Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Everyone But Unions Should Have Their Healthcare Taxed

CQ Politics picks up on the unions’ vehement opposition to taxing health benefits, a proposal that has been floated by members of Congress working on healthcare.

It was the unions after all who attacked Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, drumming up support based on claims that he wanted to tax their health benefits. Now unions are worried that this may come to fruition with the President they elected and are starting to experience some buyer’s remorse:

Michael Wilson, international vice president of the 1.3-million-member United Food and Commercial Workers, said union leaders told workers that 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain , R-Ariz., would tax their health benefits and that Democrat Barack Obama would not. Those workers would feel stung if the plan Obama ends up signing includes such a tax.

“That’s a message that resonated with our members, no matter what their ideology was,” Wilson said.

No union has formally moved off that position, but some have been louder than others in opposing taxation of any benefits. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Laborers International Union of North America have been particularly active in campaigning against consideration of a cap.

The idea to tax health benefits would hit unions hard since they generally have more generous insurance plans than the average private sector worker. So how do you make lemonade out of an extremely sour batch of lemons? Just exempt the unions from the tax!

[Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus] seems to have settled on capping the exclusion as a way to raise hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years while encouraging employers and insurers to contain costs. Committee members have been discussing a cap set at 10 percent above the cost of federal employees’ health benefits. An exception for benefits provided under existing union contracts is being considered as a way to limit the impact of imposing a cap.

In another example of how twisted Washington can be, not only will unions get the healthcare plan they want, but they won’t have to pay their share like everyone else.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACNewsUFCW