Big Labor Burned by ObamaCare

0724-midwest-labor-unions-2012-election-obama_full_600Unions that undoubtedly believed they were part of the Obama administration’s select group of “winners,” have discovered otherwise. In a scathing letter addressed to Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV), the presidents of UniteHere and the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) declared they were “bitterly disappointed” that the proposed regulations to ObamaCare would be detrimental to their interests. In short, unions that supported the president’s two election campaigns are apparently just discovering what many Americans have known for years: Obama’s promises are worthless.

The unions are incensed that ObamaCare does not provide subsidies for union-negotiated trust funds known as Taft-Hartley plans. Because there employers already pay for these plans, the Treasury Department insists they are not eligible for tax breaks or subsidies. The administration contends that if the unions got what they demanded, they would be getting two tax breaks, even as the rest of America gets one. That’s because the unions want their employers and the government to fund their benefits. They are further enraged that the $63 surcharge ObamaCare levies on non-profit, self-funded plans to subsidize insurance companies that take on higher risk patients didn’t end up in union coffers.

Robert Laszewski, a health policy consultant in Washington, illuminated the administration’s position. “The unions here are asking to double dip,” he said. “It is an unfair request. The Obama plan is very simple: If your employer pays for your health plan, you are not eligible for a government subsidy. What the unions are asking for is government and employers to fund their benefits.”

In a series of meetings with the White House, labor leaders made their concerns about Taft-Hartley known, and they were apparently placated by a series of false promises. In one ironic twist, these leaders met for an hour on September 13 with Obama and other top administration officials to voice their concerns about the Taft-Hartely problems — even as they subsequently discovered a letter revealing the plans would not receive subsidies was being sent to GOP lawmakers around the same time frame.

The administration’s duplicity represents the latest in a string of disappointments for a labor movement that shoveled massive amounts of money into pro-Obama organizations in both 2008 and 2012. They also deployed millions of grassroots volunteers, convinced that ObamaCare was the big-government answer to their healthcare concerns. Their disappointment is amplified by what they consider a lackluster effort on the part of the administration to support card check legislation that would have facilitated organized labor’s ability to form unions.

Labor leaders expect the twin snubs to further fuel an intensifying debate within America’s labor movement about how much time, energy — and money — they should continue to invest in Democrat candidates. There are already rumblings about pulling support for Democrats candidates in the 2014 mid-term elections. Moreover, LIUNA has established relations with the GOP’s Chris Christie, endorsing him for reelection as New Jersey’s governor in 2013. They also donated $300,000 to the Republican Governors Association headed by Christie, and there are preliminary talks between union officials and Christie’s aides about his possible appearance at a union convention.

UniteHere president Donald Taylor, whose union represents about 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers, said it was unlikely that his union would follow suit, but he indicated their previous level of support for Democrats might be a thing of the past. “You can’t just order people to do stuff,” Taylor said. “If their health plan gets wrecked, why would they then go campaign for the folks responsible for wrecking their health care?”

Taylor also noted that UnitedHere officials met with White house leaders 48 times. During that the the parameters of ObamaCare were being considered, “we were told that ‘if there were problems, don’t worry, we’ll get them fixed. We thought that if we made the case to the agencies dealing with regulations to correct problems that hurt, really destroy, self-funded nonprofit health plans, it would be resolved,” Taylor said. “That clearly was naive or stupid.”

Taylor is not alone. Last September, administration officials persuaded the AFL-CIO to alter a union resolution that initially called for ObamaCare’s repeal. When the wording of the resolution was changes to “repair,” it passed unanimously. LIUNA president Terry O’Sullivan expressed a concern that now resonates with many Americans, both in and out of the labor movement. “We’ll be damned if we’re going to lose our health insurance because of unintended consequences in a law. It needs to be changed, it needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now.”

It was after that resolution passed that the aforementioned September 13 meeting with Obama took place. Thus, despite their decision to alter their calls for ObamaCare’s repeal, it soon became apparent they were being duped by the same administration that did the same thing to millions of other Americans.

The administrate did attempt to quash union discontent last October indicating that they would do what they do best: grant an ObamaCare exemption to a key ally. The administration quietly proposed exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the $63 reinsurance fee for the years 2015 and 2016. That wording covers a number of the Taft-Hartley trust funds that are co-managed by unions and their employers, and who act as as their own insurance company and claims processors. Those plans are regulated the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). 

When Republicans complained about the carve out, union officials noted that many of their plans use third party administrators to process claims, making them ineligible to take advantage of the change. A Health and Human Services official echoed that sentiment. “This definition would exempt any self-insured group health plan that does not use a third party administrator for claims processing or enrollment, not only union plans,” the official told

Yet Republicans insisted that the change was aimed at unions, especially since it was made after some prominent union leaders demanded relief. Furthermore, much of the current discontent is about the administration’s refusal to offer an exemption for 2014, when the fee will be the greatest. It goes to $42 in 2015 and $26 in 2016 and then ends.

Other labor leaders who didn’t sign the letter have indicated they are equally upset with the administration’s cavalier treatment of the labor movement. They include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Building Trades Unions. 

Several corporations and churches also maintain self-funded, non-profit insurance plans. They have formed a Corporate Health Care Coalition, which is a similar effort to do away with the tax on self-funded plans. They have been joined by several unions.

Yet as the letter sent to Pelosi and Reid indicates, union officials believe they have been gamed by the administration, noting that Labor Secretary Tom Perez had sent a letter to Congress suggesting union concerns had been addressed. “This is simply not true regardless of the Secretary’s good intentions,” the letter states. 

