OPINION: ‘Together, we are stronger’

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Support from Labor, community groups needed to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot

By JENNIFER DISLA
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action

In 2018, Missouri Labor and community organizations made a strong and powerful mark in our state by coming together. Today, working families are receiving a higher wage and have a pathway to a more transparent state government. It started with repealing Missouri’s so-called “right-to-work” law.

“Right-to-work” laws turn back the clock on worker rights and prosperity. By a two-to-one margin, Missouri voters proclaimed that we want to move forward with Labor power and worker solidarity. Increasing our state’s minimum wage, democracy reform, and repealing “right-to-work” were all successful in 2018 thanks to union and community members voting our collective values.

Labor and community groups will continue to raise standards for Missouri’s working families. The Missouri Jobs with Justice St. Louis Labor Team is working toward this by gathering signatures to put Medicaid Expansion on the November 2020 ballot. We are demanding that we close the coverage GAP. This constitutional measure will deliver access to health care to more than 200,000 uninsured Missourians.

‘WE NEED TO STEP UP’
Cathy Sherwin, vice president of the Missouri Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), reminds us of the power of our united strength.
“The Republican supermajority in Jefferson City has failed to expand Medicaid for too many years, with hospitals closing as politicians reject federal money,” Sherwin said. “Health care is in crisis in our state. Just like working Missourians raised wages, cleaned up Missouri politics, and rejected ‘right-to-work’, we need to step up and work together now.”

Medicaid Expansion will bring more than a billion of our tax dollars home from Washington, keep rural hospitals open, create thousands of jobs, and boost our economy.

IMPROVE THE LIVES OF THOUSANDS
Missouri Labor organizations have always been committed to the work outside the four walls of the workplace.

Keith Robinson, president of the St. Louis Chapter of A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), says one of the principal missions of the A. Philip Randolph Institute is social and economic change for all Americans.

“The essence of trade unionism is social uplift,” Mr. Randolph said. “Medicaid Expansion is an important opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of Missourians, many who are friends and family of union members and a part of the communities unions serve. Providing health care to those who need it most is the very essence of social uplift,” Robinson stressed.

COMMUNITY IMPACT
Many union members are also veterans who know the importance of Medicaid and its impact in our community.

“I am a veteran and some of my fellow soldiers access and depend on Medicaid,” Donna Trice, of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3354, says. “This program keeps them from being forced into hard, life and death choices. We took care of our country and deserve to be supported now.”

Medicaid Expansion will deliver health care to thousands of parents, seniors, veterans, and hardworking folks who earn less than $18,000 a year and find themselves making impossible choices.

We need your support now to get the 172,000 signatures needed to put Medicaid Expansion on Missouri’s November 2020 ballot.

TRAPPED IN THE COVERAGE GAP
More than 200,000 uninsured Missourians are trapped in the coverage gap. The “coverage gap” is the untenable situation where someone makes too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage in Missouri, but not enough to afford private insurance or qualify for subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act.

This coverage gap was created by politicians who refused to fully implement the Affordable Care Act or expand Medicaid. Without Medicaid Expansion, more than 200,000 of our neighbors will continue to be forced into impossible choices, such as whether to pay rent to keep a roof over their family’s heads, buy groceries to keep their family’s bellies filled, or pay for health care to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Brothers and sisters, your local union and Labor Council meetings are a significant and powerful opportunity to spread the word and gather the needed signatures to deliver health care, jobs, and thriving hospitals to our communities. Local Labor leaders are ready to attend and gather at local meetings.

Please contact me at 313-213-01772, or email me at jen@mojwj.org to join the Missouri Jobs with Justice Voter Action St. Louis Labor Team to make this a reality by gathering signatures and letting us know about your upcoming union meetings.

Together, we are stronger.

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