President Obama is setting a record for proclamations to alter the shape of American society. Every few weeks there is another edict, beginning after his victory with moving the Census from Commerce to the White House in order to jigger the figures to his political liking. Then came the TARP stimulus plan. As debt is repaid, the money is remaining in the hands of the White House rather than going to reduce the frightening public debt.
Then came the health care "overhaul"; climate change initiatives; the out-of-character call for offshore drilling; the announcement that we would increase troop strength in Afghanistan (but wiring the move for doom with a public withdrawal date); reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons capability; announcing the closing of Gitmo; the prosecution of CIA operatives whose only crime was to do their job; insulting our allies Great Britain and Israel; the move to try terrorist suspects in open court; and the presidential order to avoid identifying the enemy in the war on terrorism, a politically correct maneuver that smiles on the machinations of the radical scholars.
To fund his reordering of power in the midst of a steep economic downturn, Obama has signed into law 25 tax increases totaling $670 billion over the next ten years, according to a report issued by the House Ways and Means Committee. And Paul Volcker and Nancy Pelosi -- reacting to the reality that increased income taxes cannot save the country from going broke -- are pushing a Value Added Tax, the most pernicious of levies that will empower the IRS to enter places of business unannounced to demand records and enforce compliance.
Accompanying the crescendo of taxes, edicts, and thinly disguised manifestos is an undertow of societal tectonics that will rearrange the free-market system beyond our ability to salvage it. The steady advance of unionization in the public sector under Obama -- and the use of federal power to increase organized labor in the private sector -- is leading the U.S. to the edge of syndicalism, the takeover of capitalism by unions for the purpose of political control.
Like most Obama initiatives, the unionization agenda is counter to reality. Unions have been losing ground in the private sector for forty years, with membership today at only 7% of workers in the private sector. Obviously, unions are not popular in the rank and file of workers. Today, there is a rising percentage of public-sector union workers compared to a decline in private-sector ones.
Obama is close to Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union, who is charging ahead to force union membership on every government employee, especially health care workers -- a goal the White House is pushing as part of the "overhaul" of health care. And state employees in non-union states are seeking affiliation with the SEIU, waiting for the big day when they can contravene local statutes and organize openly with full union recognition.
That day is here. The Public Safety-Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 passed the House in 2009 but did not make it to the Senate vote for various extraneous reasons. But it's back, and it will pass the House and Senate in this session of Congress, lifted by a Democrat majority anxious to move on the bill before November, when it appears that the composition of both Houses will change significantly.
The bill is alarming. According to the National League of Cities, the Act violates the National Labor Relations Act of 1934 that recognized the separation of federal authority over collective bargaining within the states. The seventeen states that prohibit unionization of public-sector workers will be invaded and held hostage to a federal law that tosses aside what's left of the sanctity of states' rights and allow policemen, firefighters, parole and judicial officers, prison guards, and medical technicians to join a labor union. Obviously, other local government workers will demand the same right. Before you can say Jimmy Hoffa, unions will have penetrated the very marrow of government services everywhere -- with potentially catastrophic results.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states are projecting collectively a $196 billion deficit for 2010. Allowing unions to organize local government will add increased fiscal demands at a difficult time. An example is Vallejo, CA, near San Francisco, which filed a bankruptcy petition citing salaries and benefits for unionized city workers that represented 75% of the of the general fund budget. Fortunately, the bankruptcy court rejected the contention of the unions that the city was obligated to continue collective bargaining for four more years.
It's bad enough that the impending bill violates states' rights and empowers unions to infiltrate cities and counties to unionize government workers, but another edict from the Obama White House adds a federal order mandating that all U.S. government contracts in excess of $25 million can be performed only by firms with unions or a collective bargaining agreement.
It's a one-two punch -- forced local government unionization and a federal edict to ensure union power on government contract jobs. It looks like the unions win in a TKO.Bernie Reeves is editor and publisher of Raleigh Metro Magazine.