Longshoremen union splits from AFL-CIO, ObamaCare among cited reasons
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents some 40,000 workers in the Northwest and Hawaii, has split from the AFL-CIO over attacks it has been under from other members of the prominent national labor union:
The West Coast longshore union is pulling out of the national AFL-CIO, citing “attacks” in which the umbrella organization’s members blatantly cross picket lines at Northwest grain terminals.
Robert “Big Bob” McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, broke the news in a letter obtained by The Oregonian Friday. In the three-page letter sent Thursday, McEllrath told AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka the ILWU would sever its 25-year affiliation with the federation, cutting formal ties because organization members sabotaged dock workers.
McEllrath sent the letter a day after a federal administrative law judge issued a withering decision directing the San Francisco-based longshore union to stop disrupting Port of Portland operations and to quit seeking work that the judge said belonged to another AFL-CIO affiliate, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. McEllrath didn’t mention the decision, but he cited numerous other perceived offenses as well as disenchantment with the AFL-CIO on policy issues ranging from taxes to immigration.
“We will not let other affiliates jeopardize our survival and block our future as the primary waterfront workforce,” McEllrath wrote.
While the main issue may be attacks and sabotage from other labor organizations, there were other reasons cited in the letter McEllrath sent to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Among the problems cited was ObamaCare.
“The ILWU has also become increasingly frustrated with the [AFL-CIO’s] moderate, overly compromising policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues,” wrote McEllrath to Trumka. “We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along.”
“President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits. Yet the Federation later lobbied affiliates to support a bill that tax our healthcare plans,” he added.
The criticism from unions over ObamaCare has reached somewhat of a boiling point. In July, James Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of the UFCW, and D. Taylor of UNITE-HERE wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging them to fix the law to save union health insurance plans. They also heavily criticized ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which they said will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”
But the rumored ”tweak” is basically a bailout for labor. The Obama Administration is apparently considering giving subsidies to labor union members, the same subsidies that are available to the uninsured to purchase health insurance coverage. This fix would, as Avik Roy explains, both break the law, as ObamaCare bars subsidies for employer-sponsored health insurance plans, and cause the law’s costs to skyrocket.