlinchey is a Union Worker

I have found it bewildering to hear and read some Democrats complain that McGlinchey is employed by a union. I would expect such a complaint from the Republicans but not from Democrats. If the USA’s present financial crisis demonstrates anything, it shows that Americans do not bring home enough money in their paychecks to meet their obligations. Union workers tend to make more money than nonunion workers. That Brian McGlinchey has advocated for legislation to protect workers on their jobs, union and otherwise, and to ensure high paying jobs for Delawareans is a badge of honor and accords with the highest principles of the Democratic Party.

The rumored complaint is that as a union representative Brian McGlinchey will be forced to support labor-friendly Republican candidates. This is a complete red herring. Brian has received assurances both from the Laborers Union and the AFL-CIO that if he is elected party chairperson, he will not be required to do anything to support a Republican candidate in any manner whatsoever. As far as Brian’s past electoral experience is concerned, he wrote recently in an e-mail sent to some Democrats:

I have never personally given any money to a Republican candidate nor worked for one. I have never made a phone call nor walked a district for one. And I don’t plan on starting now. My own brother, Bill, Chair of the 11th District Committee, faced off against Republicans in his bid for State Representative and Senate.

My campaign experience consists entirely of working for Democrats.

Never worked for a Republican before and will not be required to do so in the future. Ask yourself why some people are making this canard an issue. Why won’t they tell the truth about Brian McGlinchey?

It’s Time for a New Generation of Leadership

I personally witnessed John Daniello tell a local blogger in legislative hall “If you don’t turn that camera off, I will shove it down your throat.” The blogger didn’t even have has camera turned on. I believe that John Daniello’s reputation is a source of embarrassment to the party. I am not alone in my belief.

We will have a different type of party leader in Brian McGlinchey. We will have a Democrat who is a true democrat, someone who is able to work cooperatively with others with the view of building party unity and electing Democrats to office in Delaware. Brian will bring experience, vigor, progressive thinking and innovation to the job as party chairperson. Brian McGlinchey has my unreserved support.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dana is one of my co-hosts on Democratic Talk Radio along with John Morgan. This article comes from the Delaware Watch Blog.

I personally know Brian McGlinchey very well. He is a strong labor activist and has the best political mind of anyone I have ever met! His work ethic is amazing. His ego is small but the work he does is huge. Brian loves working people. He is a tireless crusader for the rights and needs of the little guy!

His ability to multi-task dwarfs my own. I thought this was something I was unusually good at until I met McGlinchey!

He is compassionate in dealing with all kinds of people. I have witnessed hundreds of examples of acts of kindness and charity from Brian in the last two years.

While I have nothing against any other candidate, I believe that nobody could do more to strengthen the Democratic Party in Delaware than Brian McGlinchey. I believe in him so strongly that if I was running against him I would still vote for Brian McGlinchey!

Personally, I completely support the candidacy of Brian McGlinchey as Chair of the Delaware Democratic Party and urge every Democrat to do the same! If you are a union supporter or Democrat with friends in the state, please contact them in the next two days and ask them to contact their Democratic leadership in support of the McGlinchey candidacy.

In solidarity,

Stephen Crockett

Editor, Mid-Atlantic
Host, Democratic Talk Radio

Join SEIU for a Health Care Forum in Delaware on evening of May 28th!


Invitation to Health Care Forum

Date: Thursday May 28, 2009
Time: 6pm
Location: 698 Old Baltimore Pike
UAW Local 1183 Training Building

Join SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and HCAN (Health Care for America Now) to gather our best ideas and most pressing concerns about the Federal Health Care effort.

Background of Federal effort:
Sen. Baucus is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee is writing a bill and holding roundtable discussions on what should be done and it can be paid for.

Sen. Kennedy chair of the Senate HELP committee is drafting a bill that will include the most comprehensive approach possible without the funding.

At the national level many groups are meeting during the Memorial Day work period. Join other Faith and Community groups working on healthcare on May 28th at 6pm, UAW Local 1183 Old Baltimore Pike in Newark.

