Longshoremen Union Leaves AFL-CIO for Supporting ObamaCare

By:  Brian Koenig
Longshoremen Union Leaves AFL-CIO for Supporting ObamaCare

Citing ObamaCare and immigration reform, the 40,000-strong International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has ended its affiliation with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), one of the largest private-sector unions in the United States.

The move comes only days before the ILWU will hold its national convention in Los Angeles, the largest U.S. port and a stronghold for the federation. Representing dock workers in Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, and states along the West Coast, the ILWU has recently been involved in turf wars with other unions where jurisdictional battles have resulted in rival unions crossing ILWU picket lines.

In a recent letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath laid out a number of reasons for their departure from the large union federation, but among one of the more notable grievances was the AFL-CIO’s continued support for ObamaCare. The letter reads, in part:

The ILWU has also become increasingly frustrated with the Federation’s moderate, overly compromising policy positions on such important matters as immigration, labor law reform, health care reform, and international labor issues. We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along.

ILWU committeeman Leal Sundet charged that the AFL-CIO is “in lockstep with Obama,” as the union seeks “to organize these big conventions, and rally to pat themselves on the back, doing nothing to promote the working-class.”

McEllrath added that the Longshoremen union is particularly upset with the AFL-CIO for supporting the law’s tax on “Cadillac” health plans, as the provision will impose a 40-percent excise tax on premiums above a specific threshold ($10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage).

“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,” McEllrath continued in the letter. “Yet the Federation later lobbied affiliates to support a bill that taxed our health care plans.”

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