The Deal: Join a Union, Get a Tax Break?

The Deal: Join a Union, Get a Tax Break?

The Deal: Join a Union, Get a Tax Break?

A mostly political weblog.
Jan. 15 2010 5:07 PM

The Deal: Join a Union, Get a Tax Break?

Is Health Care Reform Now a Vehicle to Promote Unionization? It's one thing to delay until 2018 the tax on "Cadillac" health plans for existing union-negotiated plans, to let the parties rejigger the balance between wages and benefits. That's a standard "grandfather" clause, letting people whose existing arrangements are disrupted keep them going for a while (though why it should apply only to union pay packages is a good question).

But it's another thing to extend this union loophole to collective bargaining agreements that haven't been negotiated ye t, or to not-yet unionized firms that organize and then tap into existing collectively bargaining benefit arrangements. That would in effect give workers a tax bonus if they should organize between now and 2018. The government might as well mail a "first time union member" check of $3,000 to every American who successfully unionizes his workplace. As IBD notes, that would be a pretty good substitute for the stalled "card check" legislation , which would try to spur organizing by letting unions avoid a secret ballot (and call in federal arbitrators to set wages).


So which is it? Does the loophole extend only to existing union members or does it apply to future union members--to grandfathers not yet born? I haven't been able to figure out the answer to this question from descriptions   posted online , and suspect it is one of those important issues that turns on the fine details of statutory language (e.g. what the meaning of "is" is). The "Cadillac" tax doesn't kick in for second-class citizens non-union members until 2013. Does the bill give unions until then to sign up new members--who would then be "grandfathered" until 2018 at least?**

If someone knows the answer, feel free to contact me. ( ). I hope the business lobbyists' who declared war on "card check" are on high alert. ....You wouldn't think Obama could afford to rile up more opposition to his plan at this point. ...

**--That's certainly what Lori Montgomery's WaPo summary suggests, perhaps inadvertently:

Health plans negotiated on behalf of state and local workers, or as part of collective-bargaining agreements, would be exempt for five years after the 2013 effective date, giving labor leaders time to negotiate new contracts,

2:24 P..M.