Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has made “Medicare for All” a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. Under the proposal, Americans would lose access to private health insurance plans and be forced into a single, government-run system of care.
Conservatives have expressed alarm over the prospect of such a radical transformation of the health care landscape, but they aren’t the only ones to take serious issue with it. An influential labor union recently announced that it isn’t on board either, according to the Washington Examiner.
Nevada union voices dissent
Nevada’s Culinary Union, a powerful player in the state’s caucus process later this month, has launched a messaging campaign targeting its membership that included a flyer warning that Sanders’ proposal would strip them of the high-quality health benefits they currently enjoy.
“We have fought for 85 years to protect our health care,” the Nevada Independent quoted the one-page communication as saying. “Why would we let politicians take it away?
“A history of blood, sweat, and tears secured our healthcare, not politicians promises,” the flyer continued. “We fought for our health care.”
The handout went on to note: “Some politicians promise… ‘You will get more money for wages from the company if you give up Culinary Health Insurance.’”
But according to the group, “These politicians have never sat at our bargaining table or been on a 24/7, 6 years, 4 months, and 10 days strike line — like we have to make an employer pay for [health care].”
Rather than eliminating the health plan its members currently receive, the union suggested that Democrats should instead focus their energies on curtailing the profits of”Big Pharma” and “greedy” corporations.
“The high price of healthcare is killing Americans. Big Pharma, for profit insurance companies, and greedy hospital monopolies need to put people over profits,” the union argued.
In addition to top-tier health insurance, members of the Culinary Union receive access to a well-equipped medical facility in Las Vegas and services that include dental and vision care. “The Culinary Health Center is for the exclusive use of Culinary Health Fund participants,” a statement on the union’s website explains.
Cracks in the base
For decades, organized labor has been a reliable and essential component of the Democratic voter coalition. However, that support eroded significantly during the 2016 presidential election, with a higher percentage of union members pulling the lever for Donald Trump than they had for Mitt Romney just four years earlier. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ultimately won the union vote by 16.4%, less than half the margin of victory achieved by President Barack Obama.
According to election statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, that difference in support “was enough to swing the election to Trump,” making union support all the more critical for each and every 2020 hopeful.