Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Health care legislation is full of “goodies” for unions

The Houston Chronicle ran an opinion piece by a local lawyer yesterday outlining “lots of goodies tucked away in the health care bill“  (as the title reads) for labor unions. Before the rundown of the list of things that labor stands to gain from the bill, it’s important to have the end goal front and center, according to the peice:

These features all encourage more unionization. The unions know that under Canada’s nationalized system, union membership among all health care workers is 61 percent, compared to just 11 percent in the U.S.  Increasing membership similarly in this country would swell labor’s coffers with as much as another $2 billion in dues.

Here are some of labor’s “goodies,” explained:

One provision epitomizes the nature of this ploy. According to research firms, unions are woefully short of funds to pay their retirees’ anticipated insurance claims. Thus, under the House resolution, union leaders who have mismanaged these plans for their members could receive up to $10 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout money, innocuously referred to as a “reinsurance program.”

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Under the proposed public option, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius would wield tremendous discretionary authority to regulate participating health care workers. She and various federal panels, where the unions would have guaranteed seats, would take the lead in recommending health care policy. Thus, labor would have considerable influence over decisions affecting most doctors, nurses and patients.

The House resolution establishes a scenario that would effectively exclude non-union employers from eligibility to work on program-funded contracts. It also requires participating health care providers to pay wages and benefits that have been collectively bargained or that union-friendly appointees determine are competitive. This is plainly a move toward coerced unionization. With guaranteed seats at the table, unions are poised to control many newly formed oversight posts and/or committees, formed in connection with new employer mandates and cooperative health care associations.

Yet another provision would establish lucrative state training partnerships that contain little or no opportunities for non-union employee organizations. Provisions in Senate proposals would exempt union-negotiated health care plans from taxes on “Cadillac” health plans.

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