Some of America’s top labor unions – including the influential Teamsters – have suddenly realized Obamacare is bad deal, and they’re suffering some serious buyer’s remorse.
“In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure [the Obamacare] vision,” wrote three leading labor unions in an open letter to Congressional Democrats last week. “Now this vision has come back to haunt us.”
The letter, signed by James Hoffa of the Teamsters, as well as the presidents of the UFCW and UNITE-HERE, demands Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “fix” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – also known as “Obamacare” – before it “destroy[s] the very health and well-being of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”
“When you and the president sought our support for the Affordable Care Act, you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat,” the unions wrote to Reid and Pelosi. “Unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA 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.”
According to the letter, Obamacare is laced with “perverse incentives” that create “unintended consequences” and “nightmare scenarios.”
The first of the problems, the letter warns, is that employers are incentivized to keep employees’ workload below 30 hours a week, and many businesses are openly cutting worker hours to avoid obligations under Obamacare.
Furthermore, the letter asserts, union members with non-profit insurance plans will not be eligible for insurance subsidies afforded other citizens, yet they’ll still be taxed to pay for them.
“These restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable,” the unions lament, “and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.”
Of course, many of these same objections were raised by tea-party activists and opponents of the health-care overhaul years ago, but these unions worked to see the legislation passed anyway.
“What surprises me about this is that union leaders are pretty strategic when it comes to employee benefits,” commented Avik Roy of Forbes magazine, who has also testified before Congress on the recent delay in implementing Obamacare. “It was obvious in 2009 that Obamacare’s employer mandate would incentivize this shift. Why didn’t labor unions fight it back then?”
“We continue to stand behind real health-care reform,” the unions’ letter concludes, “but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents over one million workers in various industries. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, also represents over one million workers, mostly in the agriculture, health-care and retail food industry. UNITE-HERE is a smaller union of some roughly 265,000 members who work primarily in hotel, laundry, food service and casino gaming industries.
Together with the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, the three unions form the Change to Win Federation, a coalition of unions originally formed as an alternative to the AFL-CIO.
The SEIU, whose purple-shirted ground troops were so visible during the Obamacare debates, however, did not sign the open letter to congressional Democrats.