Did Obamacare Prompt Grand Forks Union To Strike?

Employees of J.R. Simplot in Grand Forks have voted to go on strike and were picketing as of yesterday.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, their reasoning for going on strike were longer shifts, changing their pensions into 401k plans and…increased contributions to their health insurance plans:

The strike came shortly after an employee vote to reject the company’s contract offer, which included longer shifts and altered benefits, union officials said. The vote was 108 to 37.

The proposed 12-hour shifts — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and vice versa — would “make it extremely hard for our employees to function,” said Bill Wedebrand, business agent with Teamsters Local 120, which is the union including Simplot workers.

Other contract changes include higher deductible costs for health insurance and switching the pension retirement plan to 401(k), Wedebrand said.

One can understand employees objecting to 12 hour shifts, but the problems with defined-benefit pension plans have been well-documented. They’ve been crippling to other companies, and Simplot is probably wise to move to a defined-contribution arrangement.

But it’s ironic that a labor union is striking over increased costs for health insurance, given organized labor’s traditional support for Democrats generally and labor’s specific support for passing Obamacare.

Most Americans have had to deal with accelerating health insurance costs thanks to Obamacare. Employers, in particularly, are struggling with new mandates for coverage that are significantly increasing their labor costs.

So is it any surprise that Simplot, operating in that environment, wants to pass some of the new expenses on to their union workers?

Obamacare has made health insurance more expensive, and more bureaucratic. That’s something all Americans are going to have to live with (until changes are made). Even union workers.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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