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"Unions To Take On Conservative Groups Health Care Town Halls


Last Edited: August 7, 2009, 10:00 am

Sam Stein
HuffPost Reporting
"Unions To Take On Conservative Groups Health Care Town Halls

Updated: 08- 6-09 12:26 PM
"The nation's largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess.

In a memo sent out on Thursday, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney outlined the blueprint for how the union conglomerate would step up recess activities on health care reform and other topics pertinent to the labor community. The document makes clear that Obama allies view the town hall forums as ground zero of the health care debate. It also uses the specter of the infamous 2000 recount "Brooks Brothers" protest to rally its members to the administration's side.

"The principal battleground in the campaign will be town hall meetings and other gatherings with members of Congress in their home districts," reads the memo. "We want your help to organize major union participation to counter the right-wing "Tea-Party Patriots" who will try to disrupt those meetings, as they've been trying to do to meetings for the last month. ...

(Remember the hooligans - many of them Republican Congressional staff - who harassed Florida vote counters in 2000? We can't let that happen again!)."

A showdown between unions and grassroots conservative organizations could make for an August full of fireworks, with even more dysfunctional town hall meetings. The AFL-CIO is planning to target 50 "high priority districts," in addition to organizing telephone town hall gatherings.

But while the union conglomerate seems poised to flex its political muscle on Obama's behalf, it may find some friction on the policy front. Detailed in Sweeney's memo are certain legislative priorities that are clearly at odds with what seems likely to be produced in the Senate Finance Committee's compromise bill.

Sweeney describes it as a "requirement that ALL employers 'pay or play,'" that the final bill have "a robust public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and drive down health costs," and that the legislation contain "relief for company/union funds providing pre-Medicare retiree coverage, and no taxation of health benefits!"

The AFL-CIO also promises to "Redouble our efforts on Capitol Hill against taxation of benefits OF ANY KIND, for including ALL businesses in the requirement to provide coverage, and for a robust public health insurance plan option."

According to reports on Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee is considering compromise legislation that will contain no public option for insurance and would tax health-care benefits of the most generous plans.

UPDATE: AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka sends out a scathing statement about the town halls, hitting on Sweeney's themes and calling the events corporate funded."


Entry #1,299


JAP69Comment by JAP69 - August 7, 2009, 12:51 pm
So what are the union members going to do? Run in to the protestors and antagonize for a fight and start breaking arms and legs or taking a life. Anyone who does not remember should do some history on union strikes and bloodshed involved.
They are sending out the unions to create a real bad deal.
konaneComment by konane - August 7, 2009, 1:28 pm
Thanks JAP!!! Nooooo kidding!!! I remember union enforcement which is why I posted this article.
TigerAngelComment by TigerAngel - August 7, 2009, 8:30 pm
I don't get it. Don't union employees have right now the best benefits of any workers including health care? Why would they want to trade it for what will eventually be one option, government run and inferior product? Forget the left right paradigm, it's all the people against the power elites railroading us into ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT with a much lower standard of living for us and less freedoms and liberty!!! Don't we all want the same things as Americans?
jarasanComment by jarasan - August 7, 2009, 10:01 pm
A less perfect union.
konaneComment by konane - August 8, 2009, 7:56 pm
Thanks TigerAngel!! May have been promised a favor in return for strong arming which is what union enforcement does best.

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