"Every negotiations we have a problem with health care," agreed Fred Garcia, Local 223. "When my family gets sick, I want them taken care of."
Health care reform is a key issue for the labor movement, "if we are going to go on the offensive again," proposed Carl Rosen, District 11. "We just have no choice, we’re getting clobbered," he added. As soon as the threat of health care reform in the Clinton Administration subsided, costs started going up, and are continuing to go up, Rosen said. "At a time when more and more in-patient care has been replaced by medication, the drug price rip-offs have gone berserk."
Michael Marchman, Local 896, particularly liked the final resolve, urging "UE at all levels to withhold support from any candidate running for public office who refuses to endorse national health care for all." Real health reform, Marchman said, will require an aggressive approach. If health care isn’t good enough for us, what about bosses and legislators? asked Bill Lally, Local 758. "Maybe Congressmen should be forced to get what a majority of their constituents get."
James Fortier, Local 295, argued that "we need to push that issue, we’ve been pushed aside. Politicians are not hearing enough from people."
STATE-LEVEL EFFORTS URGED
Gerry LaValley, Local 274, and John Thompson, Local 690, directed delegates’ attention to the resolve urging "UE locals to support efforts to enact single-payer legislation at the state level." In Pennsylvania, Thompson reported, UE locals have been meeting with Physicians for National Health Care and seniors’ organizations to develop plans for a statewide effort for single-payer legislation. In Massachusetts, insurance companies used scare tactics to thwart a similar effort, LaValley said.
"A lot of people don’t have insurance, we have to keep pushing our senators and representatives," observed Kim Peniska, Local 1187. "Thank God for unions, we wouldn’t have insurance otherwise. We need to do more to give us health care for all." Shirley Thrush, Local 799, spoke of family experience with medical bills and declared, "we need to provide health care for all." Shirley Harrison, Local 1135, reminded delegates that those on fixed incomes face hardships due to the cost and availability of health care. With the cost of medication, older people sometimes face a choice between paying a bill or eating, she said.
Will Anderson, Local 792, expressed his concern that any medical plan changes be negotiated. "We should not let management pick a plan for us, we need to have more say-so to get a plan that will do more for us," he said.
"If you don’t have health, what do you have?" asked Donald Way, Local 506.
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