Tuesday, PaulVA wrote about radio ads that his own union, the SMWIA, and others have launched asking Chuck Grassley, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Blanche Lincoln which side are they on—the side of the insurance industry, or the side of their states’ working people?
Yesterday, we heard from Kombiz about positive signs he was seeing on AFSCME’s Highway to Health Care bus tour.
The ads are the beginning of a grassroots effort on the part of several Unions to pressure wayward Democrats in the House and Senate to pass real comprehensive health care reform.
As Kombiz’ diary made clear, ads aren’t all that unions and their ally organizations are doing to win real health care reform now. We’re on the ground, around the country. In that vein, Working America has a few numbers for you--12; 30,000; 20,000; 6,000--and something you can do to make those numbers grow.
In an update to his diary, Paul noted that, because "the same people that passed laws that restrict workers from joining unions also passed laws limiting solicitations from unions," non-union members can’t contribute to unions, but suggested that readers could join Working America.
Well, we think that’s a good idea (and thank the hundreds of you who did join Working America at Netroots Nation). But what does that have to do with health care reform? As the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, Working America organizes working people who don’t have unions on the job but want to raise their voices for a just economy. Every six months, our members tell us what issues are most important to them, and time after time, they tell us to focus our work on health care.
That’s why we are on the ground in 12 states from which key votes will be cast: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia.
Will these senators listen to insurance industry lobbyists and shrieking teabaggers, or will they listen to the majority supporting health care reform with a public option? Our canvassers are talking to working people in these states every day--30,000 people in two months—and two out of three of the people we talk to write personal, handwritten letters urging their representatives to support health care reform. That’s anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 handwritten letters per state – an avalanche to any office holder. We’ve generated more than 6,000 constituent phone calls to key members of Congress. We’ve turned out for town hall meetings around the country. And we’re not stopping. Every night we’re collecting more letters, getting more people to make phone calls.
One of our members from Ohio recently wrote this to Rep. Zack Space:
"I’m a cancer survivor and have been in the process of healing for 10 years. In the middle of the ordeal, my health insurance doubled and we were left with bills we either couldn’t pay or a premium we couldn’t pay. I am a nurse and believe me, I worked long hours to not have any insurance. We as Americans need health care!! I want you to support a public option. However, real reform means not taxing our health care benefits."
On the phone, we hear stories like this one from Indiana:
I support a public plan because I never thought that I would be without health care, and now, because I took a severance package, I have none. After 15 years of work, I deserve health care.
My kids and I have pre-existing conditions. I have had good jobs, and I still can't afford health care for my family. A public option would solve many problems.
As long as we’re hearing these stories from our members, we’re going to keep fighting. And, unlike unions, we can accept contributions, so you can help us keep our canvassers in the field to collect these stories and make sure they are heard by key members of Congress. With your help, we can get another 10,000 letters in the hands of key politicians in the next month.