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Corporate unionism from Andy Stern

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday July 11, 2006 06:08 PM

An interesting item, from the Daily Labor Report, reproduced on the lbo-talk mailing list:
Contending that the employer-based health care insurance system is "dead," Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, June 16 called for creation of a new "uniquely" American health care system....

While Stern was not specific about what kind of health-care system he envisions to replace the current one, he did say that the United States has to build its own system, not import a system from Canada or any other country.

Stern, who leads a union that represents 1.8 million members, including about 1 million health care workers, rejected calls for a single-payer, universal health insurance system built on Medicare, which have the support of many others in the labor movement. He said that a new system should have multiple payers, not a single payer. "Single-payer is a stalking horse for I'm not sure what," he said.

Sorta breathtaking, huh? "A stalking horse for I'm not sure what" -- now there's an incisive critique for you.

Stern was talking at an event sponsored by Brookings and the New America Foundation ("Fresh ideas that are neither left nor right" -- only corporate). Even so, it's startling to see a union leader -- and a supposed sansculotte, too, by American standards -- dismissing single-payer out of hand in this cavalier manner.

As the DLR item notes, more than half of Andy's union's members work in the health-care racket in some capacity or other. Under single-payer, which would trim this bloated sector considerably, at least some of these folks would end up looking for jobs elsewhere, and Andy would be a figure of less consequence. So he has cast his lot with the bloodsuckers who own and run the laughably-misnamed American "health-care" industry.

Plus ca change... there's the history of the American labor movement in a nutshell. Scratch brave new Andy and you find old George Meany.

Strikes me that single-payer needs to become a litmus issue, just like out-of-Iraq-now. Anybody who won't unhesitatingly endorse these two inarguably sound ideas isn't worth a second thought or a minute of your time.

Comments (5)

js paine:

as a close watcher of unions
my take on
andy has always been
the corporate mba
is the future of unions

unions are a npo
like the gun clubs
combined with
a trade association lobby

so see how nicely
he fits
the kosnik/prog merit wonk notion of a union movement
that is no more then
a huddle of special interest ghouls

seen in this light
could our man stern
be more true to form

class wide
fights led by unions
not diddled by unions
is the way forward here

and single payer is indeed the perfect litmus test


You're right--single payer HAS to become a litmus test!! All of Stern's comments reflect his own interest, no one else's. As far as I'm concerned, people who do nothing but push paperwork, deny medical procedures, answer any question with "I don't know.", "That's not my job." or "Call this number." is contributing to the health care problem in this country. Let the people who "work" at these do-nothing jobs see what it is like on the other side. Then they'd sure as hell find something productive to do with their lifes (for a change).

Tim D:

The kind of rhetorical chicanery that the Democrats are stooping to now in order to seem progressive on the issue of health in America has reached new heights in disingenuity. Here is an excerpt from the platform of U.S. Senate hopeful, Ben Cardin:

Ben Cardin believes that it is unacceptable and unconscionable that while America is home to the most advanced health care and medical research facilities in the world, more than 47 million Americans have no health insurance. And each year, the cost of health care continues to skyrocket, making it more difficult for employers to offer, and for families to afford, quality health care.

Astute observation, right? So far so good eh? His proposal for resolving this travesty:

[Ben Cardin] Believes we must fight to expand coverage by building on the current employer-based system of health care. By offering small businesses assistance in securing affordable coverage for their workers, we will make it easier for states to enroll eligible children and parents in the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This will also allow early retirees between ages 55 and 64 to enroll in Medicare at an affordable premium.

Health industry donations to the Cardin campaign? A whopping $225,800. His top contributor.

Anyway, if all that wasn't amusing enough, get a load of this:

Minority groups are disproportionately affected by cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases:

- [Therefore], we must intensify our research efforts to determine both the cause of racial and ethic disparities and how to narrow gaps in health status.

Geeez laweeez...what could be the cause of this disparity?



In late 2003, during the Democratic primary, the website The Black Commentator watched one of the debates, and titled their next article:

"Two Civilized Gentlemen"

calling Kucinich and Sharpton that title for being the only two in a room full of savages in the debate to agree on a pullout from Iraq and a single-payer system.

So you've got a kindred spirit elsewhere on the web.

Stern is a fool. Millions of Americans can't afford healthcare, and the ones who can afford it can't afford treatment or exams as much as they'd like. Look at me: Largely out of work for a year, covered through my spouse. He pays more to cover us both than we pay to own a home (granted, it's a small home). I haven't been to the doctor for even routine care since I left my former job. Who can afford the co-pays ? So my husband is paying for a de facto Major Medical plan. Catastrophic coverage, but no routine maintenance.

If we had single-payer, I'm guessing most of the paper-pushers, home care workers and so forth, could keep their jobs. They'd have millions more people to serve-- including the working poor who are targets year after year of debilitating cuts in public care.

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