The Greater Wilkes Barre Labor Council and two United Steelworkers locals in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, have endorsed Congressman John Conyers’ HR 676, national single payer health care legislation, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.
The Labor Council, comprised of 47 locals from 28 unions representing 10,000 members, endorsed HR 676 at their monthly meeting on December 22, 2016, becoming the 152nd central labor council to take this action.
The two USW locals together have more than 1,650 members. USW Local 5652, an amalgamated local, represents workers in a variety of jobs including making shelving and heating cabinets for restaurants, manufacturing gears for airplanes, repairing utility trucks, and working at a correspondence school.
USW Local 15253 represents workers who do heavy highway construction from the Maryland border to the New York border and from the New Jersey border to the middle of Pennsylvania.
William Herbert, Treasurer of Local 5652 said “We’ve been getting ripped off by insurance companies.” He told of the crises faced by even heart attack patients who are confronted with demands for up front payments as high as $1,700. Herbert worked successfully to get his Congressperson, Matt Cartwright, to sign on to HR 676.
Herbert made the following statement on behalf of his local:
“USW Local 5652 passed a resolution calling on Congress to pass H.R. 676. For too long the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have been charging outrageous prices for their products. The bill would extend Medicare to everyone and eliminate co-pays and deductibles. We feel that this is the only way to insure health care for all Americans. If this bill passed, we would no longer need to negotiate for health care in our contracts. If an employee gets laid off his insurance would continue at the same level. We urge all Americans to call their Representatives in Congress and the Senate and ask them to pass H.R. 676.”
The HR 676 endorsement resolutions were signed by President Dave Brandt of Local 5652 and President Joseph M. Padavan of Local 15253. Padavan is also president of the Greater Wilkes Barre Labor Council.