FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Labor Leaders, Obamacare, and the Fate of the Unions

by SHAMUS COOKE

A funny thing happened a couple of months ago: labor leaders finally awoke from their coma and realized that Obamacare was not only bad for unions, but for working families in general.

Once the biggest salespeople of the bill’s passage, union leaders are suddenly full of rage and “shock” at the realities of Obamacare.

The first sign of brain activity happened in July, when a trio of national labor leaders sent a letter to President Obama, saying that “[Obamacare] will shatter not only our [unions] hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

Perhaps they should have read the bill first? Instead of trying to convince their members and the rest of the country how great it was.

But labor leaders aren’t accepting blame for their role in selling snake oil to the American public. Instead they are blaming the “implementation” of Obamacare, not its essence. For example, the recent AFL-CIO conventionended with a resolution that critiqued Obamacare’s implementation, saying that the bill “doesn’t live up to its promises.”

But the AFL-CIO knows better. Many writers — including this one — sounded the alarm bells about Obamacare four years ago, but as the bill’s passage seemed precarious — since many working people hated it — organized labor doubled down for Obamacare, since they had “their” President to re-elect in 2012. Obamacare eventually passed — thanks to organized labor — and unions vigorously celebrated their own undoing.

Unions pressed ahead with Obamacare even after the Congressional Budget Office predicted that as many as 20 million people could be victimized by having their employer-based health care dropped, since these people would now be “mandated” to buy health care as individuals.

Of course, if companies were incentivized by Obamacare to save money on labor costs, they were going to do it.

“But now!”, shriek labor leaders, “Obamacare is incentivizing employers to switch to part time employment! This is an unintended consequence!”

Not true. In 2009 mainstream media outlets were talking about this openly too.

Labor leaders are faking outrage now because their members are being directly affected, as are millions of others, all of whom have every right to blame labor leaders for this “nightmare scenario.”

Obamacare is perhaps the most blatant example of the complete incompetency of many U.S. labor leaders, who’ve tied the fate of organized labor to the Democratic Party, with disastrous results.

As the jobs crisis grinds on and wages and benefits are being attacked across the board, this “strategy” of labor leaders has proven be an utter failure. Union leaders have remained silent as the Democrats have attacked teachers, public employees, and implemented austerity measures on a state and federal level that shift the cost of the recession on working people.

The corporate and government assault on working people is quickly shifting the landscape under the feet of working people in the U.S., and instead of devising a strategy to fight back labor leaders are focused on “helping” Democrats in the incredibly naive hope that the Democrats will eventually do “something” for organized labor.

Any organization with leaders that have no vision and zero strategy should consider selecting a new leadership. Organized labor is in the fight of its life, and the Obamacare disaster will be repeated unless union members elect new leaders willing to wage a serious, massive, nationwide independent fightback.   

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker and an elected officer of SEIU 503. He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

More articles by:

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 20, 2017
Sebastian Friedrich – Gabriel Kuhn
A New Class Politics
Patrick Cockburn
The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead
Paul Street
The Abandonment: Reflections on James Foreman’s “Locking Up Our Own”
Kim Codella
A Practical Education
Frank Scott
America’s Trump, Not Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Clancy Sigal Goes Away
Don Monkerud
The Real Treason in DC: Turning Our Lives Over to Corporate
Brian Dew – Dean Baker
Are Amazon’s Shareholders Suckers?
Ralph Nader
Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Covering Islam, Post-Jack Shaheen
Binoy Kampmark
Uhlmann’s Trump Problem
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone
Barry Lando
Those Secret Putin-Trump Talks
Sean Marquis
Thank You, Donald Trump
July 19, 2017
Adam Ziemkowski and Rebekah Liebermann
How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich
Patrick Cockburn
Why ISIS Fighters are Being Thrown Off Buildings in Mosul
John W. Whitehead
Zombies R Us: the Walking Dead of the American Police State
Mateo Pimentel
Net Neutrality’s Missing Persons
Adil E. Shamoo - Bonnie Bricker
Yemen Policy is Creating More Terrorists
L. Ali Khan
U.S. Misreads Pakistan’s Antifragility
David Macaray
Fear and Trembling in the Workplace
Brian Trautman, Gerry Condon and Samantha Ferguson
Veterans Call on U.S. to Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
Ricardo Vaz
Venezuelan Opposition “Consultation”: Playing Alone and Losing
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Cold-Hearted Agenda is Immoral
Raul Castro
We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People
July 18, 2017
James Bovard
Obama’s AWOL Anti-War Protesters
Gary Leupp
CNN: “Russia is an Adversary, Ukraine is Not.”
Ryan Shah
Beware the Radical Center
John Carroll Md
Cold Hands Don’t Need Narcotics
Derrick Jensen
Endangered Species Don’t Need an Ark – They Need a Living Planet!
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Canadian Conjucture
Arturo Lopez-Levy
Trump’s Cuba Restrictions: a Detour, Not the Future
Russell Mokhiber
State Street Bentley University Business Ethics and Corporate Crime
Laura Finley
Being Too Much
Robert J. Gould
What is Our Experience of our Flawed Democracy?
Taju Tijani
The Burden of Indivisible Nigeria
Guillaume Pitron
China Now Leads in Renewables
Ted Rall
How I Learned Courts are Off-Limits to the 99 Percent
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
July 17, 2017
Gregory Wilpert
Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Embrace of the Saudi Crown Prince, and a Qatar Nightmare Scenario
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Liu Xiaobo: the West’s Model Chinese
Terry Simons
Why I Did Not Go to Vietnam
Jim Green
Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail