Another labor union is suffering from buyers remorse over Obamacare, a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act.
Organized labor was one of the primary constituencies lobbying for Obamacare when it was narrowly passed by Congress in late 2009 on a straight party-line vote when Democrats controlled both chambers. A number of unions have since concluded, however, that the law actually makes health insurance unaffordable. Various unions and other politically connected groups also received temporary waivers from the law’s provisions.
The latest union to register objections is the Laborers International Union of North America. Union President Terry O’Sullivan sent a letter to President Obama citing the law’s “destructive consequences” for health insurance plans covering about three million unionized construction workers and their families. Union member could wind up losing their benefits entirely, O’Sullivan claimed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. O’Sullivan zeroed in on some factors that could directly impact unionized construction workers who are typically covered by multiemployer plans. He noted that costs are rising for such plans because of the law’s benefit mandates. Moreover, a tax under the law would cost such health plans $63 per covered individual, or $630,000 for a plan covering 10,000 people, he wrote… ‘In effect, ACA takes money from the pockets of each laborer covered by a health and welfare fund and gives it to for-profit insurance companies,’ Mr. O’Sullivan wrote.”
Obamacare regulations will likely result in one-size-fits-all plans, thereby forcing workers and/or employers to pay for coverage they neither need nor want.
Earlier this month, two other unions wrote to congressional leaders bout “nightmare scenarios” arising from the law’s implementation. In the missive, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and UNITE-HERE claimed that Obamacare will “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour week that is the backbone of the American middle class.” They asserted that Obamacare’s regulatory requirements will drive up costs instead of making them more affordable as the measure supposedly originally intended. Employers and insurers have repeatedly sounded the alarm about big premium hikes as a result of Obamacare.
In April, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers reportedly became the first union to officially call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Union President Kinsey M. Robinson declared in part that “In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act’s provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it.”
The administration also postponed the employer mandate for one year. Under the mandate in Obamacare, employers with 50 or more employees would have been required as of January 1, 2014, to provide government-approved health insurance to their workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. The constitutionality of selectively enforcing or not enforcing the law’s provisions has come under question, however.
The individual mandate, which was upheld by the US Supreme Court on a 5-4 decision based on it being deemed a tax, is still scheduled to go into effect as of January 1.
The Washington Examiner reports that “Big Labor had been working behind the scenes to get the White House to make changes to the law, but has been rebuffed by the administration. So leaders like O’Sullivan are now making their disputes public.”