Laborers’ Union: Fix Obamacare or Repeal It; ‘We’re Getting Our A-- Kicked Here’

By James Beattie and Michael W. Chapman | September 25, 2013 | 1:02pm EDT

Terry O'Sullivan, president of the Laborers International Union of North America. (AP)

( – Terry O’Sullivan, president of the 600,000-plus-member Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), often referred to as the Laborers’ Union, said that if Obamacare is not fixed, then “it needs to be repealed.”

At a convention in Las Vegas of the AFL-CIO, with which the Laborers’ Union is affiliated,  O’Sullivan took to the podium to endorse a proposition and then launched into a criticism of Obamacare, how it is hurting union members’ health coverage, and demanded it be fixed, adding that if it is not fixed, labor will make the issue a “big fricking deal.”

“If the Affordable Care Act is not fixed, and it destroys the health and welfare funds that we have all fought for and stand for, then I believe it needs to be repealed,” said O’Sullivan. “We don’t want it repealed, we want it fixed, fixed, fixed, and I commend Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO for leading that charge. ”

Trumka is the president of the AFL-CIO, a national federation of labor unions with 11.5 million members.  The Laborers’ Union was founded in 1903, and its members do a lot of work in construction, highway, and infrastructure work across the country.  O’Sullivan became president of LiUNA in 1999.

He continued, “We can’t have the unintended consequences for the proud men and women that we represent to be collateral damage in the health care fight in this country.  We’re getting our ass kicked here, there, and everywhere when it comes to retirement security -- and now our health and welfare funds are under siege.”

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. (AP Photo)

“So we beg the president, we ask the president, we ask the Congress of the United States of America to do the right thing, to do the right thing for the proud men and women we represent,” said O’Sullivan on Sept. 11, during the weeklong conference.

“ We’ll be damned if we’re going to lose our health insurance because of unintended consequences in a law [Obamacare],” he said.  “ It needs to be changed, it needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now, brothers and sisters.”

O’Sullivan, whose father worked in the Laborers’ Union, went on to talk about  the union’s history and the many sacrifices of its members over the decades to get health insurance coverage.

“We fought, we went on strike, we laid down in the street to get health insurance,” said O’Sullivan.  “We can’t afford to have a law that takes it away.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. (AP)

Again citing the hard work and sacrifices of the union’s members, O’Sullivan stressed that he and the union are going to fight to “make sure, like the president said, ‘If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.’ We want him to live up to that promise. And we will work with him to do that.”

In closing, O’Sullivan said,  “Vice President Biden – I won’t use his exact words – but I remember and you remember the picture of him whispering in the president’s ear, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and he said that, ‘This is a big fricking deal.’”

“Well,” he continued, “we need to make sure that we raise our voices loud, brothers and sisters, and say it’s going to be a big fricking deal if we, our members, lose our health insurance.”

Many labor unions, including the entire AFL-CIO have expressed strong objections to the way Obamacare is unfolding in real people’s lives and are calling upon President Obama and Congress to make changes to the law.

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