Editor's Note: Please scroll down to download and print leaflets available after each personal story.
We asked our union brothers and sisters to share with us their personal stories and photos to help explain why our fight for health care for all is so important. The responses have been coming in - and some of them are heartbreaking. All of them make it clear that the time for health insurance reform is now, whether we have insurance or not.
Here are a few examples of the stories we've gotten so far:
USW Local 1899 member Kathleen "Kitty" Loepker has been tirelessly fighting for universal health care since 1995, working with the Granite City, Ill., local's Rapid Response program. In 2004, the fight became personal when her brother, Dale, died from a treatable illness. He was 40 years old and did not have health insurance. Click here for more of Loepker's story. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
About a year ago, Nicole Snapp, a USW Local 9349 member in Chisholm, Minnesota, suffered a devastating miscarriage. Because she is a part-time employee at Range Center Inc., she does not have health insurance and is still paying for the emergency room care she received. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
USW Associate Member Debbie Mefferd of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, is a self-employed 60-year-old with a pre-existing medical condition. For her, like millions of other small-business owners and those with pre-existing conditions, health insurance is unaffordable. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
Retired Steelworker Gary Gaines in Granite City, Ill., submitted a family photo showing his kids and grankids. "This picture explains why I am for a single-payer or public option national health care plan," he wrote. He went on to explain that none of his children or grandchildren have health insurance. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing his story.
USW Local 338 member Jane Perkins in Spokane, Washington, supports health insurance reform because she knows it will help lower the emergency room costs that currently burden every working American family with about $1,100 a year. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
Retired Steelworker Barbara Gunther of New York has been through a lot over the past year: an ovarian cancer diagnosis, brutal chemotherapy, heart problems, hospital and rehab stays and a change in doctors. Because of Medicare and her union-negotiated retiree health care, paying medical bills has not been on her list of worries, and she believes every American should be so lucky. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
Margaret Carlson was born in England and had great experiences with that country's nationalized health care system. Now a U.S. citizen and proud USW Associate Member from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Carlson wants to put some myths about England's system to rest as America fights for health insurance reform. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing her story.
Good, employer-provided benefits don't necessarily mean you or your family won't fall victim to the profit-over-people mentality of big insurers. USW staffer Dave Wolfe says what happened to him and his family is proof that health insurance reform will help everyone, even Americans with benefits. Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing his story.
Last December, Jeremy Woodward's third son, Mitchel, was born 15 weeks premature. The USW Local 1237 president from Newark, Ohio, writes that his son spent the first half of his life in a hospital. "Needless to say he is what we call our million-dollar baby. I just couldn't imagine what all we would have to go through if health care costs would increase.” Click here to download a worksite flier showcasing his story.
Health care in the United States should be affordable and accessible to all, says USW Associate Member Ed Grastorf from Pacific Palisades, California. "It is time for a health care system that centers on the patient, and not on the monopoly profits of predatory private insurance companies.” Click here to download a worksite flier featuring his story.
Unite member Lee Jeavons wrote all the way from the United Kingdom to show solidarity with USW members in the health care fight. He talked about a heart attack he suffered last year at age 39 and the great care he got from the UK’s National Health Service, a government-sponsored health system.
“All I then had to do was concentrate on my recovery, not worry about how I would pay the bills - after all, it's already paid for! I am now back at work, economically active and able to support my family. Moreover, I am paying taxes, rather than being stranded at home drawing on welfare. So it's good for the country, too,” he wrote. Click here to download a worksite flier featuring his story.