April 4 2014

Las Vegas Unions’ Obamacare Reckoning

National Review Online

Jillian Kay Melchior

Members of Las Vegas’s Culinary Union 226 and Bartenders Union 165 voted to strike last week. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal has reported, if the strike actually occurs, it could cause major problems at several locations along the Strip, becoming “the group’s most significant wage stoppage in Las Vegas in 30 years.”

The issue the union is willing to strike over: health benefits, which have become vastly more expensive since Obamacare took effect. Employers struggling to manage these rising health-care costs have reached an impasse with unions during contract negotiations.

It’s hard not to wallow in schadenfreude, given the unions’ support of the health law’s biggest advocates.

For example, the Culinary Union is the biggest affiliate of UNITE HERE, a union that represents around 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers. That same union, as the Washington Post has reported, “provided a crucial boost to Obama by endorsing him just after his rival Hillary Rodham Clinton had won the New Hampshire Primary.”  

Since the health law passed, unions have been betting on an exemption that spares their members from many of Obamacare’s unpleasant side effects. When those unions were subjected to the same bad policies being foisted on the non-organized public, they became vitriolic.

A UNITE HERE report released last month stated that “without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage.”

Funny how policy conversions occur when political consequences are felt personally.

The strike vote is the union’s latest attempt to back out of a major bumble. But renegotiated contracts will hardly change Obamacare’s economic equation. The union’s best hope is to bully businesses into paying for Big Labor’s error—and if they succeed, the Las Vegas economy, as well as its tourists, will be once again forced to bear the costs.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

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