U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown: Striking workers’ health insurance must be protected
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 25, 2022
In our country, workers have rights. Corporations shouldn’t be able to take away the health care workers earned just because workers stand up for themselves and exercise those rights.
It’s why I introduced the Striking Workers Healthcare Protection Act, to require employers to continue providing health insurance to workers on strike for fair pay and benefits and safe workplaces.
It would protect working families from being forced off the health coverage they’ve earned and negotiated, and protect them from having to pay out-of-pocket for the health care their families need.
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Any union worker knows that strikes are always a last resort. Workers want to reach a fair agreement, so they can keep going to work and providing for their families. Workers almost never recover all the lost wages from a strike.
But sometimes it’s the only option.
If a company refuses to agree to a fair contract, workers can use their collective voice. In 2019, General Motors was making massive profits, and was about to reap a windfall in tax cuts from Mitch McConnell’s corporate tax giveaway. Workers made those profits possible, and all they were asking for was their fair share. During the national union strike, General Motors dropped workers’ health insurance, including the coverage of workers in Ohio.
And it happens all the time.
This year, bakery workers at Local 37 were forced off their health care benefits while on strike at Rich Products. During the UAW strike last fall, John Deere threatened to cancel the health care coverage of thousands of workers across the Midwest. UMWA workers at Warrior Met had their health care coverage cut off when they went on strike in April 2021. The union has been paying the health care coverage for those members since the strike began.
American workers have the right to negotiate a fair contract that reflects the value of their work without the fear of losing health care benefits they earned and negotiated in good faith at the bargaining table.
Our bill would protect workers’ and their families’ health. And it would give workers the peace of mind that if they’re backed into the corner, they can stand up to corporate abuse, without the fear of losing their families’ health insurance.
Sherrod Brown is a Democrat and the senior U.S. senator representing Ohio. His office can be reached at 212-224-2315.