If nothing else, this New York Times report on the impotent anger of the unions towards Barack Obama serves as an instructive reminder at just how badly the labor movement has botched its strategy over the last few years by aligning itself with the hard Left of the Democratic Party. When Obama endorsed the mass firing of union teachers at a failed Rhode Island school, they seethed over his common-sense reaction, but what can they do? They have nowhere else to go:
The nation’s union leaders said on Tuesday that they were “appalled” at remarks made by President Obama condoning the mass firing of teachers at a Rhode Island high school.
Coming the day after union presidents sharply complained to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. over stubbornly high unemployment, stagnant wages and the administration’s failure to do more to create jobs, the statement — voicing a rare vehemence toward a Democratic president — underlined the disillusionment of an important Democratic constituency.
Because unions have been so crucial to the Democrats election after election, political experts say labor’s ambivalence, or worse, toward the Democrats could greatly deepen that party’s woes this fall.
“Labor is very disappointed, whether it’s about card check or the effort to tax Cadillac health plans,” said Charles E. Cook Jr., publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, referring to a bill that would have made it easier to unionize and to tax high-cost health plans that many union members have. “They’re really disillusioned. I think one by one unions will start getting engaged and helping out the Democrats, but it could be half-hearted.”
What happened in Rhode Island was a local version of Reagan vs PATCO. The union refused to budge on a plan from the school board and superintendent to reverse a disastrous track record in serving the community. The failure rate was astronomical, and the plan called for additional tutoring (compensated ) and a longer work day — by 25 minutes — in order to get more resources to the students. Bear in mind that the average salary for teachers was three times that of the household income for the community in which they worked. The union said “no dice,” and the town fired every last one of them to start over from scratch.
When Reagan did that with the air-traffic controller union, it pushed most of the labor movement permanently into the arms of the Democratic Party. They have skewed more and more radical since that time, for many reasons, not the least of which is the need to get the federal government to force more workers into unions to address the crises in their underfunded pension plans. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that the unions have both marginalized themselves with the electorate with their radical agenda and reduced their political power with their blind loyalty to the Democrats. Workers don’t want them in the workplace, and Democrats don’t have to worry about losing their support any longer. Like Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, they have nowhere else to go.