The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), have announced that they are leaving the AFL-CIO, citing irreconcilable differences. The union cited many grievences but focused mainly on Obamacare and accused AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka of playing along to get along. They are also upset over Trumka's position on immigration reform.
In a strongly worded letter from ILWU President Robert McEllrath, in which he cited a laundry list of objections his union has with the leadership of the AFL-CIO. Foremost is Obamacare, which will force longshoreman to pay a "Cadillac Tax" on their health benefits. McEllrath accused Trumpka of going back on his promise from in 2009, when he said the union would not support a healthcare plan that would lead to more taxes from the members.
McEllrath wrote, "We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along."
"President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits."
Trumka's worries aren't over yet. The AFL-CIO also will have to contend with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other trade unions having found out that their members could end up having to buy their own insurance.
The IBEW and other trade unions have operated under a shared responsibility on their healthcare plans. The workers from the trade unions move from job to job and have used a sharing plan, whereby construction companies would pay a share of the worker's insurance, based on how long they worked for them. However, Obamacare doesn't take that into consideration.
Many of these contractors use less than 50 employees on average and therefore would be exempt from Obamacare, leaving the burden on the members themselves. Many of the 56 remaining unions under the AFL-CIO may also decide to opt out. Trumka was already facing a shrinking membership. The ILWA have 40,000 employees that will be leaving the union in one shot.
Other unions are upset that Trumka hasn't pushed for the Keystone Pipeline, which could employ up to 20,000 union members for two years.
It's too early to tell if this is a break between the unions and the democratic party or whether they just believe Trumka did not represent their members fairly.
The ILWU also disagreed with the current immigration reform that will only give a path of citizenship to what they call "highly skilled labor." Unions foresee the new legals as a rich source of new members, to help stem the tide of their losses over the past 15 years.