Critical Condition

Beware of Union-Boss Crocodile Tears During the Health-Care Debate

News stories report that union officials are opposing the Baucus version of government-run health care. However, a look at that proposal suggests that such protests are merely political theater intended to build broader support for the federal takeover of medicine.


Sure, union bosses may demand even more than the Baucus plan offers — greater costs offloaded onto the taxpayers, a more generous bailout of their underfunded union health plans, bigger numbers of health-care workers pushed into forced-dues-paying union ranks, and stiffer penalties for companies that don’t do business with organized labor. But it’s all posturing. The reality is that the bill that will actually be introduced in the Senate already contains such giveaways, and either it or the Baucus plan will be just fine with them.


Remember, the so-called “Baucus bill” is just a starting point for floor debate, a summary without any actual text. The legislation that we’re told will be offered in the Senate is the House bill. That legislation includes $10 billion to bail out bankrupt union health-care plans, massive authority for the HHS secretary to force health-care workers into union ranks, forced unionization of millions of home-health-care aides, and huge new training grants that will only be available to union-run programs.


Further, indications are that the Baucus plan will have heavy penalties for businesses that fail to provide the government-determined level of care, but it will exempt health plans that are “collectively bargained” by union officials. This effectively creates a non-union tax of many thousand dollars per worker, and it gives union bosses another tool to pressure employers to corral their employees into forced unionism.


With so many provisions of government-run health care written specifically to benefit Big Labor, are we supposed to believe that union bosses are somehow outraged at the current proposal? Make no mistake, Big Labor would be thrilled with passage of the Baucus plan, the House bill, or anything similar.


The union bosses know their opposition makes the current proposal appear more moderate, and it may lure more members of Congress into supporting the federal takeover. The union bosses are licking their chops, as Detroit-style forced unionization of the entire health-care field is within their grasp.


– Stefan Gleason is vice president of National Right to Work.