"You need national, single-payer, Medicare for All," Cecil Roberts, UMWA President

“You need national, single-payer, Medicare for All,” Cecil Roberts, UMWA President

Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America UMWA, spoke at the last Kentucky AFL-CIO Convention. Here is a 13 minute video segment of that speech.


When coal companies tried to steal the health benefits of coal miners through the shameful use of bankruptcy laws, the United Mine Workers initiated a fight back that rallied thousands in the streets of St. Louis and cities across West Virginia and Kentucky. Hundreds of unionists, civil rights and religious leaders, and some elected officials went to jail as they waged a non-violent struggle of civil disobedience against this theft of benefits. Roberts tells of building the coalition that waged the struggle. When some cautioned that going to jail would be harder now cause the leaders are older, Roberts urged them to look at the bright side—”if they sentence us to life in prison it won’t be long at all.” With a little humor and a lot of faith in the potential power of workers, Cecil inspires the fight for a future. “Let me tell you what you need in this country—you need national, single-payer, Medicare for All,” says Roberts as he projects the next health care battle. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog,” says Cecil. This will be 13 minutes well spent.