Private Unions: Open for GOP Candidate in 2016?


A fissure erupting between private and pubic labor unions may pave the way for a GOP presidential candidate in 2016. On two significant issues, the differences between the private unions and Barack Obama have become public; the Keystone XL Pipeline and Obamacare’s tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans.

Despite the fact that Obama has said, “We should do everything we can to strengthen unions in this country,” James Sherk, a labor policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News that government employee unions want “bigger and more expensive government,” but private unions balk at that idea.

Sherk added, “The president’s insistence on vetoing this pipeline is directly taking away income from these union members, and they, understandably, don’t like it.” Sherk’s appraisal was supported by a statement from Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, who said, “We urge the president of the United States to put our men and women back to work across the length of this pipeline as soon as possible. We urge the president to sign the bill.”

The dispute over the tax on “Cadillac health insurance plans,” which unions have used to recruit new members, has been ongoing since 2013. That year, three major union leaders, including James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, jointly wrote a scathing letter to Obama that stated:

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision. Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it.