Labor Conference in Chicago Sees "Medicare for All" as Best Way to Control Costs and lmprove Quality of Care
Submitted by Illinoisnoki1 on Sun, 01/13/2013 - 16:53
Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care,
Sunday, January 12, 2013 Mark Dudzic, 201-314-2653
Union Members Recommit to Winning lmproved and Expanded Medicare for All
Chicago, IL - More than two hundred union leaders and activists gathered in Chicago for the Labor Campaign's fourth national conference to strategize about next steps for labor in the movement to gain universal health care.
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 Confederation of Labor 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. "Health care is a right, not a privilege," said Conyers.
Dr. Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer at John Stroger Hospital in Chicago and past president of PNHP spoke eloquently about the Canadian Single Payer system and its found Tommy Douglas.
Also attending were about a dozen members of the Illinois Single Payer Coalition and the Progressive Democrats of America.
Workshops were held on the anticipated impact of the Affordable Care Act (Obama care) on joint labor-management heatth and welfare funds and on already contentious collective bargaining on health care benefits with employers.
Delegates offered strategies and committed to action items to prepare labor union leaders back in their communities. Emphasis was placed on the importance of building coalitions with medical providers, community groups and the disabled.
"There was a strong consensus that the Affordable Care Act will not solve the health care crisis," said Martha Kuhl, an RN from Oakland, CA and Secretary-'treasurer of National Nurses United. "The broad support from so many labor leaders and union activists reaffirmed labor's unique position as a strategic force to win real solutions that will provide quality care for all
"We don't have a budget crisis;we have a jobs and inequality crisis," said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "We could solve our fiscal problems if we cut out the private insurance companies and paid far less for health care like most other industrial countries."
The conference saw an unexpectedly large turnout that included representatives fronr ten state and local labor councils, more than 50 different unions and especially strong representation from five state nurses associations. Delegates were joined by many supporters from national and local health care reform organizations.