Unions Are Not Super Happy About Being Told They Hate Medicare For All
This week, moderate Democrats tried super hard to deliver what they believed was going to be a crushing blow to those who support single-payer Medicare For All, an argument against it that at least sort of seemed like they were criticizing it from the Left, and for totally altruistic reasons. That argument was that Medicare For All was bad because unions had bargained for better health care plans from their employers, and we don't want to take that away from them.
People like me were supposed to go "Wait a minute! I love unions! I don't want to do something that would hurt unions! Guess we'll just have to settle for another crappy, half-assed attempt to nationalize healthcare while keeping insurance companies in the mix!"
We did not. Though we (or at least I) got yelled at on Twitter a lot for it.
As it turns out, however — and this may shock you, so you may want to sit down — the vast majority of unions are not actually against Medicare For All. In fact, some of them find this argument pretty damned offensive, as Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants told Vox:
"Tim Ryan, that's a great failure of understanding how unions work," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. His suggestion was "offensive to me," she added.
Nelson also shared her support of M4A on Twitter:
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wasn't too fond of this new talking point either.
More than 20 unions, representing the vast majority of unionized workers, have signed on to endorse the Medicare For All bill.
Amalgamated Transit Union
American Federation of Teachers
American Federation of Government Employees
American Postal Workers Union
Association of Flight Attendants
Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes/IBT
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
International Association of Machinists
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Massachusetts Nurses Association
National Education Association
National Nurses United
National Union of Healthcare Workers
NY State Nurses Association
PA Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals
Service Employees International Union
United Automobile Workers
United Electrical Workers
United Mine Workers of America
Utility Workers Union of America
To be fair, the Firefighters Union is opposed to Medicare For All. There are probably other unions and union workers who are opposed to it as well, but it's not the blinding majority that some want to act like it is.
Back in March, Washington State Council President Larry Brown explained why Medicare For All would help unionized workers in an op-ed for The Stand:
[H]ealth care has become the biggest cause of strikes, lockouts and concession bargaining. Health care costs drive wage stagnation as unions routinely trade off wage increases and other benefits in order to maintain basic health care for their members and retirees. Unscrupulous non-union employers gain an unfair competitive advantage over worker-friendly businesses by shortchanging their own employees' health care benefits.
Unions do not serve their members well by trying to circle the wagons around an unsustainable model of employment-based health care. That is why the AFL-CIO, the Washington State Labor Council, and dozens of unions have called for a social insurance model like Medicare for All.
The time has come to take health care off the bargaining table by making it a right for all Americans.
Look. I get that people really want to have an an altruistic reason to oppose Single Payer/Medicare For All, because generally, those of us on the Left and center-Left like to have altruistic reasons for supporting anything. It's rarely enough to say "I just don't want it." I don't know what the altruistic argument against it is, but clearly, this ain't it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse