Big Labor, Big Problems

Amid all the election hoopla this year there is an amazing story about to break, almost completely ignored by the liberal media. The country’s largest labor union, the Teamsters, is about to have its largest pension fund, the Central States, go bust. Without some sort of bailout, draconian cuts to pensions could be authorized by a May 7 deadline. Lots of other union plans may follow. If the Obama Treasury Department doesn’t approve the cuts, or the members vote them down, the whole fund will then be headed for bankruptcy court.

You may remember the Central States from such movies as Casino and Hoffa and TV shows like "Crime Story".  Basically the scam was Central States, controlled by mob-connected union bosses, lent money to front men who bought Las Vegas casinos and in turn allowed the Outfit to skim untold millions. This was a great deal for everybody involved, except the working stiffs who saw their pension money being plundered by the Mafia. The Las Vegas racket ended years ago, but Central States continued to invest unwisely and now the jig is up, so to speak. This is all very much in keeping with the irreversible decline of union membership.

Labor’s Left-wing friends are well aware of this and are panicked over the day when the well runs dry. Until now, the labor bosses have had an almost unlimited amount of dues money to spend as they like, because the membership has had no real say in where it goes. Instead of retraining workers for the jobs of tomorrow, it has been siphoned off for politics. A recent report in the Wall Street Journal estimated the unions spend an incredible $1.5 billion every election cycle on so-called “dark money” activities to support “get out the vote” programs in urban neighborhoods and for agitators like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street. This is over and above the many millions of dollars unions give directly to candidates through political action committees.

We on the conservative side of things certainly have our problems, but the effective end of the unions would be the biggest political development in the last 100 years of American politics. The Left can never come close to replacing this bounty of cash and organizational expertise. Democrats would no longer start out every election assured that 40% of the voters would be “strong-armed”, “incentivized”, or “encouraged” to vote for them, no matter what. They would actually have to go out and convince regular working people they had something better to offer. That would be some Democratic speechmaking I would gladly like to hear.    

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, KY.

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