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Discretionary Deeming: How One Town Got Improved Medicare

9:03 pm in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

Buried deep in the health reform law is Section 10323. It amends the Social Security Act to extend Medicare coverage to individuals exposed to environmental health hazards in the region defined by the Emergency Declaration of June 17, 2009. That declaration limits this benefit to the area around Libby, Montana.

Downtown Libby, Montana

Asbestos victims in Libby, Montana deserve single payer healthcare. But don’t we all?

Section 10323 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) calls it “deeming of Individuals as eligible for Medicare benefits.” People do not have to be age 65, or wait two years following disability, or to have paid into the Medicare system. The victims of asbestos in Libby were simply “deemed” to be eligible for Medicare. It was described as “discretionary deeming.”

Senator Max Baucus, Chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, who hired insurance executive Liz Fowler to write the health reform act, slipped Section 10323 into the law assuring that all those with asbestos-related conditions in the community around Libby, Montana get into Medicare, our single payer program for all those over 65. Further, for this designated group of Montanans, Baucus arranged additional special benefits not normally available to Medicare patients.

Baucus “deemed” single payer off the table

It’s true. Senator Baucus “deemed” single payer off the table during the 2009 health care debate. He had physicians and others arrested for insisting that single payer be included in the nation’s discussion. Baucus effectively locked out any consideration of such a plan. But he gave our country’s single payer program, Medicare, to the people of Libby.  And they got free drugs, too.

The victims of asbestos exposure in Libby, regardless of age, are eligible for traditional Medicare, plus, under an additional program that Baucus included in the ACA, the government also pays for services not included under Medicare, such as home care, medical equipment, counseling, help with travel, and medications not covered by Medicare prescription plans.

Insurance companies use co-pays to exclude the sick

Coverage of drugs can be crucial. Outrageous drug prices continue to threaten all who depend on costly medications.  While the ACA bars health insurance plans from refusing to cover those who are sick, insurance companies have found ways to keep patients with cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, and other conditions out of their plans. Some insurance companies have made the co-pays on the drugs needed by such patients as high as $1,000 to $6,000 a month, effectively excluding those with pre-existing conditions.

Goodness knows the people of Libby deserve to have Medicare—with free drugs and home care and medical equipment and help with travel and much more. After all, the W. R. Grace company whose vermiculite mine poisoned their entire region left thousands, not just the miners, suffering and dying.

But the senator who helped Libby also made certain that all the rest of us would be left out—that the nation could not even consider the merits of HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, that would free our country from the health insurance companies that continue to hold us hostage.

The Libby solution, single payer

As health reform rolls into a new stage where some who have been left out find help but millions more, both insured and uninsured, find the costs of care still beyond their means, let us look to the Libby solution, publicly-funded single payer, for the answer.

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Some unions protest Obamacare’s impact on Multiemployer Health Plans

10:28 pm in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, presents challenges to the multiemployer plans through which some unions bargain collectively to provide health care insurance for their members.  These plans, often called Taft Hartley Plans, currently cover about 26 million workers, families, and retirees.  Unless there is a major regulatory change made by Health and Human Services, these union negotiated plans will be struck a harsh blow once the exchanges go into effect in 2014.

A quiet effort by many unions to persuade the Obama administration to make this change is now becoming very public.

In an Op Ed published in The Hill, Joseph T. Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), said,

But as currently interpreted, the ACA would block these plans from the law’s benefits (such as the subsidy for lower-income individuals and families) while subjecting them to the law’s penalties (like the $63 per insured person to subsidize Big Insurance). This creates unstoppable incentives for employers to reduce weekly hours for workers currently on our plans and push them onto the exchanges where many will pay higher costs for poorer insurance with a more limited network of providers. In other words, they will be forced to change their coverage and quite possibly their doctor. Others will be channeled into Medicaid, where taxpayers must pick up the tab.

