Beyond the Bargaining Table: Winning Health Care for All

Health care is the leading economic crisis facing middle-class families today, but politicians in Washington continue to debate individual stop-gap measures that alone will not add up to the comprehensive reform that America needs now. 

Workers united in the Service Employees International Union are calling on elected officials to work in a bipartisan fashion to find a real solution to the health care crisis so working families have quality, affordable coverage and our businesses can remain competitive in the global economy. While we build support for a more efficient, cost-effective model to replace our ailing employer-based structure, SEIU members use their strength each day to increase access to coverage, improve the quality of care, and fight to lower costs for all Americans, including:

» Building a massive, national grassroots network to fight for quality, affordable health care. The SEIU-led grassroots network Americans for Health Care (AHC) brings together working families, small business owners, seniors, health care workers, community leaders, and elected officials to help find real solutions to the crisis. In 2005 AHC campaigns in MD, IL, WA, CO, NH, OR, RI, and IA made major strides in supporting policies and passing legislation that have resulted in lowered costs and expanded coverage for working families, including leading the charge on Maryland's Fair Share Health Care bill, which obligates large corporations to pay 8 percent of their payroll to their employees' health insurance or pay a fee to the state. AHC continues to identify "health care voters" - nearly half a million so far - who have pledged to call on elected office holders and seekers to help put an end to the crisis.

» Partnering with large employers to improve the quality of patient and long-term care and to establish a stable, professional work force by working along side two major nursing home chains, Genesis Health Systems and Beverly Enterprises. Providers like Kaiser Permanente and the League of Voluntary Hospitals in New York work side-by-side with SEIU caregivers to build capacity for better training, and make decisions that affect working conditions and patient care. Thanks to a unique national agreement SEIU reached in 2006 with Addus, a major home care agency, the company will work with home care workers and their union to address the growing need for in-home care for seniors and the disabled by allowing caregivers paid leave to lobby their legislators.

» Expanding coverage to low-wage workers to ease the burden on public hospitals and taxpayers. Janitors in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and other large cities in recent years were able to protect and improve their health care benefits, expand coverage to part-timers, and even secure family coverage for the first time. In late 2005, these janitors helped over 5,300 of their counterparts in Houston - a city with a growing uninsured population - win the opportunity to bargain for health care, and thereby reducing the strain on taxpayer-funded hospitals. In Illinois, 49,000 child care providers, the majority of them women of color, united in SEIU and successfully bargained a historic first contract that gives them access to affordable health care for the first time. Over 10,000 home child care workers in Washington state are gearing up to follow in their footsteps.

SEIU Health Care Membership Facts:

» More than half of SEIU's over 2 million members work in health care, making SEIU the largest union of health care workers in North America.

» SEIU represents 110,000 nurses, 40,000 doctors, over 500,000 home health aides and 160,000 nursing home workers.

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