August 4, 2003
Democratic Presidential Campaign Train 2004: West Coast Whistle Stop
Food and Commercial Workers Union Convention
Thursday, July 31, 2003 – 2:30 P.M.
Moscone Center – San Francisco
Pre-Forum Press Briefing 12:30 p.m.-The Human Stories Behind The Numbers
In The Health Care Crisis-Workers On Strike For Affordable Health Care,
Workers with No Insurance, Workers Bargaining To Keep Coverage
Over 3,000 working families a day lose health insurance coverage. Over 41 million Americans are uninsured. Health care costs are rising faster than inflation. At the nation’s largest private employer – Wal- Mart – more than 60 percent— or, about 600,000 workers – do not have company-sponsored health insurance. More corporations are dropping health benefits for employees and their families. More American workers are opting out of insurance as companies shift more of the cost to employees.
The 1.4 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) – America’s neighborhood union – represents grocery store clerks, food processors and health care workers – all growing sources of employment. The majority of UFCW members now have employer-paid health insurance – but, the health care cost crisis, along with competition from employers who do not provide insurance, threatens to destroy the employment-based health care system. Some of the largest strikes in the past 10 years—28,000 workers in New Jersey and 35,000 workers in Northern California – have been UFCW strikes over health care coverage. Demographically, the UFCW is a microcosm of voting, middle- income America with about 52 percent women, about 11 percent African-American and about 10 percent Latino.
The forum will take place on an open stage with a roving Bill Press, of MSNBC’s “”Buchanan and Press,”” posing questions from workers in the audience to the candidates seated in director’s chairs on stage. The backdrop will be a convention hall filled with 5,000 workers meeting to set an agenda for their union.