EDITORIAL: The Culinary’s Obamacare hypocrisy

The Culinary Local 226 wants it both ways when it comes to health care, and thousands of Las Vegas hotel workers might strike as soon as this month to emphasize as much.

The Culinary and its affiliated Bartenders Local 165 have agreed to new contracts with Strip giants MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, but talks with more than a dozen properties have made little progress. The primary hurdle to new deals at the Stratosphere, the Riviera and several downtown hotels is health benefits. Culinary members have long enjoyed health care that is fully funded by employers, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has increased medical costs to the point that many companies can no longer afford to pay full freight. The hotels want workers to pick up some of Obamacare’s new costs, a demand the Culinary won’t agree to.

Of course, Obamacare is the law because of the Culinary’s political activism. The Culinary and the rest of organized labor poured untold millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours into the election campaigns of President Barack Obama and the Democrats who wrote and passed Obamacare, and the unions championed the reboot of American health insurance.

Then they realized Obamacare’s critics were right. The law is wrecking platinum-plated union health plans, not to mention health insurance for tens of millions of people.

“The biggest hurdle to reaching settlements in Vegas is the new costs imposed on our health plan by Obamacare,” D Taylor, president of Culinary parent Unite Here, told BuzzFeed last week. “Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.”

But instead of owning their miscalculation and joining the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Culinary wants hotels (meaning tourists) to pay for the mistake, and it wants Washington to give unions exemptions while otherwise leaving the destructive law in place.

Bad faith is nothing new for the Culinary, which continues to use economically harmful tactics in trying to organize the Cosmopolitan and Station Casinos. The union’s most recent step is a website that lists Cosmopolitan conventions “at risk” of being disrupted by the Culinary. Scaring business out of Las Vegas inevitably takes income and tips out of the pockets of Culinary members.

A strike authorization vote is scheduled for March 20. Will the Culinary fully mobilize its impressive get-out-the-vote machine to ensure every member has a say in whether to walk off the job, or will it settle for another low-turnout rubber stamp of what the union’s leadership wants?

This is what hypocrisy looks like.