January 2013, Week 2


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Mon, 14 Jan 2013 21:48:48 -0500
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Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care


For immediate release: Sunday, January 13, 2013

For more info contact: Mark Dudzic, 201-314-2653 

Union Members Recommit to Winning Improved and Expanded
Medicare for All 

National Labor Strategy Conference Sees "Single Payer"
Solution as Best Way to Control Costs and Improve
Quality of Care

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 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 Bill676. "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 healthcare benefits with employers.

Delegates offered strategies and committed to action
items to prepare union leaders in their communities for
the ACA and build the reform movement. 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
working people."

"We don't have a budget crisis; we have a jobs and
inequality crisis," said Jeff Johnson, Presidentof the
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "We could
solve our fiscal problems if we cut out private
insurance and paid far less for health care like any
other industrial country."

The conference had an unexpectedly large turnout that
included representatives from 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.

Photos from the labor strategy conference may be seen

The Labor Campaign for Single Payer Health Care was
initiated in 2009 to advocate within thelabor movement
for comprehensive, single payer national health care
reform. The campaign is supported by 12 national
unions, 9 state labor federations and dozens of local
and regionunions.


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