Labor official pushes AFL-CIO for firmer rebuke of ObamaCare

LOS ANGELES — A top labor official is pushing the AFL-CIO to ratchet up its criticism of ObamaCare at its annual convention.

Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), on Tuesday said a draft resolution that bashes the healthcare law doesn’t go far enough.

O’Sullivan and LIUNA have raised concerns about the healthcare law and its effect on union plans, and have been pushing to debate the law out in the open. The union president said he hasn’t decided whether he will support the resolution, though he plans to speak about it from the convention floor on Wednesday.

“I think it's a very well-thought-out resolution. I don't believe it goes far enough,” O’Sullivan said.

The LIUNA chief made waves in Los Angeles this week by saying that if the Obama administration cannot fix the law to answer labor’s concerns, it should be repealed.

“We are supportive of fixing parts of ObamaCare, and our primary objective is to change it. But if it can't be changed, then it needs to be repealed,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan said he was also planning a floor speech on the resolution.

“I'm not counting votes on it. Will I go to the floor and talk on it? Yes,” O’Sullivan said.

The draft resolution concerning ObamaCare doesn’t include the word “repeal” in its text. Instead, it states, as The Hill reported earlier Tuesday, that “the ACA should be administered in a manner that preserves the high-quality health coverage multiemployer plans have provided to union families for decades and if this is not possible, we will demand the ACA be amended by Congress.”

The Building Trades and Construction Department submitted the draft resolution to be considered by the AFL-CIO Executive Council. The measure has since moved out of the AFL-CIO Resolutions Committee on Monday, and was forwarded over to the executive council with the recommendation that it be brought to the convention floor.

The council is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning, with union officials expecting the measure will be debated and voted on the floor that day.

Despite his concerns, the LIUNA leader said, “I believe [the draft resolution] will pass. … When it goes to the floor, assuming it goes to the floor tomorrow, that is going to have some pretty strong support.”

Asked if he opposed the draft resolution, O’Sullivan said, “Undecided at this point.”

The union chief said he was considering offering an amendment to the measure but had to talk with other officials about it.

“I have got to talk my friends in the labor movement and see where they are at. I'm going to say what I'm going to say, and I'm going to say it doesn't go far enough,” O’Sullivan said.

The draft resolution has been the subject of intense internal debate within the labor federation.

Unions have lobbied the White House to provide an ObamaCare fix and have grown frustrated as they have seen other interests, such as business groups as well as congressional staff and lawmakers, see action from the administration.

Administration officials have pledged to work with unions over the past year and say they will try to find a solution.

Angst over ObamaCare from unions — political backers of President Obama — has given ammunition to Republicans to attack the law, which several in labor still say has many positive aspects.

But several unions, especially in the construction and building trades, are worried about the law’s impact on union members’ health plans, known as multiemployer or Taft-Hartley plans.

“My sensitivity is to only one group of individuals and that's the men and women I represent. And the one thing that's not acceptable at the end of the day is our members losing health insurance and our health and welfare funds going out of business because of ObamaCare. That's not an acceptable income,” O’Sullivan said.

“We don't want it repealed. We want it fixed, but not fixing it and our members losing health insurance is not an acceptable option.”