Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1107 called the national debate on Medicare for All versus union-negotiated health benefits a “false choice” in a statement Monday.
The proposal for universal healthcare has created a divide between presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Culinary Union, which flared up last week after the Culinary warned its members against Sanders “Medicare for All” plan.
SEIU and the Western States Regional Joint Board (WSRJB), an SEIU affiliate, issued a joint statement supporting Medicare for All.
“The debate over whether working Americans need Medicare For All or union-negotiated health benefits is a false choice,” read the statement. “While some working people have good healthcare plans through their jobs, many do not. Access to quality healthcare shouldn’t be based on luck, it should be a right.”
A spokesman for SEIU said Tuesday the union will not be endorsing a candidate “at this time.” Over the past year, members have participated in several events with presidential candidates in town halls, forums, and roundtables “on how they plan to rewrite the rules so that all working families can thrive,” said Samuel Shaw, Local 1107 deputy chief of staff.
“What’s clear is that Donald Trump is the most anti-worker president of our lifetime, so beginning in early 2019, it has been SEIU Local 1107’s priority to engage members in the 2020 election cycle and presidential candidates,” Shaw said via email. “SEIU Local 1107 members have been direct with candidates about what matters most to them — unions for all, environmental justice, real immigration reform, and guaranteed access to quality, affordable healthcare and long term care.”
This week’s joint statement comes after the Culinary Union’s criticism was quickly seized upon by some 2020 candidates, including Pete Buttigieg, who has made criticizing Medicare for All a staple of his campaign, and Joe Biden said Sanders needed to take more accountability for the actions of his supporters.
“For decades, SEIU members have fought, and continue to fight, to win healthcare for all — and not just for our union members. We are in this fight because nobody should have to wait in the hospital parking lot, worrying that they won’t be able to pay the bill if they go inside,” read the ” read the joint SEIU/WSRJB statement.
“We believe that it’s time for everyone in America to have access to quality, affordable healthcare, including long term care. It’s clear that Donald Trump plans to rip healthcare away from working people and our communities – and that’s what’s at stake for working people in this election. SEIU members support all proposals that will expand healthcare to millions more working people and their families, as Medicare For All will.”