We are asking you to consider your group’s most important priorities for the Health Care Bill and bring it to the meeting.

After a discussion we will compile a document that will include recommendations from all of the groups attending or sent to us via email. This document will be presented to Sen. Carper, Sen. Kaufman and Rep Castle personally. This document will be non-binding and each group will have different priorities. We are not recommending or endorsing a specific plan but creating a record of our ongoing work and commitment to Health Care that Works!

Jennifer A. Hill
Change That Works Delaware
State Director

The AFL–CIO Delaware Chapter 1st Annual SATURDAY NITE LIVE- May 16, 2009


The AFL–CIO Delaware Chapter



Live Entertainment By: The Jump Street Band

Pipe Fitter Union Hall
(Executive Banquet & Conference Center)
205 Executive Drive - Newark, DE 19702

May 16, 2009
Time: 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Bring Can Goods to Support Food Drive:
Proceeds will go to the Delaware State AFL-CIO Food Bank

Cost: $25.00 each - Cash Bar and Continuous Hors oeuvres’

For More Information Contact: - (302) 545-0281




CONTACT: Bette Phelan (202) 224-2441


WASHINGTON (April 27, 2009) - Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) issued the following statement in response to news today that General Motors (GM) plans to undergo a massive restructuring of its operations and financing:

“Our Senate offices continue to monitor the GM restructuring situation as it unfolds.

“We are in contact with senior GM and UAW officials both in Delaware and in Detroit.

“Our goal is to protect, to the best of our ability, the interests of Delaware, and especially the workforce at the GM plant on Boxwood Road.

“There is a remarkable spirit of labor-management cooperation that has infused virtually everything that happened at our GM plant for many years.

“It’s largely that cooperation that has enabled the Boxwood Road plant to survive while every other auto assembly plant on the East Coast has been closed over the past two decades.

“We will continue to work closely with company and union officials as well as with local and state offices to provide full support for the employees at the GM plant, their families and our entire community.”

Delaware Townhall : An Economy that Works for US


Townhall : An Economy that Works for US

Where : Bancroft Elemenary 700 N. Lombard Wilmington DE

When: Tuesday April 14, 2009 7-9pm

Sponsors: SEIU 32BJ, HCAN (Healthcare for America Now!), Delaware AFL-CIO, and the DSEA (Delaware State Teachers Association)

Join the public and Senators Kaufman and Carper, and Rep. Castle

Our Concerns

Health Care why we need it now

The Employee Free Choice Act – how unions help the economy

For more information contact SEIU 32 BJ


Jennifer A. Hill
Change That Works Delaware
State Director

Sens. Carper and Kaufman Join Gov. Markell for Press Conference


Sens. Carper and Kaufman Join Gov. Markell for Press Conference

Wilmington, DE - Sens. Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman (both D-Del.) and Gov. Jack Markell (D-Del.) will join together to give Delawareans a first overall view of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the President signed into law on Tuesday, and how this legislation will impact our state.

With record job losses and deficits sending Delaware’s economy deeper into a downward spiral, the three top elected officials will talk about the overall economic recovery bill and what these new funds will mean for Delaware, including creating and protecting thousands of jobs in Delaware, starting long-overdue infrastructure projects and providing swift assistance to the thousands of Delawareans whose lives have been upended by this recession.

