With the federal government facing a shutdown over Obamacare, Miami workers are taking action today.
Dozens of members of a local union plan to sit in at the offices of Hialeah Republican State Rep. Manny Diaz until he talks to them about the state's refusal to accept $5 billion in Medicaid help.
The workers, members of the Service Employees International Union, claim to have been trying to contact Diaz for three months without success. Many union members live in Diaz's district and can't figure out why Diaz and others have refused federal largesse.
"We have sent him request after request by email and called as well," says Deborah Dion, a spokesperson for the movement. "He has not even had the respect to even call us back.
"We are meeting with both Republicans and Democrats. This is about people needing health care. The federal government is willing to give us these funds to help people stay healthy."
Led by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Florida is one of the few states to refuse the federal money for Medicare. Legislators say the plan is an unnecessary intrusion into people's lives, an argument the U.S. Supreme Court largely struck down.
The timing couldn't be better. Republicans are threatening to shut down the government if the president doesn't back off his health plan, which is scheduled to take a significant step forward October 1.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the opponents. "The people of Florida who I work for didn't send me here to keep postponing hard choices and leave our problems unsolved for future generations to deal with," he said earlier this week.
Next in the union's crosshairs is Dade delegation chairman Eddy Gonzalez, also a Republican representative from Hialeah.
So, do the union members plan to get arrested? "We hope it is not going to come to that," Dion says.
Diaz's office is located at 17680 NW 78th Ave. in Hialeah. The phone number is 305-364-3072. The protest begins at 11:15 a.m.
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