Union Watch Highlights

Here are links to the top stories available online over the past week reporting on union activity including legislation, financial impact, reform activism, etc., from California and across the USA.

L.A. County workers’ union makes some odd demands
Editorial, November 12, 2013, Los Angeles Daily News
Leaders of the union that represents half of the Los Angeles County workforce like to say they “bargain for the common good.” This sounds noble until their intentions are spelled out. They’re threatening to strike over far more than members’ pay, benefits and work rules. Service Employees International Union Local 721 wants its negotiations with L.A. County over a new contract to include union demands having to do with living-wage minimums for nonunion county contract workers and — farther afield — corporate property-tax laws. While nobody should begrudge a union its right to fight hard to secure the best possible compensation and working conditions for its members, county officials should draw the line at letting issues that affect union members only indirectly become part of labor negotiations. The county, or any place, has a venue to settle those issues. It’s called the government, and it involves duly elected officeholders setting the law after open debates involving all sides. Union activists are welcome to join such debates and bring their political power to bear; they often do, successfully. They should not get away with moving those debates to the back rooms, and making them subject to a strike threat. (read article)

AFL-CIO Wants to Add the Sierra Club?
By Michael P. Tremoglie, November 12, 2013, Main Street
The American labor union movement is in dire straits. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka admits it. So what is his solution? Revamp the movement so that it has a positive message of quality craftsmanship? Eliminate the image of union workers costing twice as much for half the work by increasing productivity? Rid itself of the notoriety of thuggery and violence? No, the AFL-CIO’s solution wants to join forces with liberal ideological groups like the Sierra Club, the NAACP and the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) – the last of which announced its official alliance September 25. The AFL-CIO is cementing its reputation as merely a political organ of the Democratic Party. This is a reason many rank-and-file members are disgusted with their union leadership and leaving in droves. The proposal has made many unhappy even though the tactic was approved by AFL-CIO convention delegates a few weeks ago. Some of the problems? Well for one, the Sierra Club is opposed to construction of the Keystone Pipeline which will create solid high paying jobs for thousands of union members. (read article)

Cornyn calls for halt to ObamaCare navigators on heels of undercover video
November 12, 2013, Fox News
Republican Sen. John Cornyn — citing Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ recent admission that felons potentially could become ObamaCare navigators as well as new undercover video showing questionable behavior by these officials — called Monday for the program to be halted. Cornyn ripped the program after conservative activist James O’Keefe released a new video that appears to depict ObamaCare navigators, in Cornyn’s home state of Texas, encouraging applicants to fib on their applications. “This behavior is unacceptable, and is yet another broken piece of a deeply flawed system. The Obama administration should stop this program immediately,” Cornyn said in a statement. “Texans should not be purposefully misled and more importantly, their privacy should not be put at risk.” The “navigators” are workers who are supposed to help people sign up for health care coverage under the new health law. Reports continue to roll in about problems with the program, after a group formed from the ruins of ACORN announced earlier this year it was getting in on the sign-up effort. The United Labor Unions Council Local 100, a New Orleans-based nonprofit, said in September it would take part in a multi-state “navigator” drive to help people enroll in President Obama’s health care plan. The labor council was established by ACORN founder Wade Rathke after his larger group was broken up amid scandal in 2009. (read article)

$15 An Hour Minimum Wage at Seattle-Tacoma Too Close to Call
By Bailey Prichett, November 12, 2013, Heartland
With a count that is too close to call, no one knows yet if there will be a new minimum wage of $15 an hour in SeaTac, Wash. As of Friday, SeaTac Proposition 1 led by a 43-vote margin. Another count is scheduled for this evening. Proposition 1 would raise the minimum wage for workers at SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) International Airport and nearby airport-related businesses such as hotels and rental car companies, giving them the highest minimum wage in the nation. The City of SeaTac surrounds the airport. On the evening of the November 5 election, Proposition 1 was ahead by eight percentage points. But every day since election night, the lead has been decreasing as ballots continue to be counted. As of today, the minimum-wage initiative leads by less than one percentage point. About 900 mailed-in ballots remain uncounted. If those ballots follow the trend of the votes mailed in this past week, the proposal will lose. (read article)

