The only thing that ObamaCare offers teacher unions is the possible chance to unionize the likely resulting expansion of school medical personnel. But, it destroys benefits that teachers currently enjoy; you know the teachers that the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) claim to represent. The old line union bosses seem to have finally figured it — ObamaCare eliminates the benefits that had been Big Labor’s claim to fame. Also, it will begin to eliminate union bosses’ kickbacks from insurance providers, among other methods, that include by way of paid board positions on innocuous committees that had no influence on the insurance company’s operations.
After foisting ObamaCare on their members and the American people, union bosses seem to have read the fine print and don’t like it one bit, according to the Wall Street Journal:
Union Bosses Demand Changes to ObamaCare
Every revolution devours its children, but it’s still surprising to see some of ObamaCare’s keenest boosters deny paternity so soon after the birth. Witness the emotional volte-face from three top union leaders, warning that the program will “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
Last week’s open letter comes from James Hoffa (the Teamsters), Joseph Hansen (United Food and Commercial Workers International) and Donald Taylor (Unite-Here, a hotel and other services union). All three, who together represent three million workers, acknowledge they were once “strong supporters” of the Affordable Care Act but now lament the law’s “perverse incentives” that “are already creating nightmare scenarios.”
The law “will destroy the very health and well being of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans,” they note, with some understatement. In 2009, Mr. Hoffa launched what he called “an unprecedented effort” to promote the Obama health program because health costs were “burdening American workers” and “too important for the labor movement to sit on the sidelines.” So much for that.
The first union grievance is that the employer mandate is leading business to hold worker hours below 30 hours a week to comply with the Administration’s regulatory definition. Despite the one-year suspension of the mandate, many businesses that must provide insurance or pay a penalty are shifting to part-time labor, and the union chiefs explain that “fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.” Nice to know Mr. Hoffa is reading these columns.
The unions are also aggrieved because they have failed to gain special subsidies for the multi-employer health insurance plans allowed under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The White House had no legal authority to grant such a request, so refusing to do so for a major political patron showed unusual restraint.
But the Teamsters, UFCW and Unite-Here do have a point that ObamaCare will damage their current coverage—in violation of Mr. Obama’s frequent pledge that if you like your health plan you can keep it. Under Taft-Hartley, companies can jointly contribute to nonprofit health-care trusts. These are especially useful for workers in low-income or intermittent industries like hospitality, because they can maintain continuous coverage during periods of joblessness.
Mr. Hoffa claims Taft-Hartley plans will be “relegated to second-class status,” and he’s right. ObamaCare’s financial structure encourages employers to quit the trusts when collective-bargaining contracts expire, and then dump the 20 million Americans with such coverage into the worse and more expensive government plans. That will force out of existence the gains that “have been built over decades by working men and women,” the union letter says.
This union remonstrance is on the heels of the 22,000-member United Union of Roofers call in April “for repeal or complete reform” of ObamaCare. No doubt there will be more such retractions in the months to come.
What Mr. Hoffa and the other union reps don’t mention amid their cold sweats is that less employer-provided insurance means less of a role for unions as middle men in contract negotiations. Then again, all of the harm they are now discovering was obvious during the ObamaCare debate. It’s another reminder that Big Labor now exists mainly for the benefit of unions and their leaders, rather than the workers they supposedly represent.