A little over a year after its launch, more than 1,400 posts have appeared on the SEIU Blog. As the end of 2009 drew closer in sight, we decided to look through our records to find the 10 most popular stories on the blog this year.
Although I was definitely surprised at one or two that made the top 10, I think the list does a relatively decent job of capturing many of the interests of the political-minded activists that have grown into regular readers of the SEIU Blog: fighting for quality, affordable health care and public services for all Americans, ending corporate greed, holding elected leaders accountable and standing up for working people.
Here are the top-read SEIU Blog posts of 2009:
Back in September, we began a month-long campaign publicizing the fact that in eight states and Washington, DC, insurance companies could deny coverage to a victim of domestic violence, citing it as a “pre-existing condition.” Everyone from feminist bloggers to the first lady weighed in on the issue, throwing their weight behind eliminating this despicable practice and demanding gender equity in healthcare reform. SEIU launched a multi-channel campaign using blogging, online petitions, Facebook & Twitter to raise awareness and urge members of Congress to demand health care reform that did not discriminate against women.
Things turned ugly at healthcare town halls in August, as events designed to serve as open, safe environments to ask questions of elected officials about health reform degenerated into violent shouting matches and false accusations.
What do Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have in common? Well, they all caucus with the Democrats–and in November, they alone were threats to whether or not the Senate was going to get to vote on health care reform. In response, we launched an an “Adopt-a-State” campaign to reach out to constituents of Senators who may not support a cloture vote.
Through a grassroots and online-driven campaign, over 100 events were held across the nation against Bank of America and more than 90,000 taxpayer proxy cards were collected & delivered at BofA’s annual shareholder meeting, calling for the firing of Ken Lewis for his corporate greed, corruption and anti-worker company policies. Along with helping to get Lewis fired, it was our most successful online list building campaign to date.
Following a meeting of the SEIU leadership in mid-December, President Andy Stern sent a letter to SEIU’s 2.2 million nurses, doctors, home healthcare workers, janitors, security guards, and child care workers laying out his concerns with and expectations for healthcare reform legislation currently moving through Congress.
This post was written during the height of the buzz over disruptions of health care town hall meetings by right-wing opponents bent on blocking any reform legislation. At the same time these groups were disrupting serious and civil discourse about healthcare reform with discredited myths about reform, they were also engaging in Astroturf [read: fake grassroots] activism. We profiled some of conservative lobbyist-run groups who were leading the way orchestrating town hall mobs.
In 2006, an amendment was introduced to the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006 that would have forced insurance companies to stop ignoring state laws that provided protection for victims of domestic violence, specifically when it came to denying them insurance coverage. Ten Republican Senators voted against it.
From not covering maternity care to calling domestic violence a pre-existing condition, insurance companies seem to have written the book on how to turn a buck at the expense of millions of women in America. As awareness of this common practice has grown, an increasing string of horrifying stories of individual women and their families who’ve been denied insurance because of their wombs has contributed to the dialogue. Among the most recent examples is Chris Turner, a health insurance agent from Tampa Florida who is a rape survivor.
This year marked the fifth year in a row SEIU President Andy Stern was named to Modern Healthcare‘s annual listing of the ‘Top 100’ most influential “movers and shakers in healthcare”. SEIU will fight in Conference Committee in the coming weeks to make care more affordable by not taxing American families who pay “Cadillac costs” for mediocre benefits; increase tax credits to make healthcare more affordable for working families; strengthen employer responsibility; and press for more health insurance reforms.”
In a state with skyrocketing home foreclosures and levels of joblessness that exceed 10 percent, California’s budget woes sometimes seem endless. Right around the time Gov. Schwarzenegger announced the elimination of up to 20,000 state jobs, we brought you news of the tentative contract agreement SEIU Local 1000 secured, covering and protecting the jobs of 95,000 California state workers.
One last note regarding this ‘top 10’ list: Three of the top 10 posts center on our incredibly successful “domestic violence is not a pre-existing condition” campaign, which helped draw quite a lot of much-needed attention to women’s health issues and how insurance companies routinely take advantage of women. (Check out online actions here, here, here and here). And the efforts paid off–the health insurance reform legislation before Congress will make practices like “gender rating” and “pre-existing conditions” illegal, once for all.
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*This post originally appeared in SEIU Blog on December 30, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.
About the Author: Kate Thomas is a blogger, web producer and new media coordinator at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a labor union with 2.1 million members in the healthcare, public and property service sectors. Kate’s passions include the progressive movement, the many wonders of the Internet and her job working for an organization that is helping to improve the lives of workers and fight for meaningful health care and labor law reform. Prior to working at SEIU, Katie worked for the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) as a communications/public relations coordinator and editor of AMSA’s newsletter appearing in The New Physician magazine.