On Thursday, several thousand members of UNITE HERE Local 226 and 165—the Culinary and Bartenders unions—voted to authorize a strike against ten downtown Las Vegas casinos. The 99% "yes" vote comes just five weeks after the unions gave notice to terminate contract extensions. At the heart of this controversy—Obamacare.
Union chief Donald "D" Taylor, head of the national hotel workers union (Las Vegas-based general president of UNITE HERE, whose largest affiliate is Culinary Workers Union Local 226), is ‘bitterly disappointed’ with the Affordable Care Act. Taylor and Terry O’Sullivan of the Laborers’ International Union of America sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, saying their efforts to propose changes to health care regulations were being met with deaf ears in the Obama administration. After not getting the positive response they were expecting from the Obama administration, Taylor reached out to the GOP and requested a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to talk about Obamacare, reported the Review Journal earlier this year.
“It was a fairly brief meeting but it’s safe to say this is a good example of some of the president’s union constituents who were very enthusiastically for him who think Obamacare has been a disaster for them,” McConnell told reporters.
The Union leaders argue the health care law has exposed union-negotiated plans to new taxes and expensive mandates without corresponding benefits or subsidies available to companies that offer insurance to workers. Taylor and O’Sullivan contend that their problems have not been addressed at all by the administration.
“If the administration honestly thinks that these proposed rules [in the Labor Department regulations issued in December] are responsive to our concerns, they were not listening or they simply did not care,” the union leaders said. They also added “It would be a sad irony indeed if the signature legislative accomplishment for an administration committed to reducing income inequality cut living standards for middle income and low-wage workers.”
With culinary workers in Las Vegas now voting to shut down the Strip with a strike, driven by their disdain for the Obamacare law and how it is adversely affecting their jobs and families, the issue is emerging into a real problem among Democrats now.
“We want to hold the president to his word: If you like your health-care coverage, you can keep it, and that just hasn’t been the case,” Taylor told the Washington Post in a recent interview.
The Affordable Care Act has been marred in controversy since its very passage. From the questions of constitutionality with lawsuits from several states, to the infringement on religious freedoms regarding the birth control issues, to the bungled rollout of the website, to the 5million people that lost their current health insurance to the fact that Obamacare dubbed those plans as ‘subpar,’ to the extension of the deadline to enroll from December 31, 2013, to March 31, 2014, now to April 15, 2014. There have been over thirty changes made to the law, mostly unilateral changes enacted by the President and his administration—not voted on and passed by Congress—to implement the law as they see fit. Aside from all of this controversy, the Obama administration is now facing opposition from an unlikely faction—unions.