Machinists Remain Opposed to Health Care Excise Tax


Washington, D.C., January 14, 2010
– Despite the so-called agreement announced today by various labor organizations, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) reiterated its opposition to any health care reform legislation that is funded by taxing the value of workers’ existing health care benefits.

“The IAM opposes the excise tax, period. We believe it is unfair to our current members and particularly unfair to those members we hope to organize in the future,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “If a temporary exemption is the best this Congress can offer the American people after the promises of the last election, they will have earned the wrath of voters in the next election.”

“By stringing this ‘fix’ out until 2018, our members will be pressured to agree to benefit cuts year after year in the vain hope they will be able avoid the excise tax. Companies will seek to shift costs while still cutting benefits to avoid eight years of health care premiums accelerating at fifteen to twenty percent per year.   

“This is a huge ping pong ball that our elected leaders are trying to shove down the throats of hard-working Americans,” said Buffenbarger. “On the installment plan or all at once, a 40 percent excise tax on their health care benefits is hard to swallow. But the White House and the House and Senate Democratic leadership appear determined to play ping pong with this legislation until they get the votes they need.

“We will continue our opposition to this egregiously unfair tax.”

The IAM is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries.