ED (evildevil) wrote in ontd_political,

Labor Union Not Happy, Demands a Better Bill

SEIU Urges Changes In Senate Health Care Bill, Calls Out Obama

A top labor leader urged Congress and the White House on Thursday to make major improvements to the Senate health care legislation, suggesting that the labor community could not support the current incarnation.

"I believe this is the moment when we must stand as one and say enough," Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern wrote in a letter to his fellow members.

While he stopped short of formally opposing the bill that is making its way through the Senate, he did express outrage over the concessions made to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). "The public option is declared impossible. Americans cannot purchase Medicare at an earlier age. The health insurance reform effort we have needed for a century is at risk," Stern wrote.

And in a significant change of tone, Stern -- who has visited the White House more than any other labor official -- called out President Barack Obama for moving away from the promises of his campaign.
President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of "Yes We Can" was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible.
Our challenge to you, to the President, to the Senate and to the House of Representatives is to fight. Now, more than ever, all of us must stand up, remember what health insurance reform is all about, and fight like hell to deliver real and meaningful reform to the American people.
The letter is a reflection of some of the tensions in the union community. Union officials, while privately angry with the White House and Democrats in Congress, still need the support of these lawmakers on other legislative priorities. Meanwhile, having poured millions into advertisement and man-hours in order to get health care passed, they have watched in horror as the principles they worked for were abandoned in a matter of days.

Officials are also aware of how much would be lost by simply scrapping the bill altogether. Stern noted that under the Senate's bill 30 million additional people would be covered, pre-existing conditions would no longer be an excuse to deny coverage, and people who get sick would no longer lose their insurance.

But they also feel that a better bill can and does exists (currently in the House) and hope that, in the final weeks, the Democratic caucus will stop being led by its few conservative members.

"SEIU does not accept that this monumental effort -- that this reform that is so necessary to the health and wellbeing of our economy, our families and our future -- can be over without a fight. A fight to make it work for you and your families," Stern wrote.
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