Carper, Kaufman, and Markell will be joined by labor, business and community leaders at the Department of Labor tomorrow for the announcement. Each will speak for 10-15 minutes and then field questions from media.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

11:30am - 1:00pm

Press Conference

Department of Labor

4425 North Market Street


A. Philip Randolph Institute of Delaware to Host Legislative Conference



A. Philip Randolph Institute of Delaware to Host Legislative Conference Featuring Public Officials, Non-Profit Organizations, the Faith Community and Community Based Organizations


Mark Brunswick, APRI Director of Education

The A. Philip Randolph Institute of Delaware has recruited a roster of public officials, non-profit organizations, the Faith Community and community based organizations to discuss legislative issues of importance to all Delawareans in a conference to be held on Saturday, February 21st at Ezion-Mt. Carmel Church, 800 N. Walnut St. in Wilmington. The all day event will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

“This is a first of its kind event hosted by an organization in the African-American community,” said Mark Brunswick, the A. Philip Randolph Institute Director of Education. “We have conducted active and effective lobbying in Dover for the past five years and have learned that our mission of social justice and change is at its best when we are able to bring together legislators, advocates, policy makers and the community to discuss issues and plan solutions to improve opportunity and quality of life for us all,” he continued. “We are most excited to have Cabinet Secretaries or their representatives and Legislators participating. We especially look forward to hearing from State Treasures Velda Jones Potter, who is the first African-American to hold a state wide office.”

The following panelists have committed to participate in the conference which will address the Delaware Economy, Justice System Reinvestment, Health Care and Wilmington Public Safety:

Delaware Economy

Representative of the Delaware Office of Management and Budget
State Representative Dennis P. Williams, Co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee
Wilmington City Councilman Charles Potter
Rashmi Rangan, Executive Director of the Delaware Community Reinvestment Act Coalition (DCRAC)
Jennifer Hill, Service Employees International Union
A representative of the Hispanic Business Alliance

Justice System Reinvestment

Representative of Department of Corrections Commissioner Carl Danberg
State Representative James J. Johnson
Denise Nix Thompson
Elder Tyrone Johnson, Interdenominational Ministers Action Council

Lunch speaker: State Treasurer Velda Jones Potter

Health Care

Honorable Rita Langraf, Secretary of Health and Human Services
LaVaida Owens-White, Wilmington NAACP Health Care Committee
Branch Heller, Alliance for Health Care Reform
Leonard Young, A. Philip Randolph Institute of Delaware

Wilmington Public Safety

Rev. Clarence Pettit, Spirit of Life Lutheran Church
Shawn Allen, YESS
Representative of Interfaith Building Blocks for Wilmington
Danny Young

The event is structured to allow all participants to attend each of the 75 minute panels during the day. All panels will follow up with a half day workshop in the near future to focus on legislative strategies for each of the issue areas, build coalitions and identify emerging community leadership.

The schedule for the day will be:

8:00-8:45 Registration
8:45-9:05 Welcome/Overview/Charge

9:15-10:30 Panel A: Delaware Economy

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:00 Panel A: Delaware Economy (repeat)
Panel B: Justice System Reinvestment (repeat)

12:00-1:15 Lunch speaker Treasurer Velda Jones Potter

1:15-2:30 Panel C: Health Care
Panel D: Wilmington Public Safety

2:30-2:45 Break

2:45-4:00 Panel C: Health Care (repeat)
Panel D: Wilmington Public Safety (repeat)

The A. Philip Randolph Institute is an affiliate organization of the AFL-CIO with its roots in the African-American labor community and a mission of economic equality and civil rights.
This event is free and open to the public. Please call 302-691-5816 or email with any questions.

The Future of Democratic Talk Radio after the 2008 Election


Dear Friends,

Democratic Talk Radio wants to thank everyone for their support of our mission. We have been devoted to bringing the Democratic message to America’s airwaves since I first bought airtime the night that the US Supreme Court imposed the Bush Presidency on our nation in December of 2000.

The show went on the air in January 2001 in Tennessee on a small AM station and soon moved to a more powerful FM station reaching a much larger audience in both northern Alabama and central Tennessee. I largely funded the effort out of personal resources. I invested over $35,000 keeping Democratic Talk Radio on the air in Tennessee.

Briefly, we broadcast nationally on the now defunct i.e. America Radio Network which was backed by the United Auto Workers union.

In the early Spring of 2008, we moved Democratic Talk Radio to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Our show broadcasts Thursday mornings on WGPA SUNNY 1100AM in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sponsors paid the majority of the costs although I did invest nearly another $4,000 personally.

