Labor Leads Statewide Coalition for Health Care Reform
The Texas AFL-CIO formed a very progressive coalition for health care reform under the slogan, “Health Care Can’t Wait!” A great many other organizations, including North Texas Jobs with Justice, joined in.
Our role was to organize transportation to Austin for the November 14 rally at the Capitol. We were extremely fortunate to be able to partner with the Texas Progressive Center, Organizing for America, and especially with Jacqueline Ban of moveon.com. By combining our efforts we transported 39 people in a chartered bus. We also helped fill the buses from the Tarrant County AFL-CIO and another bus from Dallas AFL-CIO combined with UAW. Dr David Brockman did the research on other forms of transportation, which added to the crowd in Austin. Organizer Rene Lara estimated that there were 3,000 there. Our publicity efforts resulted in pre-action ink in the Ft Worth and Houston newspapers. Univision covered our bus launch from Oak Cliff. Our statewide publicity may have helped get major coverage in the state's news agencies.
We sent out thousands of e-mails and made hundreds of phone calls, but MoveOn actually brought the most people on board through their automated telephone data base. Just to make sure everybody knows what happened, activist Brent Herndon video'd the rally. Short excepts are on YouTube.
The featured speaker at the rally was Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin. He reviewed the fight that ended November 7 when the House passed a fairly good health care bill. Doggett acknowledged that women's reproductive freedom was traded away in the compromises, but said that we must go on demanding meaningful health care reform without any compromises. Herndon also video'd Doggett's speech
By far the most dynamic speaker of the day was our own Margarita Alvarez. Alvarez heads Voces Por Inmigrantes, which works with our North Texas Jobs with Justice coalition. After her, retiree leader Annie Banks of Houston gave an excellent talk. Then I spoke briefly on how health care reform would help the unemployment crisis. The next speaker, third after Alvarez, still pointed back at the fiery Guatemalteca and said that nobody should have to speak after her!
Margarita Alvarez is pictured with the mistress of ceremonies, AFL-CIO Vice President Emeritus Linda Chavez-Thompson
State Rep Elliott Naishtat talked about the lamentable state of health care in Texas. We are famous for being last in providing insurance for our people, just as we are last in so many other measures of decent concern.
On our charter bus' return trip, Sister Brenda Warner, a retiree from UAW Local 276, took it on herself to intiate discussion about what kinds of actions we should do next. Several people discussed trying to find ways to change the mindset of Senator Cornyn and Senator Hutchinson, but others heeded the advice of Congressman Doggett, who had said that it was useless to expend our effort that way. Instead, he said, we should be working on the mindsets of all our fellow Texans. MoveOn is planning house parties in which people bring their cell phones and make telephone calls to more intelligent senators in other states. Several people thought that a downtown Dallas rally might be a good idea.
What's YOUR opinion?