One thing needs emphasizing about the battles raging during the August recess as Congresscritters return home to visit their constituents and face whipped-up wingnuts: The trade union movement has done a very creditable job in stepping up to the front line and helping thwart efforts to destroy those meetings.
A good example is the the town meeting in Rep. Niki Tsongas’s MA district, which was diaried at Daily Kos by Mike08 a couple of days back. Mike mentions the signs being distributed SEIU members. The AFL-CIO website has a brief report from Rosa Blumenfeld, a young organizer who also attended the meeting.
She says that there were a dozen activists from IUE Local 201 and other union locals in the North Shore Labor Council and another dozen from the Service Employees:
What worked were simple signs with large print slogans like “Real Health Insurance Reform Now,” and “Stop Insurance Company Greed.” During Tsongas’ opening remarks, we applauded forcefully and many in the room cheered. We even had folks countering the extremist amongst the crowd waiting outside.
One of the most effective points during the Q&A happened when one union woman stood up and said:
I think that everyone in this room can agree that we need to stop unnecessary death. My grandmother got sick and died from breast cancer because her insurance company refused to pay for her treatment. The system isn’t working. People are dying. We need this health insurance reform.
She goes on to describe the incredible tension and stress that exhausted the union folks by the end, and offer some insight about how her central labor council is tackling the problem. It’s worth reading.
And then take a moment to reflect on just how important unions are in this country.