How to Take the Initiative in Health Care Bargaining

Source: Peter Knowlton, Labor Notes, July 12, 2016

….We know that the universal health care everyone deserves won’t be won in a single shop—but we’re laying the groundwork to set our sights higher in future fights that can bring workers together across a whole chain or geographic area.

We believe health care is a human right. We make that real with basic principles for what we propose:
– The employer can’t make unilateral changes to the plan design, providers, or amounts that workers pay.
– Any employee administration of health insurance must be done during work hours.
– Members have their choice of medical providers.
– There should be no forms to fill out. Plan documents should be easy to follow.
– Cost increases must not be shifted from the employer to workers.
– Eligibility for health insurance cannot depend on immigration status or employment status (such as job title, work hours, or wage rate).

We may not get all these principles, but they’re solid goals to shoot for. Attaining them eases workers’ financial and emotional stress. Members don’t have to worry so much about their own and their families’ health needs. Aren’t those pretty basic things to ask?

In the last few years, we’ve begun to add another principle:
– Employee paycheck deductions should be based on percentage of income, not percentage of premium…..

…..Steps to Mount a Health Care Fight
– Educate and involve members.
– Make comprehensive information requests. Find out exactly what the employer is paying to the health insurance company. If they’re trying to change your insurance, you will need lots of information.
– Ally with groups supporting single payer.
– Publicly blow the whistle on bosses trying to gut coverage.
– Target insurers and the legislature. Have the negotiating committee go visit the insurance company. Demand to meet with the CEO about how the proposed gigantic premium increases will affect your members. Go to the legislature and the governor, too—and let the media know about it. You could get some great publicity.
– Challenge employers to sign on to single payer…..