Trumka: Labor’s campaign against Trumpcare to continue as long as necessary
People demonstrate for healthcare in Chicago. | AP

Organized labor’s massive campaign against the Senate Republicans’ health care bill, a measure which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, will continue through the congressional Independence Day recess and beyond, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared today.

In a June 28 telephone press conference, Trumka pledged labor’s campaign would run “as long as it takes to make sure this horrible bill never sees the light of day.”

The campaign includes radio ads, Twitter and Facebook feeds, airport billboards, “website takeovers,” and mobilization of senators’ constituents at their home offices, in D.C., and through local press conferences and town hall meetings and a “patch-in” telephone tree with a toll-free number 888-865-8089 that links callers with their senators, of both parties.

“This campaign may be the easiest we’ve ever run,” Trumka wryly commented. “It’s a rather easy mobilization for us,” as “it will escalate as more and more people are outraged and want to take action” against the Republican health care legislation.

Unions are not the only force campaigning against the GOP health care bill. Other progressive groups, including the labor-backed Alliance for Retired Americans, have been bombarding senators’ offices with phone calls or taking to the streets in daily protests. And latest opinion polls show only 17 percent of those contacted – including only one-third of Republicans surveyed – support the Senate GOP’s legislation.

Unions are especially targeting senators in five key states. They include Ohio, Maine and West Virginia, where Republicans Rob Portman, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore Capito have been on the fence about the GOP legislation, resisting pressure from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent. McConnell planned a vote on the bill by June 30, but had to pull it.

Campaigners are also contacting Senate Democrats, urging them to hold fast against the GOP measure. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office calculates the Senate GOP legislation would throw 22 million people off of health care rolls, 15 million of them next year.

The Senate Republicans’ measure would dump the 7-year-old ACA. McConnell claims his legislation would replace it, too, but Trumka disputes that. He cited several reasons. One is the GOP’s planned huge cuts in Medicaid, which pays for half of all births in the U.S. Another is its repeal of all but one of the taxes and levies the ACA enacted to pay for expanding health care to millions of people. The money instead would go to tax cuts for the rich.

The one tax that would remain, Trumka said, is the so-called “Cadillac tax” imposed on customers of allegedly high-cost health care plans, many if not most of them collectively bargained union plans. Retaining the Cadillac tax means “about 42 percent of large employers will be impacted and it’ll result in them dropping coverage altogether,” Trumka predicted.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.