Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Jimmy Hoffa and SEC. 164

If you were flipping through the Washington Post this week and caught a glimpse of the union-driven ads against health care, you should have noticed a name missing from the signatories—President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa.

Many unions have pushed back on the health care bill because of the missing public option; others are upset because of the Cadillac tax on many union health plans.  But Jimmy Hoffa still supports the plan. Despite no public option, and crippling taxes, he supports the health care reform plan. And not just any plan—the House version.

Why? Because if the bill fails, frankly, more than any other union, the Teamsters have the most to lose.

The health care bill bails out failing union pension funds to the tune of $10 billion, and the Teamsters pension funds are some of the worst of the worst, crippled by masses of closed trucking companies no longer contributing to the fund. Unions had something to do with this. Jimmy Hoffa wrote a pleading piece in The Detroit News on Wednesday bemoaning the “crisis in retirement security.”  He says that critics “will complain about bailouts for unions.”

Damn right.

I can’t imagine why—when union pension funds perpetually under perform, and tax payers would pay the price.

The specific part of the bill [H.R.3200 – America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009] that bails out the Teamsters pension fund is under Title 1:[Protections and Standards for qualified health benefits], Subtitle B [Standards Guaranteeing Affordable Coverage]—SEC. 164. Reinsurance Program for Retirees. You can read it here on OpenCongress.

Have fun. It’s light reading. Here are some excerpts:

For funding percentages on the failing pension plans:

(2) PROGRAM PAYMENTS AND LIMIT- If the Secretary determines that a participating employment-based plan has submitted a valid claim under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall reimburse such plan for 80 percent of that portion of the costs attributable to such claim that exceeds $15,000, but is less than $90,000. Such amounts shall be adjusted each year based on the percentage increase in the medical care component of the Consumer Price Index (rounded to the nearest multiple of $1,000) for the year involved.

Total funding:

(B) FUNDING- There are hereby appropriated to the Trust Fund, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, an amount requested by the Secretary as necessary to carry out this section, except that the total of all such amounts requested shall not exceed $10,000,000,000.

The subhead of the health care bill is:

To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

Jimmy Hoffa weeps for these “other purposes.”

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACEntitlements CrisisNewsTeamsters