The Sheet Metal Workers union and SMACNA are urging Congress to reject taxing employer-provided benefits as a way to pay for universal health care.

Count the Sheet Metal Workers union and SMACNA among those who are urging Congress to reject taxing employer-provided benefits as a way to pay for covering the uninsured.

In a joint letter to Congress, the union and members of the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association that employ them told lawmakers that employees who currently enjoy good health care coverage would carry a disproportionate share of the burden to provide insurance to everyone.

“It is unfair and unconscionable that contractors who have acted responsibly and provided health care would be required to further subsidize health care provided to the uninsured and those businesses not providing care,” SMACNA President John Ilten and SMWIA (Sheet Metal Workers International Association) General President Michael Sullivan wrote in the letter. “SMACNA and SMWIA jointly support expanding health-care coverage and the effort to ensure all Americans have comprehensive, affordable coverage.”

Among the ideas floated to pay for the billions it is expected to cost to cover the nation’s 46 million estimated uninsured has been taxes on soft drinks, junk food, tobacco and so-called “gold standard” employer-provided health coverage.

Currently, most companies receive a tax break on the benefits they provide. Proposals to reduce or eliminate these breaks - ideas opposed by many unions and business groups - have been discussed by House and Senate committees.

President Barack Obama has said he wants a health care bill to be ready for action by Congress before it breaks for summer.