I want to thank all our sponsors.

The Mailroom union print shop in Allentown has been hugely helpful and supportive. I am going to be working with them as a new addition to their sales team on a commission basis. I exclusively use them for all my printing needs. The prices, service and quality are just excellent. Please let me know if I can connect you with them to meet your printing needs. We all need to print union.

The labor movement in Pennsylvania has been our greatest base of support in sponsoring the show. Laborers’ Local 1174 helped us get started by sponsoring our first 4 shows. Carpenters Local 600 and Steelworkers Local 2599 were both significantly large sponsors. The Lehigh Valley Labor Council, Steelworkers Local 10-1, Steelworkers Local 1165 and IBEW Local 380 all helped sponsor shows.

The Bethlehem City Democratic Party sponsored one show.

Collectively, they covered about 60% of the airtime costs. I paid the rest and all the travel expenses mostly out of my income as public relations representative for American Income Life Insurance. Unfortunately, my ability to help finance the show has been exhausted at least in the near term.

The travel costs and airtime costs about $250 per show. We would like to stay on the air. Democratic Talk Radio needs your financial help in sponsoring the show.

If your union or organization can help by sponsoring a show, it will help keep a pro-labor, pro-Democratic, progressive message on the air in Pennsylvania. Our show streams live on the Internet for those outside the broadcast area. Checks in any amount will be appreciated. You can sponsor a whole show or buy ads. One minute ads are $30. A thirty second ad is only $20. Personal ads are welcome.

Checks can be sent to: Democratic Talk Radio, 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. For more details, I can be reached by phone at 443-907-2367 at almost any hour. My email address is

If your union does not have cash, you still might be able to help by signing up in the American Income Life Insurance program with me personally. By doing so, you can get additional, new benefits for your members at no cost to them or your local. American Income is always a great program but signing with me personally helps give you additional advantages on the political action and public relations fronts.

By participating in the American Income program, you can show your support for the “buy union” idea while supporting my ability to bring you Democratic Talk Radio.

Currently, our funds are nearly exhausted. We will resume broadcasts as soon as sufficient funds arrive.

Today, we have just received a couple of checks from SEIU Local 668 and Teamsters Local 773. Together, they are almost enough to pay airtime costs for one more show. We have received pledges for the costs of a few more shows. With luck, we might not miss any broadcasts, or (more likely) only one.

Donors are always welcome as guests.

In time, we hope to expand our program into new markets and stations. The greater Philadelphia, Pennsylvania market is probably next followed by Delaware and Maryland or the Scranton area.


Stephen Crockett

Host- Democratic Talk Radio

P.S.- I am always available as a free speaker to the membership or executive board of your union or organization. Besides business opportunities like the American Income Life Insurance program or union printing services from The Mailroom, I can speak on topics like “The Employee Free Choice Act”, “How Unions Can Work Better With The Media” or various other political topics.

Biden Helping A Working Family: An Untold Story


Biden Helping A Working Family: An Untold Story

Very early on the morning that Senator Biden flew to the nation of Georgia as the Russian-Georgian war was cooling down, I received a phone call from a labor activist friend of mine from the Eastern Region of the Laborers (LIUNA) union. The caller was Brian McGlinchey. He asked me if I could get in touch with a certain Laborers Local 199 member who was facing foreclosure and was trying to support a family of ten (now eleven as a new son was born two weeks ago). McGlinchey explained that the Senator Biden personally wanted to discuss the difficulty facing this working family to see if he could be of assistance.

I immediately called the wife of James Yetman, the union construction worker whose family was facing the loss of their home, at their house. She explained that James was already on the job. She gave me his cell phone number. As I fired up my coffee pot and started dialing James Yetman, I looked at my clock. It was 6:45am. I thought to myself, “How can a working man already on the job at this hour be facing foreclosure?”

