VERMONT MAY DAY DEMONSTRATION FOR HEALTHCARE
LARGEST OF KIND IN HISTORY OF THE CAPITAL CITY!
By David Van Deusen
Catamount Tavern News Service, May 1, 2009, Montpelier, Vermont- On May First over 1000 Vermonters demonstrated at the State House demanding a Vermont based single Payer healthcare system, where by every man, woman, and child would have affordable access to quality medical care. The rally was organized by the Vermont Workers’ Center, and was endorsed by over 100 unions and other organizations including the Vermont AFL-CIO.
The Rally started at city hall. The protesters, lead by fife and drum players, then marched through the capital city of Montpelier chanting “healthcare is a human right!” The march ended at the State House, where speakers included president of the Fletch Allan nurses union Jen Henry, Teamster and Workers Center president Dawn Stangler, Burlington Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss, and socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders. Also in attendance were a large number of union rank and file from the United Steel Workers, the United Auto Workers, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Iron Workers, the Industrial Workers of the World, and other unions. Besides organized labor, many persons from the Vermont Progressive Party, the International Socialist Organization, farmers, and even a motorcycle club from St. Albans were among the huge crowd. The Burlington chapter of Food Not Bombs served free food during the event.
The demonstration was the largest recorded rally in the history of the capital held during a weekday during working hours, and was supported by many small Vermont businesses; a dozen of which voluntarily closed down for the rally. These included the LACE grocery store in Barre, the Plainfield co-op, and Black Sheep Books in Montpelier. In addition, an estimated 2000 union and nonunion Vermont workers called in sick, took a personal day, or otherwise did not go to work on this historic day.
The demonstration culminated in the protesters marching through the State House, where the legislator sat in session, in order to make their demands for healthcare known to the law makers. While inside, in addition to chanting in support of socialized healthcare, they delivered countless signed red cards addressed to the Governor which again stated their support for healthcare reform.
Organizers from the Vermont Workers’ Center are saying that the May 1 rally marked the half way point in their campaign to achieve single payer healthcare. This year they spent massive energy building local organizing committees across the state. Over the course of the next year they expect to utilize these local committees to further build a grassroots movement aimed not only at healthcare reform, but also at establishing a working class movement that can contend with the status quo for the future of Vermont.
The Workers Center will be holding their first annual Membership Assembly at the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre, VT, on June 6th at 2:00 PM. To learn more call (802)861-2877, or stop by their Burlington offices at 294 N. Winooski Ave (in the Old North End), or on the web at: www.workerscenter.org *The May Day Healthcare Rally was endorsed by the Vermont Liberty Union Party.