To South Carolina,
People are Mad
About Health Care
Just Health Care makes sense.
Now's the moment to organize for it.
Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna DeWitt with Brenda
Stokely at the Labor Party Interim National Council
meeting in July. DeWitt hosted Mazzocchi at a September
meeting of the S.C. state federation. Photo ©2000
Michael Kaufman. Impact Visuals
by Tony Mazzocchi,
LP National Organizer
My recent travels around the United States
have wiped out any doubt in my mind that health care is a
pressing issue for working people right now.
In late August, I went to Anaheim, California,
to present the Labor Party’s Just Health
Care Campaign to a
meeting of the western states region of my union, the Paper,
Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers (PACE). After I
finished speaking, delegates stood up to describe the latest
health care outrages in their lives. One person said his
premiums had just gone up 10 percent, another talked about
being denied care by her HMO.
I wasn’t too surprised by this passionate
reaction, because I’d gotten the same kind of reception a
couple weeks before when I’d spoken to PACE delegates from
the southern region at their gathering in Florida.
In September, the president of the South
Carolina Federation of Labor, Donna DeWitt, a new member of
the Labor Party’s Interim National Council, invited me to
the state federation’s convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Dr.
Sam Baker of the Columbia, S.C., School of Public Health
joined me in making a presentation about Just Health Care.
The response was emotional: delegates got up
to tell harrowing stories about lack of coverage, poor
coverage, rising premiums, and HMO abuses. One former Eastern
Airlines machinist had tears in his eyes describing how he’d
had to pay over $450 a month to get COBRA health care coverage
while he was unemployed. His total monthly income at the time
THEY WANT JUST HEALTH
At none of these gatherings did I detect a
hint of opposition to Just Health Care. In fact, people were
all for it. They didn’t have to hear why we need the Labor
Party’s publicly funded, universal health care plan — they
already knew from personal experience. After each discussion,
people crowded around to add their names to our Committee of a
Million for Just Health Care roster.
The Cleveland Chapter of the Labor Party,
meanwhile, is building its Labor Party recruitment efforts
around the Just Health Care Campaign. They invited me to come
to town to speak to a range of local unions, including the
Communications Workers of America, the Painters, the
Teamsters, and leaders of the Cleveland Central Labor Council
(an LP affiliate). The chapter had arranged a series of press
and radio interviews for me, culminating in an address before
the City Club, which was covered by the local PBS television
station and by National Public Radio. The Cleveland Chapter’s
tightly organized outreach and media blitz provides a good
model for other chapters to follow.
In late September, I was back in California to
take part in a meeting called by the California Nurses
Association to develop a strategic plan for a statewide Just
Health Care Campaign. CNA has assigned a talented member,
Joyce Mills, to work full-time on the campaign in California.
CNA members, who work on the front lines of the health care
system, know better than anyone why we need Just Health Care.
But you don’t have to be a nurse to be for
Just Health Care. As I’ve observed, whether you’re a
machinist from South Carolina, an oil worker from Texas, or a
Teamster from Ohio, Just Health Care makes sense. Now’s the
moment to organize for it.
— Tony Mazzocchi