The Southern Maine Workers’ Center acts in solidarity with the Vermont Workers’ Center and the people of Vermont. Established by low-income workers in 1998, the Vermont Workers’ Center has since acted as a powerful example of multi-issue human rights organizing to rally the collective power of ordinary people. We are continually inspired by the Vermont Workers’ Center’s model of statewide, grassroots movement-building and have experienced the power of this strategy within our own communities. In 2008, through wide-reaching and deep grassroots organizing, the VWC won an historic victory in the passage of Act 48, putting Vermont on the path to implement the first truly universal health care system in the country. Governor Shumlin’s recent decision not to uphold Act 48–which requires Vermont to provide health care as a public good to all residents by 2017–reflects a status quo mindset shaped by fear and a narrow commitment to private interests over the public good.
Growing movements of ordinary working and poor people in and beyond Vermont reject this canned narrative of scarcity, and instead embrace a politics of abundance. We insist there is enough for all of us to meet our basic needs. We believe that working collectively to ensure our human rights is the only way to build communities where we can all thrive. We are stronger together, when all of us–without exception–put in what we can and get what we need.
Like many VWC members, folks in Maine experience the true cost of systems that deny and minimize human need in order to increase profit. Many live in the gaps of a broken healthcare system that keeps us sick, in debt, afraid, and forced to make impossible daily choices between essentials like medicine and groceries. Still, our communities advance an uncompromising belief that we can build a better world for all of us. Guided by the core principle of universality, we honor the interconnected nature of our struggles and seek collective solutions. We know our lives are at stake and our greatest resource in this fight is each other.
The Vermont Workers’ Center has organized to push out the limits of what is politically possible and transform the way statewide organizing is done. They are acting with the same courage and determination in the wake of Governor Shumlin’s announcement as they always have, and demanding government accountability and transparency while upholding everyone’s human right to health care. We join Vermonters in calling on elected officials to honor their commitment to the people who refuse to wait any longer.
We are grateful for the Vermont Workers’ Center’s leadership in this transformational struggle, and remain firm in our commitments to organize for human rights in Maine, and to support HCHR movement-building in our sister states of Vermont, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
In Solidarity & Abundance,
The Health Care is a Human Right Committee of the Southern Maine Workers’ Center