Teamsters Union Balks On Obamacare

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Teamsters Union president James Hoffa sent an open letter to President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week warning them that he’s all but decided to pull his support from the Affordable Care Act if it reneges on the President’s promise that workers happy with their present coverage could continue it once the law takes effect.

Saying Obamacare now threatens to “destroy”Americans’ health and fundamentally change the 40-hour work week, Hoffa’s letter bears the tone of an ultimatum. Here’s the letter in its entirety, printed in a July 12 story for The Wall Street Journal:

Dear Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi:

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. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA 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.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

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:

First, the 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.

Second, millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate. These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.

And finally, even though non-profit plans like ours won’t receive the same subsidies as for-profit plans, they’ll be taxed to pay for those subsidies. Taken together, these restrictions will make non-profit plans like ours unsustainable, and will undermine the health-care market of viable alternatives to the big health insurance companies.

On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.

We believe that there are common-sense corrections that can be made within the existing statute that will allow our members to continue to keep their current health plans and benefits just as you and the President pledged. Unless changes are made, however, that promise is hollow.

We continue to stand behind real health care reform, but the law as it stands will hurt millions of Americans including the members of our respective unions.

We are looking to you to make sure these changes are made.

You know things have gotten bad for Obamacare when the unions – among the law’s most ardent supporters in the early sledding – are now jumping ship.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

  • john

    Holly molly – hoffa idiotta did wake up!!! For how long?

    • John Woodbury

      If it was not so sad it would be funny. Was it not Stalin that said useful fools are the first to go. Well Jimmy Jr. you and your fellow union members have sliced your own neck’s. It seems you big pals do not give a rats behind about you, because you are “in their pocket”. Have a great life until Amerkia crashes and burns.

      • Fred Flintstone

        Where are all the ObamaCare socialist shills today – shouldn’t they be on here endlessly repeating the glories of Statist run medical care?
        Or at least repeating their ridiculous “the government owns you and everything else” mantra of “oh yeah, what would YOUUUUUUU replace it with?”

  • Fedup

    Too late now, Jimmy; you’re getting what you voted for – you deserve it!

  • billybob

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, you can fool all of the people some of the time, But you can’t pass laws without understanding the consequence Nancy! What kind of back door politics you will pull to appease the unions Harry?

    • Oldmonkey

      Don’t think dirty Harry can pull off a deal, and there will be hell to pay for the Communists pretending to be Democrats at the hands of many reluctant unions. The dance between unions and a political party are no different than between a hooker and a John. It becomes much more expensive when they aren’t shown a good time.