September 16 2013
Patrice J. Lee
If this doesn’t make you shake your head I don’t know what will:
Last week we reported that unions are pretty mad with the President over ObamaCare. In fact, the biggest union head acknowledged that because of ObamaCare employers are already cutting hours for workers. The President responded to them with a thumb of the nose.
Apparently, just prior to the annual meeting of national union organizations, President Obama asked the AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka to tone down the anti-ObamaCare rhetoric and nix resolutions that the union bosses planned to vote on. Trumka obliged, taking calls to the repeal ObamaCare off the table. Then the Administration turned around and said it’s ignoring union demands for special treatment for union workers under ObamaCare. In essence, the President said “thanks for scratching my back, see ‘ya later!”
The AFL-CIO has already been on shaky grounds with members of its own organization who think that for all the support unions threw behind the President’s campaigns, they’ve gotten nothing but being overlooked at best and snubbed at worse. In fact, recently, the longshoremen’s association pulled out of the AFL-CIO because of its support for ObamaCare among other grievances.
Forbes reports on the president’s snub:
The problem is that, thanks to ObamaCare’s employer mandate and its subsidized insurance exchanges, businesses with fewer than 50 employees now have an incentive to drop health coverage for their employees and let those workers get coverage on the exchanges. It’s a better deal for those workers, and a better deal for their employers. But it’s a big blow to the labor unions who organize the plans, because workers no longer need unions to negotiate or obtain their health coverage.
As a result, the unions most affected by this problem—like Joseph Nigro’s SMART; or Joseph Hansen’s United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; or D. Taylor’s UNITE-HERE hotel, airport, food service, gaming, and textile union—have been raising a ruckus, demanding that the White House reinterpret the Affordable Care Act so as to ensure that ObamaCare’s exchange subsidies, which were intended for the uninsured, would also be available to their members.
Unfortunately, for the unions, there’s a problem. The statutory language of the Affordable Care Act is clear. The only people eligible for subsidies in ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges are people who don’t already have coverage.
That’s why unions are frustrated. They warned of “political repercussions” if the Obama administration didn’t circumvent the law on their behalf. Obama kept them at bay by assuring labor leaders that he was working on the problem. Unions told Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that “we have a problem [and] you need to fix it.”
But with Republicans in firm control of the House of Representatives, Democrats have no ability to unilaterally rewrite ObamaCare in order to please labor leaders.
I wouldn’t boo-hoo too hard for the unions. Their ardent support of the President regardless of what his policies mean for business and workers trumped their better judgment.
ObamaCare is just another symptom of the sickness affecting organized labor. They are in decline, having lost much of their clout with private sector workers over the years. However, their business model is to collect high dues from workers to fight for wages and healthcare benefits. That fight has at times meant holding private employers hostage and excluding certain racial groups like blacks.
Union bargaining power is not what it once was though and it’s only getting worse. Now that workers can buy their own health benefits, why fork over a chunk of your paycheck to organized labor groups that can’t deliver anything else of value?
Somewhere the death knell of unions is ringing and union bosses are frantically trying to figure out how to stop the chime.