The head of a flight attendants union that represents nearly 50,000 members across the country said Thursday that there is “broad support” within the labor movement for “Medicare for All.”
“This is really something that is very unifying for union members across the country and for all the people that they care about who are not union members and don’t have access to the same health care,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told Hill.TV in response to Medicare for All, or single payer health care. The ambitious proposal is backed by progressives, including 2020 contenders Sens. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks Progressives seething over Biden's migrant policies MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn defense of share buybacks Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo In Washington, the road almost never taken MORE (D-Mass.).
Nelson emphasized the need to move away from the current health care system, noting that union leaders have struggled to address escalating health costs, which she argued often result in cuts to union member benefits.
“Union leaders are coming back and saying, ‘hey, our companies are saying they can’t afford this health care where do you want to take the cost cuts,” she said. “Do you want to take it in the premiums, do you want to take it in the deductibles... so the discussion is always around how are we going to minimize the damage of it being eroded.”
Nelson gained national attention earlier this year after leading airport strikes during the government shutdown. She has also been a vocal public supporter of Sanders, who authored legislation on Medicare for All.
“@BernieSanders knows we have to ensure healthcare is reformed to provide care for all - otherwise we’re all lost,” she tweeted during the second round of Democratic debates last month.
Medicare for All has split the 2020 Democratic field with the divisions on full display during the primary debate in Detroit.
Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyDirect air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Lobbying world Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis MORE (D-Md.) and Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) Ryan Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case Ohio Republican tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in MORE (D-Ohio) suggested that Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal plays into the hands of Republicans looking to repeal ObamaCare and is against the interests of labor unions.
"If you start under-paying all the health-care providers, you’re going to create a two-tier market where wealthy people buy their health care with cash, while people like my dad, the union electrician, will be forced into an underfunded system,” Delaney said on the debate stage.
But Nelson argued that claims Medicare for All is anti-union are nothing but a “typical union busting tactic.”
“That’s absurd and it’s also really offensive to labor leaders who understand that this is a typical union busting tactic to divide people within unions and to divide union members from non-union members,” she told Hill.TV in response to centrist Democrats’ criticism of the plan.