The Service Employees International Union is calling on Congress to honor Sen. Edward Kennedy by passing health care reform. Kennedy, beloved by unions as a staunch ally of working-class liberals as top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, held health care as one of his highest priorities. Just six days ago, in what The Boston Globe described as "a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate," Kennedy asked the governor, state Senate president and House speaker to change the state's succession law to guarantee a quick appointment should he die, giving Massachusetts and Democrats nationwide a critical "yea" on health care reform, should legislation come to a vote.
See SEIU's statement below, from President Andy Stern:
Because of Senator Kennedy, millions of children have access to healthcare, crucial immunizations, Head Start programs, and grants and loans to make college more affordable. Unemployed workers have access to COBRA and low-income mothers are able to get food, healthcare and other resources for themselves and their children. People with disabilities are treated with respect and dignity and workers are protected by an adequate minimum wage.
Senator Kennedy's America is our America. It is the America of the nurse in Pittsburgh, the janitor in Miami, and the child care provider in Maine. It is the America that SEIU members continue to fight for. And Senator Kennedy stood beside us in that fight longer than anyone else.
Senator Kennedy stood with SEIU members on countless picket lines and contract negotiations. He stood with millions of hardworking immigrants and SEIU members to call for comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. He stood with workers fighting for a voice on the job by championing the Employee Free Choice Act. And until his final days he stood with SEIU healthcare workers and other workers to win access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.
Thirty nine years ago, Senator Kennedy introduced his first bill to overhaul our nation's broken healthcare system and provide affordable coverage to all Americans. We stand closer now than ever before to achieving what Senator Kennedy called the cause of his life.
Let us continue his cause. Let us take action this year to pass healthcare reform. And let us continue to build Kennedy's vision of America.