Unions Lead Way in Providing Health Benefits


It’s been stated before in this space, but it’s worth repeating – there is lots of value in a union!

The latest example was revealed this week when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics unveiled numbers showing that 94 percent of private sector union workers have access of employer-provided health care benefits as of this March, compared to only 67 percent of non-union workers.

Union members also take greater advantage of such benefits, with 76 percent of them participating, compared to 48 percent of non-union workers. That results in an up-take rate of 81 percent of union workers compared to 72 percent of non-union workers.

Health care has been at the front of the minds of the Teamsters and other unions in recent weeks, not only because of congressional-led attacks to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but also because of a provision included in the law that would punish union members with high quality health insurance plans. Commonly referred to as the Cadillac Tax, it will place a 40 percent tax on such benefits beginning in 2020 if no changes are made. This tax will only hurt working men and women who will see their premiums rise as costs are passed down the line.

“Congress should be looking for ways to strengthen the middle class instead of promoting policies that will ultimately take money from their hard-earned paychecks and reduce, and make more costly, the health care benefits they receive,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa previously said.

It is unconscionable that hard-working Americans will continue to have this draconian penalty assessed on benefits they’ve fought hard to receive, while many employers scale back their health care offerings and raise the cost to their workers without consequence. Where is the fairness in such a policy?

The availability of high-quality health care has been a top selling point for those who belong to unions. It is a benefit these workers have bargained for, and oftentimes they have sacrificed higher pay for these excellent insurance benefits. What business is it of Congress that these employees have prioritized their health care in such a way? And why would the elected representatives of the people seek to tear down such efforts by slapping such high fees on these working Americans?

Lawmakers have and will continue to debate what the future of health care looks like in this country. There are many legitimate policy considerations that need to be weighed. But unions are fighting for better health care for workers. Government shouldn’t mess with it.