CNN Money: It’s kind of looking bad for unions these days

posted at 3:35 pm on March 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

And it’s the money that’s the problem.  Nina Easton marvels at the rapid loss of standing for organized labor after the election of perhaps the most union-friendly President in decades.  Not only has Barack Obama failed to deliver on any of Big Labor’s agenda, his diffidence has done nothing to stem the tide of state-level efforts to end disastrous union contracts and restore fiscal sanity to the public sector:

Two years later card check is dead, Obama is out promoting free-trade deals, and his health care reform plan — passed without a government option — faces an uncertain future in the courts. And now a costly new front has opened in labor’s struggles: the states, where budget-cutting governors are targeting union salaries, benefits, and even collective-bargaining rights.

Not even the most union-friendly President in three decades can soften this harsh political terrain — a problem sure to vex his 2012 reelection bid.

Unions spent $80 million on behalf of Obama and other Democrats in 2008. Combined with a sharp increase in direct contributions to campaigns, this independent money gave union-backed candidates a big edge, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For all of the screaming over the Citizens United decision and the hysteria over independent expenditures in political campaigns, it’s useful to recall this chart from the midterm cycle:

The three largest PEUs in the US outspent conservative action groups in the last cycle, $171 million to $140 million.  Needless to say, it didn’t help much, and the next time around, it may help even less.  The unions have had to fund defensive efforts in places like Wisconsin that will seriously drain their resources ahead of the 2012 cycle:

Now, even as union membership continues to decline — reducing the member dues available to siphon into political campaigns — labor is being forced to spend millions to defend its ground at the state and local levels. That means less money available for the President and his allies in 2012.

Given that unions have become primarily involved in the public sector, the push among governors to limit union power represents a big threat to their political muscle.  The bill that the Wisconsin state Senate passed last night will put an end to state collection of dues and make the payment of such voluntary, a change that will almost certainly end any significant revenue.  That money would normally find its way back into the coffers of Democrats running for office at all levels, and its disappearance will put Democrats at a disadvantage next year.

Nevertheless, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says his colleagues should thank Scott Walker for giving them a rallying point:

The Wisconsin governor’s plan to restrict collective-bargaining rights for government employees, which unexpectedly passed Wednesday night in the state Senate, has energized the labor movement in a way not seen in a generation, Trumka said.

“We probably should have invited him today to receive the Mobilizer of the Year award,” Trumka said.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the progressive group Campaign for America’s Future hours after Walker’s Republican allies in the Wisconsin state Senate ended a weeks-long standoff with a sneak parliamentary maneuver to pass the proposed labor restrictions, the labor chief was more defiant than crestfallen.

“In your lifetime, have you ever seen this much solidarity?” Trumka said to the crowd. “Have you ever seen this much excitement?”

This sounds a lot like whistling in the wind.  The displays in Wisconsin will hardly inspire private-sector workplaces to organize, which is what Trumka really needs now.  The Hitler signs and the mob-rule scenes playing out in Madison will alienate most of those who aren’t already working in the public sector, especially if they succeed in shutting down the state legislature there.   Easton is much more accurate in her analysis,  and Trumka is desperately trying to save face as taxpayers tire of union control over public policy.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Then what, pray tell, does the American worker do about it? Are you insisting that, because we have to compete with 3rd world workers, that eventually Americans will have to take a 3rd world wage and like it?

ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM

I would suggest you guys pull together a really bitchin’ drum circle because pretty much nothing you guys ever put into law works. For all Obama’s leftist idiocy, corporations have never been stronger. Wall Street had their 2 most profitable years ever under this clown.

Chuck Schick on March 10, 2011 at 5:20 PM

$80M down the O drain suckas. I love it.

Kissmygrits on March 10, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Nevertheless, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says his colleagues should thank Scott Walker for giving them a rallying point:

Fantastic, then send the campaign support check to him…

right2bright on March 10, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Then what, pray tell, does the American worker do about it? Are you insisting that, because we have to compete with 3rd world workers, that eventually Americans will have to take a 3rd world wage and like it?

ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Did you try destroying property and calling people Nazis yet? Oh my bad, you did. How about a drum circle?

Chuck Schick on March 10, 2011 at 5:27 PM

All we need is for American workers to organize, strike, and demand a larger share of those record profits.
ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM

And when those companies that are making these “record profits” decide that they aren’t willing to do that and they close their doors instead, then what?

All those workers organized and on strike, and no job for them to go back to.

Great plan, skippy….

TeresainFortWorth on March 10, 2011 at 5:29 PM

We organize.

ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Who is “we,” paleface?

I’ll mind my own business vis-a-vis my relationship with my employer, thank you very little.

