Not only is the White House on defense over the delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate and near constant stories about rising health insurance premiums, they now has to contend with increasing opposition to the law from labor unions.
The Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that the leaders of three prominent labor unions have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asking that they “fix” the law that they previously supported.
In the letter, the labor leaders — James Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of the UFCW, and D. Taylor of UNITE-HERE — told Reid and Pelosi that the employer mandate has caused employer to scale back hours to avoid having to offer health insurance to employees.
“When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat,” wrote the labor leaders. “Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the [Affordable Care Act] will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
The labor leaders noted they support the “all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care” and reminded Reid and Pelosi that they’ve supported Democratic Party candidates through raising money and providing volunteers for campaigns “to secure this vision.”
“Now, this vision has come back to haunt us,” continued the labor leaders.
“Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios,” they noted. “[T]he law creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week. Numerous employers have begun to cut workers’ hours to avoid this obligation, and many of them are doing so openly. The impact is two-fold: fewer hours means less pay while also losing our current health benefits.”
The labor leaders also complained that union workers will not have access to subsidies to help pay for coverage because they non-profit health insurance plans they employ are governed by a different set of rules. However, they note, union workers will still be taxed to pay for subsidies that will available on the state health insurance exchanges.
These unions are not the first to express concern over ObamaCare. Back in April, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, which has 22,000 members, urged Congress to repeal the law. Other labor unions expressed similar concerns the following month.
Labor unions have been among the biggest supporters of President Obama and, as noted, Democratic Party congressional candidates. To this point, the White House and Democratic leaders have been downplaying the concerns over ObamaCare — including rising health insurance premiums and problems employers are experiencing, which is leading them to cut hours and job losses.
If Democrats continue to ignore these concerns, not only will they face a backlash from everyday Americans, but it could depress support from one of their core constituencies. In other words, these labor union leaders just made an already politically difficult situation a little stickier.