Q & A with Mark Dudzic
Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
The U.S. health care system is broken. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare (LCSP) calls for a total revamp. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) supports their goal of health care for all. The union spoke with LCSP National Coordinator, Mark Dudzic, about how the single payer system will better the lives for all Americans and what APWU members can do to grow support.
What is the mission of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare?
“Health care is a human right. To secure that right, the United States needs to establish a national health care system with cradle-to-grave coverage like the rest of the industrialized world has done. We focus our efforts on the labor movement because unions should advocate for all working class Americans and they have the resources and organizing capacity to take on a big, bold project like this. The high cost of health care is the biggest cause of strikes, lockouts and concessionary bargaining. We need to take health care off the bargaining table by making it a right for everyone in America.”
What do you mean by “single payer?” Is “Medicare for All” (popularized by the Bernie Sanders campaign) the same thing?
“Single payer is a social insurance system that, like traditional Medicare, allows patients to freely choose their health care providers while the expenses are paid by a ‘single payer’ — the government — which collects premiums through payroll and other taxes and pays health care providers through standard negotiated rates. The system would be universal (‘everybody in, nobody out’), with no financial barriers to care and a single standard of care for everyone. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposals clearly fit this model.”
Why is this an important issue for unionized postal workers?
“Federal employees enjoy some of the best health care benefits that working class Americans can expect. Yet even here, workers and their families are faced with significant co-pays, deductibles and a rising share of higher premiums and their choices are often limited by insurance company restrictions on access to care. Moreover, these benefits are under attack by political forces that seek to use the ‘politics of resentment’ to undermine postal workers’ wages, benefits and conditions.”
Canadian postal workers often share with us the attributes of their health care system, of which they are very proud. Any lessons for us?
“Canadian workers have succeeded in taking health care off the bargaining table. Their lives are much better and secure because of it. Very few Canadians would trade what they have for the dysfunctional and wasteful system in the United States.”
What can APWU members do to win health care for all?
“APWU members work and live in every zip code in America. They can be powerful messengers for health care justice. There are excellent educational materials on the websites listed below that you and your coworkers can use.
APWU members can:
- Invite speakers to their union meetings and urge their local labor councils and other organizations to take up these issues...
- Attend national and regional conferences hosted by the LCSP...
- Reach out to others in their communities, faith based and civic organizations...
- Let their political representatives know how important this issue is to themselves and their union.”