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During UNITE HERE’s Culinary town hall in Las Vegas Nevada, Sanders was touting his Medicare-for-all vision, which aims to provide affordable, comprehensive health care to all Americans. However, he was interrupted by chants of “union health care.”
There have been concerns among organized labor that a transition to a Medicare-for-all system could hurt union members who negotiated their health benefits with their employers under the current system. Oftentimes workers give up benefits – like higher wages – for better health care plans that they now don’t want to lose.
Sanders announced a change in his Medicare-for-all plan in August in an attempt to ease fears among union members – a group he has courted in the run-up to the 2020 election. Essentially, because unions would renegotiate their contracts during the transition to a single-payer system, the carve-out would require any savings that occurred as a result of the transition to be given back to workers in the form of higher wages or other increased benefits.
The National Labor Relations Board would oversee negotiations.
Unions would also be able to negotiate with private insurers for benefits that would not be covered under Medicare-for-all.
It would give union members an advantage not enjoyed by non-union members with private insurance.
Still, some believe union members might still be hesitant to support a candidate that seeks a full transition to a single-payer system.
“I can’t imagine a union worker voting for someone that wants universal health care because it takes away one of the biggest benefits they have as being part of the union organization,” Bob Nardelli, former Home Depot and Chrysler CEO, told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday.
Competitors accused Sanders of softening his stance on Medicare-for-all when detailing the August modification, as the democratic field debates over whether a full transition to a single-payer system is the most effective fix for the industry.
When confronted with the issue by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan during a debate earlier this year, Sanders said nobody on the stage was more pro-union than he is.
Meanwhile, Sanders has focused his campaign on courting organized labor. He has joined teacher’s union strikes while congratulating victories like that achieved by the United Auto Workers in their protracted contract dispute with General Motors earlier this year.
Sanders has also called for doubling union membership, which he said could be done under his first term if he were elected.