Supreme Court Sides with One Percent in Home Health Care Case

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that makes it harder for home care workers to deliver quality care for their clients. The case, Harris v. Quinn, involves home health care workers in Illinois who are paid through Medicaid but primarily supervised by home care recipients. In a majority ruling authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that although these workers are paid by the state, they fall into a category of workers termed “partial government employees” and are not subject to the same labor rules as other public workers including firefighters, school teachers, and police officers. The court ruled that these home health care workers cannot be required pay fair share fees to unions bargaining on their behalf. The Court did uphold the right of other public employees to have a voice at work by declining to overturn a 37-year old precedent that permits fair-share agreements for public employees. Under such agreements, workers may opt out of union fees designated for political ends but are required to cover a share of costs associated with other union activities such as collective bargaining.

The anti-union organization, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – funded by the Koch and Walton families and others – brought the Harris v. Quinn suit.  Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance, said, “Corporations, the Koch brothers and their extremist allies continue to pursue anti-retiree, anti-worker legislation in the states and in the courts. Instead of using the courts to take away the rights of working Americans like caregivers, we must reduce income and wealth inequality and enhance Americans’ economic security in both working years and in retirement.” The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders said that the Supreme Court decision "does not dampen the resolve of home care workers and child care providers to come together to have a strong voice for good jobs and to give care to millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children." Read more here

Americans are United on Support for Social Security
The American public may be divided on a host of issues, but a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press points to overwhelming support for our Social Security system. Although Americans express concern about the long-term solvency of the program, just one-third of Americans believe benefit cuts should be considered.

There is little variation between ideological camps. Fifty-nine percent of conservatives and two-thirds of liberals agree that benefits should be maintained at current levels. The proposal with the most support across the political spectrum regarding maintaining long-term viability involves gradually lifting the earnings cap on Social Security contributions, increasing Social Security payroll taxes from 6.2% to 7.2%, and modestly expanding benefits. “The American public stands firmly behind strengthening and expanding Social Security. With multiple Social Security expansion bills including the Raise Act and the Strengthening Social Security Act already circulating in the Senate, it looks like our leaders in Washington are starting to get the message,” said Barbara Easterling, President of the Alliance. For more details on public support for Social Security, go to

New Census Report Gives Detailed Look at the 65-and-Over Crowd
A new report released by the US Census Bureau paints a picture of a shifting demographic landscape for people over age 65 in the United States. Among the findings are an increasing number of working seniors, a more racially diverse over-65 population, and fewer seniors living in traditional nursing homes. With 40.3 million adults over age 65 in 2010, seniors made up 13.0% of the nation’s population. That figure is expected to rise to 20.9% by 2050. The study notes that Social Security is the largest single income source for Americans over age 65, making up 36.7% of aggregate income in 2010. For the lowest earning fifth of seniors, Social Security makes up more than 84% of income. “With so many Americans approaching retirement age, it’s becoming all the more important that we fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, cornerstones of retirement security,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. For more on the study, go to

Companies that Pay Above Minimum Wage Come Out Ahead
Zeynep Ton, with the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote in a Forbes article this week (, “Retail and fast-food jobs are here to stay. Unless these jobs become better jobs, millions of people who work will continue to live in poverty and rely on public assistance.” She points out that nearly one fifth of American workers work in retail and fast food, earning poverty-level wages, have unpredictable schedules and few opportunities for success and growth. When Ton examined large companies that voluntarily pay their employees well above the minimum wage including Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip (a U.S. chain of convenience stores), and Mercadona (Spain’s largest supermarket chain), she found commonalities. They consider their workforce a strategic asset, not a cost to minimize; and the companies make smart operational choices that increase employee productivity and “motivate [employees] to play a much bigger role in driving sales and reducing costs.”

Gene Lantz, President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans said, “The better we work, the better we retire. We’ve been in this race-to-the bottom for too long. Companies that pay their workers a living wage and provide healthcare and other benefits are in-the-right and their businesses are setting a successful example.” He continued, “It’s time other corporations wise up and get behind efforts to raise the minimum wage, support the Walmart organizing drive, and push for $15 per hour for food service workers.”

Centenarians Less Likely to Succumb to Chronic Illness
A recently released study from the U.K. suggests that older adults reaching age 100 are less likely to die from illnesses that are among the most common causes of death for younger seniors. According to LiveScience, only 8.6% of centenarians passed away from heart disease and only 4.4% from cancer. For the 80 to 85 crowd, heart disease accounted for 19% of deaths with cancer accounting for 24%. Although less likely to succumb to chronic illnesses, centenarians are more prone to sudden infections that can lead to rapid health decline. The leading causes of death for seniors over 100 were found to be old age and pneumonia. For more, go to


Posted 12:49PM on July 04 2014 by