In last year’s blog, The Devil is in the Details: Buyer’s Remorse over Obamacare, Except for SEIU, Big Labor’s dissatisfaction with Obamacare was exposed. The exception being the SEIU, who was allowed to be the architect of the Affordable Care Act as repayment for its role in the President’s 2008 Election. There has been little written about labor union’s dissatisfaction with Obamacare. Big Labor, however, has not been vocal or shown visible support of Obamacare, especially during this time when the President has proclaimed the program’s success. This success has been attributed to 8 million people having signed up — despite the fact approximately 6 million people lost their private health care and that same 8 million is no where close to the 30 million uninsured Obamacare was supposed to cover.
It now appears many of the Big Labor bosses are experiencing buyer’s remorse! As Obamacare becomes a reality, many of the unions are demanding government subsidies to remain competitive at a time when membership is at a historical low. Only 11.3% of the total workforce and 6.3% of the private sector work force are unionized. Apparently most Big Labor bosses forgot the basic fundamental premise “Caveat Emptor” – meaning “let the buyer beware” – when supporting the President’s re-election campaign and backing his signature law, Obamacare (see Some Unions Grow Wary of Health Law They Backed). Evidently those astute business people bought in to Nancy Pelosi’s famous quote, “We must pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it!” Well, that is true for most Big Labor bosses, except for those at the SEIU.
Recently big labor bosses have received a new wake up call, as those collective bargaining contracts signed before Obamacare was put into law are now expiring, and they are facing a new hurdle of deciding whether to negotiate increased health care costs due to Obamacare mandates such as dependent children must be kept on their parents health insurance until age 26 as well as increased future costs for premium plans and other mandates as chronicled in Unions, employers square off over ObamaCare costs, or to continue to press for employee wage increases as they have traditionally done. Unions, including the SEIU, representing housekeepers, transit workers, flight attendants and more are waking up to the fact that their buddy in the White House steamrolled them, just as he has in his support of climate change and rejection of the keystone pipeline (as chronicled in Obama and NLRB Continue to Cost Union Jobs).
Ironically, the SEIU was the President’s major supporter for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2008. In fact, Andy Stern, then President of the SEIU, made it very clear that the SEIU would not support any candidate that would not make universal health care its primary objective during the first term of office. Then Presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama, leapt on board, knowing full well he not only needed the financial support of the largest union in the country, but also its vaunted ground game! Although his campaign was supported by the other unions, all of which also supported universal health care, the devil was in the details. When the SEIU saw an opportunity, they took it.
The difference between the SEIU and the other major players now wary of Obamacare, unions such as the Teamsters, AFL-CIO, Unite Here, The Sheet Metal Workers International, International Union of Operating Engineers and others, is that the SEIU represents a majority of unionized workers in the U.S. health care industry! The SEIU not only represents nurses, orderlies and other medical personnel at healthcare facilities, but also other important and necessary support positions at these facilities such as janitors, security personnel and food service workers. Additionally, the SEIU represents home health care workers and health insurance employees in many states (see Is Obamacare Redistributing Wealth to Big Labor?).
Universal health care was envisioned as a veritable jackpot by the SEIU as the positions mentioned previously would expand exponentially with the projected 30 million new Americans on health care, and to date, are looking at a net increase of approximately 2 million. This would have served as a means to substantially increase the SEIU’s membership and subsequent revenues from dues in a relatively short period of time. What a let down for the SEIU! Of course that bonanza also meant increased political donations and ground game foot soldiers for the President and the Democratic Party.
Incidentally, it is common knowledge that very rarely were people turned down care at emergency facilities and that Medicaid was already available for those in need, obviously one of the major reasons Medicaid was insolvent. Don’t misunderstand; it is important that affordable health care be available to all Americans who wish to be covered. However, available coverage for all could have been achieved through allowing freedom of choice, and not a mandate. As for affordability, we could have accomplished this feat by removing barriers to the free market, utilizing ideas to eliminate restrictions on competition across state lines, developing legislation for tort reform and producing meaningful modifications to the immigration laws. Unfortunately, this common sense style approach does not work for the President, liberal democrats or unions like the SEIU, who all depend upon each other for survival.
Don’t be surprised if the President and his Administration don’t reverse field in an attempt to find a way to placate the currently disenfranchised big labor bosses before the 2014 Mid Term Elections, where maintaining a majority in the Senate is imperative to both the Administration and the big labor bosses. After all, it is vital that they keep the circular money pump in motion in order to stay in power and avoid extinction, no matter the expense to the American people, including rank and file union members.
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David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.