November 21, 2005


Union Members Join Citizens’ Health Care Working Group in First National Dialogue on Health Care in a Decade

(Washington, DC) Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) announced a national effort to engage its 1.4 million members in the first national dialogue on health care reform in a decade.  UFCW members are joining the Citizen’s Health Care Working Group by speaking up—online, at community meetings and in their workplaces—about the needs of working families in the health care system.

The Working Group, created by Congress in 2003, is mandated with engaging the public in a nationwide discussion of options for reforming America’s crumbling health care system.   To carry out that mission, citizens are encouraged to fill out an online survey and participate in a series of community meetings scheduled over the next several months in localities across the nation.

“Lawmakers and policy experts need to hear directly from working people and ordinary citizens about the reality of health care in their daily lives,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President and member of the 14-person Working Group. “The Working Group’s most important task is to facilitate and encourage every American to take advantage of this unique opportunity to help lawmakers understand the views of ordinary people on how to make quality, accessible, and cost-efficient health care available to every American.”

As part of this initiative, the UFCW has launched a website:  www.ufcw4healthcare.orgfor its 1.4 million members to fill out the Citizens Health Care Working Group’s health care survey. The union is reaching out to other labor organizations to encourage participation by their members. And as meeting sites and dates are determined, the UFCW will mobilize UFCW members—including their friends and family—to attend the community meetings occurring in their areas.

UFCW members are acutely aware of the many problems with our current health care system.  Union members have been forced to organize community support, mobilize their workplaces and walk picket lines in order to fight back against employer demands to slash or reduce health care for workers and their families.  The national health care crisis cannot be solved at the bargaining table or on the picket line—it requires a national solution.  Now, union members are prepared to help shape that solution.

“Our members have first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls of our current health care system—whether soaring costs or access to quality care—and they have valid ideas for making the system work better for all Americans,” said Hansen. “We have every intention of ensuring that their concerns and ideas receive the full weight of their due in the final recommendations prepared by the Working Group.”

Hansen is the only representative on the fourteen-member The Citizen’s Health Care Working Group from a worker organization.