In addition, the ACA includes a fine for failing to cover full-time workers but includes no such penalty for part-timers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week). As a result, many employers are either reducing hours below 30 or discontinuing part-time health coverage altogether. This is a cut in pay and benefits workers simply cannot afford. For example, a worker making $10 an hour that has his or her schedule cut by six hours a week would lose $3,100 a year in income. With millions of workers impacted, this would have a devastating effect on our economy.


Alaska UFCW

The effort of unions to persuade the Obama administration to change the regulations in order to resolve the problems was reported in the January 30, 2013, Wall St. Journal.

“Top officers at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, theAFL-CIO and other large labor groups plan to keep pressing the Obama administration to expand the federal subsidies to these jointly run plans, warning that unionized employers may otherwise drop coverage.”

“We are going back to the administration to say that this is not acceptable,” said Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters, according to the WSJ article.

Many unions have been working through the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) to find a solution.  In a memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services, the NCCMP stated:

If subsidies are available only for plans purchased through Exchanges, employers contributing to multiemployer plans will face tremendous economic pressure to stop contributing to multiemployer plans…. Many employers will feel the need to drop coverage and access the subsidies to remain competitive.

On April 16, 2013, the United Union of roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson issued a statement calling for a repeal or complete reform of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).  He stated that the union has supported President Obama for both terms in office but that the union’s concerns “over certain provisions in the ACA have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored.”

“In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it.  These provisions jeopardize our multi-employer health plans, have the potential to cause a loss of work for our members, create an unfair bidding advantage for those contractors who do not provide health coverage to their workers, and in the worst case, may cause our members and their families to lose the benefits they currently enjoy as participants in multi-employer health plans,” Robinson stated.

The Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations School recently held a special workshop on The Affordable Care Act:  Impact on Multiemployer Plans.  The materials from that educational event are available here.

So far there is no adequate answer from the Obama administation to the efforts of unions to resolve the issues.  The state exchanges must be in place by October of 2013 so that they are ready to go byJanuary 1, 2014.

Many of the unions involved contend that regulations for the ACA could be written to allow the employers that pay into these union negotiated plans to receive the same subsidies that employers will receive in the exchanges.  So far, that has not happened.

This is one of many conundrums that face unions as the costs of health care in our corporate-controlled, profit-oriented system make the maintenance of health benefits increasingly difficult to achieve.
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Over 7,000 March to Demand Return of Stolen Health Benefits

9:43 am in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow


 16 arrested in Charleston, WV

Charleston,West Virginia. April 1, 2013.  They boarded buses and cars before dawn, some the night before, coming from the coalfields of Illinois,Pennsylvania,Kentucky,Virginia,Ohio,Indiana, and all acrossWest Virginia.  By10:00 AM over 7,000 had packed into the giant Charleston Civic Center to voice their support for the 23,000 miners and their families who face the loss of their lifetime health benefits in a bankruptcy scam.


In a series of mergers and deals, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal transferred their contractual health benefit obligations to Patriot Coal.  InSt. Louis,Missouri, in March, 2013, Patriot Coal filed in bankruptcy court seeking to terminate the United Mine Workers (UMWA) contract and set up instead a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) for the retirees and families. 


Patriot seeks to put only a pittance into the VEBA, vastly underfunding it.  UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts has said this plan would “put thousands of retired coal miners, their dependents or their widows on the path to financial ruin, worsening health conditions or even death.”


The UMWA pioneered in healthcare benefits and pensions when they battled coal operators and the American Medical Association to establish the UMWA Health & Welfare Fund.  John L. Lewis and the union defied accusations of socialized medicine to set up miners’ clinics and built the miners’ hospitals that serve today as the backbone of health care in Appalachia.  The UMWA won early retirement with family coverage for miners who retired before they were 65.  These achievements of the miners’ struggles are under attack by Patriot, Peabody, and Arch.  Most unions, following the lead of the UMWA, have negotiated early retirement with employers picking up the cost of health care until Medicare kicks in.  The attack on UMWA retirees is a snapshot of what employers have in store for union negotiated early retirement plans.

