The first labor union to endorse President Obama over Hilary Clinton in 2008 is now aggressively turning against the Affordable Care Act. Unite Here, a union with 400,000 members mostly in the hospitality industry, posted a new report to its website arguing that Obamacare will promote income inequality. At the heart of Unite Here’s case is a complaint unions have lodged against the ACA from the beginning. Many unions offer their members what are called “Taft-Hartley” plans. Labor leaders at Unite Here and other unions believe that the ACA’s requirements—for example, the requirement for all plans to cover a set list of “essential benefits”—will raise the costs of Taft-Hartley plans. At the same time these plans are ineligible for federal subsidies. Unions want either the subsidies to be extended or the regulations changed, but the administration has supported neither of these.But Unite Here’s new report goes far past this initial complaint to issue a broader condemnation of the law. The arguments and rhetoric in it sound exactly like the arguments and rhetoric offered by conservative critics of the law. A taste:
Yet polling commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association found that nearly a third of U.S. franchise businesses have already cut workers’ hours, and more than a quarter of franchisers have replaced full time with part time workers. A majority of businesses close to the 50-worker employer mandate threshold said they planned personnel moves to stay below 50 full time workers.
The report may be an attempt to mobilize a broader constituency for the union’s initially narrow concern, but even if so it’s a bombshell. Apparently this report is just the start of a sustained campaign against the law. The GOP and a growing number of unions are now committed to significantly changing or repealing the ACA. What group will join the opposition next?