Trumka Admits Unions Involved in Writing Obamacare; Press Yawns

In a Thursday morning speech, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka told of how surprised how he was, in the words of Time's Alex Rogers at it Swampland blog, "that employers have reduced workers’ hours below 30-a-week to avoid an employer penalty scheduled to go into effect in 2015."

Here's another "surprise" from Rogers' report, at least for those who think that lawmakers sit alone and draw up 2,000-page pieces of legislation on their own (except when the media relays claims by the left that evil industries write laws which evil Republican congressmen simply rubber-stamp them): Trumka admitted organized labor's direct involvement in in writing Obamacare. In other words, labor created the mess it is now denouncing (bolds are mine throughout this post):


Labor Leader Admits ObamaCare Woes

The head of the nation’s largest federation of unions admitted “we made some mistakes” in writing ObamaCare Thursday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in downtown DC. The head of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, said he was surprised that employers have reduced workers’ hours below 30-a-week to avoid an employer penalty scheduled to go into effect in 2015.

“That is obviously something that no one intended. No one intended the act to result in people working fewer hours just so they [employers] don’t have to pay for healthcare,” said Trumka. “So that’s something that needs to be addressed. Is that an issue? Yeah that’s an issue.”

Local governments, movie theater chains, and fast-food restaurants have announced cut backs in hours due to ObamaCare. Last week, Reuters reported that an effort to reduce hours “might have helped push the average work week down to a six-month low in July.” Yet some, like the Washington Post‘s Sarah Kliff, have noted that the vast majority of large employers haven’t dodged the requirement.

When asked if he would accept a change in ObamaCare’s definition of full-time work, as some legislators have suggested, Trumka responded, “Of course we would,” but didn’t elaborate on what the change would be.

As to the claim by WaPo's Kliff cited by Rogers that "the vast majority of large employers haven’t dodged the requirement," three points.

First, limiting employment to under 30 hours isn't "dodging the requirement." It's reacting to the law containing the requirement. In many cases, the reaction is necessary for the companies involved to stay in business.

Second, many employers who are cutting hours aren't going to publicly admit doing so. In mid-August, NBC News claimed that  was because they "fear the public will view them as stingy or uncaring about their workers." I doubt that. I believe it's more out of fear of becoming the latest target of leftist protests, boycott threats and intimidation, something which several companies experienced earlier this year. The larger and more visible your company is, the more likely it is that you'll try to do what you have to do quietly.

Third, net hiring for 2013 so far consists of 222,000 full-timers and 731,000 part-timers, leading to the following overall result in comparison to previous years:

OcareMovingToPartTimeNation0813

This doesn't happen unless companies large and small across the board are at a very minimum frequently choosing to replace full-timers who leave or retire with part-timers.

As to Trumka's disinterest in elaborating on how to "fix" Obamacare, Rush LImbaugh had this to say on Friday:

Don't you understand how most businesses are themselves one version of paycheck to paycheck? They're just one Democrat regulation from going bankrupt. They're just one Democrat tax increase from going out of business. Who do you think they are? "Oh, we had no idea! Sorry, we didn't intend this. We didn't anticipate this consequence." Let me tell you something, Richard. You bought it, you broke it, you own it. I don't have any sympathy here.

... You really think changing the definition is the answer? This is the way they think. Okay, let's take what happened. Obamacare says that you do not have to provide insurance or pay a penalty for anybody working fewer than 30 hours a week, so businesses have converted full-timers to part-timers working less than 30 hours. So what Trumka's saying here is, "Well, let's now just say 25 hours is full time, and let's fix it that way!"

It's not specifically what he's saying, but when he's "asked if he would accept a change in Obamacare's definition of full time," all that means is: Let's change definition of full time so that under 30 hours means you have to pay the penalty or cover 'em.

Another thing labor and the left seems not to have expected is that the demonization of businesses attempting to stay in business in reaction to Obamacare, after the initial partially successful efforts earlier this year, seems not to have a lot of potential as a tactic. The American people, even workers affected, are for the most able to put themselves in their employers' shoes and understand that they don't have a duty to run their businesses for free in the name of healthcare purity.

A statement by an industry spokesman that “we made some mistakes” in writing, say, an energy bill, would doubtlessly get far more play than Trumka's admission of organized labor's direct involvement, which has gone virtually unnoticed.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.