The miners’ fight is winning political support.  The West Virginia state Senate and House of Delegates have passed resolutions calling on Patriot Coal to meet its commitment to provide pension and health benefits to miners.  Elected leaders are feeling some heat, judging by the number of the powerful who appeared at the Civic Centerto express their support. 

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin greeted the crowd.  “I’m fromLogan County the heart of coal mining…I’m honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with you for the benefits of our retired miners.”


Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer spoke.  “To cast aside those who earned benefits through decades of back breaking labor is like taking money—it’s theft.” 


Kane called for a Congressional investigation.  “Who’s looking into this conspiracy?  We will fight to protect our health care no matter what it takes.  We will follow these robber barons and we will shine the light of truth on these evil deeds.  We are on the right side of history.”

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller appeared through a video.   ”We must hold Peabody, Arch and Patriot to the promises they have made,” Rockefeller said.  He spoke of the introduction of the Coal Accountability and Retired Employee Act.

Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia declared that “In 1912 Mother Jones said that the labor movement was a command from God Almighty.”  He said that the promise to the miners must be kept.  “No white flag…this is an uphill battle, but everyone here knows how to walk uphill.”

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant described herself as a union member and said that this is an attack on all American workers.  “It happened at Century Aluminum to steelworkers.”  Tomorrow, she said it will happen to many more until we stop “these fraudulent transactions.”

“We can’t let this stand.  This is an attempt to take away the health care that was won on your broken backs, on your black lungs and on the memories of your fellow miners who took their last breaths in the coal mines,” Tennant said. “What’s worrisome is that tomorrow it can be an attack on construction workers, nurses, secretaries, teachers; who knows where it stops?”

West Virginia’s Junior Senator, Joe Manchin spoke against Patriot’s attempt to have retirement obligations dismissed in bankruptcy but also condemnedPeabodyand Arch for shifting their liabilities.

Manchin said he knows and talks to the owners of these companies.  “I’ve told them, where I come from, you can’t make wrong right. You can’t, no matter how hard you try.  You can’t shine crap, and by God, this is crap. You can’t make this stuff look good, you can’t make it smell good and you sure as hell can’t make it taste good.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka brought support from 12.5 million members of theAFL-CIO.  He said that when they dumped all the legacy costs onto one little company they knew it would fail.  He said that we’ve been “living and working under the threat of vulture capitalism.”  He addressed Patriot,Peabody, and Arch, “You can’t use the courts to steal because we won’t let you.”

UMWA President Cecil Roberts concluded the indoor rally.  He said that 42 have already been arrested inSt. Louiswhere the bankruptcy court is convened.  That includes all of the members of the International Executive Board of the UMWA.  He spoke of the broadening of this movement with faith leaders from the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and the Catholic Church who would be joining today in non-violent civil disobedience and arrest in protest against this moral outrage.  He recognized the Teachers, CWA, USW, UAW, and the many unions that were in the hall.

Roberts said “We know who did this –they are wearing $10,000 suits and Gucci shoes.  We know where they are.  We are going to be like Jesus who threw the money changers out of the temple.”

At the conclusion of his speech people moved in orderly fashion to march to the headquarters of Patriot at Laidley Towers.  When the front of the march arrived, the streets were still packed all the way back to theCivic Center.  Many workers cheered from the steps of their office buildings.

Moms and dads sheltered the babies from the light rain and kept walking.  The camouflage UMWA shirts read “We are Everywhere” and “No Health Care, No Coal.” 

A brief rally continued across from Patriot.  Doris Crouse-Mays, President of the VirginiaAFL-CIO, said that this will be the “first time that I’ve ever gone to jail in my life and I can’t think of a better reason.”  She was joined in being arrested by KentuckyAFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan and West Virginia AFL-CIO President Ken Perdue.

Three religious leaders were among the 16 arrested, Father John Rausch, Director of the Catholic Committee on Appalachia,  Rev. James Lewis, Episcopal priest, and Rev. Donald Prange, St. James United Church of Christ, Lovettsville, VA. 

