AFL-CIO adds single-payer insurance to its Raising Wages campaign

SIlVER SPRING, Md. – Union leaders meeting here today in closed session passed a resolution that calls upon the AFL-CIO to add a demand for single-payer heath insurance to the federation’s Raising Wages campaign.

A source who attended the meeting discussed the resolution and the debate around it with the Peoples World and other news outlets on condition of anonymity.

The labor movement is acutely aware this year that attempts by companies to force workers to pay more of the share of their health care costs is threatening gains that are being made on the wage front, the source said. “Essentially, the union presidents feel that what is being gained in wages can be taken away in health care costs,” he explained.

He further said that union leaders today talked about another ominous development on the health care front – the merging of health care companies is on the rise so they can collude to force prices up.

AFL-CIO unions are currently negotiating new contracts for five million workers across the nation. “There isn’t a union in here,” the source said, “that isn’t facing this issue at the bargaining table right now. The companies are hell-bent on taking away health care benefits already won.”

He said that union leaders at the meeting this morning talked about a steady rise in price gouging “everywhere” by health care companies. “Add in the mergers and you see what they are up to.”

He said that the unions recognize that although the Affordable Health Care Act now in place was a step forward it is not adequate if workers’ wages and standards of living are top be protected.

The AFL-CIO has already called for passage of single-payer health insurance, “which would be the only solution to this problem,” the source said.

The resolution passed at the closed-door session of the AFL-CIO executive council this morning incorporates the demand for single-payer health insurance into the federation’s Raising Wages campaign.

On other matters the source said the federation’s political committee has called for waiting before the AFL-CIO makes a presidential endorsement. “That has been the position for a while,” the source said but that position will be “re-opened,” the source said, for a full discussion by the executive council tomorrow.

Asked if that move was because of pressure by labor supporters of one presidential candidate or another, the source said it was motivated by a desire to have a full and open discussion of presidential campaign endorsements by representatives of all of the nation’s unions.

Photo: National Nurses United/Flickr


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.