Where Are The Labor Unions For the 2014 Midterms?

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Oct 14, 2014 11:30 AM
Where Are The Labor Unions For the 2014 Midterms?

It isn't just Democrat voters who are uninterested in heading to the polls in November. There is one major political group missing from the 2014 midterm election conversation: labor unions. 

Labor leaders shamelessly helped re-elected President Obama in 2012, but after broken promises on job creation and the destruction of worker healthcare plans, they've taken a major step back from their traditional role of putting or keeping Democrats in office this fall. More from the Washington Times

Labor unions, long a rich source of ground troops for national Democrats’ Election Day victories, are less enthusiastic this year, according to some movement leaders who say they are more focused on state-level races and feel left behind by the party on key issues such as Obamacare.

While public sector unions remain almost universally supportive of congressional Democrats, more traditional labor unions in key industries and key states express frustration with the party or say they haven’t been given a reason to get as deeply involved in the midterm elections.

“A lot of it is midterms — there’s nothing exciting on the ballot here,” he said. “But I think a lot of it is the state Democratic Party [messed] up. In my personal opinion, the choices they made for the top of the tickets — wow. Did they vet any of these people beforehand or what?”

Last year Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, UFCW President Joseph Hansen and UNITE-HERE President D. Taylor
sent a letter to President Obama demanding Obamacare be changed and warned the legislation is destroying the 40 hour American work week. The labor leaders also expressed buyers remorse and reminded Democrats of their loyalty, which is now wavering. 

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA 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.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.

The very complaints union leaders have brought to the table now about Obamacare are the same warnings conservatives and businesses gave before the legislation was signed into law in 2010. Despite all of the disappointment and lack of results, labor isn't throwing its weight behind Republicans and there's no doubt AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka still enjoys his cushy relationship with President Obama. Regardless,  it's a step in the right direction.