Liberal group launches web campaign targeting Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
By Jonathan Oosting, November 12, 2013, Michigan Live
Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group closely aligned with labor unions, is launching a new online campaign that will focus on Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s alleged shortcomings in the lead-up to the 2014 election. The “Snyder Fails” website and social media accounts, which went live Tuesday morning, will be frequently updated with content designed to engage Michigan residents with the governor’s “right-wing agenda,” according to Progress Michigan. “Snyder has shown over his tenure that he favors giving handouts to big business, while leaving the scraps for working families,” said Sam Inglot, a former Lansing City Pulse reporter who will serve as project director for the new campaign. “Snyder has failed Michigan as a leader.” (read article)

Advocates for Immigration Bill Are Taking a New Tack
By Laura Meckler, November 12, 2013, Wall Street Journal
Dwindling prospects for a sweeping congressional immigration bill have some supporters pivoting to a more confrontational approach, while at least one industry is looking for a backup plan if a broader deal fails. New ads from the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union take a sharper tone toward Republicans, particularly those vulnerable to Democratic challengers next year, over House inaction on immigration bills. The AFL-CIO ads, mostly running in Spanish, recite inflammatory language toward immigrants from some GOP lawmakers and urge viewers to “fight the hate.” Some farm groups are looking for a niche fix addressing their concerns if a wider deal isn’t reached. And President Barack Obama has begun speaking regularly on immigration after months of remaining quiet at the request of supporters in Congress who argued that Republicans are less likely to pass a bill that the president is pushing. Last month, Mr. Obama began a public push along with private meetings with outside groups. On Wednesday, Mr. Obama and other senior officials will meet with evangelical and other religious leaders on backing an immigration overhaul. The meeting follows a similar one last week with business leaders. The result is a transformation from a unified group of advocates to something more fractured, with some focused hard on pushing for legislation and others starting to shift to a political effort that hopes to take seats from Republicans they can try to blame if an overhaul fails. (read article)

Lawyer to court: Act 10 aims to push workers out of unions
Associate Press, November 12, 2013, Beloit Daily News
Labor attorneys pushed the state Supreme Court on Monday to strike down portions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s public union restrictions, arguing the prohibitions are designed to force school district and municipal workers to abandon their unions. The court’s decision could bring to an end one of the last unresolved legal challenges to the contentious restrictions that stripped almost all public workers of nearly all their union rights. Union supporters face an uphill fight, though, because conservative justices control the court. Lester Pines, an attorney for a Madison teachers union, pressed ahead during oral arguments Monday, telling the justices that Walker’s restrictions penalize local public workers who exercise their constitutional right to freely associate with a union. Their organizations can’t collectively bargain for anything beyond base wage increases based on inflation or automatically withdraw dues from members’ paychecks and must hold annual elections to see if their members want them to continue representing them, Pines said. The measures are designed to be so onerous that people simply quit their unions, he said. This isn’t benign,” Pines said. “These provisions are designed to make it impossible for people to exercise their associative rights.” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, appeared in person to argue for the Walker administration. He said constitutionality isn’t an issue because collective bargaining is a benefit granted through state statutes. He maintained union members are still free to associate with one another and ask their employers for higher wages and other benefits. The restrictions simply mean they can’t force their employers to listen. “It is not a constitutional violation to limit the scope of collective bargaining,” Van Hollen told the justices. (read article)

National union targets children school district by school district
By Matthew J. Brouillette, November 12, 2013, The Hill
Could you imagine teachers in California or Illinois donating to a cause that was hurting students in Philadelphia? That would come as a shock, given most public school teachers’ passion for education and fairness. Unfortunately, it’s true, with one caveat: Teachers don’t have a say in the matter. Teachers’ union dues from across the country are funding an effort to prop up Philadelphia’s failing education system. And it’s not just the Keystone State that sees government unions fighting against reforms. For decades, government unions have been using their members’ dues to finance politics in states like California and Illinois, which, not coincidentally, are both facing a severe public pension crisis. In Pennsylvania, this egregious system is being showcased front-and-center courtesy of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The AFT pools dues from teachers nationwide to fund their national political agenda. These dues are usually deducted from teachers’ paychecks using taxpayer-funded payroll systems. What’s worse, the union’s political agenda ends up hurting students by putting perks and benefits ahead of quality education. There’s no better example of this than the battle currently playing out in Philadelphia. (read article)

