07.15.2013 2

Are Big Labor and Democrats on the same page?

By Rick Manning

Major fault lines have suddenly appeared in the formerly dependable Big Labor/Democratic Party coalition, and the earthquake that follows could have major future electoral ramifications.

Labor unions are one of the primary funders of Democratic and far left politics.  The hundreds of millions of dollars they contribute into the Democratic machine gives them clout that far exceeds what one would expect given unions represent fewer than seven percent of privately employed workers.

Now, private employer unions are running headlong into the realities of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and are shocked that it threatens to destroy one of their only membership recruitment selling point.

Back in the halcyon days when the promise that an employee would be able to keep his/her health insurance if they liked it, big labor unions like the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE Here loved the new health care law.

Now, four years later as the law is on the verge of being implemented, the consequences are becoming clear.  Those labor union negotiated Cadillac health insurance programs are not likely to be sustainable due to government penalties imposed upon them, and employers read the law and discovered that it no longer makes sense to employ low wage employees for more than 30 hours a week due to the resulting health care costs.

Somewhat incredibly, last week Big Labor cracked, attacking Obamacare with language that one has come to expect from Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter writing to Senator Harry Reid,

“Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

It went on to state, “We can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”

Signed by the Teamsters James Hoffa, Jr, United Food and Commercial Workers head Joseph Hanson and UNITE Here’s D. Taylor, the letter changes the politics of Obamacare and may just force the Democrat-controlled Senate to suspend implementation the law, before it dooms their close political allies.

One can imagine the political ads targeting private employee union members attacking Democrat opposition to Obamacare changes using the very accusations levied by these Big Labor leaders.

This fissure comes on top of the already tense relationship between the Obama Administration and labor unions which try to build or mine due to the undue influence of environmental extremists throughout the Administration, who are charged with carrying out Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuels.

The four year delay in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline has drawn the ire of various construction unions with a leader of the Laborers International Union of North America testifying before Congress that,

“For many members of the Laborers, this project is not just a pipeline; it is in fact, a life line. The construction sector has been particularly hit hard by the economic recession. The unemployment rate in the construction industry reached over 27 percent in 2010, and joblessness in construction remains far higher than any industry or sector, with over 1 million construction workers currently unemployed in the United States. Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them.”

In the 2012 elections, the United Mine Workers refused to endorse Obama’s re-election bid due to his Administrations regulatory attack on coal and mining as a whole.

Now that Big Labor has discovered that not only does Obama’s environmental policy kill their jobs, but his health care law destroys their member’s health care coverage, it is not a question of if, but when, the private sector unions stop funding the politicians on the left.

Rick Manning is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.  You can follow Rick on twitter @rmanning957.

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