The political action agendas for labor and people’s movements in 2002 will be crucial to the next decade of social progress. The severe economic crisis will challenge everyone to mobilize their forces to confront corporate America and its White House and Congressional supporters. This next period of time will require the highest amount of unity based on profound adherence to “People Before Profit” principles.

Here is a minumum agenda of public health items that, if struggled for together, will achieve the successes we will need in 2002:

Public Health

• Congress, as its first item of business, needs to enact a special package of health services financing to make sure that everyone without health insurance will be able to go to their local hospital and/or clinic and receive the needed health services.

• Congress should hold national and local hearings and begin the process of enacting a universal health-care system that is all-inclusive for anyone living in the United States.

• We must oppose health insurance premium support packages that only feed the greedy insurance companies and do not provide adequate services.

• A massive financial support program needs to be enacted for local, regional, state and national public health departments to provide for public health infrastructure-building that will enable these officials to conduct public health and environmental surveillance programs to control and prevent infectious and communicable diseases.

• The privatization of Medicare must be stopped and Medicare needs to be refederalized and expanded to include a full prescription drug program.

• We need an affirmative action program guaranteeing that all public money is shared with everyone in need, especially those who have been excluded from services and education/training programs due to their race, national background, gender or sexual preferences.

Occupational Safety and Health

• The Occupational Safety and Health Administration must be given greater powers to strictly enforce its own workplace rules and regulations.

• The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health must be empowered to do greater numbers of health hazard evaluations of workplace problems and to investigate and recommend standards for toxic substances that endanger workers.

• The Ergonomic Rule passed by Congress, but derailed by the Bush administration, must be reintroduced and enacted.

Workers’ Compensation and Disability

• A federal commission must be created to investigate the status of state workers’ compensation programs. This effort was started in the 1970s, but never completed. Corporate and insurance carrier lobbyists have been too successful in turning back the clock on workers’ comp laws in almost every state. If states do not comply with a minimum set of federal rules, they need to be taken over by the federal workers’ compensation law, which is far superior to any state law.

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