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Unions Respond to Obamacare Ruling with Silence

Big Labor rolls over for Obama?

5:27 PM, Sep 16, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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In a Friday night news dump, the Obama administration announced that it would not allow Obamacare subsidies to go to union members on multi-employer "Taft-Hartley" health care plans.

The statutory langugage of the Affordable Care Act clearly states that subsidies are not supposed to go to individuals who are covered by employer-provided health insurance, but union leaders have aggressively and publicly pushed the Obama administration for a special accommodation.

Union officials have expressed concerns that without the subsidies employers will drop coverage for many workers. In July, three top union leaders sent a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi warning that that Obamacare "will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class."

"On behalf of the millions of working men and women we represent and the families they support, we can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans," wrote James Hoffa of the Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of UFCW, and Donald Taylor of UNITE-HERE. 

But since the administration announced its decision Friday evening, labor leaders have been very quiet. "We're not commenting about the Affordable Care Act," David White, senior communications coordinator for the Teamsters, told THE WEEKLY STANDARD late Monday afternoon. 

Politico's Byron Tau and Jennifer Haberkorn report that the leaders of the AFL-CIO and other unions refused to comment about the administration's decision following a meeting at the White House on Friday: 

Union officials emerged from the meeting in no mood to talk to reporters after more than an hour of closed-door consultations with the president and administration officials.

“It was a good meeting,” Trumka told reporters in a short statement as he left the White House grounds. “We’re continuing to work on problem solving. You’ve got the only quote you’re going to get.”

The AFL-CIO declined to comment on the White House’s decision.

So what's going on here? In July, union leaders warned they could no longer remain silent about a law that would "destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members." Are union leaders putting partisan loyalty ahead of the health and wellbeing of their members? Or did the White House give union officials some assurances on other issues in exchange for their silence?

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