“Accountability is a big word in the labor movement today,” said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “When these politicians come up for reelection, we’re going to look at their records and look at them close.”
He added: “I don’t think our people are willing to wait any longer.”
The most pressing issue is health care legislation, which unions see as key to advancing the labor movement. By taking one of the most contentious and expensive items off the bargaining table, labor leaders argue that employers would be more willing to negotiate first contracts with unions.
Locally, it could boost organizing efforts by dealers at Wynn Las Vegas and Caesars Palace and nurses at MountainView Hospital.
But union officials fear the pursuit of bipartisanship on health care reform by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats will lead to the demise of a key aspect of the legislation: a public plan to compete with private insurers.
McEntee, who heads the political arm of the AFL-CIO, singled out for criticism Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who heads the Finance Committee and is leading efforts to develop a compromise health care bill. McEntee said those efforts will lead to a watered-down public plan option, which he dismissed as “gimmicky,” adding, “We hope that leadership and direction can change in that committee.”
And yes, I totally agree with AFSCME and all the other union brothers & sisters pushing for accountability. We deserve it. Democrats won because we worked for them on the promise that they would deliver on health care with a strong public option and real reforms to help consumers. Now, it's time for them to deliver.