At its 10th Anniversery Celebration in the Old Labor Hall, the Vermont Workers’ Center officially launched the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign, a new major statewide grassroots organizing campaign to change what is “politically possible” for healthcare in Vermont. The first phase of the campaign will culminate in a statewide Sick Day Rally on Friday, May 1st, 2009 for a Healthcare is a Human Right Rally at the State House.
“Healthcare should not be a commodity and it should not be something that is tied to employment. It needs to be a basic public good, something that as a community we establish everyone has access to,” says new Workers’ Center organizer Erika Simard, who lost her healthcare benefits three years ago when Specialty Filaments, the factory she worked at fors 22 years closed in 2005.
This summer VWC members, volunteers and allies are conducting outreach to thousands of Vermonters in communities across the state, including conducting a Vermont healthcare survey to collect the voices of the healthcare crisis. Supporters, union members and new campaign activists have begun holding healthcare house parties with their friends and neighbors to learn about the campaign. In the Fall, there will be public healthcare human rights hearings with testimony of “healthcare horror stories” and on the right to health. On December 13th, the Workers’ Center is holding a Human Rights Conference, in commemoration on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights held at the University of Vermont. The goal is that in this process, the Workers’ Center will be building the statewide action network capable of mobilizing thousands of Vermonters for the May 1st Healthcare is A Human Right Rally at the State House.
“Many Vermont policy makers say they agree that healthcare should be a basic right to all Vermonters and many even say they support single-payer healthcare in theory. But they say it is just not politically possible. So this campaign is to change that,” says James Haslam, lead organizer/director of the Vermont Workers’ Center. “Our goal is to begin a strategic reframing of healthcare as a basic human right and the healthcare crisis as a human rights emergency. Right now we have a segrated healthcare system, some people have great care and many go without the care they need because of the costs. Right now the insurance companies are focused on how to deny coverage. We need a system that is geared to keep people healthy.”
On May 1st, 2009 there there will be busses, carpools and caravans from all over the state converging on Montpelier. The Workers’ Center is asking Vermonters who are sick of the rising costs of healthcare and believe that healthcare should be a human right to mark their calendars and plan to call in sick that day and come to the rally. Small businesses who agree that healthcare should not be tied to employment but available to everyone and financed publicly through fair taxes, are asked to make it a “Healthcare Holiday” and join their employees for the rally in Montpelier. If you are interested in learning more about getting involved, filling aout a survey and helping getting more surveys filled out in your community and possibly holding a healthcare house party email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Erika at 802-316-7827. The campaign’s blog is www.workerscenter.org/healthcare.