A week before the U.S. Congress takes their 4th of July break, Jobs with Justice activists gathered at UAW 848 hall in Grand Prairie to take an extended look at the crisis and recommend action.
The leadoff speaker was Nurse Rossia Avery, who has fought for years to organize nurses and improve health care in Texas. The main issue of the National Nurses Organizing Committee has been to lower the staffing ratios in Texas hospitals, but they are also committed to single-payer national health care.
Sister Avery said that the single-payer Canadian style health care was not presently being considered in Congress, but that a "public option" insurance plan run by the government was an absolute necessity in health care reform. It is the single most debated part of President Obama's plan, because insurance companies are dead set on making sure that all government health care money has to pass through their hands.
Next up was Shane Fox, a national board member of the Alliance for Retired Americans and an officer of the Texas offshoot. Fox brought a lot of materials and a display showing the need for his organization. He said that anybody, retired or not, could join for $10/year, and that they could get weekly news and information on health care and other issues vital to retirees without paying anything. Fox went over the ideas presented at the Alliance's Legislative Conference the week before. He, too, stressed the importance of getting a "public option" insurance plan, but he added that the anti-worker forces are trying to take advantage of the crisis to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They also want to put a new tax on health care benefits. Fox urged everyone to contact their federal representatives.
Howard Haralson brought photos from his participation in America's largest health care demonstration, which took place in Washington DC the previous Wednesday. His union, Communications Workers of America, had over 1,000 activists in the march. He recounted the visits he made on Capitol Hill on behalf of health care and in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it somewhat easier to organize unions in America.
Gene Lantz, organizer for North Texas Jobs with Justice said that his national organization believes that the Employee Free Choice Act may come up for a vote in late July; consequently, there is a nationwide press for support. All ideas are welcome.