Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unions Defy President Emanuel & Criticize Senate Health Care Bill

Despite Rahm Emanuel's best arm-twisting efforts, labor unions are going public with their opposition to the crappy health care bill passed by Olympia Snowe and her Senate Finance Committee yesterday.

Criticisms that Emanuel does not want to hear include the bill's absence of a public option and its stiff fines for those who fail to sign up for health insurance. Twenty-seven labor unions defy President Emanuel today by blasting the crappy health care bill in full page newspaper ads:

The unions say in a full-page newspaper advertisement today that lawmakers need to make “substantial” changes to the bill or they will urge their members to seek its defeat on the Senate floor. Emanuel asked organized labor not to go public in opposition, said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“He told us that we really don’t want to be looked upon as the group that stopped meaningful health-care reform,” McEntee said in an interview yesterday. Among groups signing the ad, which appeared today in Washington newspapers, were the United Auto Workers, the Air Line Pilots Association, the United Steel Workers and the AFL- CIO, the world’s biggest labor federation with about 11 million members.

The ad’s headline is: “Our Bottom Line for Health Care Reform.” Calling for “good, affordable health care,” it says, “We aren’t there yet. The Senate Finance Committee bill is deeply flawed.”

The unions want Congress to create a so-called public option, a government health plan that would compete with private insurers, and to require that almost all employers provide health care or contribute to a fund subsidizing coverage. Neither provision is in the measure that the Finance Committee approved, 14-9. . .

McEntee said Emanuel called him and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on a Sunday last month and asked them not to oppose the legislation while the Finance Committee was considering it. “We didn’t talk to any senators about our opposition,” he said. Emanuel pressed labor again last week not to oppose the bill once it was approved by the committee, according to McEntee. “That was not the commitment we made,” he said.