RENT HIKE LOOMS
On May 3, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board recommended increases for the city’s one million rent-controlled apartments. Although the board has the power to recommend a specific set of guidelines for rent increases, it declined to do so. Instead, the board suggested raises of 2 percent to 4.5 percent for one-year lease renewals and 4 percent to 7 percent for two-year renewals. While both landlords and tenant organizations criticized the move, it is still too early in the process to determine what the outcome will be.
While this vote is an indicator of what may happen in the future, the board will not approve the final increases until June 21. Between now and then, there will be two public hearings, one on June 14 at the City College of Technology in Brooklyn and one on June 16 at Cooper Union. There is still plenty of time to express your concerns about this important matter.
Renters occupy two million of New York’s three million dwelling units. This figure is substantially higher than the national occupancy figure, which is only about one-third renters. Over one million of the city’s two million rental apartments are stabilized and will be impacted by the recommendations made by the board.
CLOSING THE HEALTHCARE DIVIDE
According to a recent study by former Surgeon General David Satcher, an estimated 83,750 deaths could be prevented each year if the U.S. eliminated the mortality gap between people of color and whites. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Report, 57 percent of African American women age 45-64 are diagnosed with hypertension — twice the rate of white women the same age. More than one-third of Hispanic women are uninsured (37 percent) — again, over twice the rate of white women (16 percent). Native American populations are twice as likely to develop diabetes than the general population, while over one-third of Asian American women do not receive routine screening for cervical cancer. In New York, African Americans are almost twice as likely as whites to have low birth weight infants.
A group of senators, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, recently unveiled a plan aimed at eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The plan, “Closing the Health Care Divide,” includes a set of principles designed to address racial and ethnic health disparities by: expanding the health care safety net, diversifying the health care workforce, combating diseases that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, emphasizing prevention and behavioral health, promoting the collection and dissemination of data and enhancing medical research, and providing interpreters and translation services in the delivery of health care. To find out more about this plan and how you can get involved, please visit: http://clinton.senate.gov.
THE GAMBLE ON SOCIAL SECURITY
Last month, Allegro printed Local 802 members’ thoughts on President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. Most members were against it. Now, a new poll commissioned by the state AFL-CIO shows a whopping 70 percent of New Yorkers oppose it as well. The change in Social Security would allow workers to take a part of their Social Security contributions and put them into private investment accounts subject to the whims of the stock market. But while the upside is unpredictable, the downside of privatization is clear. Working New Yorkers who are contributing to their Social Security earnings every day will see their guaranteed benefits cut by 40 percent — even if they choose not to put money in the “voluntary” private accounts.
Local 802 has partnered with the state AFL-CIO to oppose any federal efforts to privatize Social Security, as well as any statewide efforts that would call for Social Security to offset other benefits due working men and women. To learn how you can get involved with this struggle, please visit www.nysAFLCIO.org.