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by John Reimann
Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2003 at 7:06 AM
The grocery strike affects all workers. For the first time, a major contract would be without affordable health care. The entire labor movement should fight this, and FIGHT TO WIN!
Southern California grocery store chains are trying to stick it to their workers. They are demanding what would ultimately be a per week co-pay for health care for current employees. (It would be even worse for new hires.) A typical grocery store worker - a single mom with three kids who works 30 hours per week - would be paying ,900 per year (25% of her pre-tax income) for health care.
But wait, there's more!
If the grocery store chains succeed in the south, northern California grocery workers will be next when their contract comes up next year. The same for workers in every other industry. In Washington D.C., they are now planning to start privatizing medicare, which will end up with a multi-tier system based on what a senior can afford to pay. Right down the line, for-profit health care means a disaster for working class people. Given the present course, any sort of decent health care will be unaffordable for the great majority in the future. This means, if your baby is sick, he or she had better be able to get well on their own. If you have chronic problems, then you can just live with pain. If your health fails as you get older, you can just suffer and die.
Unless you are rich, of course.
The Southern California grocery store workers are striking to resist this process. This is why all workers have a stake in this strike. It is a very positive step that the UFCW has brought strikers up to the Bay Area to picket Safeways here. However, the Safeway workers are still left to keep working inside. And meanwhile the other stores (Albertsons) are allowed to continue operating without problems.
The next logical step would be for the Union to reach out to all unions and all working class people. They could explain how this strike is part of the larger health care crisis and on this basis to pull together a community/labor health alliance. Mass pickets could be organized for all the chains here, and through this the workers inside could be also pulled out to join the picket lines. It would be made clear that if they are forced out on strike next year, that they will not have to strike alone also.
Normally, it would make sense to simply rely on the Alameda County Central Labor Council (CLC) to carry out this task. Unfortunately, the CLC does not have a good record in really bringing out the tens of thousands of union members it represents and it would be a mistake to rely on them to do it this time. Therefore, it will be up to the striking union and their supporters to do go directly to the work places and to the communities.
There are two key demands that could unite the great majority of working class people here in this country:
*For fully paid full health care in all union contracts, including the Southern California grocery store workers. No co-pays, no deductibles. Even one dollar is too much; soon a one dollar co-pay becomes five, then ten, then ninety-five. For a victory for Southern California grocery store workers.
*For a nationalized health care system in the United States; take the profit out of health care. This means that health care would be a public service, like public education or fire fighting, paid for by our taxes. Where would the money come from? See below for that. We should remember that this is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have such a nationalized health care system.
*For a one-day walk-off! With the presidential election coming up, the corporate-controlled politicians are crawling out of the woodwork. None of them, however, raises the issue of socialized medicine. This despite the fact that this is the only solution to this crisis. In order to put the issue front and center, the labor movement, together with the community groups and the youth should organize a national, one-day walk-off. Shut the country down for a day.
WHERE THE MONEY IS
Cost of war in Iraq: 0,000 per hour
Current US military spending: billion/month
Bush's projected spending to continue occupation of Iraq: billion
WHO'S NOT PAYING FOR IT
Corporate taxes as share of all taxes
1970 = 17%
1990 = 9%
All this, plus the special priviliges and loopholes of the rip off artists like the Enron scammers.
Top 10 CEO's average annual pay: 1981-.5 m; 1988 = .2 m; 2000 = 4m
Don't wait, don't stress, don't heistate; ORGANIZE
Attend your union meetings. Speak up for united labor action.
Who we are: Labor's Militant Voice is a group of workers, many of us with years of union activism, who believe in stronger, more aggressive unions and a democratic socialist society owned and run by and for working class people.
Contact us if you want to help organize for more aggressive unions. Call: (510) 595 4676
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