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July 2014

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A Mandate for Single Payer?

How can the No. 2 IBEW officer write about the future of U.S. health care ( "Fix It, Don't Repeal It," May 2014 Electrical Worker) without once mentioning single payer or contrasting the abomination of our "uniquely American" system with that enjoyed by our Canadian brothers and sisters?

HR 676, Improved and Expanded Medicare for All, was introduced by Rep. John Conyers in 2003. To date, 613 labor organizations, including 147 central labor councils and area labor federations and 44 state AFL-CIOs have endorsed it. Rank-and-file members did most of the work during the Affordable Care Act buildup. Many labor leaders at that time, including the IBEW, joined an advocacy group called "Health Care for America Now" (HCAN), a name intentionally designed to mislead supporters of "HealthcareNow," an existing single payer advocacy group. HCAN's objective of securing a "robust public option" was never in the cards; we were played for fools.

Secretary-Treasurer Chilia correctly states the ACA threatens our multiemployer plans but then says "our political/legislative team is working with officials ... from both sides of the aisle to help fix some of these problems." While ACA officials accommodate requests by business and insurance interests for relief, they continue to shut out labor.

A single payer resolution at our last convention passed unanimously; single payer support is now the official policy of both the IBEW and the AFL-CIO. I remind the IBEW leadership of this and ask that they respect the mandate given them. We should start by heeding members' wishes and devoting time, energy and funds to organizing for the single payer solution we so desperately need.

Oregon is finally taking the first step toward Vermont-style, universal single payer care, the HB 3260 study (see But this step will go nowhere without broad support from labor. Our leaders and our members should solidly support this study to demonstrate our commitment to single payer health care in Oregon.

Ray Kenny, Local 48 member
Portland, Ore.

Why Vote Republican?

After years of arguing with family and debating friends, I've come up with an analogy of Republican propaganda.

Republican propaganda is like a train. This train rides on two rails; one is fear and the other is hate. Like all trains, riders get on and off at stations along these rails. If you buy their I'll-cut-your-taxes or the- people-need-to-keep-more-of-their-own-money lines, then you are using the station whose name is greed. If you agree with them that teachers, firemen and police are paid too much, have too many days off or have too lavish pensions and benefits, then your station is envy. Pride is the station that I have the most problem with, because this one kills not only our loved ones, but also the loved ones in countries with the bad luck of having resources that others want.

Many people and most all Christians know the Ten Commandments but seem to forget about the Seven Deadly Sins, flaws in our character that we all have to guard against every day. I can make an argument for most all of the seven sins and how the Republican Propaganda Train uses them, but space here is limited.

The R.P.T. wants, no needs, you to be an emotional voter; by tweaking your sins they hope you will be that greedy, vain, envious voter that they need and love. They will take our pride and their hubris, ingratiate their friends and tally up bills that our children will have to pay.

Mitchell Garrett, Local 146 member
Decatur, Ill.

Labor Education Starts at Home

My husband, Local 103 member Mike Fernandes, and 8-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, reading the May 2014 issue of The Electrical Worker.

Heather Fernandes, wife of Local 103 member Mike Fernandes