Friday, January 15, 2010

Internat'l Pres. Calls Health Care Tax 'Deal' 'Unacceptable'

International President Warren S. George sent a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today regarding the reported health care tax "deal" arranged by labor leaders, the White House, and Congress. He told the federation president, "I must tell you that I find the 'deal' unacceptable."

George also told Trumka that the ATU "will continue to fight the excise tax because it is not good for the ATU's members or for all the working men and women in the United States."

The entire text of the letter appears below:

January 15, 2010

Dear President Trumka,

I listened intently yesterday afternoon on the conference call with the AFL-CIO Executive Council where you provided a report that outlined that purported "deal."

I have also read the numerous media reports of the "deal" reached between "labor," the White House and Congressional leaders on the excise tax in the health care reform legislation.

The ATU was not part of the labor committee that participated in the negotiations with the White House and Congressional leaders over the changes that are being made to the excise tax provision in the bill.

On behalf of the 190,000 members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, I must tell you that I find the "deal" unacceptable. From the beginning we sought health care with a public option, but that was not to be. Almost everything we sought in this bill to benefit working men and women is not there. Just this week you emphatically stated at the National Press Club,

The tax on benefits in the Senate bill pits working Americans who need health care for their families against working Americans struggling to keep health care for their families. This is a policy designed to benefit elites-in this case, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and irresponsible employers, at the expense of the broader public. It's the same tragic pattern that got us where we are today, and I can assure you the labor movement is fighting with everything we've got to win health care reform that is worthy of the support of working men and women.

I agreed with that statement. Even though the "deal" appears to show that the threshold has increased by $1000 and that state and local governments may have received multi-year exemptions, the excise tax will ultimately burden our members, and I find this totally unacceptable. Frankly, I can foresee that taxing our benefits "opens the door" to further tax burdens on the diminution of benefits for our members.

The ATU will closely analyze this deal, but rest assured that the ATU will continue to fight the excise tax because it is not good for the ATU's members or for the all working men and women in the United States.

In solidarity,

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