Thursday, February 27, 2020

Medicare for All Perfidy: Randi Stands With Culinary Union - Leadership, not membership - what else is new?

.... early Saturday morning the union leadership texted its members not to vote for Bernie - they didn't listen.
Fred Klonsky: Last week on Facebook I got a message from American Federation President Randi Weingarten blasting me for supporting Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All.
“Why are you not listening to so many of our members that want to drive down costs, that want to take on big pharma and the insurance companies, but they want to have the choice on their insurance?” Randi challenged me.
“I agree with Culinary,” she said.
Randi is listening to the anti-Bernie crowd, not "our members" who will ignore her as they have in the past. Randi wants us to have a choice in health plans. But more on that later.

And of course much of the Culinary rank and file went against the union leadership (and Randi) recommendation and voted for Bernie as Fred reports below. The story was subverted with the claims of the leadership that they were under attack by Bernie Bros - which probably has some truth but I never saw the name of one clearly identified Bernie supporter - in fact when you hear the Bernie Bro stories why aren't those people revealed and publicly shamed? From what I was reading, the actions of the leadership were very influenced by Nevada machine head Harry Reid (who may be the source of those phony "Bernie wanting to challenge Obama in the 2012 primary" stories. (Bernie told people to ask Harry Reid if it's true, yet the opponents like Biden continue to pass the story on.)

Here is a report from The Nation:
“How a Rank-and-File Revolt in Las Vegas Dealt Bernie a Winning Hand” [The Nation]. “Shortly after noon, caucus participants were asked to rise from their chairs and vote with their feet. The vast majority promptly marched directly to Sanders’s side of the room. Surprised by their strength, Bernie’s supporters erupted in cheers and more than one of us broke down in tears. It would be hard to overstate the political importance of Saturday’s win, which was replicated across the seven Las Vegas strip caucuses. A workforce made up predominantly of women of color enthusiastically gave their votes to a candidate who mainstream media pundits have repeatedly told them is backed only by white guys. Though one should never underestimate the perfidy of the corporate punditry, it’s possible that these strip workers, together with Nevada’s broader multiracial working class, may have finally put the ‘Bernie Bro’ myth out of its misery.”
But back to Randi, who still gives me a good laugh.

At yesterday's debate, Bloomberg talked about how well teachers were treated in NYC - just ask the union. While most teachers laughed out loud, I wasn't laughing because by "ask the union" he meant his old pal Randi Weingarten, then UFT president and not president of the AFT.

I reported on the great articles exposing Bloomberg's horror stories but so far haven't seen critiques coming out of the UFT.

Now she tries to play it coy about the Bernie movement, even adding him to the list of three potential endorsements (Biden and Warren too). But she had no choice given that if he won the nomination she would look real dumb. So Bernie was tossed in to the mix - and I also think that internal polling probably shows Bernie has the most support -- witness the UTLA and other teacher union endorsements for Bernie. So she had no choice.

But you know my mantra that I created by observing Randi - watch what she does, now what she says. Like the fact her surrogate, Mike Mulgrew is running as a Biden delegate -as a "private citizen" LOL - for where the leadership is really at. Randi is a super delegate and if Bernie doesn't get the majority going into the convention, and it's between him and Bloomberg, do we think Randi would vote for Bernie? I have my doubts.

On medicare for all, Fred Klonsky, a former Chicago area union president, reveals the real Randi on his blog:

Here are a few excerpts:
Last week on Facebook I got a message from American Federation President Randi Weingarten blasting me for supporting Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All.
“Why are you not listening to so many of our members that want to drive down costs, that want to take on big pharma and the insurance companies, but they want to have the choice on their insurance?” Randi challenged me.
“I agree with Culinary,” she said.

By “Culinary” she meant the Las Vegas Culinary Union leaders who, while making no endorsement in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, issued a strongly worded statement opposing Sanders on M4A.

Props to the Culinary Union. They do have good health insurance and coverage for their members. 
But then Culinary Union members spoke for themselves on Saturday.
More than 60% of Nevada caucus-goers support eliminating private insurance and moving to a single-payer healthcare system, according to a poll conducted by Edison Media Research as Democratic voters entered their precincts Saturday.
The entrance poll showed that 62% of Nevada caucus-goers “support replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone,” the Washington Post reported. Single-payer received a similar level of support among Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Nevada caucus-goers also ranked healthcare as their top issue, followed by the climate crisis and income inequality.
“It’s fair to say Democratic leadership fails to understand how much everyday Americans hate their private healthcare coverage,” tweeted TIME contributor Christopher Hale.
It turns out Nevada’s culinary workers have a better sense of class solidarity than the President of the American Federation of Teachers.
Despite the leadership of Nevada’s largest union criticizing Bernie Sanders over his health care plan in the lead-up to the state’s presidential caucus, the majority of union members caucusing at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip backed Sanders on Saturday.
Some workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News said they support Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, even though they appreciate the union health care they have, because they have friends and relatives who don’t have union health care and worry about what would happen if they lost their jobs.

