Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation representing 11.5 million workers in 57 international and national unions, has endorsed a single payer health care system as the best way to guarantee healthcare to everyone. The unanimous vote in favor of Convention Resolution 34, The Social Insurance Model for Health Care Reform, came immediately after President Obama had addressed the Convention last Tuesday.
The resolution states: “The experience of Medicare (and of nearly every other industrialized country) shows the most cost effective and equitable way to provide quality healthcare is through a single-payer system.” It continues: “We reiterate our longstanding call for congressional leaders to unite behind such a plan.”
Resolution 34 singles out HR 676 as one of a number of single-payer bills introduced in Congress and states: “The single-payer approach is one the AFL-CIO supports and that merits dedicated congressional support and enactment.” The Resolution concludes by stating: “Whatever the outcome of the current debate over health care reform in the 111th Congress, the task of establishing health care as a human right, not a privilege, will still lay before us.”
The Convention adopted Resolution 34 after a thirty minute debate in which 12 delegates spoke in favor of the resolution and a number of delegates who wished to speak were still standing at the four floor microphones when the time allotted to debate ran out. No one spoke against the resolution.
Those who spoke for the single payer resolution included three members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, the Presidents of two state AFL-CIO federations, four Presidents or Executive Officers of Central Labor Councils, a high ranking official of the AFT who was chosen to speak in favor of the resolution by the AFT caucus and delegates from AFSCME and ILWU.
Rich Trumka, in his speech to the delegates immediately after being elected President of the AFL-CIO the following day, reiterated his support for single payer healthcare telling the delegates: “Now, I know that a lot of us would prefer a single payer plan. I sure would.”
Over 70 resolutions, an unprecedented number, were submitted to the Convention calling on the AFL-CIO to endorse single payer healthcare. More than 575 labor organizations, including 136 Central Labor Councils, 22 international and national unions, and 39 state AFL-CIO’s have endorsed HR 676, single payer legislation which has 87 sponsors in the House of Representatives.