Labor leaders drew a line in the sand today, saying a health care reform bill must include three specific elements -- including a government-sponsored health insurance plan, or "public option" -- in order to win their support.
The AFL-CIO outlined its demands for both health care and labor law reforms at a meeting today at which it released a new survey of young workers. The data backs up its progressive agenda and attempts to give it a sense of urgency.
The "Young Workers: A Lost Decade" poll, conducted in July of this year, found that 31 percent of workers under 35 report being uninsured, up from 24 percent 10 years ago. Counter to arguments that young people do not want to pay for insurance, 79 percent of the uninsured said they do not have coverage because they cannot afford it or their employer does not offer it.
"Every day people are drowning from the cost of health care," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said.
Richard Trumka, who will replace Sweeney as president in a couple of weeks, said there are "three absolute musts" for health care: the public option, an employer mandate, and no taxes on employer-provided health care.
"That means we won't support the bill if it doesn't have the public option in it," Trumka said.