The AFL-CIO Labor Day Report: We Told You So….

By August 31, 2005Labor Unions

Every now and then we have to wallow in being right — it happens so rarely. On Monday when we posted our outlook for the week, we noted that this week the AFL-CIO would be releasing its annual Labor Day Report from Hell, the dark side of Labor Day. We said then that they will probably come out with some bad news or will tout an ever-higher number of folks who want to be represented by a union, in the face of hemorrhaging membership.

Well, we were right on both counts. As noted below, they delivered the gloom and doom just as we predicted. As for part two, yesterday we got a call from a reporter who took part in the crepe-hanging that is the AFL’s annual Labor Day press conference. She said she had been reading the blog, said that indeed the AFL said that their polling showed that a big number of workers want to join a union. We chuckled, said we were prescient. She pointed out that we had predicted 70% (in fact, we predicted 99%), but in reality it was a mere 53%, but still an all-time high for the AFL-CIO. We said what we said in Monday’s post: So go organize them. (This, by the way doesn’t include those who are represented by a union today who don’t care to be. In fairness we should subtract them out from the AFL equation, no? But we digress…)

OK, we asked, what’s the reason this year why they can’t organize? Is it us? Well, she said, they cited the Republican domination of the National Labor Relations Board (their number sank for 8 years of the Democrat-dominated Clinton NLRB); the growing social acceptance of anti-unionism (we surely never had that in this country before…); increased “passivity” from Democrats (no comment); and — are you sitting down? — THAT RONALD REAGAN FIRED THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS!

Good God, man — it’s been twenty-five years! They said this with a straight face! Not like their numbers were soaring before then anyway — they were in decline.

Sometimes, we find ourselves without tears. This is one of those times. Any time a group has to reach back a quarter-century to explain why they’re losing members, it enters the realm of the surreal. We have long said they have a knack for finding an endless stream of villains to blame for why they can’t organize. Fact is, they’ve not spent the money, not had the focus, the organizational commitment to get the job done. They’ve been spending their money on politics and been totally distracted by it.

And if you don’t believe us, ask Andy Stern.