Organization Trends

Patient Power Is Dead: Big Labor and Medicare for All

Patient Power Is Dead: A Tour of the Left’s Advocacy for Government Control of Health Care Dollars (full series)
Obamacare and Alternatives | Medicare for All
Big Labor and Medicare for All
Labor Unions and the ACA | Promoters of the Status Quo
The Arabella Network | Arabella’s Secretive 2018 Election Projects


Big Labor and Medicare for All

National Nurses United, another of the groups listed in the Washington Post accounts about the 2017 incursion into congressional offices, is a stridently left-wing labor union, which was one of the few to endorse Bernie Sanders for president in 2016. The union is also a strong proponent of Medicare for All. The union’s 2021 annual report to the Department of Labor showed it had more than 156,000 members, collected dues of more than $13.3 million, and spent almost $1.9 million on “political activities and lobbying.”

National Nurses United is just one of many large left-wing labor unions promoting Medicare for All.

The following unions were listed as supporters of Medicare for All in at least one of the news releases from the offices of Sen. Sanders or Rep. Jayapal:

The NEA has a thunderously loud political influence. At least $66 million of its 2021 expenses were clearly reported as “political activities and lobbying.” But this doesn’t include another $117.8 million given out as “contributions, gifts and grants.” These “gifts” were frequently very political. Some of the larger examples include more than $2.4 million for the Committee on States and other projects of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy lefty donors who collectively fund projects to assist the election of Democrats.

  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The second largest teacher union (1.7 million members) and another of the largest public worker unions in the nation took in $196.7 million in membership dues through the year ending June 2021. The AFT reported spending $48.8 million on political activities and lobbying in 2021.

However, a July 2019 report from the left-leaning media website ThinkProgress listed AFT as an example of a union that supports single payer “on paper” than “actually married to” it. The AFT president told ThinkProgress the group was “supporting various plans,” including one that—contrary to single payer—would allow private insurance for some patients.

  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The 1.8 million-member SEIU is both one of America’s biggest labor unions and one of the most reliably left-wing. It took in $255 million in dues in 2020 and reported spending $60 million on political activities and lobbying. In addition to supporting specific congressional legislation, the delegates to the SEIU national convention approved a resolution endorsing Medicare for All as far back as 2016.

But the SEIU was also listed by ThinkProgress as an “on paper” but not necessarily “married to it” supporter of single payer. An SEIU official said the labor group supported “an array of improvements to the health care system,” rather than just Medicare for All. SEIU affiliates, such as 1199SEIU (discussed below) have historically been very active in promoting the expansion of Medicaid—a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.


In the next installment, many labor unions are also promote taking a more gradual approach of building on Obamacare.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
+ More by Ken Braun