Labor Losses Imperil Democrats
The Republican victories in the Walker recall election and the two prior recall elections against Judge Prosser and then against Republican state senators in Wisconsin demonstrates that one of the most unionized states in the nation can no longer defeat sensible and stalwart conservatism. Republican state governments are chipping away at Big Labor all over the nation, and each victory diminishes the power of labor nationally to affect elections. Indiana became the first state since Oklahoma to adopt Right to Work, but others may follow, especially Wisconsin.
Republicans ought to push the dinosaur of Big Labor as hard as they can. An article in the Wall Street Journal reveals just how active organized labor is in American politics -- it spends four times as much as previously thought, or about $4.4 billion from 2005 to 2011, and nearly all of this $4.4 billion goes to Democrats. This dwarfs the $700 million the Obama campaign spent in the 2008 election and the $200 million reported so far as collected by Obama.
Unions for workers in the private sector have been declining for some time; they account for only about 7% of private-sectors workers. Unions for public employees, however, have grown. This is particularly troubling because, as the public employee union bosses boast, "[w]e elect our bosses." This unhealthy relationship has led to compensation and retirement plans which have swamped state and local governments.
Union dues are not cheap. In good times, that amount of money, which is typically withheld from paychecks, does not hurt much. When union workers are trying to hold onto their homes or buy groceries, however, it is real money. Aggravating the cost of union dues are arbitrary increases specifically to fight political battles.
It is odd (well, it ought to be odd) that the left never complains about big, powerful groups who help the left. Universities are vast empires which soak tens of millions of students and their parents for the dubious value of an education which is often simply marinated Marxism. Hollywood and the music industry pull in $100 billion globally for asinine and banal "entertainment," and yet Obama never castigates Big Hollywood or proposes soaking super-rich Hollywood performers. Trial lawyers chase ambulances these days by mass advertisement, making these shysters multi-millionaires, yet the left opposes all tort reform.
Obama and the left never suggest that the big salaries of union bosses -- Gerald McEntree of AFSCME alone makes over half a million a year -- are a problem. These union bosses not only have high salaries, but create their own benefits packages: they are bosses who have the legal right to take money from the workers with no check against their abuses. Highlighting the abuse of power is the case of Governor Corzine, who was living with Carla Katz, head of the largest union in the state. (This is the same Jon Corzine who can't account for $1.2 billion of clients' money lost at MF Global.)
The Supreme Court this session supported the rights of workers to not have their wages deducted for special assessments in Knox v. Service Employees International Union. This is in line with prior decisions which support workers not having union dues deducted for political purposes which the worker opposes. The Mercury News in California, the state in which the Supreme Court decision originated, recently wrote about Jeffrey Lum, who has had $141 a month automatically deducted as dues to the SEIU. Lum has demanded that the automatic deduction stop and has requested a refund of dues paid since January, when he first made the request.
Polls suggest that 40% of all union members are Republicans, yet their coerced dues fund Democrat leftism.
In Wisconsin, the war of union bosses against Governor Walker has produced truly radical changes in the power of Big Labor. National Review reports that AFSCME has lost 55% of its members in just a few months. The American Federation of Teachers has lost 35% of its members in Wisconsin. It is telling that 38% of union households voted to keep Walker. Beyond conservative union members, people who belong to unions often prefer to have an extra $1,000 or so in their bank account which is otherwise taken from their pay without their consent.
In hard times with very high real unemployment, the message of union bosses, who line up with job-destroying leftist elites and then demand that workers pay their hefty salaries by automatic deductions, is clearly angering many union members. At a time when more Americans call themselves Republican than Democrat, the loss of Big Labor muscle will cripple Democrats. If Republican party leaders are smart, they will not hesitate to capitalize on Big Labor's newfound weaknesses.
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