In February, I had the opportunity to represent our Union at the Capitol in Sacramento. Alongside representatives from the California Labor Federation, I addressed the State Assembly, and called on the Legislature to pass a solution that controls the ever-increasing costs of health care that are burdening working families.
Local 856 represents 13,000 members, working at nearly 200 different employers in both the public and private sector — from school employees to law enforcement, from hotel workers to airline mechanics. And no matter which bargaining table we’re at, health care is one of the most challenging issues we face.
The skyrocketing cost of health care is causing the employee share of monthly medical premiums to reach unaffordable levels.
Maintaining quality health care has come at the expense of wages, with salary increases being diverted to pay for health care.
It is undeniable that out-of-control health care costs are a key driver of wage stagnation.
In the hotel industry where we represent 1,000 workers in San Francisco, health care now costs over $12 per hour. That’s $25,000 a year being diverted from wages to health care, money that could otherwise be spent in the local economy and help workers manage the ever-increasing cost of living.
When combined with the often-unaffordable prices we pay for housing throughout the State, outrageous health care costs are hurting families.
Controlling those costs has been an ongoing fight for Teamsters 856. In the last few years, we have worked with unions around California to help pass laws that require more pricing transparency from insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
But our work is not done, and our Union has never shied away from the frontlines of any fight.
Access to quality, affordable health care is important not only to Local 856 members, but all working families. Our Union will continue to hold corporations and our elected leaders accountable, and demand a solution that eases the financial burden on workers and controls costs throughout the system, from hospitals to insurance companies.
Watch Peter’s full testimony: