May 7, 2007

Statement by Joseph T. Hansen, International President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union

Washington DC—Today’s launch of the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform (CAHR) marks the first serious entry of the business community as full participants into the national healthcare reform debate. The nearly 40 major companies currently signed onto CAHR bring a new and positive momentum to the growing mandate for political action on our national healthcare crisis.

A great many of the companies have union workforces, including Safeway, Kroger, Supervalu, Raleys, Heinz, General Mills, Clorox, Del Monte Foods and CVS among others, whose workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). These companies have long been committed to and engaged in the issue of providing good healthcare coverage to employees through the collective bargaining process.

Escalating costs, declining healthcare access for more and more Americans, as well as compromised quality, leave those at the bargaining table to deal with a national crisis that can only be solved with a national political solution.

Compounding the situation is the lack of fairness in our current healthcare system that allows irresponsible employers—like Wal Mart—to shift their healthcare costs onto taxpayers and responsible employers.

The UFCW has long been a supporter of universal, affordable and quality health care coverage for all Americans.   And we believe that a broad-based effort of all Americans is fundamental to achieving that goal. Responsible members of the business community have a large role to play in this effort, and we applaud CAHR for bringing them into the national healthcare dialogue.

America’s workers need universal healthcare. CAHR principles represent an important contribution in the effort to adopt healthcare reform that is fair to everyone in our society, can control costs, and provide universal access to quality healthcare all Americans.

We look forward to working with CAHR, and will continue working with lawmakers, advocacy groups and other unions to solve our country’s health care crisis.

UFCW President Joe Hansen was the only labor representative on the 14 member Citizens’ Health Care Working Group mandated by Congress to make recommendations to the President and Congress for solving the healthcare crisis. The Working Group engaged nearly 40,000 Americans in an historic national dialogue over a nearly two- year period and submitted its recommendations last September. They can be accessed at: