Tillow started “helping right wrongs” when she was a student at the University of Illinois. In 1963, when she traveled south and signed up with the radical-led Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
She met and married Walter Tillow at the communist-controlled Highlander Folk School. The couple became organizers for the communist-led United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers and ultra radical Local 1199 of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. They won some organizing drives and lost others. “But we never quit.”
Although she’s not a nurse, Tillow joined the NPO when it was affiliated with the Machinists . The Democratic Socialists of America led National Nurses United is NPO’s current affiliation. She also represents the NPO on the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care, for which she is still campaigning. As she puts it: “Jesus healed and he did it for free.”
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, sponsor of H.R. 676, the leading single-payer bill perennially before the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a statement:
- Kay Tillow is one of the most historically important advocates for single payer universal health care in the history of the United States. She has been able to garner the endorsements of 21 state AFL-CIO organizations, and over 300 national and local labor organizations to support HR 676…. It is an honor and a privilege to know Kay Tillow.
- History will show that [her efforts were] one of the most important factors in why universal health care was achieved in this country.