Union Workers Heckle Bernie Sanders over His Medicare for All Plan

Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally for US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Raleigh, North Carolina, on November 3, 2016. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) faced a dose of heckling Tuesday from workers who take issue with his Medicare for All plan during UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to reports, Sanders faced criticism from some union members during his discussion on Medicare for All, with some in the audience shouting, “Union health care! Union health care!” Another shouted, “How are you gonna pay for it?”

Culinary Union president Ted Pappageorge ultimately addressed the hecklers directly.

“We’re gonna let candidates speak without any kind of heckling. If you want to heckle, go outside and heckle. We want to learn. The town halls are to learn. Frankly not to learn from the hecklers, but the candidates,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.

“Second, I want to be very clear to everybody, this union stands very strongly that every American deserves to have good, quality health care. It’s a right, it should never be a privilege in this country,” he added.

Sanders faced similar backlash in August after telling supporters at a town hall in Davenport, Iowa, that his Medicare for All plan would “absolutely” take away union benefits that have been bargained for.

“Wouldn’t the Medicare plan– wouldn’t that take away our right to bargain for our medical benefits?” a town hall attendee asked.

“Yeah absolutely it would!” Sanders said, adding, “It’s not a bad thing”:

Sanders’ response created a political firestorm, causing his campaign to seemingly modify its stance.

As Breitbart News reported:

The socialist senator’s campaign updated his website with a significant modification to his current Medicare for All plan. Instead of completely erasing negotiated union benefits, companies with union-negotiated healthcare plans would still maintain a semblance of negotiating powers via the National Labor Relations Board.

However, the Sanders campaign strongly denied shifting positions.

“This headline from the Wash Post is 100% wrong – know how I know? Medicare for All is a Senate bill with exact text and co-sponsors. The text hasn’t changed,” Josh Orton, national policy director and senior advisor to Sanders, responded:

“@washingtonpost: You asked for an on-the-record comment on this bogus headline. Well, here it goes: Bullshit,” senior Sanders advisor Warren Gunnels remarked.

“Bernie wrote the damn bill & didn’t amend it. We’re proud of the union support for #MedicareForAll. When it passes they will receive higher wages and benefits – period,” he added:

Sanders’ Medicare for All plan could cost up to $60 trillion over the next decade. The socialist senator has vigorously defended the proposal, contending that it is the most “cost-effective” approach to health care.

“Every study shows that Medicare for All is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care for every man, woman, and child in this country,” Sanders said during the Democrat debate in September. “I wrote the damn bill if I may say so.”

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