Today, Labor Day, September 7, 2009, the Citizen Wells blog will attempt to cover live, a Labor Day celebration in Burlington, Vermont. There are two major reasons that I chose to cover this event. First, Senator Bernie Sanders will be there and I hope to catch his comments on health care reform. Second, Vermont Workers’ Center, a community-based workers’ rights organization will be there to promote their stance regarding health care as a human right. I hope to clarify what they mean by human right.
To watch the Citizen Wells coverage, go to this link. When I am not broadcasting live, a video will play. Remember, this is my first attempt at this and I will be flying by the seat of my pants. A right click on the screen will allow you to zoom in for a larger viewing area.
Here is the announcement of the event:
“Burlington Labor Day Celebration & Benefit Concert
September 7, 2009 – 12:00pm – 3:00pm
WHEN: 12 noon – 3pm, Monday, September 7
WHERE: Battery Park, Burlington
WHAT: Senator Bernie Sanders will join hundreds of working families for the 8th Annual Burlington Labor Day Celebration sharing in a community potluck, music, street theater and ice cream. This year’s celebration is being sponsored by the Vermont Workers’ Center, a community-based workers’ rights organization who has been building a statewide grassroots organizing campaign called the “Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign” that over that past couple of years has been redefine healthcare as a public good. There will also be a special tribute to the contributions and struggles of working families from Jennifer Henry, the President of the Fletcher Allen nurses union and United Professions of Vermont/AFT. Music will be performed local Burlington busker John Holland and Rik & Bec, a new local duo of Rik Palieri and Rebecca Padula.
“Labor Day is a day to celebrate and remember both the work we all do day in and day out and the long struggles of working people who fought hard for the eight hour day, for Social Security, the end of child labor and even the weekend,” said James Haslam, Director of the Vermont Workers’ Center. “But more than ever, use should use Labor Day as a reminder that we need to be carrying on this tradition by organizing in our workplaces and our communities. This is a time re-commit to the current struggles for more livable wage jobs, fair retirement, strong and healthy communities, and re-defining quality healthcare as a fundamental human right for everyone.”
BACKGROUND: The Vermont Workers’ Center was started in 1998 as a workers’ rights and social justice organization, and have been involved in campaigns to improve working conditions and win livable wages in hundreds of Vermont workplaces across the state. In 2008, they launched the Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign to build a statewide grassroots network of Vermonters committed to redefining healthcare policy to establish healthcare as a basic public good for all.
MORE INFO: www.workerscenter.org
From their website:
“Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign
The Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign, a project of the Vermont Workers’ Center (VWC), aims to change what is “politically possible” in the healthcare debate through grassroots organizing and a strategic reframing of healthcare as a basic human right and the healthcare crisis as a human rights emergency.
Our long-term goal is a universal system in which health care is recognized as a public good and provided collectively, rather than as a commodity sold in a marketplace, and where the human right to health of all residents of the state is fully recognized, regardless of race, gender or gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, nationality or immigration status. Financing must be based on principles of universality, equity, and social solidarity, such as a single-payer system. The only legislation that has been introduced into the Vermont State Legislature for the 2009-2010 session that meets these standards are H.100 and S.88.
What It Will Take
This will not be an easy struggle. In order to win such fundamental reform, we need a strong, statewide grassroots network that will be able to put enough pressure on the legislature and governor to force them to stand up to the insurance industry, those employers who will oppose such a system on ideological grounds, and other powerful interests vested in the status quo. This effort requires:
- strong organizing committees throughout the state
- diverse leadership
- a mass base
What We’ve Done
Since the launch of this campaign in April 2008, the Workers’ Center has conducted a Human Rights Healthcare Survey of over 1400 Vermonters, over 95% of whom recognized that healthcare is a human right. We have held seven Human Rights Hearings around the state, in which hundreds of Vermonters have told their healthcare stories to panels of community and faith leaders. Based on the surveys and hearings, we have put together a report and video Voices of the Vermont Healthcare Crisis: The Human Right to Healthcare. And we organized one of the largest rallies for fundamental healthcare reform in Vermont history in Montpelier on May 1st, 2009.
Where To Go
Since May 1st, we have been working to:
- consolidate our local organizing committees in major population centers throughout the state
- deepen the understanding of human rights principles for healthcare throughout our base
- strategize with local organizing committees about the best way to hold elected officials accountable to human rights principles.
If you would like to learn more or get involved in this grassroots movement contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (802) 861-2877.
View a list of organizations endorsing “Healthcare is a Human Right”.
This campaign is supported by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.”