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    The Waiting Game

    (Here's my latest article due to be published in Insight next week)

    If you thought that veto-proof Democratic control of the State Senate and House of Representatives would be a good thing for labor issues, boy oh boy, have our elected officials got news for you! Seems like any time there’s a pro-labor bill on the legislative agenda, the CBIA summons their lobbying crows to descend upon the Capitol and squawk about how these bills are “bad for Connecticut business” and our jittery legislators run as fast as they can back to their cushy chamber seats to press their quivering fingers on the big red “NO” button. A bill to improve workers compensation, a bill to stop mandatory anti-labor “captive audiences” employee meetings in companies subjected to organizing efforts, another bill to require companies with 50 or more employees to provide sick leave, and a bill that called for a study of how offshoring impacts Connecticut families all fell by the wayside. The CBIA is speaking loud and clear—“Labor interests are bad for Connecticut business”—even though they’ve had their way with the Rowland and Rell administrations for the past 12 years and Connecticut’s present business climate is all they have to show for it.

    Even universal health care, which polls indicated were supported by a large majority of state residents (84%), died an ignominious political death. Conspicuously missing from the Connecticut General Assembly’s list of bills passed were S.B. 1371 (single-payer reform) and HB 7314 (large-pool reform), both of which would have paved the way for universal health care but neither of which ever made it through the myriad of committees. Instead what we got was S.B. 1484, a hastily-concocted face-saving measure that increases HUSKY enrollment and Medicaid income limits but remains a far cry from anything universal. The only silver-lining in the bill is the establishment of an Authority with a labor representative to recommend a universal health care plan for the next session. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen, especially if you don’t have health care insurance: you might pass out, hit your head, and lose your house from paying your medical bills.

    Juan%20Figueroa.gifJuan Figueroa, president of the Universal Health Care Foundation of CT, stressed that the grassroots effort to tackle the health care crisis this session wasn’t in vain. “What the Governor and legislature missed, the people of Connecticut got. People from around the state put aside their differences and united around the common goal of building a just, coherent, and sustainable system of health care in Connecticut…Connecticut can’t afford to wait.”

    For now we have to wait, but rest assured the issue will be back in 2008 in the glaring spotlight of a presidential election. Until then, it’s time to let our legislators know how disappointed we are in their performance, in our letters and phone calls as well as at the election booth this November. The politicians may be packing their bags for summer vacation, but the activists are still keeping the faith. Next stop: the annual Boombox Parade on the 4th of July in Willimantic, this year with a health care twist from the Caring Families Coalition. Want to be part of a fun celebration? Click here for more information. Thanks to all who worked stood up for universal health care in Connecticut this session—your efforts are truly appreciated!

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