President Obama can now add disgruntled labor unions to his list of mounting political and legal problems. The once all-powerful union allies are now turning their backs on him due to his once vaulted Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Labor unions now feel the law will cost their members millions of jobs when enacted January first – a growing concern for a politically besieged White House now in stark fear of the midterm elections next year.
The fear union leaders see in Obamacare is its multi-employer health plans that have been the standard for unionized workers over the years in industries from retail to construction.
Obamacare will savage this union health plan advantage that has been the standard for decades. That will lead to more union desertions by its members as the uniqueness of union membership melts away.
The new health care law will add cost to its members requiring health plans to cover dependents up to age 26, eliminate annual or lifetime coverage limits and extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
In other words, why will members need to pay the extra union dues with changes like this?
With state-based health exchanges in place, all Americans can qualify for government assistance determined by their income. The new law will not allow workers in union plans to receive similar subsidies.
One has to wonder if in the planning of Obamacare, Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues took this into consideration realizing how crippling it would be to their Democratic voting base.
Could it be the opening the Republicans have dreamed of for decades?
Labor unions have traditionally voted across the board for Democrats since the days of FDR. They spend millions of their member’s union fees to assist the Party. The Obama administration is now in a precarious position defending the president’s “legislative achievements” and preventing union leadership from deserting him or staying home during midterm elections.
There is no doubt the threat would become disastrous if enacted by union leadership.
It is unlikely that the administration will consider subsidies for workers in the union plans this late in the game.
Unions say their health care plans in many cases offer better coverage with broader doctors’ networks and lower premiums than what would be available in the exchanges, particularly when it comes to part-time workers.
In the beginning of the Obamacare plan, the unions supported the legislation because they expected it to curb inflation on medical costs, reduce the number of uninsured Americans and equalize them with non-union companies providing health insurance.
Now they are screaming for repeal of Obamacare including Kinsey Robinson, president of the powerful United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, who criticized the law and the White House who “have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored. 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.”
It’s a serious problem for Democrats with no easy solution in sight to keep their base happy other than scrapping the law or making serious changes.
Will the Republicans be friendly to such a move?
* If you have enjoyed this column, may I suggest you scroll down this page and press the SUBSCRIBE box? It’s FREE. Thank you for your patronage.
** Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org