Time to Win Health Care for All

Music & Politics

Volume CVIII, No. 1January, 2008

Julia Smith

In the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several events sponsored by the Central Labor Council about the AFL-CIO’s new health care campaign. In this month’s column I’ll share with you what I’ve learned. Next month, I’ll follow up with Local 802’s plans for participating in the national campaign.

The AFL-CIO launched this campaign on Labor Day. The goal is simple: secure high-quality health care for all. Currently, representatives of the campaign are traveling to unions and central labor councils across the country to urge their participation in the effort.

This campaign, along with the AFL-CIO’s efforts to advocate for fair trade and organizing rights (principally the Employee Free Choice Act), will form the basis of the labor federation’s Working Families Vote 2008 program.

The campaign is poised to make the next president and Congress feel immediate pressure to begin major progressive health care reform. Organizers want to create a unified movement of one million union activists who are educated about health care and who are motivated to act.

In the 10 months before the election, this movement hopes to instill in the presidential candidates the conviction that progressive health care reform should be at the top of their domestic agenda.

The campaign will not be based on endorsement of any specific piece of legislation, but around a core set of principles that ought to guide health care reform.

As the AFL-CIO puts it in their health care campaign toolkit, we are fighting for health care reform that:

  • Controls rising and irrational costs;
  • Provides comprehensive, high-quality health care for all;
  • Gives every family the opportunity and the responsibility for preventive care;
  • Preserves the right to choose and use your own doctor and providers;
  • Requires our government to play a strong role in restoring balance to the system — curbing greed and incompetence and ensuring more fairness and efficiency;
  • Lowers employer costs and, in return, requires them to pay their fair share, along with government and individuals;
  • Builds on what’s best about American health care while drawing from what works in other countries.

As all members know, health care is one of the most critical issues facing Local 802 and working musicians nationally. Next month, I’ll write about the role Local 802 plans to play in the AFL-CIO’s health care campaign.


As Allegro went to press, Julia Smith had just been offered an opportunity to work for State Senator Eric Schneiderman. Local 802 wishes Julia well, and we look forward to working with her and Sen. Schneiderman on any issues that affect our members. While the union searches for Julia’s replacement, members can contact Joel LeFevre at (212) 245-4802, ext. 197 or for all political or public relations matters.