CurtZHP on March 10, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Why is it that the right has no answer for diminishing wages? You acknowledge that wages are falling, but you adamantly refuse to do anything that might alleviate that. There is no other explanation for this other than you want Americans, all Americans, to earn less

You obviously forgot about illegal immigration…the effect of undercutting our wage bases…

Same kind of example given here–

Wages began to fall precisely when unionization faced its first real political enemy: Ronald Reagan. Government takes much less than it did back then, and yet wages just keep falling.
ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 4:26 PM
That’s also when women began entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers thus increasing the supply of labor chasing a number of jobs which couldn’t keep up the pace.

tommyboy on March 10, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Why do you think the right is against amnesty?

tinkerthinker on March 10, 2011 at 5:31 PM

“Sneak parliamentary maneuver”? Who writes this stuff?

Hucklebuck on March 10, 2011 at 5:33 PM

All we need is for American workers to organize, strike, and demand a larger share of those record profits.
ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM

No. You work to convince the American public that a product manufactured by an American union is superior in every way to a product made overseas. You get the union workers to be the very best workers in the world.
Anything made in America will be more expensive. It is the unions job to make the public accept that. No. it is the unions job to convince consumers to DEMAND American made goods.

redshirt on March 10, 2011 at 5:35 PM

“Mr.Trumka has the appearance of a stereotypical union thug right out of central casting.”

One of Johnny Friendly’s thugs in “On the Waterfront” looks just like him w/o the ‘stache. Not Herman Munster. The other one.

Hucklebuck on March 10, 2011 at 5:38 PM

All we need is for American workers to organize, strike, and demand a larger share of those record profits.
ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Yeah, look how well that worked out for the Rust Belt. Those were once thriving industrial communities, Bub.

obladioblada on March 10, 2011 at 5:54 PM

I know it looks like Obama is systematically trying to destroy everything that America stands for, but I’m beginning to think he’s trying to destroy those things damaging to America–ACORN, NPR, PBS, Unions, etc.

JackofNoTrades on March 10, 2011 at 5:57 PM

THWAP!! “Thank you Gov. Walker….may I have another?”

joe btfsplk on March 10, 2011 at 5:58 PM

joe btfsplk

Great nic, I remember him well.

obladioblada on March 10, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Unions spent $80 million on behalf of Obama and other Democrats in 2008. Combined with a sharp increase in direct contributions to campaigns, this independent money gave union-backed candidates a big edge, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

When will they admit, it’s not about the “unions”, it’s about THE MONEY?

GarandFan on March 10, 2011 at 6:03 PM

When will they admit, it’s not about the “unions”, it’s about THE MONEY?

GarandFan on March 10, 2011 at 6:03 PM

I’ll bet some of that cash would help a bit in taking care of workers’ benefits. Naw, more important that union leaders have fully funded benefit plans and good salaries, and that meetings be held at fancy resorts and Dems get elected. And we can’t forget the mob bosses, they still expect their cut.

obladioblada on March 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Nina Easton.

rrrRRRRRRrrrrrrr.

BowHuntingTexas on March 10, 2011 at 6:52 PM

“We probably should have invited him today to receive the Mobilizer of the Year award,” Trumka said.

So we can expect more temper tantrums, death threats and leftists doing their best to subvert democracy?

gwelf on March 10, 2011 at 7:09 PM

Poor ernesto. He’s fixated on “you want Americans, all Americans, to earn less.” [ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 4:40 PM]

He just doesn’t get it, at all. The important thing is not the absolute figure on the paycheck — it’s relative buying power.

I would be very happy making $9/hr, or even less, if gasoline cost 50 cents a gallon, as it did in my youth, and an apartment could be rented for $300 a month, a car bought for $2000, or a house for $35,000.

Taxes, regulations, government waste, bureaucratic overhead — all these erode the purchasing power of the worker.

So, ernesto, if you’re still reading: Workers who organize to “demand” more money than their work is worth will organize themselves out of jobs. Your master Obama wants us all on the government dole, frightened, just this side of starving — easy to control.

Do you want that, too?

Mary in LA on March 10, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Nina Easton.

rrrRRRRRRrrrrrrr.

BowHuntingTexas on March 10, 2011 at 6:52 PM

She’s married… LUCKY, LUCKY man…

Khun Joe on March 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Knucklehead on March 10, 2011 at 4:15 PM

So you think that union wages exist in a vacuum, and don’t have an effect on wages in the private sector? You really believe that if public school teachers made $20,000 a year, that wages for private school teachers will rise?

ernesto on March 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Perhaps, to prove your point, you could relate to us what percentage of the work force is unionized. Perhaps you could also explain why states that have right-to-work laws or do not force union membership as a condition of employment generally are in better fiscal condition and forced union states like Wisconsin and Ohio.

Can you offer any arguments that are not Mr. Trumka’s bullet points?

RealityCheck4 on March 10, 2011 at 9:02 PM

“Unions spent $80 million on behalf of Obama and other Democrats in 2008.”

The CA public Unions alone spent this much and the real total is at least a half a billion.

JeffinSac on March 11, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Comment pages: 1 2