Having a job used to pretty much guarantee you'd have health insurance. That's no longer the case, and it's gotten the attention of labor unions. Michigan Liberal reports the following from Mark Gaffney, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO:
Union members are very concerned about the cost of health care and if they become unemployed, its availability. Polls show union members generally are favorable towards their own coverage, but understand the crisis of the un-insured. Unionized workers generally have better coverage and unionized employers generally cover more of the cost of health insurance. Yet unions and their members understand America needs a national solution to our nationwide problem.John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, is speaking out too: In America, No One Should Go Without Health Care
[...]One of the greatest economic burdens working families face today is the insane, out-of-control cost of health care. One in four Americans say their family has had a problem paying for medical care during the past year. The cost of health care -- rising far faster than workers' wages or inflation -- is a major factor in housing problems and bankruptcies. In fact, every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem.The union is doing more than simply talking, they're putting their words into action:
Meanwhile, insurance and drug companies are making stunning profits, health insurance CEOs averaged $8.7 million in 2006 compensation and pharmaceutical company CEOs pulled down an average of $4.4 million.
The rest of us aren't faring so well. The annual premium cost for a family health plan has close to doubled since 2000, from $6,351 to an astonishing $11,480. Soaring health coverage costs are crippling U.S. companies' ability to compete internationally -- health benefits accounted for an estimated $1,300 of the cost of a new car made by the Big Three in 2005, for example. As costs grow higher, fewer employers are providing health coverage for employees--and fewer workers are able to afford their share of the costs or to buy policies on their own. The outrageous price tags on insurance policies are driving increases in the number of people without coverage. The federal government just let us know that another 2.2 million people -- including 600,000 more children -- lost health insurance last year, meaning 47 million of us now cannot afford to get sick.
In the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth, that is just not acceptable. In America, no one should go without health care.
The AFL-CIO is turning Labor Day 2007 into the start of a drive to win quality health care for all in 2009. With 10 million members and nearly 3 million union retirees, we intend to make the 2008 elections a mandate on health care. The union families who made up a quarter of voters last year are going to mobilize as never before to elect a Congress and a president who will enact the kind of real health care reform America needs.You can sign their petition asking for quality, affordable health care too. That's the first step. The next step is to vote only for those politicians willing to bring serious solutions to the table - solutions that leave no one uninsured.
You don't have to look far to see that winning health care for all is going to be tough. President Bush has vowed to veto legislation that would extend health care to millions more children -- now, that's cold! He's protecting insurance interests rather than children's health, saying this could be a dangerous first step toward health care for all. He's right -- getting this legislation passed and overriding a Bush veto is the first step.
This fall and throughout 2008, union members will be mobilizing in their workplaces, in their neighborhoods and in their communities to demand that candidates and elected officials at every level commit to work for working families.