Calling single-payer “the only way to cure the healthcare problem,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka welcomed delegates to the Labor Campaign for Single Payer National Meeting at the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC on Friday, June 3. Representatives Conyers, McDermott and Kucinich also addressed the meeting and Senator Bernie Sanders wrote to thank the Labor Campaign for its “hard work in keeping this issue in the forefront of labor’s agenda.”
Citing the Federation’s recent endorsement of the Sanders/McDermott American Health Security Act of 2011, Trumka re-affirmed his support for the social insurance model and praised the efforts of the delegates. Co-Chairs Jos Williams (President of the DC Metro Central Labor Council) and Donna Dewitt (President of the South Carolina AFL-CIO) set the tone for the two and one half day meeting, challenging the attendees to help unify our movement after the divisive PPACA debates and to re-invigorate the fight for healthcare for all.
Delegates also heard from representatives of major single-payer advocacy organizations and held a series of roundtables that discussed the recent single-payer victories in Vermont, the campaign in California, attacks on public workers by right-wing anti-labor politicians in Wisconsin and liberal, “pro-labor” politicians in New York and on private sector workers everywhere.
Stewart Acuff of the Utility Workers kicked off a discussion on movement building and presentations were made on US Labor Against the War’s New Priorities Network, the National Nurses United’s Main Street Contract Campaign and Progressive Democrats of America’s Healthcare Not Warfare Campaign.
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and DC Metro Labor Council President Jos Williams at the LCSP National Meeting
The meeting adopted a series of action points to align the campaign within the broader movement to defend and expand the social insurance model and to encourage the labor movement to do more in the fight to win healthcare for all. Delegates re-affirmed the Labor Campaign’s support for all legislative efforts that move us closer to single payer including HR 676, S 915/HR 1200, serious state single-payer efforts that have significant labor support and other legislative initiatives to defend and expand Medicare and provide waivers to support state reform efforts.
Delegates also vowed to find ways to use the July 30 Medicare Anniversary as an organizing opportunity to bring our message of Medicare for All to labor and community allies fighting to defend Medicare and Medicaid.
“I am amazed at the progress the Labor Campaign has made in such a short time—and proud to be part of it,” said David Newby, President Emeritus of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.
“I spend most of my time focusing on Vermont because that is where my work is,” added Vermont State Fed President Jill Charbonneau. “This meeting put me in touch with some incredible people from around the country. It was very inspiring to be in the presence of all sorts of ideas about how to move forward to win healthcare as a right for everyone in America.”
A full report of the meeting is available here.