AFL-CIO’s Trumka: Negative Obamacare Impact on Employee Hours Needs to be Addressed

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AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Thursday that Obamacare's negative effect on creating more part-time hires by employers trying to avoid the mandate was a consequence "no one intended" that still needed to be addressed.

Responding to a question about Obamacare undermining the 40-hour work week because of its definition of full-time work, the union leader expressed concerns about the increased amount of part-time hires by businesses to stay below 50 full-time employees. The Obamacare mandate requires employers above that threshold to provide health insurance to all workers or face heavy fines.

"Employers are trying to plan their future by creating a work force that gets 29-and-a-half hours or less a week so they don't have to pay health care," Trumka said. "That is obviously something that no one intended. No one intended for an act to be the result of people working fewer hours, just so they don't have to pay for health care, so that's something that needs to be addressed. Is that an issue? Yeah, that's an issue."

Trumka also said mistakes were made in writing the law, and he added he would support changing Obamacare’s definition of a full-time work week from 30 hours to the 40-hour standard at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

Unions were largely supportive in the outset of Obamacare, but representatives of three of the largest ones in the country wrote a letter last month to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) warning the law would "shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class."

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