Before leading the group to sit down on the steps of the Laidley Towers, Cecil Roberts paid tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King who taught non-violent resistance to unjust laws.  Roberts said we must build a movement that is more powerful than all of their money.  “We are over 7,000 today and we will be back with 20,000 and then 30,000.  If we can’t get justice in the court house, we will take it to the state house.  If we don’t get justice there, we must take it to the streets.” 

The powerful march and rally made the news not only inWest Virginia but also in the Wall St. Journal, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and across the country.    

Throughout hours of speeches about health care, neither politicians nor labors leaders mentioned the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, the health care reform that was passed in 2010.  Clearly the ACA provides no remedy for the health care crises that workers and retirees face. 

Only a national single payer plan, HR 676, Expanded and Improved Medicare for All, can provide the needed care.  By removing the private for-profit health insurance companies and hospitals through HR 676, the nation can save $400 billion a year yet expand care to all.

HR 676 makes the wealthy pay a larger share and stops non-union employers from being able to underbid unionized companies.  With HR 676 there will be no more profiting from the denial of care. 

Until we can build the movement that can pass HR 676, everyone should join the battle to preserve the health care won through union contracts.  So do something to help the miners.  Ask your senators and congressperson to support the UMWA demands.

Sign the petition for the UMWA.  Check out the UMWA on facebook.  Watch for more demonstrations to come.

Distributed by:

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217



Miners arrested in fight to end Peabody’s stealing of health benefits

3:20 pm in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

Coal execs deserve “a cell next to Bernie Madoff” 

Peabody Coal Mine

Peabody Coal Mine

St. Louis,MO. February 13, 2013.  Shirley Inman was arrested for peaceful, civil disobedience as she protested at the Peabody Energy headquarters against the corporate threat to rob miners and their families of the health benefits they have earned.  Inman, a member of United Mine Workers of America Local 2286 in Madison,West Virginia, spent 18 years driving a coal truck.  Head held high, Inman faced arrest with a determination much greater than her petite stature.  She is serious about this fight.

If I can’t get my medication for my heart disease, I won’t be around much longer,” said Inman. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and I have coronary artery disease. Health care isn’t an option for me; it’s what I need to survive. I’ll do whatever it takes to make these corporate executives keep the promises they made – and if that means going to jail, so be it.”

Inman was arrested with nine of her union brothers, including UMWA Secretary Treasurer Dan Kane.  This was the second set of arrests at Peabody Energy, and it looks like there will be more to come.  On January 29 UMWA President Cecil Roberts was arrested with the first group, but he was not present for this rally because of negotiations.

In 2007, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal spun off a large chunk of their health care and retirement obligations to a new entity called Patriot Coal.  In a financial and bankruptcy transaction that UMWA Vice President from Alabama, Daryl Dewberry, described as “nickel slick”, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are trying to wash their hands of responsibility for the health benefits for which they had signed contracts.

There was an air of militancy as more than 1,000 miners and supporters marched to the park and rallied between the St. Louis arch and the Peabody headquarters prior to the arrests.  There was emotion also.  Health care hits close to the heart.  The union has challenged the theft of benefits in court, and the case has been moved to St. Louis.  Concerned that bankruptcy law may not be adequate to protect these benefits, the miners say they will win this battle by appealing to a higher moral law.

Dan Kane, UMWA Secretary Treasurer explained.  “They intentionally put Patriot in the position for bankruptcy.  They want this in the bankruptcy court—they don’t want it in the court of public opinion.  This is about every man and woman who works for a living.  Health care and pension are not gifts.  You paid for it.  But these companies are using bankruptcy more and more.  Lawyers will get paid.  Million dollar bonuses will go to executives.  The heads of Patriot won’t suffer.  Those who did the work walk out with nothing.  That has to stop.  We don’t want their sympathy.  What we want is justice.”

