Unions and the DemocratsBy Chad Stafko
For generations the Democratic Party has relied upon unions and their members to dutifully pull the lever for Democratic candidates and to man their call centers and canvass neighborhoods. And yet, an objective look at what are arguably the three biggest issues shows that Democrats are on the wrong side of these issues when compared to the desires and needs of union members.
Union members -- it is time to break the allegiance with the Democratic Party.
Take the issue of ObamaCare. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted May 30-June 2, 49% of respondents believe ObamaCare to be a bad idea, while only 37% see the Affordable Care Act as beneficial. That 49% is the highest rate since polling began on the issue back in March 2010, indicating that support is eroding for the much ballyhooed legislation.
The poll also found that twice as many individuals believe they will be worse off under ObamaCare than better off. That belief is especially strong among those who receive their healthcare insurance through the government or an employer -- a description that fits many union workers.
Expecting to be worse off under ObamaCare is synonymous with the common belief that you will pay more for your healthcare benefits under ObamaCare or that your employer will drop the employer-sponsored healthcare plan.
Even union leaders, many of whom originally pushed hard for the law and encouraged members to support the legislation, have been barking at President Obama of late as to the negative effect ObamaCare will have on its members.
Joseph Hansen, President of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, recently opined in an op-ed for The Hill newspaper that the union will withdraw support of Democrats in 2014 if Obama isn't able to deliver on his promise, made in 2009, that union members could keep their existing insurance. Hansen wrote, "The President's statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers."
In other words, Hansen is saying that Obama, Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrat gang lied to the unions -- and therefore the union members -- regarding what would happen to them under ObamaCare so as to gain their support to get the legislation passed. As a union member, why would you then vote for someone in the next election who essentially looked you square in the eyes and lied to you?
Other unions have shown similar angst. The Teamsters, along with an established hotel workers' union, have sought substantial changes to the Affordable Care Act. The president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers released a statement in April calling for the repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.
These statements sound more like those made by Republican legislators back in 2010 when they fought unsuccessfully, as the minority party, to block ObamaCare.
Union members would be wise to recall that it will be these same Democrats who conjured up this massive deceit of union members who will have their hands out in 2014 and beyond, expecting union members to dutifully vote for and support them.
Immigration reform is another issue of which the Democrats are on the wrong side of the issue versus union members. A Rasmussen poll taken earlier this year found that 90% of union members felt the issue was important to them with 51% of union respondents indicating that they opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Granted, 51% is only a slight majority. However, consider that a near unanimous number of Democrats support some version of amnesty.
Union members are right to oppose amnesty from an economic perspective. Amnesty would result in millions of suddenly legal workers who could latch on to non-union labor groups and give organizations in need of labor a far lower cost alternative to consider.
Democrats don't care about that. All they see is that suddenly legal immigrants will soon be loyal voting Democrats for decades to come. Given that the estimate is that there would be a potential 11 million new citizens as the result of amnesty and that total U.S. union membership has fallen to only 14.4 million, and declining still, Democrats could soon forget all the labor unions and their members have done for them in the past decades.
The third issue union members should consider in abandoning their allegiance to Democrats is the state of the economy and its effect on them. Average weekly earnings of union members was $943 in 2012. Back in 2009, Obama's first year in office, union workers earned $908 per week. Compounded over three years, that results in a scant 1.27% growth rate in union members' earnings.
As a comparison, during President George W. Bush's final four years in office, wages of union workers grew an average of 3.19% per year, about two and a half times the rate under Obama.
The weak Obama economy has also contributed to an overall U.S. union membership that is now at its lowest level since the 1930s. A weakened economy has resulted in less tax revenues filtering into state government coffers. In the case of cash-strapped states, this has produced layoffs and/or furloughs of government workers, many of whom are union members.
Added to the weak wage growth of union members during the last several years are the tax increases under Obama that have certainly affected union members and their families. When you consider the tax increases coupled with the anemic growth in wages along with the effects of inflation, in many cases union members have likely seen a decrease in their disposable income.
From ObamaCare, to immigration reform, to the weak economy, Democrats from Congress to the White House have failed union members.
Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest and can be reached at email@example.com
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