WASHINGTON – Thousands of union members and their allies are marching today in the nation’s capital, demanding universal, quality, affordable health care.

They are highlighting two special demands – that the plan include a strong public option and that Congress not pay for it by taxing workers’ health benefits.

Laborer’s President Terry O’Sullivan said unions and their members are opposed to any plan that taxes those who now have employer provided benefits and that any such plan will be “dead on arrival.”

Leading the march are 2,500 delegates to the Communications Workers legislative conference now convening in Washington.

After the mass rally, which starts at 11:30 a.m., union members will flood the halls of Congress to lobby lawmakers.

America, which now spends one of every six dollars of its gross national product, $2.3 trillion, on health care nevertheless has 47 million uninsured and an equal number of underinsured.
Insurance companies pocket 20 percent of the money spent for profits, overhead and CEO pay as they routinely deny claims. Unions say that more than 100,000 people die each year as a result of these practices and that the high cost of health care makes it almost impossible for workers to win decent contracts.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., told the unionists that “families are being crushed by rising health care costs. All across America, good guy businesses fight to provide health insurance to their employees, but are being crushed by the costs. The time for health care reform is now. We cannot afford to wait another day.”

President Obama has been calling for inclusion of a strong public option in any health care plan that emerges from Congress.

Today’s rally and lobbying has been organized by Health Care for America.