Health care actions go beyond town hall meetings


While health care supporters pack town hall meetings to urge members of Congress to act, they’re also taking their campaign to numerous other, less traditional venues, including the Minnesota State Fair. Health care on a stick, anyone? When U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited the AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion Sunday, Beverly Holmstrum seized the opportunity to urge Klobuchar to enact a national plan that includes a public alternative to the insurance industry. Klobuchar has not stated whether she will support the so-called public option.

“I am a low-income senior, and I also have four children and they all have allergies. We had insurance through my former husband, but I have no insurance now,” Holmstrum said. “I have Medicare and it doesn’t cover enough. I have a daughter who is unemployed. She is on unemployment, and that is going to run out pretty soon, and she is going to lose her townhouse.”

“I feel very strongly about this issue. We need a public option . . .”

Holmstrum is a member of Working America, an organization for workers who are not in unions. She was joined by Working America staff members David Wehde and Matt Hall in hand-delivering 68 letters to Klobuchar at the fair.


Working America at state fair

Beverly Holmstrum was joined by Working America staffers Matt Hall and David Wehde in talking with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (center).

The 2009 Game Fair, an annual sportsmen’s tradeshow held in Ramsey in early August, was also the site of health care organizing. At the Union Sportsmen’s booth, the North Suburban Labor Council invited people to write letters to their federal representatives about health care reform.

More than 300 union and non-union sportsmen and women took the opportunity to write letters, the council said. Of those letters, the vast majority called for bold reform this year including the choice of a public health insurance option. Only five participants wrote letters opposing health care reform.

Ninety-two percent of letters were written by Sixth District residents and other areas of suburban and Greater Minnesota, demonstrating that a public option is popular throughout Minnesota, including constituency groups thought of as being more conservative-leaning, the council said.

“The support for health care reform is overwhelming. People want to see something done to fix the broken system,” said Andover resident and Council President, Victor Ruzynski, a member of Operating Engineers Local 49.

“Representative (Michele) Bachmann has already taken a position in opposition to Minnesota’s working families. Senator Klobuchar is still listening to constituents and today the message to her was loud and clear: go back to Washington and fight for the public option working families need!”

Over the weekend in Fargo, North Dakota, more than 800 union members and other health care supporters rallied in the parking lot of the Fargo Dome. Theme of the event was “Go Back and Get ’er Done!”

National Writers Union member Ted Fiskevold reported that participating organizations included the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, People’s Alliance (CWA, USWA, UAW, IFPT), SEIU, Faith for Reform, Nurse’s Association and several Fargo-Moorhead area community organizations.

Photos from the Fargo rally

Photos by Ted Fiskevold, National Writer’s Union, UAW, AFL-CIO

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