August 19th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Incoming AFL-CIO pres again draws the line on a public option

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just a few days after warning Democratic lawmakers that failure to support a public option might cost them union support, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and incoming President Richard Trumka released a statement repeating the threat and promising to keep the heat on Congress and the Obama administration to support a government-run insurance option in the final version of the health care bill.

"We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises," said Trumka Wednesday. "If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people."

Undecided Democratic members of Congress have faced ads and grassroots pressure from both the left and right this summer. Much of the liberal pressure has come from the Health Care for America Now coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO, and Organizing for America, President Obama's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee.

Earlier this week, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said Democratic members of Congress who opposed a public option could expect primary challenges next year.

(Full statement after the jump)


A quality public health insurance option is a crucial part of health care reform to keep private insurance companies honest, hold down costs and ensure that everybody has a health care choice available. Key to holding down costs for families, for businesses, and for the federal budget is forcing insurance companies to compete. And the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies is a strong public plan option.

Unfortunately, the usual suspects opposed to reform are trying to hijack the reform process and attacking the public health insurance plan option because they are afraid of competition and they want to keep gouging working families. But unless we take decisive steps to stop the crippling rise of health costs, we will have squandered this moment of opportunity.

We will continue to relay that message forcefully to Congress and the White House.

We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises. If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people.

Filed under: AFL-CIO • Health care
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Idiot_Pelosi

    UNIONS are outdated. They had a time and a place in this country, but they have NOT adapted. They have pratically ruined every industry. This is why the AUTO companies will fail.

    I boycott union based companies as much as possible.

    August 19, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Post always rejected by CNN

    Hot darn...things are getting interesting...sock it to the republicans and the blue DOGS republicans hiding in democrat clothings. I have read messages all over the net where they are starting a movement in each of their states to throw them out....wish they would.

    AND they said if the DNC should give ANY of them any campaign money their contributions to the party will dry up...

    August 19, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. RAC

    The silent majority is also keeping an eye on those who cast the votes. All of the representatives that ignore their employers will be looking for work in the coming year.

    August 19, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. ketrout

    I normally do not agree with the AFL-CIO, but in this case I do. Having a "Public Option" is the only way to drive down the cost of health-care.

    Obama is just trying to force his way and not thinking of the American people. What is the rush????



    August 19, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Tony

    Obama don't listen to these idiots on the left. Get rid of the public option, it will be nothing but a disaster. The left always wants hand outs. Such a disgrace.

    August 19, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. They call me "Tater Salad"

    Any politician against a public option weather Republican or Democrat should think about finding a new job before the next election roll's around! I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that their political careers will be OVER if they vote this down!!

    August 19, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Battle Cry for Change

    Save Grandma! Save us all!

    Give us health care reform!

    August 19, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. Kate in San Diego

    If not for unions we would have child labor and no health care and no vacation time and no sick leave and nothing else. Are you really so naive as to believe employers do these things out of the goodness of their hearts? I think not. What a prime example of "I've got mine – now forget the rest of you."

    August 19, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Mississippi Mike

    Union bosses are the modern day Al Capones. These thugs need to get shut down. They drive an industry to the brink of bankruptcy and then demand that the government bail them out. All of this is in exchange for unions demanding that their members vote for Democrats. It's a really disgusting abuse of power.

    August 19, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Southerner

    Darn right, want to run on the Democratic Party ticket, then you better stand for those ideals. I will vote for every challenger in the primaries if this Govt option is not in the bill.

    BTW Unions are not outdated, they represent alot of people who's employers dont care about them. Furthermore, I am sure most people are angry at Unions because they are not part of it.

    August 19, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Randolph Carter the evil narcissistic Obamabot

    No public option = No reform
    Have a nice day!

    August 19, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Scott, Tucson

    The government can't even run the USPS and you really expect them to run a governmental health care system for you?

    August 19, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  13. MomofFour

    Yes !!!! We cant let the bill pass in its current stripped down version – thanks to the Grand n"O" Party. Lets put the public option back and pass this bill.

