Statement on Workers' Strikes Over Health Care

Washington, DC, October 16, 2003

“The 83,000 UFCW members on strike in California, West Virginia, and Missouri as well as transit workers in L.A. are standing up for all American working families. The issue in these strikes is quality, affordable health care—and the increasing squeeze on working, middle class families trying to take care of their families.

“Under George Bush, 3.7 million more Americans now lack health insurance, bringing the total to 44 million-eighty percent of those are from working families. Even if you have a job, your benefits are being cut and more and more of the costs of health care are being shifted to your pocketbook.

“That's not fair. Our health care system is broken and has failed working families. And trying to fix it by putting more of the burden on working, middle-class families is just wrong.

“In effect, these tens of thousands of strikers have created a referendum on national health care. I welcome the debate on that referendum. In Vermont we have ensured that virtually every child under 18 and 91% of the adults have health insurance.

“I believe that we must fight for quality affordable health care for all Americans. My health care plan would stop the bargaining table squeeze on working families that these workers currently face, and it would stop every dollar in negotiations being eaten up by the ever-rising health care costs. In addition, my plan includes a provision to compel companies like Wal Mart to do the right thing and provide health care to their employees or risk losing their corporate tax benefits.

“These workers' fight is my fight, for it is but a single fight in the larger battle to fulfill Harry Truman's dream of health care
for all Americans. Providing workers with quality health care is not something that can be contingent upon a company's bottom line—it is a fundamental necessity that we must achieve for all Americans.”

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