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article imageAFSCME’s Highway to Health Care tour

By Kay Mathews     Aug 20, 2009 in Politics
AFSCME has launched a bus tour across America to support health care reform. The most recent stops were in Arkansas, where speakers promoted the public option and attendees sent messages to lawmakers.
The The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’s (AFSCME) “Highway to Health Care” tour RV’d through Arkansas this week. The first stop was in Fayetteville, Ark. near my hometown of Bentonville. Arkansas State Rep. Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood) spoke during the Aug. 17 morning rally held at the Fayetteville Town Square.
Rep. Nickels was quoted by a local newspaper, The Morning News, as saying, “A publicly funded pool of people is larger, more efficient and allows you to negotiate with greater bargaining power.” Nickels is the Director of AFSCME Council 38. [Note: This article is not available online.]
Points emphasized at the rally include the need for portability of health insurance if you change jobs, opposition to taxing health insurance benefits as income, and that a public option is vital. Nickels stated, “Your health benefits become a set of golden handcuffs keeping you in the job you have now.”
The rock & roll themed bus then made its way to Little Rock, Ark. for a barbeque and concert at the Arkansas State Capital. Where, according to an AFL-CIO blog, “more than 250 union, community, senior and health care activists rallied for health care reform, sent messages to their lawmakers and shared a little barbeque.” The following morning, Aug. 18, a rally was held at the same locale. Featured speakers included Alan Hughes, president of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, and Rev. Steve Copley of Interfaith for Worker Justice.
AFSCME is a union composed of public servants such as nurses, sanitation workers, EMTs and corrections officers. The union claims 1.6 million members.
The group launched its “Highway to Health Care” tour on Aug. 12 in Bismarck, ND. Following the stopovers in Arkansas, future pit stops include Indianapolis, IN, Charlottesville, VA and Wilmington, DE. The nationwide tour ends in Bangor, ME on Aug. 26.
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