WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 International President Warren S. George issued the following statement this morning on the health care reform proposals now being considered by Congress:
"With Congress set to return from a month-long August recess this week, negotiations will begin once again on comprehensive health care reform legislation. Sadly, after having been bombarded by crowds of extremists at town hall meetings, many of our elected representatives, including some whom we helped to elect, are beginning to back away from one of the most crucial elements of health care reform - the public option.
"We have said again and again that comprehensive health care reform must contain a strong public option. Citizens should have the option to keep their private insurance plan or join a new public plan. A strong public plan option, similar to Medicare, will provide a guaranteed backup for all Americans and will provide competition to private providers, forcing them to make coverage more affordable.
"Let me make this clear - the ATU will not support any legislation that does not include a public option. Nor will we support any member of Congress - either financially through our COPE program or through our member-to-member political education efforts - who does not likewise fight for this necessary component of reform.
"As the debate on health care reform continues, the ATU will fight to ensure that a strong public option is included in the final legislation. We will monitor the debate and will take a close look at our Senators' and Representatives' voting records, pledges, and public statements before we make any commitments to assist them."
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.
Contact: Shawn Perry Communications Director 202-537-1645
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union