The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Unions Wake Up from their Four-Year Slumber

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Well, who would have thought that the very unions that spent millions of dollars to get Obamacare signed into law are now complaining to Democrat leaders in Congress about the same law, telling them, “We have a problem; you need to fix it.”

In the letter to Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- CA), which was obtained by the WSJ, the heads of three major unions -- James P. Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Joseph Hansen, UFCW; and D. Taylor of Unite-Here complain bitterly about the repercussions from Obamacare.  They begin their letter this way:

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat.  Right now, 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.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care.  We have also been strong supporters of you. 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 this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.”

The union leaders state that “the unintended consequences” of ACA “are severe” and that the law has created “perverse incentives” that are creating “nightmare scenarios” for their workers.  The labor heads call for “common sense corrections” to Obamacare.  Misters Hoffa, Hansen, and Taylor list three major problems with the law, which are:

  1. The law has created incentives for employers to cut worker’s hours below 30 hours a week.  Fewer hours mean less pay and many employees are losing their benefits as a result.
  2. Because most of the union workers are covered by non-profit health insurance plans, which are governed jointly by unions and employers under the Taft-Hartley Act, the union employees will not be eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies that other citizens will be able to receive.
  3. While the union worker’s in the non-profit health plans won’t receive the subsidies that other citizens will, the union plans will be taxed to help pay for the subsidies.

It’s a good thing that the unions have finally realized there are real problems with Obamacare.  Too bad they didn’t listen to free-market think tanks and policy wonks a few years ago who warned incessantly about the pending problems when the law was just legislation and being debated in the U.S. House and the Senate.

Ironically these three unions are a little late to the Obamacare desertion party.  I wrote in past blogs about how Members of Congress and Capitol Hill staff are looking to find ways to get out from underneath Obamacare because it will be too expensive.  Currently, they are mandated to participate in the law.  You can find the blogs here and here.

It is quaint to think that a few “commonsense corrections” will solve the problems in Obamacare but the law is too convoluted for that to happen.  Perhaps Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius will issue a bunch of waivers exempting the unions from certain aspects of the law.  But those kinds of actions will create a political firestorm and play into the growing notion that if you are part of the political class and well connected to the Obama Administration, you get special favors.

Here is a better idea: Repeal the law and save taxpayers the now estimated $1.8 trillion in gross coverage costs over ten years.

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