In the absence of national health insurance, and in an age where giant corporations increasingly refuse to provide affordable healthcare coverage to their employees, we must defend and promote healthcare as a basic right. As healthcare workers, our Union has fought for over 50 years to secure healthcare coverage as a right for all. But that concept has powerful opponents—the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and corporations, e.g. Wal-Mart, that drive to maximize profit at the expense of workers.
With the help of 1199SEIU, the New York City Council recently overrode a mayoral veto to pass the groundbreaking Health Care Security Act. This law will require employers in the City’s grocery and food retail industries to provide healthcare to their employees or pay a surcharge, thereby stemming the growing trend of employers who try and walk away from their responsibilities. The legislation will also apply to so-called “big box” stores, such as Wal-Mart, which sell groceries.
The Maryland Legislature also passed a statewide bill in 2005 that would require large employers to pay their fair share of the cost of employee health coverage. The Maryland bill, which requires employers with 10,000 or more employees to spend at least eight percent of their payroll on employee coverage, was drafted by Americans for Health Care — a project of SEIU, supported by tens of thousands of Health Care Voters, who pledge to only support candidates for office who are committed to quality, affordable health care for all.
Wal-Mart’s persistence in denying affordable health care coverage to their employees has prompted a nationwide effort, led by SEIU and other national unions, to educate the public on their anti-worker business practices. A recent Zogby poll indicates that 38 percent of Americans now hold an unfavorable opinion of Wal-Mart. To read more, visit http://www.walmartwatch.com/.