Politics

Unions: a natural Republican constituency

Unions: a natural Republican constituency

MSNBC asks “why unions are turning on ObamaCare,” and comes up with three big reasons:

The “Cadillac” tax. Obamacare includes a 40% tax on so-called “Cadillac” plans, meaning health insurance plans that cost more than $10,200 per year for individuals or $27,500 for families. Over the next few years, the price of many public employee health care plans could rise to meet that threshold, according to an article in Monday’s New York Times. The tax doesn’t kick in until 2018, but when it does, municipal governments and school districts across the country would have to foot the bill. As a result, many of them are already trying to negotiate significant employee health insurance cuts with their unions.

No subsidies for Taft-Hartley health insurance plans. About 20 million Americans are enrolled in health insurance plans known as “Taft-Hartley plans,” after the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. These plans, which are managed by both employers and employee unions, are not eligible for Obamacare subsidies. However, they will be taxed at the same rate as other insurance plans which do receive 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,” wrote the presidents of UNITE HERE, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and the Teamsters in their July letter to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California., and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The Employer Mandate’s possible unintended consequences. The employer mandate requires that any business with 50 or more “full-time equivalent” employees—defined as those employees who work an average of 30 hours or more per week—must offer health coverage to its workers. In their July letter, union leaders said this provision “creates an incentive for employers to keep employees’ work hours below 30 hours a week.”

Of course, this being MSNBC, the blow about ObamaCare’s job-killing mandates must be softened with some B.S. about how those slimy fatcat business owners are probably lying when they claim to be cutting hours because the Affordable Care Act gives them cash-money incentives to do so.  But the unions certainly don’t seem to think they’re lying.

The other thing one hears from unions, over and over again, is their fear of getting dumped into the train-wreck ObamaCare exchanges and losing health care plans they like.  Every angry letter written by union leaders to the Democrats, including open letters published in newspapers, includes an angry quote of Barack Obama’s infamous promise that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan.”  This is a particularly forceful complaint from public employee unions with terrific health care benefits… notably including the IRS employees’ union.  The people who will enforce ObamaCare against the rest of us want no part of it.

Perhaps it’s time for labor unions to realize they have become a natural Republican constituency.  I know this will be difficult for some of them to accept, since they paid a great deal of money to purchase Democrat politicians.  But you can’t help noticing the edge of growing annoyance creeping into the voices of union big shots when they demand ObamaCare waivers from their pet Democrats.  “We have a problem; you need to fix it,” growled Teamsters president James P. Hoffa in a fiery July letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

I can only wonder what Hoffa thought as His Majesty King Barack I rewrote the law to grant a priceless ObamaCare waiver to Congress, but left his faithful union supporters in the lurch.  Maybe he still thinks the King will wave his scepter and drop waivers on unions, too.  The rule of law is completely out the window, so why not?

But Obama’s health care scheme is already tottering on the brink of collapse because he can’t rope enough people, especially healthy young suckers, into paying for it.  He can’t hand those ruling-class dispensations out to everyone.  And even if the unions escape the ObamaCare exchange nightmare awaiting the rest of us, they’ve still got those “possible unintended consequences” of a depressed job market to deal with.

I’ve often been critical of what unions do, and public employee unions are an absurdity that needs to be legislated out of existence immediately, but private-sector organized labor is an extension of the right to free association.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with collective bargaining.  A union is a corporation that sells labor to other corporations.  Corporations are awesome.  If you disagree, kindly dispose of every corporate product in your home.  Intellectual honesty might compel you to move out of your home, too..

Corporations can also make mistakes.  They can go off the rails.  They can grow too large, too fast, and lose sight of their true business purpose.  The corrective to all of this is competition, with all of its ramifications.  Competition dies when government power expands.  One of the State’s major products is anti-competition, as union leaders know perfectly well, because they are major consumers of it.  Political power is the antithesis of liberty, most definitely including economic liberty.  Diminished economic liberty means fewer jobs, and that’s very bad for workers, whether they sell their own labor or work through a union.

We’re well past the tipping point into statist stagnation.  That’s why we’re now expected to celebrate 1.7 percent GDP growth as “brisk,” or applaud when a shrinking full-time workforce makes the official unemployment rate tick a bit closer to 7 percent.  An excessive diet of anti-competition has left organized labor in the position of strangling the very business enterprises they depend upon for labor.  Like the rest of us, they desperately need robust national economic growth.  They’ve been insulated from the consequences of socialist malaise a bit longer, thanks to the political influence they’ve built over the years, but there comes a point where even the first-class cabins on the Titanic no longer provide comfortable accommodations.

The future of organized labor depends on adapting to a truly free market, in which they can reach reasonable and sustainable agreements with their corporate negotiating partners.  Like any other vendor, unions should want to be surrounded by customers clamoring for their wares.  ObamaCare is a wake-up call, the first of many dismal signposts on the way into end-stage socialist collapse.  Perhaps the big union bosses will be reluctant to part with the political capital they bought from Democrats.  But private-sector union employees really should be a natural Republican constituency.  The Left has nothing further to offer them, save a few last crumbs from a dwindling command-economy pie.

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