Longshoremen Quit AFL-CIO, Cite Obamacare

Image: Longshoremen Quit AFL-CIO, Cite Obamacare

Tuesday, 03 Sep 2013 07:18 AM

By Greg Richter

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The 40,000-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union has dropped its ties to the AFL-CIO in a letter that partly blames compromises over Obamacare.

The letter from ILWU president Robert McEllrath to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, dated Aug. 29, sets out a list of the Longshoremen's complaints against the AFL-CIO. The last page of the three-page letter accuses the AFL-CIO of "going along to get along" with the Obama administration on healthcare, immigration reform, and other issues.

"President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits," McEllrath wrote. Instead, the AFL-CIO lobbied affiliates to support the taxing of so-called "Cadillac" plans like the Longshoremen have.

The letter also chided Trumka's group for being too weak on immigration reform.

"The immigration bill you recently asked us to support imposes extremely long waiting periods on the path to citizenship and favors workers with higher education and profitability to corporations, as opposed to the undocumented workers such as janitors and farm workers …" McEllrath wrote.

The bulk of the letter deals with the Longshoremen's issues with AFL-CIO members crossing Longshoremen picket lines at Northwest grain terminals. The letter was obtained last week by The Oregonian newspaper.

McEllrath notes that the Longshoremen were a founding member of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, but was kicked out for being "too red" during the 1950s McCarthy era. It rejoined the merged AFL-CIO in 1988.



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