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1 Hundred to Rally for Health & Dignity on Day 1 of Legislative Session

Health & Dignity for Vermont This Year:

Groups to Rally on Day 1 of the 2014 Legislative Session to Hold Legislature & Administration Accountable to Health & Dignity in Vermont

When: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 10:30 am
Where: Cedar Creek Room, State House
Who: About a hundred people from across Vermont are expected. Speakers include Amanda Sheppard of Vermont Workers’ Center and AFSCME; Brad Peduzzi an RN and member of VT Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals; Karen Topper of Green Mountain Self-Advocates; and Kay Curtis of VT Early Educators United. Participating organizations include Vermont Center for Independent Living

(MONTPELIER, VT) – When legislators return to the State House on January 7, people from across Vermont will make it clear that policies promoting health and dignity in our state are top priority this session. That starts with paid sick days and healthcare as a human right for all.

If Vermont is going to lead the way with universal healthcare, it must also ensure that the 60,000 people who currently can’t leave work when ill can access health care through this system. Vermont must ensure the right of everyone in our state to maintain their dignity and their right to care for themselves and their families without losing pay or jobs by passing paid sick days legislation. Mari Cordes, a registered nurse and president of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, said in this recent opinion piece.

On the first day of the 2014 legislative session, a coalition of people from across Vermont, led by the Vermont Workers’ Center, will come together at the State House to demand health and dignity for all Vermont residents. The 4-point Health and Dignity plan for the 2014 legislative session includes:

  • Paid Sick Days for all workers this year;
  • Staying on track toward Healthcare as a Human Right;
  • A People’s Budget that puts people’s needs and rights first;
  • and recognizing Early educators’ right to organize a union.

A bill that would enable all workers in Vermont to take time off work to care for themselves or their loved ones will be a legislative priority in the 2014 session. None of us should have to choose between caring for ourselves and our families and the paychecks we need to get by. Nobody should be forced to sacrifice their health, or that of their loved ones, because they can’t afford to take a day off work.

About a hundred people are expected at the rally and press conference. Participants will deliver a petition for paid sick days – which has steadily been collecting signatures across Vermont this summer and fall – to lawmakers.

One of the homecare workers who organized and won Vermont’s second largest union last session, Amanda Sheppard, will MC the rally. Local RN Brad Peduzzi will speak out about why we must make paid sick days a reality this year. Mary Gerisch, President of the Vermont Workers’ Center, will speak about the Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign’s plan to stay on track toward universal healthcare by 2017. Representatives of Green Mountain Self-Advocates will confirm our commitment to a People’s Budget in Vermont, and leaders of VT Early Educators United will inform supporters about their plan to win the right to organize.

We must keep our eyes on the prize for a real universal healthcare system. Our state’s commitment to moving beyond the federal reforms and establishing universal healthcare in Vermont is now more important than ever. –Vermont Workers’ Center President Mary Gerisch

While we keep our eyes on the prize for universal healthcare, we’re building power to prevent policymakers from using healthcare as a human right as an excuse to cut vital programs which fulfill our communities’ needs and rights. The People’s Budget enshrined into law the state budget as a moral document, whose purpose is to meet the fundamental needs of all Vermont residents in an equitable way. Obviously pitting of our communities’ fundamental needs against each other would mark a return to outdated revenue and investment policies, in violation of this legislation. –Karen Topper, State Coordinator of Green Mountain Self-Advocates

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