Mar 14, 2014 - 5:02pm

Union Report Slams Obamacare

Executive Director, Labor Policy


When the title of a report goes something like this: “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse,” one might think the  report in question emanated from a group that has been critical of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, since its inception. After all, there are plenty of people (which is to say, a consistent majority) who have opposed that law since Congress rammed it through several years ago. 

But, the above-named report came not from an ideological opponent, but from one of the most prominent labor unions in the country: the 300,000-member UNITE HERE, which was the first union to endorse then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign.  It also vocally supported passage of the ACA along with many other unions, so its recent report slamming Obamacare demonstrates yet again that the President’s eponymous law has disappointed even its most ardent supporters.

As this blog has pointed out in the past (e.g., here and here), labor unions were among Obamacare’s loudest cheerleaders until relatively recently, but they are now openly venting their disdain for the ACA and its false promises.  The UNITE HERE report sums up its views nicely:  “the [ACA’s] unintended consequences will hit the average, hard-working American where it hurts: in the wallet.”  This fact has been obvious to many observers since 2010.

Outlining the implications of Obamacare, the report predicts that employers will continue to cut workers’ hours in order to avoid providing mandated coverage for full time employees. Moreover, it observes, “if employers follow the incentives in the law, they will push families onto the exchanges to buy coverage. This will force low-wage service industry employees to spend $2.00, $3.00 or even $5.00 an hour of their pay to buy similar coverage.”  Perhaps of greatest concern to UNITE HERE, the ACA threatens to ‘strangle’ competition and place union-created health care plans into a “death spiral” because participants in those plans, i.e. the union’s members, will not receive subsidies as many who buy coverage through the health exchanges will. 

The union’s president, Donald “D” Taylor, reportedly included a cover letter to Members of Congress hammering Obamacare for its adverse affect on workers at the lower tiers of the workforce.  His words speak for themselves:

The information addresses the very unfortunate irony of Obamacare. Namely, that it will inevitably lead to the destruction of the healthcare plans we were promised we could keep. And, as a result, it will lead to greater income inequality for the very segment of the population Obamacare should want to help most. …facts are facts, and Obamacare will cost our members the equivalent of a significant pay cut to keep their hard-won benefits.

Just six weeks ago, Taylor and another union president wrote a scathing letter to the Democratic leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives protesting the ACA. Now, UNITE HERE’s recent paper makes plain that the union is going to keep up the pressure.  In fact, as many as 10,000 UNITE HERE members may elect to go on strike over Obamacare according to media reports, which does not bode well for a law that would not have come into being without the strong support of labor unions.  To rephrase an infamous quote from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, bet they wish they had read the bill to find out what was in it before Congress passed it.  

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean P. Redmond
Executive Director, Labor Policy

Sean P. Redmond is Executive Director, Labor Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.