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Unions’ Misgivings on Health Law Burst Into View

New York Times (09/11/13) Steven Greenhouse; Jonathan Martin

During a phone call between the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, and President Obama last month, the union president expressed anger about the Affordable Care Act, specifically the delay of an employment mandate and the effects of ACA on existing health insurance plans. Due to Obama’s concerns about labor’s criticisms, Trumka promised he would try to soften the resolutions that several unions would push at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ convention this week in Las Vegas. However, labor leaders still criticized the president and Congress at the convention. They praised the legislation, but demanded changes to certain regulations. They asserted that by offering tax credits for workers buying insurance from for-profit and other companies in the exchange, certain employers will be placed at a disadvantage.

Trumka will meet with Obama on Friday. The loss of health care benefits has the potential to erode union membership, which is already struggling as the organizations decline. Several union presidents have expressed frustration with an administration that they have aided, but which has not aided them in return. Union leaders want unionized workers to qualify for tax credits that workers with family income less than four times the poverty line receive, to help finance their Taft-Hartley insurance plan, which covers around 20 million workers and retirees. Republicans are attempting to prevent any union accommodation on this issue.