Normally the unions spend their political time attacking Republicans, but they may have come to the belated conclusion that what handicaps them most in Washington is their own allies. After the failure to confirm Craig Becker to the NRLB by Senate Democrats, Big Labor says it may just stay on the sidelines in the midterms:
Labor groups are furious with the Democrats they helped put in office — and are threatening to stay home this fall when Democratic incumbents will need their help fending off Republican challengers.
The Senate’s failure to confirm labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board was just the latest blow, but the frustrations have been building for months.
“Here’s labor getting thrown under the bus again,” said John Gage, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 600,000 workers. “It’s really frustrating for labor, and a lot of union people are thinking: We put out big time in money and volunteers and support. And it seems like the little things that could have been aren’t being done.”
The 52-33 vote on Becker — who needed 60 to be confirmed — really set labor unions on edge, but the list of setbacks is growing.
The so-called “card check” bill that would make it easier to unionize employees has gone nowhere. A pro-union Transportation Security Administration nominee quit before he even got a confirmation vote. And even though unions got a sweetheart deal to keep their health plans tax-free under the Senate health care bill, that bill has collapsed, leaving unions exposed again.
The problem for unions isn’t that Democrats are weak allies, but that Labor’s goals have become so radical as to split the only party that will countenance them. In decades past, unions fought for reasonable access to health insurance, workplace safety, and job security, an agenda that could win broad support from both parties. Over the last twenty years, the unions have become much more interested in hard-Left policies such as universal health care, and in staking out ridiculous demands on the labor-management relationship, attempting to win through government force what it could never gain through any reasonable negotiation.
Becker makes a good poster child for the shift in unions. Becker has argued for forced union representation, asserting that workers cannot legitimately choose not to be represented by a union but only should be allowed to choose which union that will take their dues. That’s not a mainstream view in America, or anywhere else. Their rabid support for Becker to get confirmed to the NRLB demonstrates the radicalization of a a movement based initially on pragmatism, and the curdling of its core mission to protect workers into a mission to enslave them. After all, forcing workers to pay tribute to a set of leaders whom they never agreed to appoint as their representatives as a condition of continuing to work doesn’t sound a lot different in principle from the days of company scrip in the West Virginia coal mines a century ago.
Card Check is another example. The unions propose to steal the right to hold a secret ballot — a core value in American electoral processes — and impose unionization by force through a card-signing process they control. That isn’t consonant with mainstream American values. But it does show the desperation of unions that have failed to remain relevant, losing membership thanks to both the success in mainstreaming workplace protections into law over the last 70 years and to the radical, hard-Left agenda the movement now embraces.
Maybe the unions should sit out a few electoral cycles and start reflecting on their increasing dislocation from American values.