Key union strategy goes before Supreme Court
by E. Tammy Kim, November 12, 2013, Al Jazeera
Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, a South Florida gambling, dog-racing and hotel complex, has been around in some form since the 1930s. What started as a pari-mutuel betting track is today a Las Vegas–style destination for beachgoers, part of Florida’s booming gaming economy responsible for 2,600 jobs and nearly $382 million in spending in 2012. But Mardi Gras has made national news for something else entirely: an explosive labor dispute now before the Supreme Court. On Nov. 13, the court will hear oral argument in Unite Here Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall and Mardi Gras Gaming. It is the latest case testing the boundaries of workers’ right to organize and could be among the most significant labor-related decisions since John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the United States in 2005. At issue in Mulhall is the neutrality agreement, a contract widely used by private employers and unions to govern conduct and set ground rules for workplace unionization campaigns. About a decade ago, Mardi Gras employees began talking with Local 355 of Unite Here, a union focused on organizing hotel, casino and airport workers. Like other casino employees, they hoped that the union could help them bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Local 355’s website motto — “Lifting South Florida above the poverty line” — reflects the measured aspirations of this area’s low-wage service sector. (read article)

Boeing, Washington machinists may find compromise on 777X
By Alwyn Scott, November 12, 2013, Reuters
Boeing’s biggest union rallied against a proposed labor contract on Monday, calling the offer “destructive and divisive” and vowing to reject it at the ballot box on Wednesday. But union members risk losing years of work and thousands of jobs producing Boeing’s next jetliner, the 777X, if they spike the deal. And Boeing would be giving up a workforce trained to build the first version of the plane and factories tooled for it. So in a strange twist, analysts and industry experts said the workers could vote no and still get the work anyway, because the logic of building the jet in Washington is compelling for both sides. “I think Boeing would prefer to do it in Washington, because it’s their center of expertise,” said Cai von Rumohr, analyst at Cowen & Co in Boston. Even if the union rejects the contract, more talks and negotiating could find a deal to put the 777X in Washington. (read article)

As inequality grows, ‘union candidate’ offers attractive vision
By Mark Erlich, November 12, 2013, Boston Globe
The mayoral election post-mortems are in full swing, analyzing the voting patterns along lines of education, income, race, gender, and even an east-west geographical split. What is clear is that Mayor-elect Marty Walsh cobbled together sufficient votes from moderate and low-income residents of predominantly white wards in Dorchester and South Boston along with communities of color in Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester to overcome John Connolly’s base of support in West Roxbury, Back Bay, the South End, and downtown. In part, that was the natural affinity of each candidate’s home turf, but in many ways the outcome was the product of the efforts of Boston’s increasingly sophisticated and diverse labor movement. Walsh was labeled as the union candidate early in the race. (read article)

Obama Administration Poised to Exempt Unions From ObamaCare Tax
By Michael Tennant, November 12, 2013, New American
Labor unions, longtime supporters of the Democratic Party, have been clamoring for changes to ObamaCare for months, and now it appears that they will get at least one of their wishes: an exemption from a tax on health insurance. On October 30, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a typically wordy final rule whose even longer preamble included the following sentence: “We also intend to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the requirement to make reinsurance contributions for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years.” (read article)

For de Blasio, Contract Talks Offer Problem
By Steven Greenhouse, November 11, 2013, New York Times
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has promised all sorts of assistance to ease Bill de Blasio’s transition, but the mayor has nonetheless bequeathed one particularly thorny, potentially explosive issue to his successor: New York City’s 300,000 municipal workers are angry that their contracts expired years ago, and they are demanding more than $7 billion in retroactive pay to make up for their years without a regular raise. It could prove devilishly difficult for Mr. de Blasio — long a favorite of the city’s unions — to deliver even a small part of what labor leaders are demanding because the city faces an anticipated $2 billion deficit next year. This poses a quandary for Mr. de Blasio, fiscal experts say — if he gives billions in retroactive pay to the unions, that means he might have to cut spending on schools, the police or parks, or face a harder time financing his cherished plans for universal prekindergarten. (read article)