“We want what we’ve earned,” said Kane.  “They want to go to their palatial homes—but they deserve a cell next to Bernie Madoff.  I’m tired of an economy that walks all over the workers.  I look for a day when we win the fight so every person who wants to can be in a union without interference.  And next, I look for a day when each and every one drops their tools and sits down for a day and tells the executives here’s what it’s like without us.”  The protesters roared approval.

Dewberry said the UMWA was founded in 1890 “when it was not popular to have all creeds and colors together, but we did it and we’ve been doing it for over 100 years.”  He said that miners are “used to adversity and we are all our brothers’ keepers. Peabodyleft scars in Alabama.  Arch left scars in Alabama.  They left black lung.  Miners took less benefits to assure health care.”
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Solution to a Busted VEBA: Single Payer Health Care, HR 676

11:03 am in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

Detroit Diesel has been around since April 1937, a few months after the Flint sit down strike that won union recognition. 

This year, 1,100 retired auto workers at Detroit Diesel suffered a giant cut in company provision of health benefits because their Voluntary Employees Benefits Association, VEBA, went belly up.  Workers who retired between 1993 and 2004 will have to pick up an increasing share of the premiums that were once fully covered by the company.  Some retirees will have to pay as much as $4,000 per year, or even higher, just to keep their health coverage.

VEBAs are spreading.  Many companies seek to shift their liability for future health costs to the workers or the union through establishment of a VEBA.

So how do unions and workers, who are in danger of losing health benefits for which they worked for decades, fight back?  Educate and organize for national single payer health care, HR 676, an improved Medicare for all.  Build a movement that demands it.  Spread the word.  March for it. 

With HR 676 what happens to locked out workers?  Health coverage continues.  To workers on strike?  Coverage continues.  To early retirees?  Coverage continues.  To laid off workers?  Coverage continues.   

“Our struggle is not for more or better VEBAs.  That was the condition we faced in the last decade.  In this decade, we only have one choice, National Health Care (HR 676),” says Al Gladyck of the UAW Local 7 Retirees Chapter and former Chief Steward at Chrysler’s Jefferson Assembly Plant.

“HR 676 would make this situation a thing of the past” Gladyck said, referring to the Detroit Diesel retirees’ loss.

Gladyck is one of the leaders of Retirees for Single Payer Health Care which meets regularly at UAW Local 22, 4300 Michigan Avenue in Detroit.  He has written three articles on Detroit Diesel, VEBAs, and the solution.  They are well worth reading.

Detroit Diesel:  The Death of a VEBA and the Cost to Retirees

Part I 

Part II

Part III

To find the ongoing activities of Retirees for Single Payer Health Care in Detroit, click here.


Kay Tillow

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care—HR 676

On Wisconsin! News and What to do in Solidarity.

7:11 pm in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

In a message to the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care—HR 676, Jim Cavanaugh, President of the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), said:  ”For at least three decades now the working class has been under severe attack.  In Madison, and throughout Wisconsin, we have declared that enough is enough and now is the time to turn it around.”  The SCFL represents 97 unions and 45,000 workers in Madison and the six county area.

At SCFL’s monthly meeting Monday, February 21, 2011, delegates voted for the following:  ”The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his ‘budget repair bill.’”  An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details.

Unions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and across the country are rising to defend the rights of workers to organize and bargain to achieve dignity and a decent life. 

Wall Street, not public workers, nor unions, nor government spending, caused the fiscal crisis that is stressing our states.  Workers should not have to pay to clean up Wall Street’s mess.

Working people know the truth and are rallying to defend the gains made through generations of struggle.

As workers stood up, hundreds of thousands joined them. 

High school students left their classes to march with their teachers.  Hear some of them speak here

Inspired by labor’s new fighting spirit against Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public employees, faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse voted 249-37 in favor of union representation through American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin.

Physicians demonstrated their support.   Dr. Lou Sanner, a family medicine physician at University of Wisconsin Health, told the Associated Press he was one of the doctors involved in writing hundreds of sick notes for protesters because they were suffering from stress.

