After initially supporting health care reform, labor leaders now feel betrayed.
Three years ago, labor unions were some of the largest and most vocal supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now, America’s most powerful union leaders are shying away from Obamacare. The assertion is Obamacare will negatively impact workers and create inequality over time.
Since the introduction and subsequent launch of health care reform, union leaders have requested special provisions from the administration. With a focus on how health care reform implementation may lead to the destruction of current union health care plans constructed to comply with the Taft-Hartley Act (enacted June 23, 1947).
More than 15 million union workers participate in the collectively bargained, multi-employer insurance plans. This health insurance allows laborers including electricians and builders, to work for a variety of participating employers and keep their health insurance intact. Plus the existing plans have unique provisions related to repetitive stress caused by different types of work.
The ACA leaves existing union labor plans vulnerable. The laws allow small businesses to opt out of providing worker insurance coverage and forces union members to government marketplaces. When there, those workers may be entitled to financial subsidiaries to offset premium cost. Union leaders are concerned that union workers who stay with their existing plans will have to pay higher premiums because group enrollment is expected to decline.
Union grievances first went public July 2013. James P. Hoffa, the General President for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters wrote a letter to Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. He stated that Obamacare would destroy member’s health benefits, and the infrastructure necessary to support the 40-work week.
Labor union research released on Ralston Reports, indicate that unions and service industry workers think the problems with ACA run deep. According to the report, Obamacare will increase income disparity in a number of ways; less free market competition, a reduction of full-time union jobs, and a financial burden on low-wage workers.
Opposition is strong because union organizers believe the Obama administration broke health insurance reform promises. When the President initially pitched reform to the public, there were assurances that consumers could keep their current health plans if they choose. Without special consideration for the union health insurance network, the administration’s pledge is meaningless.
White House administration is aware of the labor concerns. However, there are no plans to make the union requested changes without a motion from Congress.