The Suicide of Unions

The recent vote by workers in Tennessee not to set up labor councils at Volkswagen operations is another stunning defeat for unions.  The power of these unions, once among the most feared in American politics, has imploded in the last three years.  Republicans in state government, who are much more principled conservatives than Washington Republicans, have been courageous and wise.

Scott Walker and his modest plans to bring public employee unions back into the realm of fiscal sanity were attacked in a prolonged and vicious campaign rarely seen in politics today.  Wisconsin has historically been a state in which unions held great sway.  Walker and his Wisconsin Republicans, however, remained firm in every battle and won every battle.  Governor Walker is now favored to win re-election, and if Walker wins, he will and should be among potential presidential hopefuls.  Is there any reason why next year Wisconsin Republicans should not push for Right to Work?  No. 

Michigan Republicans have used their control of state government to enact a Right to Work law over the protests of unions in a state once ruled by the UAW.  Republican Governor Snyder is running comfortably ahead in his run for re-election this November.  Indiana is now a Right to Work state as well. 

Ohio will have Right to Work on the 2014 ballot because Republicans pushed for this battle.  In Minnesota, one of the bedrocks of leftist support in the Rust Belt, poll show that Minnesotans favor Right to Work by a lopsided margin of two to one.  Even in Pennsylvania, once practically run by Big Labor, Republicans are pushing for Right to Work laws.  Missouri already has a Republican legislature, and if Right to Work becomes popular in the Rust Belt, Missouri -- already a reliably red state -- could easily follow suit.

Consider the number of union members just in those seven states: 400,000 (Wisconsin), 770,000 (Michigan), 350,000 (Indiana), 715,000 (Ohio), 400,000 (Minnesota), 850,000 (Pennsylvania), and 300,000 (Missouri).  This means four million enforced campaign contributors to the left's political battles against conservatism in America. 

More and more workers see unions as enemies, not friends.  The recent union growling over the impact on negotiated health care plans hurt by ObamaCare is only one of many self-inflicted wounds caused by Big Labor and its enslavement by the left: howls of union leaders that they fought many battles to elect Democrats drew little reaction from the left, which views union leaders as simply straw bosses in their chain gangs. 

Unions also supported leftist Democrats who sold out their blue-collar supporters for the effete dilettantes of radical environmentalism.  In states like West Virginia, once reliably Democrat, the savage suppression of the coal industry by federal regulators has not only deprived out nation of its most abundant energy resource, but also driven huge chunks of the workforce into long, gray lines of unemployment created by leftist machinations and nothing else.  Stopping projects like the Keystone Pipeline costs workers jobs for the sake of airheaded leftism. 

Industrial unions like the UAW have utterly gutted America's competitive advantage.  States like Michigan once had a huge advantage in auto production.  The iron of Minnesota met the coal and steel of Pennsylvania in Michigan, and much of Ohio and Indiana made tires and glass to support the global juggernaut of American automobile production.  Much of the Rust Belt has been de-industrialized by the very leftists who hold power because of union dues and union workers in elections. 

Stark reminders of this betrayal of the working man by those notional leftist champions can be seen in the migration of aeronautical jobs from Seattle to South Carolina, or automobile jobs from Detroit to Tennessee.  State governments can pass Right to Work and can create business climates that attract industry.

Forced unionism is ending in America, and the pace of change may soon be unstoppable.  If Republicans do as well in state government elections this November as in 2010, then unions in the Rust Belt may begin to disappear like water puddles on a hot sidewalk.  The economic consequence for America will be to restore much of the competitive advantage in labor markets.  The political consequence, however, may be even more profound, and as the left loses elections because union power is gone, the mass of federal regulations that cripple industry will begin to melt away.

Union bosses have only themselves to blame.  Their unions were not slain; they committed suicide.