The World of Work
Union backing for universal health care grows
Union support for universal health care is picking up while the Bush administration
is peddling a bogus plan that wont control rising medical costs
or help the 45 million people without coverage significantly, if at all.
Bushs proposed health savings accounts would likely cost consumers
more and provide less health care. The private accounts would let employers
stop providing health insurance, make individuals manage their own coverage,
and act as tax shelters for the wealthy.
Its a virtual certainty that the Republican-dominated House and
Senate in Washington wont be sending President Bush legislation
for universal single-payer health insurance any time soon. But advocates
of universal health care refuse to back down as they lay the political
groundwork for universal coverage in the future.
DC 37 is among more than 100 unions that have endorsed HR 676, the Universal
Single Payer Health Care Act, which would expand Medicare to cover all
And outside the Beltway, the campaign for universal health care is being
played out in statehouses throughout the country.
Until we have a new administration and a new Congress that gives
a damn about the people of this country, were taking the fight for
affordable health care to the states, said AFL-CIO President John
In January, the AFL-CIO launched its Fair Share Health Care Campaign
in 33 states. The drive is pressing for legislation to require highly
profitable employers like Wal-Mart whose workers often rely on
Medicaid because they cant afford company plans to spend
a certain percentage of their payroll on health care for employees. Alternatively,
companies could pay into a state Fair Share Health Care Fund.
The campaign is drawing attention to wealthy companies like Wal-Mart,
where under half the workers have health insurance, leaving taxpayers
to cover their health costs.
In April, Massachusetts adopted a law calling for near-universal health
care. The law requires uninsured workers to sign up for a health policy
or face higher taxes. But Republican Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed a provision
that would have fined businesses for not offering insurance to their employees.
Later this year, DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts expects to lead
a bus trip to Washington with members, who will present Congress with
a union petition demanding universal health care.