Unions’ ‘worker center’ strategy deserves scrutiny
By Richard Berman, November 11, 2013, Boston Business Journal
In Boston and across the country, labor leaders are trying a new approach to unionization: worker centers. Recently, these union-backed groups have initiated demonstrations at fast-food restaurants and retail stores in over 60 cities. And at its annual convention, the AFL-CIO decided to throw its weight behind these controversial organizations by officially resolving to include them in the broader labor movement. But there’s just one problem: Worker centers aren’t actually labor unions. They walk and talk like unions. They also draw their funding from unions and receive assistance from professional union organizers. But at no point are they actually treated like unions by federal law. It’s a clever legal loophole that labor leaders hope will revitalize their ailing movement. By registering with the IRS as charities rather than unions, worker centers are freed from the employee and employer protections established by the National Labor Relations Act and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, while contributions to them are tax deductible. (read article)

Union covering UC workers calls one-day strike
Senior Staff Writer, November 11, 2013, Sacramento Business Journal
The University of California’s largest union has called one-day unfair labor practice strike of UC campuses and medical centers on Nov. 20. Service and technical workers at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will be joined on the picket lines by members of the California Nurses Association. Both unions are in collective bargaining with UC. The strike stems from what AFSCME calls “a coordinated campaign of illegal intimidation, coercion and threats” against AFSCME members who participated in a two-day walkout in May. AFSCME has been in contentious contract negotiations with UC over contracts for more than 21,000 workers for more than a year. UC imposed its “final” wage offer for patient care workers in July and service workers in September. AFSCME represents about 2,900 patient care workers and 1,200 service workers at UC Davis. (read article)

Ohio’s Highest Court Holds Unions Are Not Required To Give Public Employers Advance Notice Of Informational Picketing
By Jennifer E. Edwards, November 11, 2013, Mondaq
On October 23, 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled, in Mahoning Education Association of Developmental Disabilities v. State Employment Relations Board, that unions are not required to provide public sector employers ten-day advance notice of informational picketing under Ohio Revised Code 4117.11(B)(8). Ohio R.C. 4117.11(B)(8) states that it is an unfair labor practice for a public sector employee organization to “engage in any picketing, striking, or other concerted refusal to work without giving written notice….” The Ohio Supreme Court decided that the statute applies only to picketing related to a work stoppage, strike, or other concerted refusal to work. In this case, during contract negotiations between a public employer and its employees’ union, the union picketed peacefully outside a building immediately prior to the employer’s board meeting. The union was “engaged in picketing related to the successor contract negotiations,” expressing its desire for a fair contract and displeasure with the progress of negotiations. Picket signs included messages such as “Settle Now” and “[The Union] Deserves A Fair Contract.” There was no strike or notice of intent to strike or engage in any other work stoppage. The union did not submit a ten-day notice of intent to picket to Ohio’s State Employment Relations Board (SERB) or the employer prior to picketing. (read article)

At AFL-CIO, An Immigrant’s Rise To Vice President Reflects New Opportunities, New Strategies
By Dave Jamieson, November 11, 2013, Huffington Post
The last time Tefere Gebre was employed at the AFL-CIO headquarters in D.C., in the mid 1990s, he worked out of a scrappy basement office without windows, organizing for the union federation’s college-and-youth arm. In reality, “it wasn’t even a basement,” Gebre recalled recently. It was more like a basement beneath the basement. But a few weeks ago, the 45-year-old Gebre returned to Washington to occupy an executive office on the headquarters’ eighth floor, with views of downtown. The Ethiopian immigrant is now the labor federation’s vice president, serving alongside President Richard Trumka, as the first immigrant elected as an officer in the federation’s history. To many at the AFL-CIO, Gebre is more than just a rising star in the labor world. His arrival, they suggest, represents a generational and philosophical change at the federation — one that values new progressive partnerships and non-traditional organizing, and one that its leaders hope will rejuvenate a labor movement that’s been contracting for years. (read article)

