With attention now turning to the Nevada caucuses, Pete Buttigieg’s latest healthcare remarks seem motivated entirely by political convenience. This comes after the influential Culinary Workers Union, which has over 60,000 members in Nevada sought to highlight their concerns with Medicare for All on the basis that it would bring about an end to the healthcare arrangements they had secured for their members.
Pete Buttigieg, who less than 2 years ago was an advocate for Medicare for All, has sought to exploit this issue for political gain. Sadly, this cynical and divisive tactic reiterates the perception that the Mayor is motivated by political expediency rather than the principles he claims to hold. In a tweet this morning, he referred to the 14 million union members who have health coverage. In itself this is of course a good thing; these unions have gotten good healthcare for their members in a country where too few people have access to it. The people he of course neglected to mention were the 27.5 million Americans who have no health insurance, or the 23% of Americans who are underinsured.
The biggest problem with Buttigieg’s Medicare for All Who Want it is that it will keep the exploitative for profit providers many Americans are still with, and many underinsured Americans don’t realise until it’s too late that their out of pocket expenses will still cripple them financially. And as unionist Sara Nelson points out, his statement also perpetuates the unhelpful view that all union members by default have coverage. He also neglects to mention that maintaining that insurance is entirely dependent on members still being employed, leaving members who are fired or taking industrial action vulnerable to losing their health cover, as occurred recently at General Motors.
Trade unionism is, we are sure the Mayor would be aware if he had more than a superficial relationship to or understanding of the movement, about more than just the nitty gritty of workers pay and conditions. Trade unions have been at the forefront of fighting for social justice and equality around the world. With that in mind, we believe the best thing for American workers would be Medicare for All, rather than the current patchwork system. Hence, we respectfully disagree with the stance taken by the Culinary Union on this issue. What we have much less respect for is the cynical exploitation of this issue for votes by Pete Buttigieg.