The same labor unions that have traditionally been huge supporters of President Obama and Obamacare are now outraged at defects in the law that hurt union workers. Worse yet, Obama has ignored these problems when they affect union workers, while he was quick to fix similar problems in the law when they affected elite groups.
On August 29, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union sent a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in which the union said it needed to cut ties with the AFL-CIO. According to the letter, the reason revolves around the AFL-CIO’s policy stances, including on health care reform. In the letter, ILWU International President Robert McEllrath asserts the AFL-CIO and Obamacare have done a great “disservice” to all workers. The letter also expressed dissatisfaction with Trumka, since while he and President Obama both promised “labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits,” the AFL-CIO later lobbied for a bill which would do just that.
Trumka himself has acknowledged just how flawed Obamacare is. He believes nobody could have intended for the law to function as poorly as it is functioning, and has said on the record that it must be fixed.
Furthermore, labor unions feel as though their concerns have been ignored by President Obama. Unite Here President D. Taylor told The Hill, “We are disappointed that the nonprofit health plans offered by unions have not been given the same consideration as the Catholic Church, big business, and Capitol Hill staffers.” Unite Here represents 250,000 workers.
While unions initially backed Obamacare, many now believe the law may cut workers’ hours, “unfairly tax their plans,” and “force workers off their union health plans into the law’s potentially more costly insurance exchanges.” Instead, unions want Obama to change the law so that union plans are eligible for subsidies and employers are not tempted to “drop the plans and force workers onto the insurance exchanges” or cut hours. Unions are realizing the unfortunate truth that Obamacare hurts employers and gives them reason to cut employees’ hours, as the law mandates companies provide “health care coverage to workers who work 30 hours or more a week.”
While the Obama administration has been quick to respond to and fix concerns had by many groups, including congressional staffers and business groups, he has left unions in the lurch. Many unions, including the Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Laborers’ International Union of North America, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and others, which represent hundreds of thousands of workers, are outraged.
Taylor said that if “they lose their health coverage, his members 'will blame the people who passed that bill and did nothing to fix it.’” He went on to lament that while Obama was quick to help other groups solve their problems with the law, he is ignoring his biggest supporters. He said, “You can't blame the Republicans on this one. This is a Democratic bill through and through.”
Labor unions, formerly Obama’s biggest advocates, feel scorned by President Obama and his massively flawed legislation. They even go so far as to acknowledge that Republicans had tried to prevent the disaster, and that the blame for it must be placed, appropriately, on Democrats.