Supreme Court to Take Up Challenges to Union Practices
By Steven Greenhouse, November 10, 2013, New York Times
That strategy — widely deployed by the Service Employees International Union and the Unite Here hotel workers union — involves pressuring an employer into signing a so-called neutrality agreement in which the employer promises not to oppose a unionization drive. By some estimates, more than half of the recent successful unionization campaigns involve such agreements, which sometimes allow union organizers onto company property to talk with workers. Benjamin Sachs, a professor of labor law at Harvard Law School, said the case before the Supreme Court was potentially “the most significant labor case in a generation.” Professor Sachs said that if the court ruled against labor, it could significantly hobble efforts by private sector unions to organize workers. He added that the other big labor case the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this session could have a significant impact on public sector unions. In that case, a home-care worker has asked the court to rule that the state of Illinois violated her First Amendment rights by requiring her to pay “fair share” fees, much like dues, to a union she did not support. (read article)

Business-funded group springs up to push back on union tactics
By Andrew Doughman, November 10, 2013, Las Vegas Sun
Those guys walking into the Cosmopolitan are a bunch of “losers.” They’re as fat as “beached whales.” They’re flat-out “ugly.” That’s the type of language you can hear in videos showing Culinary Local 226 workers antagonizing tourists as they patronized the resort, which is in negotiations with the union. The multiple videos sparked dozens of stories in the media, but little has been said about the new group that sent them to the press and orchestrated the ensuing media campaign. That organization is Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs and it has vowed to become a force in Nevada politics to “stand up for the workers and small-business owners in the state.” Launched in September, the group’s crusade to get the Culinary to change its tactics is just one of several initiatives it’s undertaking. Zachary Moyle, communications director for the Alliance, said the group also will educate voters about the negative effects of a 2 percent business tax that will be on the 2014 ballot. And Dave McGowan, the group’s director, said the organization will also look at labor unions in North Las Vegas, a city mired in financial woes. (read article)

L.A. County workers union votes to authorize possible strike
By Abby Sewell, November 9, 2013, Los Angeles Times
Members of Los Angeles County’s largest employee union voted to give their leaders authority to call a strike, after months of contentious talks about wages, employee healthcare and working conditions. “If we need to go there, we’ll go there, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to negotiate this at the table,” said Blanca Gomez, a children’s social worker who is on the union’s bargaining team. The Service Employees International Union set up booths at work sites across the county to collect ballots, and tallied the results Saturday. SEIU Local 721 spokesman Lowell Goodman said the measure was approved by 95% of the “tens of thousands” of members who cast ballots, but declined to say how many of the local’s 41,493 voting members had participated. In 2000 — the last time county employees voted to authorize a strike — workers walked off job sites in an 11-day series of “rolling strikes,” before then-Cardinal Roger Mahony intervened and asked both sides to come back to the table. SEIU walked away from the bargaining table late last month, accusing the county of being unresponsive to its demands. (read article)

New York’s Michael Grimm: Labor’s Republican ally
By Maggie Haberman, November 8, 2013, Politico
He has a 44 percent AFL-CIO voting score and has slammed President Barack Obama repeatedly. A legal inquiry into his campaign finances has made headlines for months. Yet Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who came into office in the tea party wave of 2010, has remained a favorite for some segments of the union movement, boosting his prospects in a key swing district in a blue state – the kind of place where Democrats must win to have any shot at winning the House next year. But some of the individual labor groups within the AFL-CIO are free to take a position in campaigns even if the umbrella group declines to. In the case of Staten Island, some have – including the Mason Tenders District Council’s PAC is supporting Grimm. Grimm is one of the Republicans who’ve benefited from a split within labor – with buildings trades peeling off from other groups. That was the case in New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Chrisie won their support for his budgets over the past few years. (read article)