Rejecting the governor’s effort to split off the firefighters’ union by exempting those workers from his attack on union rights, the firefighters joined the demonstrations and played their bagpipes in solidarity at street intersections.

On Thursday, February 24, Madison’s mayor and police chief called on Gov. Scott Walker to explain statements he made in a secretly recorded phone conversation that he “thought about” planting troublemakers among the thousands of demonstrators at the Capitol.

When Gov. Scott Walker discussed strategies to lay off state employees for political purposes, to coordinate supposedly “independent” political expenditures to aid legislators who support his budget repair bill, and to place agent provocateurs on the streets of Madison in order to disrupt peaceful demonstrations, he engaged in what a former attorney general of Wisconsin says could turn out to be serious ethics, election law and labor violations.

Representative Sandy Pasch, a Democrat representing Wisconsin’s 22nd Assembly District, condemned the governor’s budget adjustment bill not only for destroying bargaining rights but also for threatening 65,000 Wisconsinites with loss of health care coverage in the state’s vital Medical Assistance programs.  Conscious of that threat and in the best tradition of labor fighting for the uplift of all, the SCFL passed a motion to block the governor’s changes that would cut Medicaid and defund education. 

A Call for Solidarity

Jim Cavanaugh says here’s how all of us can help: 

“Constant and repeated rallies and other demonstrations of support ARE very helpful.” 

“Also, this is costing a lot of money … so, financial support for the State Fed’s defense fund is also appreciated.” 

You can donate on line.  Go to: , scroll down the home page a little ways to the “Donate.”

Or CHECKS can be made payable to the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Defense Fund, 6333 W. Blue Mound Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53213.

To stay informed, listen to the pro-labor daily 3-minute updates from Workers’ Independent News here.    WIN, located in Madison, tells the story through workers’ voices.

Kay Tillow

All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care–HR 676

Honeywell Locks Out USW Local Over Health Care

8:15 pm in Uncategorized by Kay Tillow

[Ed. note: This plant makes a highly toxic chemical product regulated by the NRC, yet Honeywell is pressuring workers on health care costs and trying to eliminate retirees health care benefits? We are so not done with health care reform or strengthening workers' rights. Read on.]

On June 28, 2010, Honeywell locked out the 230 union workers at its uranium hexafluoride plant in Metropolis, an Ohio River town of 6,500 at the tip of southern Illinois 400 miles south of Chicago. A working class town nestled amidst the corn, soybean and wheat fields, Metropolis is known for its Superman statue on the court house square where most Illinois candidates, including Barack Obama, have stopped by for a photo op.

Honeywell didn’t care if the workers liked their health care plan. This corporation said it was not going to let them keep it. The members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669 refused to accept the company proposal to increase workers’ out of pocket health care maximum to $8,500 a year and to end retiree health coverage. The union proposed to continue working as they bargained. Honeywell said no and locked the doors.

This is not a newly organized plant–the union has had contracts for 50 years. The Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers issued the local its charter on May Day in 1959 and as a result of mergers the local became part of the USW in 2004.

USW 7-669’s sister local in Canada signed their current contract in July 2010, and health care coverage did not present a problem. “Bargaining was not particularly difficult this time around,” said Chris Leavitt, President of USW Local 13173 in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, home of the Cameco plant, the only other one in North America to make the uranium hexafluoride used to produce nuclear energy. Canadian USW Local 13173 is about the same size as the Metropolis local and was a part of District 50 of the United Mine Workers which affiliated with the USW.

Everyone is covered under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan—automatically–as a part of Canada’s Medicare, a single payer plan, explains Leavitt. Members of Local 13173 and their families pay nothing—no premium, no co-pay, no co-insurance, no deductible–for hospital care plus medication, out patient services, doctor’s visits, and other doctors’ services such as surgery. Health care is publicly funded for everyone so unions can use their bargaining power to negotiate for wages and other benefits. . . .

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