Unite Here Chief Blasts Obama Over ACA

by Bruce Vail

President Donald “D” Taylor’s union, Unite Here, released a scathing report last week about the unintended consequences of Obamacare.   (Unite Here)

President Donald “D” Taylor’s union, Unite Here, released a scathing report last week about the unintended consequences of Obamacare. (Unite Here)

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in 2010, unions say they have pleaded with the White House dozens of times to make labor-friendly changes to the law. With the deadline to sign up for 2014 coverage looming, hospitality union Unite Here has produced a stinging new report on the failure of the White House and congressional Democrats to face Obamacare’s numerous problems.

The 12-page report, “The Irony of Obamacare: Making Inequality Worse,” began circulating last week to its primary audience of some 270,000 Unite Here members. It largely focuses on the law’s negative future impact on Unite Here’s existing joint labor-management healthcare plans, also known as “Taft-Hartley plans,” warning that union members may lose their existing insurance coverage and be forced to buy more expensive insurance elsewhere. Continue reading

Cynical beyond Belief, or (Channeling Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe) Just Plain Nuts

by Martin Kich

Martin Kich

Martin Kich

So the Far Right has been singularly focused on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and although they now want to decouple the two things because of increasingly negative polling data, they pointedly tried to force the repeal of the ACA through the shutdown of the government and their refusal to approve an increase in the federal debt limit.

But, having shut down the government—having prevented the government from functioning—they are now earnestly, even desperately, seeking out photo ops that allow them to complain that the government is not functioning.

First, it was the fact that wheelchair-bound World War II veterans could not visit their memorial in Washington, D.C. One Far Right congressman demonstrated that he is an absolute clown by publicly upbraiding a parks employee for not allowing visitors into the memorial—even though, as a result of the Congressman’s own votes, the parks employee was, in effect, working without any guarantee of being paid and was singlehandedly tasked with trying to protect that piece of federal property and, adding irony to insult to injury, with protecting the federal government from any legal liability that might arise because of insufficient staffing at the site.[See: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Congressman-Confronts-Park-Ranger-Over-Closed-WWII-Memorial-226209781.html.] Continue reading

Labor’s Love Lost Over Obamacare?

 
Steve Early

Steve Early

Like many labor negotiators, I looked to health care reform for legislative relief from endless haggling with management over employee benefit costs. My own union and others worked hard for passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) three years ago. Despite its failure to take health insurance issues off the bargaining table, as a more preferable Medicare-for-All system would do, Obamacare was widely cheered by labor.

Union members were told, correctly, that the ACA would expand Medicaid access for millions of lower-income Americans and make private insurance coverage more consumer-friendly for everyone else. Organized labor also expected the new law to aid union bargaining by leveling the playing field among all employers, much like the minimum wage and other protective labor legislation does. Continue reading

IBEW Chimes In with Obamacare Concerns

By Bruce Vail

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage.   (From the IBEW website)

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage. (From the IBEW website)

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added its voice last week to the growing number of labor unions with complaints about how President Barack Obama is handling implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

The 725,000-member IBEW released a white paper on July 11 calling for changes to how the law treats multi-employer plans (also known as Taft-Hartley plans). These plans, which are jointly administered by unions and their employers, are endangered by the ACA because it will discourage employers from participating in the plans, and place some existing union employers at a financial disadvantage. The health insurance of more than 350,000 IBEW members covered by such plans is at risk, says IBEW spokesperson Jim Spellane. Continue reading

The Part-Timer Problem

by Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

The Obama Administration’s decision to delay for a year the penalty that employers (in firms of 50 or more employees) must pay if they don’t provide health insurance to their workers shines a light on a problem that may be even more profound than getting health coverage for every American: that is, the decline of the American job.

The employer mandate was designed for an economy in which American workers were employed in what had been normal jobs. In firms of 50 or more, all workers who put in at least 30 hours a week were either to receive coverage from the firm or else the firm would have to pay the government a $2,000 yearly penalty.

Problem is, fewer and fewer workers are putting in 30 hours a week. To begin with, labor-force participation is at its lowest level since women increased their work-force participation in the 1970s. It has declined even during the past four years of so-called recovery. The past four years have also seen a rise in the percentage of workers who are part-timers, who currently constitute 19 percent of the work force. Full-time work has been declining for nearly half-a-century. In 1966, the average workweek was 38.7 hours. Today, it’s 34.5. Continue reading