The Unions’ Quid, The Democrats’ Quo

By November 5, 2006Labor Unions

As Election Day nears, organized labor will reach something approximating a frenzied pitch, furiously pouring its members’ money down the political rathole, supporting candidates and causes with which its members don’t agree. And, they’ll have the help of union-funded front groups like the newly-indicted ACORN to help them. This excellent report from the Capital Research Center chronicles the dough that labor will spend — something like $40 million promised by the AFL-CIO alone — but, as the report points out, this sum will be vastly augmented by their “feet on the street,” canvassing neighborhoods, making “get out the vote” calls, driving voters — legitimate and fraudulent both — to the polls, etc. All in an Election Day’s work.

This, of course, is not an exercise in altruism for the left. If the unions succeed in winning back the House for the Dems, they will expect a quo for all of this extensive — and expensive — quid. Remember, too, that Nancy Pelosi won a hard-fought battle for Minority Leader (defeating Harold Ford, Jr.) because she was labor’s hand-picked candidate. Labor is the de facto whip operation for the Dems. Labor delivers the votes, using the carrot of their PAC ladle and the stick of no PAC money at all should you forget the girl that brung ya. George Miller (D-CA), the would-be Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee consistently gets a perfect score from the AFL-CIO in his vote ratings and is in such lock step with them as to be indistinguishable, sharing political DNA.

So what’s on the agenda? What will labor get for its efforts? A few highlights — or should we say, “lowlights”:

  • A minimum wage increase: This is a political, not an economic, issue. If folks really cared about lifting the poor out of poverty, they’d focus on skills in education. Most minimum wage workers are kids working part time after school. Think of it this way: Did you ever make the minimum wage? Do you make it today? Exactly — it’s a bottom rung. Democrats are certain to move on this issue first.
  • The anti-democracy bill: The so-called “card check” bill championed by Rep. Miller would short-circuit elections, letting unions gain recognition just by coercing folks into signing cards. How ironic if America, the beacon of democracy around the world, throws over democracy in this most important venue?
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Expansion: There are three bills already introduced on this topic. One would allow nurse practitioners to grant an employee certification for a “chronic condition” (only doctors can do it now), another would expand the definition of “family” to to include– among others– same-sex partners, domestic partner and parents-in-law. The third would lower the threshold for the law’s coverage from 50 to 25 employees and allow FMLA use for parental or grandparental involvement for extracurricular activities, up to four hours in any 30-day period, an unnecessary expansion and a record keeping nightmare.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Expansion: Majority Whip-in-waiting Rep. Hoyer (D-MD) has long identified this as a priority and a goal. Remember that since the ADA passed, the participation rate of the disabled in the workplace has declined. This law has been a shot in the arm to the trial bar and has done precious little for the disabled in the workplace. Top claims under the ADA are for back injuries and emotional distress. Maybe clarification would be better than expansion.
  • You can click here for more on the Dems’ labor agenda and here for more on Rep. Miller’s agenda. What’s clear from all this is that after too many years of wandering in the desert and hundreds of millions of their members’ hard-earned dues squandered, we can expect labor to present its bill to the Dems for payment in full as soon as the election is over.

    Join the discussion 3 Comments

    • