Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Obamacare in Danger of Losing Unions as Core Constituents
To protect the workers in their inalienable rights to a higher and better life…the glorious mission of the trade unions.
Samuel Gompers (1850-1924), father of trade union movement, speech, 1898

Historically American unions have offered  more generous pay,  and richer health care benefits than  in private employee plans.  These propositions rest on the premise that union members will work a 40 hour week with extra pay for overtime.  This scenario,  in turn,  is based on the assumption that America will have a full-time economy.
Obamacare threatens these goals.  If present economic conditions  persist, Obama and Democrats are in danger of losing labor and government unions as core constituents.   Certain provisions of the health law -  a 40% tax on premiums over $10,200 for each individual union member and $20,500 for every family,  and $2000 penalties for businesses with 50 employees or more who do not offer workers health insurance -  endanger unions.  Unions are accustomed to vast networks of doctors and hospitals,  low out-of pocket costs, and generous benefits. Under Obamacare, these may be things of the past
The Obama Presidency, now in its fifth year, has been a winter of discontent for unions.  The number of American workers in unions has declined,   workers are moving to states with right to work laws,  the rate of economic growth is  2% or less,  effective unemployment remains at 14%,  and, in the latest jobs report, four times of 162,000 new jobs were temporary rather than full-time.   
 Kelly services, the temporary workers firm,  is now the nation’s second largest employer.    Due in no small part of Obamacare and its 50 employee-mandatory health provision,  we have become a part-time worker nation with fewer union members, and no health care benefits for part-time workers.
Add political partisanship, and we have a “Disunited We Stand,  Unionized We Fall” situation.   Unions depend on economic growth, full-time jobs  and attractive health benefits to grow.  At the moment,  unions have none of these factors going for them.
Unions have woken up to the reality  that Obamacare may decrease jobs, with less pay, with no health benefits for those working 30 hours or less.  In a letter to Obama officials,  James Hoffa, President  of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,  Joseph Hansen, International Food and Commercial Workers,  and Donald Taylor, President of UNITED-HERE, representing hotel, airport food service and textile workers,   the three union presidents  wrote Obamacare would “shatter” our health care benefits,  create “nightmare scenarios,” and “destroy the very health and well being of our members.”  In related events,  Congress,  covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plans (FEHBP) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTE)  “squirmed” to get out of Obamacare and pleaded “Please don’t throw us into Obamacare.” 
There you have it,  a tone of desperation and disapproval among unions over the higher costs and fewer  benefits of  traditional health plans  on health exchanges.  The obvious question is: if Obamacare isn’t good enough for Congress members and their staffs and for  public and private unions,  why is it good enough for the rest of us.”   
Tweet:  A revolt is brewing among national unions about higher premium costs and fewer benefits of plans to be  offered on health exchanges.

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