The WSJ Reports That Union Leaders Are Souring on Obamacare

Members of trade unions join Occupy Wall Street protesters as they rally in Foley Square, New York, Oct. 5, 2011. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Imagine the following scene:

A handful of union bosses crowd around an old card table, punching numbers into their calculators. They’ve been up all night. Someone puts on another pot of coffee and a few of the older bosses are starting to fall asleep. Those who are still alert and active scratch their heads and re-enter their calculations.

“Oh, my gosh!” one of them shouts, concluding the all-night exercise. “‘Obamacare’ is going to cost us!”

Yes, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, union leaders (i.e. the same people who campaigned tirelessly in favor of universal healthcare) are trying to figure out a way to avoid paying for the costs associated with “Obamacare.”

From the WSJ:

Labor unions enthusiastically backed the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul when it was up for debate. Now that the law is rolling out, some are turning sour.

Union leaders say many of the law’s requirements will drive up the costs for their health-care plans and make unionized workers less competitive. Among other things, the law eliminates the caps on medical benefits and prescription drugs used as cost-containment measures in many health-care plans. It also allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.

To offset that, the nation’s largest labor groups want their lower-paid members to be able to get federal insurance subsidies while remaining on their plans. In the law, these subsidies were designed only for low-income workers without employer coverage as a way to help them buy private insurance.

In early talks, the Obama administration dismissed the idea of applying the subsidies to people in union-sponsored plans, according to officials from the trade group, the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, that represents these insurance plans.

As financial reality sets in, and rather than figure out a way to pay for the bill they helped pass, unions are trying to see if Washington will bail them out.

“Top officers at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and other large labor groups plan to keep pressing the Obama administration to expand the federal subsidies,” the WSJ notes, “warning that unionized employers may otherwise drop coverage.”

“A handful of unions say they already have examined whether it makes sense to shift workers off their current plans and onto private coverage subsidized by the government. But dropping insurance altogether would undermine a central point of joining a union, labor leaders say,” the report adds.

No, really, union heads are acting like no one warned them that costs would go up.

“We are going back to the administration to say that this is not acceptable,” said Ken Hall, general secretary-treasurer for the Teamsters.

“I heard him say, ‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it,’” said John Wilhelm, chairman of Unite Here Health, the insurance plan for 260,000 union workers. “If I’m wrong, and the president does not intend to keep his word, I would have severe second thoughts about the law.”

Why? Why? Why didn’t anyone tell these leaders about the costs associated with “Obamacare”?

“It seems someone finally noticed that mandating benefits and imposing regulations has a tendency to … increase costs,” Doug Bandow writes for the American Spectator. “Increases which workers are stuck paying. Who would have imagined such a result?  It’s not like anyone warned them, right?”

Click here to read the WSJ’s full report.

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