[Also see: Why Is Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten Attacking Medicare for All? - Jacobin -
Randi got all upset when they didn't give her space to reply - the very definition of entitlement.]

And note that the Clark County teacher union - the largest in Nevada - endorsed Bernie - and also note that they are one of the few independent large unions - not NEA (which they left) nor the AFT.

Fred had another excellent post on the story:
My main take away from the election, aside from pleasure at the size of Bernie’s victory, is how it exposed a giant chasm between union leadership and the rank and file over Medicare for All.
Health care and health insurance was the number one issue for caucus voters and over 60% support Bernie on the issue.
Even as the leadership of the Culinary workers union trashed Bernie over it.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has been outspoken in her opposition to Bernie and Medicare for All.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka says he “hates” Medicare 4 All.
They all claim their members love employer-provided health insurance.
But nobody loves it.
Most workers don’t have it.
Get fired and there’s nothing to love.
But Nevada’s voters rejected their leadership’s position and demonstrated the rejection on Saturday in a big way.
Why are the union leaders so clueless about it?
Because they live lives that have nothing in common with the lives their members live.
They don’t share their members fears of serious illness and what that would cost them.
They say it is a great benefit that was bargained and won by them.
Those of us who had to bargain for health care every contract know how fragile a benefit it is for even those that have it.
 OK - it's Fred Klonsky celebration day here at ed notes: A third blast from Fred - I wish he were doing commentary for the Bernie campaign - where  he explodes Randi's argument that we want choice (jeez, echoes of the charter school bullshit).
Weingarten's Healthcare "choice" has echoes of Janus
What I find most troubling about Randi Weingarten’s response (the personal stuff about me not listening is just silly and typical of union leadership whenever their positions are challenged) is that she frames the issue with the language of choice. I was startled to hear a public employee union leader frame this debate using the language of the enemies of collective bargaining rights and collective action.

Digging into the Culinary Workers union story
The actions of the leadership of the Culinary Workers in its attack on Bernie Sanders for his health care plan were somewhat dishonest and the response of the members in giving Bernie the big victory is telling about many union leaderships and the rank and file. Leaderships are often part of the Democratic Party apparatus. Harry Reid is a power in Nevada. A non-reported part of the story was that early Saturday morning the union leadership texted its members not to vote for Bernie - they didn't listen.

Esquire reported on the story soon after the New Hampshire primary before the Nevada primary:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would “end Culinary Healthcare” if elected president, according to a new one-pager the politically powerful Culinary Union is posting back of house on the Las Vegas Strip.
The new flyer, a copy of which was obtained by The Nevada Independent, compares the positions on health care, “good jobs” and immigration of six Democratic presidential hopefuls who have come to the union’s headquarters over the last two months to court its members. But the primary difference outlined in the document, which is being distributed in both English and Spanish, is in the candidates’ positions on health care, taking particular aim at the Vermont senator over his Medicare-for-all policy, which would establish a single-payer, government run health insurance system.
The flyer says Sanders, if elected president, would “end Culinary Healthcare,” “require ‘Medicare For All,’” and “lower drug prices.” The language it uses to describe the position of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who also supports Medicare for all after a transition period, is much gentler: “‘Medicare for All,’” “replace Culinary Healthcare after 3-year transition or at end of collective bargaining agreements,” and “lower drug prices.”
This is a huge and diverse union and it does not play games.
The union, considered an organizing behemoth in the Silver State, has been known to tip the scales in elections in the past. Though the 60,000-member union has not yet decided whether it will endorse in the Democratic presidential primary, the flyer appears to be part of a coordinated campaign ahead of Nevada’s Feb. 22 Democratic presidential primary and shows the union will not be sitting idly by, with or without an endorsement. A spokeswoman for the Culinary Union said the flyer is also going out to members Tuesday night via text and email.
Another Esquire story worth checking out:

The Kids Like Bernie. Maybe Everyone Else Should Listen.
A campaign that depends on The Youth Vote is a liberal-Democratic horror story. Can Bernie Sanders' movement be different? Sanders will get more and more McGovern comparisons if he keeps winning primaries.

Also see John Oliver on Medicare for all:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for covering this topic. I think we should have term limits for union leadership. A regular rotation would make sure that any leadership wouldn't forget what it means to be a "worker".


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