Transit workers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota face an uncertain future as the deadline of their contract with Laidlaw Transit Services, Inc. is set to expire. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1356 have been working under an extension of their old contract since March of 2006 and recently voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. It comes as no surprise to me that the major item of contention is over health insurance. Laidlaw’s last, best offer would make employees pay a share of their insurance premium. In the previous contract the company paid the entire premium. Workers would see a net loss in their paychecks because the meager pay increases would not cover the premium hike. Read the Argus Leader story here.
Laidlaw claims that insurance premiums have increased 32 percent in the last year and I have no evidence to dispute that figure. Rising health care costs is a national crisis and yet many of our elected officials drag their feet on finding a solution. More and more people are forced to go without insurance or see smaller paychecks. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) has introduced H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act. It would establish a publicly financed, privately delivered single payer health care system based on expanding and improving Medicare.
Time will tell how this labor dispute will play out but it is almost certain it will happen again and again all over the country until ‘we the people’ demand an end to inaction and adoption of a single payer system. Take action here.
Peace & solidarity,