Health care reform and worker rights took center stage at the 26th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention in Pittsburgh. Delegates to the convention, including NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi and Alan Lubin, NYSUT executive vice president, were energized by President Barack Obama's inspiring speech and the president's stance squarely behind labor's top initiatives.
"President Obama pledges his support for the Employee Free Choice Act and health care reform now," Iannuzzi reported from his vantage point on the convention floor.
After the president's address, Lubin took to the microphone to endorse the urgent need for universal health care, saying that momentum is building across demographic lines in the wake of Obama's strong address to Congress. "We need to counter the myths and distortions and make it clear that this is a high priority for working people," Lubin said.
In a marked turnaround, Sen. Arlen Spector, D-Pennsylvania, declared his support for a public insurance plan as a part of the health care reform package. Spector this spring had opposed the plan. Spector also noted his support for EFCA.
NYS AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes spoke of the widely shared outrage that the 9/11 health care bill remains stalled in Congress eight years after the first responders gave up their own health, safety, and in many cases, their lives. Iannuzzi last week attended a news conference in New York City to call for passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bill would provide medical care and compensation for those who are sick with Word Trade Center illnesses, including first responders.
A host of labor leaders, civil rights activists and union members from across the country are scheduled to attend the AFL-CIO convention Sept. 13-17.
Check back at www.nysut.org for more updates from the convention. To see live stream of speeches and for more convention information, visit www.aflcio.org.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin addresses delegates from the convention floor. Photo by Dick Iannuzzi.