Friday, July 19, 2013
The laborers union has added to organized labor’s drumbeat of dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act.
In a letter sent to President Barack Obama on Thursday, Laborers International Union of North America President Terry O’Sullivan wrote that the law has “destructive consequences” for the types of health plans that cover millions of unionized construction workers and their family members.
The letter follows a separate one written last week by the heads of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and Unite Here, expressing similar concerns to Congress’s top Democrats, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep.Nancy Pelosi. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers took out print ads raising alarms about the law last week as well.
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. The proceeds of the tax will be used to subsidize insurance companies offering health plans in the Health Exchanges.
“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. Those added costs will eventually impact collective bargaining agreements, he said, making union construction companies less competitive than nonunion ones and resulting in less work for union laborers.
Mr. O’Sullivan concluded: “Approximately 3 million laborers, retirees, and their families now face the very real prospect of losing their health benefits. This, I must remind you, was something that you promised would not happen.”
The laborers union, with about 570,000 members, is one of a few major unions that didn’t support enactment of Affordable Care Act, Mr. O’Sullivan reminded Mr. Obama. “Now, we have watched as the implementation of the law has progressed, our fears have become reality,” he wrote.
The letter was copied to Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi.
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