Union Neutrality Case Could Shake Up Labor Landscape
By Abigail Rubenstein, November 7, 2013, Law360
he U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case over whether federal labor law permits unions to get employers to agree to remain neutral during organizing campaigns, and attorneys say that if the court does deem such pacts unlawful, it will deprive unions of a powerful organizing strategy. The court will hear oral arguments in an appeal lodged by Unite Here Local 355 of an Eleventh Circuit ruling that Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act’s proscription against providing a union any “thing of value” may extend to an agreement where the employer agrees to remain neutral during an organizing campaign — and gives the union access to its property and workers — in exchange for the union agreeing not to put pressure on the business. The Eleventh Circuit decision revived worker Martin Mulhall’s lawsuit claiming that a neutrality agreement between Local 355 and dog track operator Mardi Gras Gaming was unlawful. Lawyers say that if the justices affirm the decision, it could lead to big changes in how unions go about trying to organize workplaces. (read article)

Unions Have a Friend in McAuliffe, de Blasio
By Bill McMorris, November 6, 2013, Washington Free Beacon
The election of pro-union Democrats to executive positions in New York and Virginia could boost the labor agenda, according to labor watchdogs. Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday 48 percent to 45.5 percent in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. McAuliffe, one of the Democratic Party’s premier fundraisers over the past two decades, outraised and outspent Cuccinelli with the help of an outpour of cash from organized labor. He received more than $2.5 million from unions as the race drew to a close, according to state campaign filings. McAuliffe tripled his union donations from his 2009 gubernatorial run. Having a Democratic governor in Richmond is a good investment for labor groups, according to Fred Wszolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute. “No one has been a better bag man for union money than Terry McAuliffe,” he said. “He’s going to bide his time, but he’ll eventually hand the keys to the capital to unions. Virginia doesn’t know what it’s getting here.” (read article)

Major Labor Union Launches Two-Week Ad Campaign In Key House Republican Districts
By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, November 6, 2013, Think Progress
On Wednesday, the largest pro-immigration labor union AFL-CIO launched a bilingual ad campaign that calls out some House Republicans for obstructing comprehensive immigration reform and resorting to anti-immigrant sentiments. The two-week, seven-figure ad purchase will run online, on Spanish media, and in nine key House Republican districts with sizable Latino populations, in order to pressure House Republicans into cosponsoring a comprehensive immigration reform bill by the end of the Congressional year. One version of the ad features disparaging anti-immigrant sentiments by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Paul Broun (R-GA), Steve King (R-IA), and Mo Brooks (R-AL). Another version of the ad features Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), King, and Brooks. A voice over indicates that constituents can blame House Republicans for blocking immigration reform and asks them to text the word “SHAME” to a number for more information. During a conference call with reporters, President Richard Trumka said that the $1 million ad campaign was “the first phase, but there might be a second and third phase… whatever it takes to get House Republicans moving.” (read article)

Election 2013’s Biggest Winner? Labor Unions
By Maya Rhodan, November 06, 20131, Time
Across the country, candidates backed by unions triumphed over their counterparts, while ballot measures broke in favor of the unions that had campaigned for them as well. “Yesterday was not only a victory for unions, but a victory for working families,” Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, tells TIME.In Toledo, Ohio, councilman D. Michael Collins defeated incumbent mayor Mike Bell, riding anger over Bell’s antiunion policies. In Boston, former labor boss Martin Walsh was endorsed by national and local labor groups and is now the mayor-elect. And in New York City, Bill de Blasio is now the first Democratic mayor after two decades of Republican reign, thanks in part to early support from the health-care-workers’ union, SEIU 1199. In Cincinnati, voters rejected a pension-reform ballot initiative, while in New Jersey and Washington State they raised the minimum wage. (read article)

Some labor unions could get break from ObamaCare fees
Associated Press, November 6, 2013, Fox News
The Obama administration appears ready to give some labor unions a break from costly fees under the new health care law, a move that drew criticism from Republicans who say it unfairly favors a key White House ally. In regulations published last week, the administration said it intends to propose rules that would exempt “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the requirement to pay the fees in 2015 and 2016. Health care experts say that could apply to some union-sponsored health plans, though it’s unclear how many. Labor officials downplayed any impact as miniscule, saying the language would not include most of their plans and doesn’t address the wider changes they have requested. Labor unions have spent months complaining the new law will drive up the costs of certain health plans that are jointly administered by unions and smaller employers. The White House has rejected a broader request that union members in those plans be eligible for federal subsidies. (read article)

 

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