I already knew the answer. James had a wife who was unable to work because of a uncurable serious chronic health condition and because she was nearly 8 months pregnant. She had 5 children from a previous marriage when she married James. They had 3 more together (not counting the one on the way at that time). James had been out of work for an extended length of time during the winter. Fuel, food, medical, insurance and heating expenses had exploded during the past year. They were being squeezed from every direction.

They had been victims of a mortgage that I had viewed as predatory when I examined it. It was certainly more than they could afford on their income. They had not had many options other than agreeing to the lenders terms since it is almost impossible to find landlords willing to rent to such a large family. Section 8 housing had been severely underfunded by the Bush White House and their Republican allies in Congress. They were going to get no help from the Bush Administration. Maybe, just maybe, Biden might be able to help.

I managed to get James on the phone as I sipped on my first cup of coffee. I had great difficulty getting him to agree to meet Senator Biden. James did not want to miss the hours of work. He needed the money. This was before Senator Biden had been selected as the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate. James finally relented when I told him that Biden was on a banking committee in the US Senate and was his best chance of keeping his home.

James checked with his boss and called me back after getting approval to leave for the meeting with Biden. I picked him up from his job site in Newark, Delaware. We drove to Wilmington, Delaware to meet Biden at Angelo’s Luncheonette. We arrived a little early.

Angelo’s is a really small, working class neighborhood establishment with excellent and inexpensive food. I was surprised that the Senator would pick a place like this to meet. It had no reporters hanging around nor the usual political crowd that frequent the kind of public places where I had normally met other political figures in the past. I liked it immediately.

I had ordered lunch for James and myself when three of the leaders of Laborers Local 199 walked in the door. They were Business Manager William Carter, Vice President James Maravelias and Business Agent Toby Lamb. They explained that they were there to show their support for the union member facing foreclosure.

They were very concerned about the plight of the family. I understood their position. Non-union members often do not understand that members of the union movement really do consider each other as members of the same union “family.” We call each other brothers and sisters. The really active members and the leaders really mean it!

We were all finishing our lunch together when Biden arrived. He had his sister Valerie with him and several staff members. I was really surprised that no press were in attendance although one of the staffers had a camera. We persuaded the staffer to take some photos. I am really glad they did since many friends of the Yetman family refused to believe the story about the meeting without the photos.

There were maybe another ten customers and workers in Angelo’s Luncheonette besides the five of us from labor. Biden gave everyone considerable personal time and attention before talking to us. Everyone wanted their photo taken with Biden. Most had personal stories to share or previous personal meetings to discuss with the Senator. It was easy to see that Biden was at home in this middle class and working class neighborhood. He was one of them who had made good and not forgotten them.

Eventually, Biden made it to the back of the establishment where we were sitting. He remembered the local union leaders and talked with them briefly. They introduced James Yetman to Senator Biden. James was visibly nervious at first but the Senator quickly put him at ease. Soon they were deeply involved in conversation.

You could see the deep concern on Biden’s face as Yetman started giving the Senator the details of the problem. I did not hear much of the conversation except when Biden exclaimed at one point “nine children!” and when he called to his staff for a pen and paper to take notes.

A few minutes longer into the conversation, I saw Biden get out his cell phone to start making calls on behalf of the Yetman family. I was shocked. I have been a political activist for nearly 40 years and had never seen a sitting US Senator make calls on behalf of a voter immediately at any meeting or event. His cell phone could not get a signal so Biden called for his staff to get him one that worked in Angelo’s. They passed him one and he started making calls on the spot.

Later, I learned that Biden knew the Yetman’s currently lived in Oxford, Pennsylvania and could not even vote for the Senator in Delaware. James Yetman had once been a Delaware resident but now voted in Pennsylvania. Remember this meeting happened before Biden was selected by Obama as the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. Biden was doing the right thing for this working family even when there were no votes to be gained or reporters present. He was just being Biden.

