Portside Labor



Labor Campaign for Single Payer
November 8, 2013
Labor Campaign for Single Payer
Some unions have called for the repeal of Obamacare and a return to the status quo before its passage. We in the Labor Campaign believe that such a call would be a disaster for the labor movement. Rather, we believe that this is a moment to move forward to healthcare justice by ac- knowledging the weaknesses in the ACA while defending its gains and moving to establish a single-payer Medicare for All system that would make healthcare a right for everyone in America.

Our Briefing Paper, 10 Things Unions Need to Look Out for When Bargaining Under Obamacare has just been released. The paper examines ten threats to union-negotiated health benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It elaborates on the concerns expressed in Resolution 54 passed at this year’s AFL-CIO Convention.

While rejecting calls for an outright repeal of Obamacare as divisive and demoralizing, the paper asserts that the complex provisions of the ACA undermine the “solidarity model” of healthcare coverage embraced by unions. It argues that the ACA will ultimately replace this model with a “consumer-driven” model where each worker is on his or her own to navigate a complex, for-profit system with limited resources.

In addition, it contends that, “because it relies on employment-based coverage to provide the lion’s share of healthcare insurance while, perversely, undermining key aspects of that coverage, we have concluded that the ACA will place new stresses and pressures on collective bargaining.”

The ten threats that the paper explores are:
1. Watch Out for the “Wal-Mart Loophole.”
2. The Race to the Bottom Just Got Faster.
3. The Cadillac Tax Will Speed Up Cost Shifting.
4. No Immigrants Need Apply.
5. Non-Profit Union-Sponsored Plans Will Be Taxed to Support For-Profit Private Insurance.
6. Subsidized Exchange Plans Could Undercut Union Benefits.
7. Some Employers May Try to Leave Multi-Employer Plans to Receive a Tax Credit.
8. Retirees Will Be Pushed to the Exchanges.
9. Corporate Wellness Programs Will Expand.
10. Private Exchanges Are Coming.

The Briefing Paper expresses our unconditional support for union fights to defend and expand hard-won healthcare benefits. It also calls upon unions to use those fights as an important teaching and mobilizing moment and to connect them with the movement to win healthcare for all.

This battle for healthcare justice must be a defining issue for labor. As California School Employees Association President (and LCSP Steering Committee Member) Michael Bilbrey recently said, “Healthcare is not a privilege, but a human right. Every day thousands of our members, gainfully employed public servants, suffer because they are uninsured or underinsured. CSEA will not rest until each and every person has legitimate access to the healthcare they need to live a happy and healthy life.”

10 Things Unions Need to Look Out for When Bargaining Under Obamacare is an important contribution to the debate about how to move forward to healthcare justice. It needs to be widely circulated and discussed. You can help make that happen. Please post a link to it on your union website and your Facebook page and download copies for members of your union and other union activists and leaders in your community.

Let us know how you are using it and what you think we need to do to support this important discussion. Contact us at: [log in to unmask].


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