Labor Groups against ObamaCare

September 6, 2013

President Obama is getting blasted these days from an unexpected quarter: Major labor groups instrumental in helping the president win a second term are charging that ObamaCare is undercutting existing union-sponsored health insurance programs and even encouraging employers to cut workers' hours, says the Fiscal Times.

Last month, leaders of three of the largest labor unions sent a scathing letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), warning that if the problems with the insurance program are not addressed, the new health care law will "shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class."

The letter was written by James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and Donald Taylor, president of UNITE-HERE, a union that represents hotel, airport and food service workers. It stressed the unions' displeasure with a law they all had previously supported and helped to pass.

  • The Affordable Care Act will eventually penalize firms employing 50 or more people that don't offer health insurance -- or that offer coverage below minimum standards.
  • This is the so-called "employer mandate."
  • The White House this summer put that provision on hold until 2015 to give medium and large employers the opportunity to better prepare and plan for the changes and reporting requirements.
  • But once that provision finally takes hold, union leaders say that companies will cut the hours of workers below 30 hours per week to get under the 50-worker threshold for providing health care coverage.

The health care law is likely to be a prime topic of conversation when Obama addresses the AFL-CIO's Quadrennial Convention next month in Los Angeles. Obama's relations with labor have been rocky at times, for sure. Yet while he'll talk about his plans to create jobs, provide better pay and strengthen workplace protections, the president's speech on Sept. 9 may not include every reassuring word that labor leaders are right now longing to hear.

Source: Eric Pianin, "Why Organized Labor Is Organizing Against ObamaCare," Fiscal Times, August 30, 2013.

 

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