We Are Winning [Text of May Day speech by David Kreindler]

[Here is the text of the speech by David Kreindler. David is a long-time VWC leader and a member of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA)]

We are winning.

We are winning, but we have a long way to go before we have won. And it is going to get harder and harder.

We have a vision of social justice. Part of that vision is healthcare as a human right: a healthcare system that embodies the human-rights principles of universality, equity, accountability, transparency and participation.

We are winning not because our vision is more beautiful or more just or more equitable. It is not even because healthcare as a human right is more efficient or more financially responsible. The reason we are winning is not because our vision of social justice represents good public policy (though it does).

We are winning because we have been organizing. We have been talking with our neighbors and growing a social movement, to join together and confront those who hold power. We are winning because we are joining together to demand the change that we wish to see in Vermont: healthcare as a human right.

It is only by continuing to join together — by continuing to organize — and by continuing to demonstrate that we are committed to social justice that we will continue to win.

Throughout this campaign, people have been telling us that what we have been trying to do is not possible.

They told us we could not hold our May Day rally, last year, on a friday and expect a thousand people to come. But we did. And we created the largest workday rally in Vermont history.

They told us we could not get the legislature to take up healthcare reform this year, while congress was working on its legislation, with the financial crisis to deal with, with a governor who is, well, not friendly to our cause. But we have, and the legislation that has passed both the senate and the house now contains in it our demand for a healthcare system that satisfies human rights standards.

A year ago, we decided that we would work to pass a piece of legislation, called S.88, this year. Now S.88 has passed both the senate and the house. It is not perfect. We are still working to make S.88 the best bill that we can, and we will continue to work to get it signed into law.

But I have to say it again:

What we have been able to do in the Vermont legislature this year — and what we will be able to do in the future — is not the result of policy analysis. It is the result of organizing.

It is only by growing the power of a social movement that we will be able to make the passage of S.88 become a step toward a healthcare system that treats healthcare as a human right.

In the coming year, we will face more powerful opponents than we ever have — the same powerful corporations that corrupted the federal reform process.

People will tell us that we cannot win against such powerful opponents.

But we will win, because we will continue to organize around our vision of healthcare as a human right.

We will innoculate ourselves against the fear, uncertainty and doubt that the media will broadcast. And we will hold together while our enemies try to divide us.

Here, in Vermont, you and I hold in our hearts a beautiful vision of social justice. We have joined together to make this vision become reality. Many times, Vermont has led this country. Now, we are going to lead this country in enacting healthcare as a human right.

And we are going to learn that this social movement that we have created is not going to stop here.

[David Kreindler is a long-time VWC leader and a member of the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA)]