The 38th convention of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has endorsed single payer health as a solution to the nation’s health care crisis.

The 3,000 delegates who attended the IBEW convention called upon “…our international officers (to) do everything in their power and authority to work with other groups and elected officials to build support and action for universal single payer health insurance…”

The IBEW represents over 725,000 members in the United States and Canada and is one of the largest building trades unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The September 2011 convention was held in Vancouver, Canada.

Ed Hill, IBEW International Union President who presided at the convention, said afterwards:

“The IBEW believes that single-payer health insurance in the United States is a worthy long-term goal. While a national single-payer system currently has little chance of becoming a reality in the near future, the 38th IBEW International Convention wanted to go on record in support of the concept in order to help nudge the debate forward and keep the issue in front of elected officials.”

Resolution 60 on single payer, which was submitted by IBEW Local 23 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and passed by the convention, cites the fact that the United States is spending 16 percent of our Gross Domestic Product on health care but:

“…(T)he battle with employers is on-going concerning the increases in health care costs; battles which for the most part we are losing in the form of costs being passed on to our members;”

Resolution 60 states that, “…(R)etirees who have previously sacrificed to obtain health care benefits are now being stripped of those benefits;” and says that “a universal single payer health care plan would reduce wasteful costs to all Americans while continuing to provide excellent health care coverage.”

Resolution 60 also calls for sending a copy of the resolution “…to all elected officials in the United States House and Senate and to all elected state legislators.”

HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental (including oral surgery,
periodontics, endodontics), mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care and correction, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, podiatric care, and long term care.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

In the current Congress, HR 676 has 70 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 585 union organizations in 49 states including 138 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO,
MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).

For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, go to unionsforsinglepayer.org