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Labor leadersheep and the politics of health care

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Jeffrey Muckensturm

H.R. 676 has significant labor support. To date, over 445 labor organizations, including 36 state AFL-CIO chapters, 110 Central Labor Councils, the United Steel Workers, the United Auto Workers, and at least 14 AFSCME and SEIU locals have passed resolutions supporting the bill. Interestingly, both SEIU and AFSCME have passed resolutions supporting H.R. 676 at national conventions, showing that there is strong rank-and-file support for single-payer.

Why? Because H.R. 676 takes health benefits off the bargaining table, allowing labor to focus on other key issues. A position paper from the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council explains: “H.R. 676 can create a real opportunity for white- and blue-collar workers. When negotiating a contract the final two issues always are wages and medical benefits. The benefits will always affect wages, and the employer will cry that their health insurance costs limit their ability to give raises.” With health care a non-issue, unions can concentrate on wages, safety, and organizing more workplaces.

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Submitted by hipparchia on


not sure if i've been hallucinating, and too lazy to go look it up, but it seems to me i've read that some union leaders feel they'd lose a bargaining chip if/when medical benefits are taken off the table by hr 676.