Cynthia Leonor Garza
Visit to Capitol Hill Precedes National Conference
WASHINGTON—Nearly 200 healthcare workers and public employees from across the country will urge Congress on Thursday to make reforming the nation's healthcare system a top priority because it's integral to the country's economic recovery.
Members of the AFT Healthcare and AFT Public Employees divisions also plan to discuss other pressing issues with their U.S. representatives and senators, including preparing for a flu pandemic, protecting workers by expanding the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the effects of the federal stimulus, the budget crisis facing many states and communities, and expanding collective bargaining rights for first responders and public safety employees.
"Family budgets, businesses and governments can no longer support the rising and often overwhelming costs and inefficiencies of the current system. This is a now-or-never moment for our country, and fixing our country's broken healthcare system is a must if we are to recover from this economic downturn," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "Healthcare reform shamefully has been neglected for nearly a decade, making a bad situation even worse. Americans can't wait any longer for the right fix."
The AFT strongly supports a healthcare reform plan that will provide high-quality, affordable healthcare coverage for all Americans, ensure that employer-provided healthcare benefits are not taxed and establish safe staffing standards in hospitals.
The congressional visits by AFT members and leaders precede a four-day joint conference for AFT healthcare workers and public employees, to be held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road N.W., in Washington. Speakers at the conference will include U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, District of Columbia Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The visits to Congress are part of the AFT's "Fight for America's Future: It's Dollars and Sense" campaign, a nationwide effort to help reverse the dire economic situation affecting our nation's public services and our communities. AFT members and leaders will meet with U.S. senators and representatives from Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The AFT leaders and members will be available to speak to the media after these meetings. For more information on the visits, or for a conference agenda and list of workshops, contact AFT Public Affairs.