Workers tell WellPoint: Stop using our healthcare dollars for anti-worker politics

Rachel and Bob at CalPERS meeting May 15, 2012

Rachel Grocha-Welch and Bob Sigala at CalPERS meeting May 15, 2012

SEIU 521 has joined a national movement to stop the corporation WellPoint from using our healthcare dollars to advance a political agenda against working families.

Read the letter from our Chief Elected Officer. (PDF)

WellPoint is one of the largest health insurance corporations in the country. It operates as a Blue Cross licensee in California; SEIU Local 521 represents more than 17,000 workers who have the option of choosing WellPoint/Anthem for insurance.

Having a choice means we have a say! Especially since WellPoint is also a service provider for CalPERS which administers our retirement.

Many don’t know that WellPoint also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), known for spearheading campaigns against workers’ collective bargaining rights, the Affordable Care Act, and retirement security.

Members call on CalPERS board to take action

On Tuesday, SEIU 521 members appeared before the CalPERS Board to shine the spotlight on this matter and persuaded the board to take action. Members Rachel Grocha-Welch, a forensic chemist from Santa Clara County, and Bob Sigala, a retiree, called on CalPERS to get WellPoint to commit to disclosure and transparency and be willing to explain why some of its actions appear to be against the interests of CalPERS members.

“While both ALEC and WellPoint are perfectly free to engage in politics, what I object to is their less-than-full disclosure as they pursue their political agendas using money from workers like me.”
– Rachel Grocha-Welch

Robert Sigala also expressed concern with how WellPoint is using resources to fund an anti-worker political agenda.

“In this economy people like me are really watching how our money is being invested,” he said. “Is our money being used wisely? Is our money being used ethically? We’re finding that it could be used for anti-worker, anti-family, and anti-health purposes. We’re asking that you look into WellPoint and really monitor what they’re doing.”

SEIU Local 521 also wants to see CalPERS adopt a procurement policy and monitoring system of full disclosure of political, lobbying and charitable contributions of vendors and service providers.

Members were successful in persuading the CalPERS Board to take action. The board agreed to engage with us on developing a policy that will address this issue and will consider writing a letter similar to what others, including the Connecticut Comptroller, have sent to WellPoint urging transparency and disclosure of its political activity.

In a letter to the President of WellPoint, SEIU 521 Chief Elected Officer Kristy Sermersheim called on the company to cease funding anti-worker policies immediately.

“We are disappointed to learn of WellPoint’s support for organizations and politicians who promote anti-worker policies… We call on WellPoint to immediately and permanently stop funding ALEC and anti-worker policies and politicians.”
– Kristy Sermersheim, SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer, in a letter to WellPoint

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