By the end of the letter, the scales had apparently fallen from their unionist eyes. “If the Administration honestly thinks that these proposed rules are responsive to our concerns, they were not listening or they simply did not care,” the letter states. “We have examined various healthcare exchanges and should members be forced to purchase insurance on an exchange, their out of pocket costs are likely to be significant, reaching into the thousands of dollars, even if they are eligible for a subsidy under the act. It would be a sad irony indeed if the signature legislative accomplishment of an Administration committed to reducing income inequality cut living standards for middle income and low wage workers.”

One would suspect they mean a cut in the living standards of middle income and low wage union workers. Otherwise, they’re more than a bit late in voicing their concern for the millions of Americans who have been enduring precisely the same experience since they began purchasing policies on the individual market more than five months ago. One is hard-pressed to recall any outpouring of union sympathy for the millions of Americans relegated to part-time employment due to ObamaCare, or the 91.8 million Americans who have left the workforce altogether. Moreover, it is no secret that the labor movement is still in bed with the administration when it comes to the so-called comprehensive immigration reform that will further harm American workers.

Thus, the best that can be said regarding union discontent is better late than never. Maybe it will begin to occur to them that they are as vulnerable to the capriciousness of the Obama administration as the rest of America.

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  • truebearing

    “When thieves and thugs fall out and fight there’s fell arrears to pay;And soon or late sin meets its fate, and so it fell one day”

    The Ballad Of The Black Fox Skin by Robert William Service

  • Elizabeth Cape Cod

    Unions are deserved victims of their own arrogance and self importance, and their ‘plight’ is like any fable of trusting the snake or scorpion or crocodile only to be betrayed when no longer useful.

    • Dr_Albert_Gortenbull

      Unions feed the fascist crocodile with the hope they will be the last to be eaten. Albert

  • Foto Nunta Brasov

    Let’s be serious. Obama Care it’s dust in the eyes for us!

    Foto Nunta Brasov

  • Jason P

    This is socialism exposed. Each pressure group is fighting for the spoils and hopes that their neighbor is the one getting screwed. When they are shocked that they are the one getting screwed they yell “unfair.”

    It’s kind of late to discover principle once you’ve sold your soul to the Democratic Party in the hopes of a few crumbs.

    No special exemptions: repeal Obamacare, period.

  • StarTripper

    As for these labor unions, Ernst Rohm was also surprised when he was no longer usefull to the National Socialist Party.

  • newsel

    “Moreover, it is no secret that the labor movement is still in bed with the administration when it comes to the so-called comprehensive immigration reform that will further harm American workers.” Seriously, they are supporting a move that will drive down opportunities and wages for their members? But after their blind support of Obamacare why the surprise.

  • T-Rex

    There is no honor among thieves. The union thieves are shocked the political thieves robbed them? My lack of sympathy boileth over.

    • lyndaaquarius

      what am I missing? Don’t the Dems need the Union vote going forward?

  • Redskinsfan2

    Too bad for unions. Why should they be exempt from Obamafraud? They should have known Obama is a prodigious liar.

  • jfhdsiu

    Ahem…… (Clearing throat)……. Ahem…… Snicker….. Chuckle….. GUFFAW!!!!!!!!!!!
    “SUCKERS”…………………………………. Didn’t the union goons KNOW the nature of the beast they were hitching a ride with? Snicker….. Chuckle…… GUFFAW….. Comeuppance is a bitter pill to swallow but a sweet one for those who were wronged by the unions actions that CAUSED the ‘bitter pill gulp” by the unions in the first place!

  • Dr_Albert_Gortenbull

    It appears the Fascist in Chief and his congressional allies are now in a fight with the communists controlling the labor unions. Albert

  • wsk

    Let me see if I can muster a tear or two for the union scumbags– Nope sorry.

  • Boots

    Boo freaking hoo!!! I’m happy to see them have to pay their “fair share”. We can now ask them if they’re better off before or after the ACA and they’ll give the same answer as those of us who aren’t. Maybe they’ll become part of the solution and help dismantle the ACA. Not likely since they are the Democrats’ hookers.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    I have no pity for greedy union bosses!

  • Bigboy1942

    Unions, isn’t there a saying,, when you lay down with camels you get up with?????

  • oneteedoffpatriot

    Finally, liberals are forced to eat their own vomit.

  • Skeptic7

    Obamacare is a trap. It’s a big sticky spider web created by a cluster of big black angry recluse spiders. Now many victims are stuck, and the spiders are closing in. It was ALWAYS a trap.

  • NJK

    Boo hoo.

  • Ellman48

    “In short, unions that supported the
    president’s two election campaigns are apparently just discovering what
    many Americans have known for years: Obama’s promises are worthless.”

    Bill O’Reilly asked Obama if his biggest mistake was telling Americans ‘If you like your insurance or doctor you can keep them’. In my opinion Obama’s biggest mistake was making ANY promises at all because he has not kept a SOLITARY ONE in his 5 years in office. Why has he made so many promises? Because he’s a politician extraordinaire who is convinced that to win elections you MUST promise voters something (because so will the guy you’re running against).

    Strangely enough, not having learned his lesson (what were his grades in Columbia?), he continues making promises that will also not be kept. I think Michelle should have a serious discussion with him about ‘broken promises’.

    • Freebyrd1968

      What broken promises, he never had any intention of keeping any of those promises. “IDIOTS”

  • Freebyrd1968

    I guess the unions didn’t realize they were the “useful idiots!”