The letter continues by citing the concerns they have voiced to the White House since the ACA was enacted laments that were unheeded. Yet the union bosses are angered by the fact that businesses have been allowed to delay the deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.
They also note that employers have an incentive to keep workers' hours below 30 hours a week. Because of this, not only are union members losing their pay, but they are also losing their current health benefits. Furthermore, many union health insurance plans are non-profit and governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act. But the Obama administration is interpreting the ACA so that union members will be treated differently "and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens," the union bosses claim. As such, they argue, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.
The union leaders are getting increasingly urgent: "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."
The Teamsters, UFCW or UNITE-HERE were all contacted but declined comment.
One union that did comment when asked was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Spokesperson Jim Spellane said that his union is focusing on the provision of the ACA that concerns Multiple Employer Health Plans, which affects his members.
"The act needs to be fixed to take into account the unique nature of Multi- employer Health Plans," said Spellane. "There are a couple of provisions that concern these and with 65 million people covered by them we think they should be fixed. We were told they would be addressed. But they have not as of yet. We them corrected before the provisions of the ACA regarding them kick in. We want the correction process to begin with more urgency."
Another union, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International, has gone so far as to ask for repeal of the ACA. Citing the loss of benefits to members and the deleterious effect the ACA will have for the industry and Multi-employer Health Plans, Roofers' president, Kinsey M. Robinson, said in a transmission in April that his union is tired of waiting.
"Our Union and its members have supported President Obama and his Administration for both of his terms in office," Robinson announced. "But regrettably, our concerns over certain provisions in the ACA have not been addressed, or in some instances, totally ignored. In the rush to achieve its passage, many of the Act's provisions were not fully conceived, resulting in unintended consequences that are inconsistent with the promise that those who were satisfied with their employer sponsored coverage could keep it."
He observed that those conditions "jeopardize our multi-employer health plans, have the potential to cause a loss of work for our members, create an unfair bidding advantage for those contractors who do not provide health coverage to their workers, and in the worst case, may cause our members and their families to lose the benefits they currently enjoy as participants in multi-employer health plans."
He further noted that for "decades, our multi-employer health and welfare plans have provided the necessary medical coverage for our members and their families to protect them in times of illness and medical needs." This collaboration between labor and management has been a model of success that "should be emulated rather than ignored." These are now being jeopardized by the Obama administration.
Robinson said he will not be silent and refuses to "idly watch as the ACA destroys those protections."
--Written by Michael P. Tremoglie