Labor Unions Accuse Obama of Betrayal in Health Care Rollout

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Labor leaders who have spent months pushing for concessions under the Affordable Care Act signaled last week that the White House’s refusal to help is reducing union support for Democratic candidates in upcoming midterm elections, the Washington Post reports.


Unite Here, one of the first unions to endorse Barack Obama in 2008, and others complain that the president hasn’t kept his pledge to address the particular needs of union-negotiated insurance plans that cover millions of workers, the Post says. Donald “D.” Taylor is president of Unite Here, the union that represents about 400,000 hotel and restaurant workers and provided important support to Obama by endorsing him just after Hillary Rodham Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in 2008.

Taylor and Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, mapped out their concerns last week in a terse letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), saying they are “bitterly disappointed” in the Obama administration.

Specifically their complaints center on concern that the Affordable Care Act has subjected union health plans to new taxes and mandates, while not allowing the groups to share in the subsidies that have gone to private insurance companies competing on the newly created exchanges, the Post reports.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the union leaders’ claims, the Post writes. But a person familiar with Obama’s meeting with the union leaders said he “listened to the group’s concerns with empathy,” the Post reports, but said that the law does not allow the administration to take the steps they’ve requested.

If the unions got their way, Obama administration officials and some outside experts told the Post, members enrolled in their plans would indirectly receive two tax benefits, while most Americans only receive only one.

Read more at the Washington Post.