Charlotte city workers union urges passage of federal Medicare for All bill; workers across the South join the call

The following was jointly issued by Charlotte City Workers Union, United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 150; the Southern Workers Assembly; and National Nurses United.

On Saturday, September 21, members of the Charlotte City Workers Union, Chapter of UE Local 150, the National Nurses United, the Southern Workers Assembly, Healthcare Justice NC and others held a picket in front of the Government Center to launch their campaign for affordable healthcare, including passage of the Congressional bill for Medicare for All. They were adding to the numbers of working people, including local and state employees, who see Medicare for All as the way to comprehensively insure themselves and families and to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs.

The action called on the Charlotte City Council to pass a resolution to endorse the federal Medicare for All Act of 2019 (HR 1384) legislation now before Congress.  Similar resolutions are being introduced by workers’ committees throughout the South. The City of Durham, Carrboro and Orange County, N.C., have already passed similar resolutions. City Council Member LaWana Mayfield, who supports the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (HR1384) attended the rally, and three other council members currently support it.

Workers from several different unions from Georgia, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia and North Carolina gathered over the weekend of September 21-22 in Charlotte, N.C., to continue training as part of the Southern Workers Assembly school to build worker cadre to organize their co-workers and build this campaign. 

“We are being gouged by insurance companies collecting enormous premiums.  Under a Medicare for All system, an estimated $10 million will come back to Charlotte taxpayers and another $4 million back into the wallets and purses of city workers. Let’s join the rest of the industrial world and support a universal healthcare program which for us is Medicare for All,” stated Dominic Harris, utility technician in the Charlotte Water Department, president of the Charlotte City Workers Union.

In Charlotte, savings to the city contribution to healthcare premiums under Medicare for All would add up to more than $10 million annually for the city.  City employee premiums under Medicare for All would reduce employee costs by an estimated $3,734,000 per year. That’s a win-win for the city and for its workers.

City union workers need immediate relief from high premiums they currently pay, citing the premium for basic family coverage of $434.50 per month.  That amounts to about 20% of take home pay for workers starting out.

Charlotte city workers are denied the right to bargain collectively with the City and cannot negotiate even incremental improvements in their health care coverage, making the protection of  health for them and families all the more difficult.

“As a hospital RN in one of the largest hospitals in Corpus Christi, Texas, we find patients arriving at our facility who are sicker and sicker. That’s because the insurance system does not fully insure them and they don’t get care when they need it. Enough is enough. We support the North Carolina workers’ efforts and will continue our efforts in Texas, Florida and other states. Let’s put in place a system that cares for all U.S. residents. That’s Medicare for All,” said Kathy Gossett, Registered Nurse, member of National Nurses United.

Recent Commonwealth Fund data show that in successive years one in three U.S. residents with insurance foregoes a doctor visit or filling a prescription because they cannot afford them.  Forty-two percent of U.S. residents with a first time cancer diagnosis spend all their savings within two years. Premiums continue to go up well beyond inflation. That’s underinsurance at expensive rates.

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