A wise man once said “The first wealth is health.” Nothing is more important than being well and healthy. That’s why your union fights so hard to protect your health care. That’s why we push back on employers who want to take away your health coverage or make you pay for it. You deserve quality care. You deserve the opportunity to be well.
Health care can be confusing. But here’s how you get health coverage, on the most basic level: when the union bargains with your employer we work out how much your employer will pay into your health insurance so that you get the quality care you deserve. The bosses never want to pay more, and often want to find ways to pay less. They tell us that no one has the kind of employer-paid quality care that 32BJ members enjoy anymore. They tell us it’s too expensive.
We tell them that they are making money off your work – they can afford it. We tell them you deserve it. The bosses back down because they know the union is strong and that you and your co-workers are united and ready to take action if they were to take away or reduce one of your most important benefits. And then your employer pays into the 32BJ Health Fund, which finds the best health insurance carrier to cover your health care costs: when you go to the doctor, get tests done or have any kind of procedure.
It’s never easy. The health care market is turbulent as drug companies raise prices and hospitals operate with little transparency; costs continue to rise. And it is true that fewer and fewer people have employer-paid health coverage for themselves, much less their families. You probably know people who pay a lot every month even if they don’t see a doctor; have large amounts to pay before being covered; or have burdensome co-pays. You probably know people who don’t have healthcare at all through their jobs, and go through Obamacare, Medicaid or Medicare. All those rising costs and chipping away at employer-paid health coverage affects us by making our employers’ arguments stronger, which is why we are fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare. That’s why we do everything we can do provide you top-notch quality care at reasonable costs through the Five-Star Centers.
But the most important weapon in our fight to protect your health care is you. When the bosses see that you and your co-workers are united and strong, they know they have to do the right thing. And when they see that members are committing to the union through dues contributions, the American Dream Fund and active participation – when they see the union is strong – your employer will come to the table and pay their fair share.
As the summer starts to wind down, stay healthy, stay well, and enjoy all the things life has to offer. Then we’ll come back together ready and energized to fight for the dignity and respect we deserve.