More than two hundred union leaders and activists gathered in Chicago for the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare’s fourth national conference to strategize about next steps for labor in the movement to win universal health care. With government officials from both major parties contemplating cuts in Medicare as part of a “grand bargain,” delegates resolved to stand up to any cuts in this cornerstone social insurance program.
Conferees were welcomed and inspired by Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, who shared lessons of her union’s recent successful strike. Lewis drew important parallels between the struggles for quality public education and quality universal health care.
A second inspiring keynote came from Nicole Bernard representing the French CGT Federation of Social Security and Health Care Workers who described the struggle by French workers to defend their national health care plan and pledged strong support for American efforts to win single payer.
Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) brought delegates to their feet as he described his plan to resubmit legislation and hold hearings on Improved and Expanded Medicare for All, House Bill 676. “Health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Conyers.
Workshops were held on the anticipated impact of the Affordable Care Act on joint labor-management health and welfare funds and on already contentious collective bargaining on health care benefits with employers. Read the rest of this entry →