As we were leaving Angelo’s Luncheonette, Biden noticed my union pins.I was wearing my UAW, USW, OPEIU and Delaware AFL-CIO ones. Biden told me how much he appreciated the support the workers of Delaware have given him over his career.

The last person Biden spoke with was James Yetman. He called James by name. Biden promised him that he would continue looking into his mortgage foreclosure problem. The last thing I heard Biden say was “you have my word.”

As I was driving James Yetman back to his job site, his cell phone rang. It was the first of many calls from Washington, D.C. and Biden’s Delaware Senate office. Every few days, Biden’s Senate office called or wrote the Yetman family. The contacts continue to this day. The Yetman’s have even received calls from the Biden family about their foreclosure problem. Biden has certainly kept his word.

The Yetman family is still facing foreclosure. This family may yet be out on the streets if their mortgage company will not cooperate. It will not be because Senator Joe Biden did not intervene on their behalf. It will not be because Biden does not care.

Biden is a real friend of working families even when there is absolutely nothing in it for him politically. Biden truly cares and truly understands working Americans. We need him as a leading voice in the Executive Branch of the federal government. We need him as Vice President. If he had been setting government policies and priorities in the White House during the past 8 years, millions of working families might not be facing foreclosure today.

Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio and Editor of Mid-Atlantic ). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367.

Feel free to publish without prior approval.

Biden Hailed as Helpful to House Democrats


Biden Hailed as Helpful to House Democrats

By Jonathan Allen and Edward Epstein, CQ Staff

From the perspective of Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, the party activist who’s the Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley-based 15th Congressional District, Barack Obama could not have picked a better running mate than Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of neighboring Delaware.

“There’s a reason that he’s called the third senator from Pennsylvania,” she said by telephone after a day of politicking at an annual fundraising event for local charities in Coplay, which is about a five-mile drive north of Allentown. “The folks I was shaking hands with were all talking about Sen. Biden.”

Bennett has more reason than most Democratic candidates to welcome Biden’s selection, as he was born in Scranton to the north and has long bought time on the Philadelphia airwaves, which also carry into the Lehigh Valley, to communicate to Delaware voters.

But she joined Democratic officials Sunday in predicting that Biden would be a help to candidates in competitive House districts across the country, not just to the eight Pennsylvanians — four challengers and four incumbents — who are in competitive races in the state. “I’m confident that he will help every Democrat on the ticket,” she said.

Party leaders clarified early on that they wanted Obama to pick a running mate with a more centrist bent ## a position informed by their desire to help incumbents and challengers in competitive seats.

Biden fits that bill, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who has leanings similar to Biden’s on a range of foreign and domestic policies. “The president makes change. The president is the leader,’’ he said. “What a six-term senator does is bring experience to make the agent of change effective.’’

He said one reason Biden will help Obama is that voters will trust him. “I think people think he could be president, which is important,’’ Hoyer said.

Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas, a leader of the conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs who often represent very competitive districts, echoed Hoyer’s assessment of Biden. “Joe Biden’s been in the United States Senate since I was in the sixth grade,” Ross noted. “If anyone was criticizing the ticket before for a lack of experience, that should now be put to rest.”

Democrats are excited about an election in which analysts uniformly predict they will pick up seats in both the House and Senate for the second consecutive cycle.

But that excitement is tempered by a sensitivity to the needs of incumbents and challengers who are better off not identifying squarely with the party. They have encouraged candidates such as Bennett to spend this week in their districts rather than in Denver at this week’s national convention.

In Biden, they see a national candidate who can play particularly well in swing districts, reassure voters who are concerned about Obama’s credentials and help deliver a call for change that they are sounding up and down the ticket.

“This guy has served in Washington, but he has never become old Washington,” House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina said, noting that Biden commutes home to Wilmington each day the Senate is in session.

Bennett, who faces second-term Republican Rep. Charlie Dent in November, said about half of the people she talked to while campaigning in Pennsylvania on Sunday wanted to talk about Biden. “They were bringing him up,” she said. “He’s got our values.”