    YES>WE>CAN !

    August 19, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Tom

    The unions are largely responsible for the economic issues facing this country.

    August 19, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Freedom

    We need to keep up the pressure at the town hall meeting even the unioun's are getting worried. This health care plan is terrible, and thank god that normal people are speaking up against it.

    August 19, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Ralph

    Put the heat on! This isn't over yet. Dems – don't let the vile scare tactics cause you to back down. You are doing this for the people and the betterment of this nation. Most of the naysayers are truly engaging in the "cut off your nose to spite your face" mentality. But, I believe they are NOT the majority they are trying to appear. WE THE PEOPLE must speak up in FAVOR or a public option! (just, for God's sake, get it right!)

    August 19, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. katiec

    With all the swiftboating, fear mongering, lies and dishonorable activities being conducted by big business, extremists and the republicans am glad to see an organization that represents middle class American speak out for us and public option.
    This plan is the only solution to making the insurance companies become competitive and stop the raping of the American people.
    It will rein in the victimizing costs to patients and taxpayers for unjustified, unnecessary tests, etc and tell the medical associations we will no longer support their quest for greed and power.
    We desperately need health care reform and must let those out to
    destroy reform and our country we do not support them and have
    lost all respect for their methods.

    August 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. john in ga

    Unions are the only way a working man or women can raise questions about company policy with enough clout to do anything about it. They will never be outdated. God bless the AFL-CIO

    August 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Mr Trumka seems to be under the mistaken impression that the citizens of this country not only owe union members free health care, but that making threats is the way to achieve that result.

    Unions are effectively a monopoly on various classes of labour and, like all monopolies, tend toward irresponsibility. Fortunately for the American economy, they seem to be dying out.

    And, as RAC pointed out, the "silent majority" will be looking at how our representatives vote. Whatever the unions think the legislators owe them, that debt is insignificant compared to what the legislators owe the entirety of their constituencies, and the majority of us have no interest in paying for yet another insanely expensive entitlement program.

    August 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Chris from NC

    At least the Dems are willing to hold themselves to their word. That'll be a big change since the GOP has done nothing but mindlessly following Bush during his 8 years, regardless of how many promises he broke.

    August 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. em

    One of the numerous mind-boggling things I keep hearing from republicans is that the democrats want a public option so they can have free health care. Where did they get the idea that the public option would be free? It would be an insurance program with premiums just like any other insurance, only difference being that the government wouldn't take advantage of those premiums to make maximum profit the way the insurance companies do. If the republicans don't want the public option, they don't have to buy it, and they can keep the insurance companies in business! Those of us that need a way to get insurance would take the government option. Why don't the republicans suggest another way for all of us to get affordable insurance if they don't like the idea of a public option?

    August 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. Reformed Republican

    Betcha won't see Thrumka making his point on the ClusterFOX News. It would make those gun totin' Brown Shirts wrapped up in the American Flag go ape shirt!

    August 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Reality

    The GOP has already stated the system needs major reform. What this means is they will continue to not support anything period. Their hopes are to stall, kill this proposal until they have the majority. Any reform they do given their track record will result in the dissolving of medicare and they will let the insurance companies control it all and regulate themselves. America had better wake up quick. The Democratic reform may not be perfect but it's going to smell like roses compared to whats coming down the pipe from the Republicans.

    August 19, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Michael, Torrance, CA

    This is one of the biggest problems in politics today, having labor unions carrying so much influence. Labor unions need to understand that their time has passed and start looking out for both their members and the companies those members work for. American business can no longer tolerate an us against them mentality. So this "do this or else" stuff needs to change to let's talk about what's best for everyone.

    August 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Liz in DC

    ANY reform is better than NO reform, and the AFL-CIO should support the bill.

    Because the entrenched, monied lobbyists, Health Insurers and Big Pharma have sought to destroy reform and seem to have made the typical bunch of Americans "tools" for them, we all will be better off with some reform than none, the way things are going!

    I do not want to be broke in a couple of years with health care costs going up over 8% and wages stagnant or worse!!!

    August 19, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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