11/2/07

Small business group joins Big Labor

Today, the nation's leading consumer, business and labor organizations have a new ally: America's small businesses.

Top executives of the groups that make up Divided We Fail--AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU--announced today that the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) joined the effort to make access to quality, affordable health care and long-term financial security top issues in the national political debate.

"NFIB's alliance with Divided We Fail demonstrates that we are taking all the steps necessary to change the political climate to fix our nation's health-care system," said Todd Stottlemyer, President and CEO of NFIB. "Small business owners, their employees and dependents make up the largest segment of the uninsured population and we simply can't say that health care is our top priority and be content with the stalemate over reform. As a member of this coalition we plan to raise the national debate to a new level and get policymakers focused on providing solutions to address what has become a national crisis for America's job creators."

"Divided We Fail now represents more than 53 million Americans who are part of a movement to influence the political debate on critical domestic issues that affect their daily lives," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. "We are leading a national push for solutions based on shared responsibility --- the role of the individual, government, and the private sector."

Divided We Fail launched nationally in January and has worked to engage the American people, elected officials and the business community to find broad-based, bi-partisan solutions to the most compelling domestic issues facing the nation -- health care and the long-term financial security of Americans.

"When business leaders, labor, and consumer advocates can set aside their differences and stand together to demand change, anything is possible," said Andy Stern, President of SEIU. "The health care movement continues to grow, and the people of this country have no more patience for partisan bickering and gridlock. It's time for Washington to act now."

"As the political season heats up, candidates, policymakers, and the administration need to continue finding bipartisan solutions to the nation's health care crisis," says John Castellani, president of Business Roundtable. "The inclusion of NFIB in our coalition illustrates that both large and small employers have a vested interest in reforming our health care system so it works for everyone in America."

To herald the announcement, Divided We Fail placed ads welcoming NFIB in the "Washington Post" and other Capitol Hill publications. The ad text reads:

Shouldn't the people who live in the strongest, greatest, wealthiest country in the world be able to enjoy access to quality affordable health care and long-term financial security? Shouldn't our leaders be able to work together to find solutions to the challenges that we all face?

We say "yes."

Everyone in America must have access to quality, affordable health care and long-term financial security. That's why AARP, Business Roundtable and the Service Employees International Union welcome the National Federation of Independent Business to Divided We Fail.

When small businesses, corporations, consumers, and organized labor come together for change, Washington needs to take action. We have lost our patience for partisan bickering and gridlock.

To learn more about Divided We Fail and what you can do to champion a secure future for generations to come, visit DividedWeFail.org.

Together we can do anything.

The national effort encompasses traditional grassroots work, speaking engagements, media events, private meetings with legislative leaders and opinion leaders, advertising in national outlets and in the primary states, and online activities which engage the public, business and elected officials in the debate, encouraging public leaders to offer solutions. Since the launch, the CEOs have worked together to support broad legislative ideas, including supporting SCHIP, health information technology, transparency in health care data, commented on federal pension regulations; and have appeared at various events including:

-- October 2007: the CEOs of AARP, Business Roundtable and SEIU spoke at the White House Fellows Annual Meeting; -- July 2007: the CEOs led a Capitol Hill rally with over 2,000 people, fanning out across the Hill to meet with their members of Congress about the Divided We Fail pledge; -- June 2007: the CEOs traveled to New Hampshire for the kickoff of Divided We Fail in the Granite State; -- Also in June, Divided We Fail hosted a pension conference geared toward identifying pension models that can work for individuals and business; -- April 2007: the CEOs began a series of joint meetings with Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle; -- February and March 2007: they addressed the AARP and Business Roundtable Board of Directors; -- In March, the three organizations hosted a 20/20 vision forum with leading pollsters on boomer views on health and financial security; -- Other senior representatives have attended meetings with the Business in Government Relations Council, National Partnership for Women and Families, the National Economic Council, the Democratic Leadership Council, members of the Senate Republican leadership, and Americans for Generational Equity to name a few.

With NFIB on board, Divided We Fail will be continuing to secure pledges from members of Congress and the presidential candidates in support of the effort. To date, 154 Members of Congress (41 Senators & 113 Representatives) have expressed support; 140 have signed the pledge and 14 have sent letters of support. Of the Presidential candidates, the following have either signed the pledge or sent a letter of support: Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Huckabee, McCain (sent letter of support), Obama and Richardson.

In the near future, members and representatives of Divided We Fail are planning appearances for top level speeches at economic clubs nationwide; activities in the early primary and caucus states; events throughout New York State; and co-sponsoring and speaking at a November Financial Security Pension Conference.

More information about Divided We Fail efforts can be found at http://www.dividedwefail.org/.

(earthtimes.org)

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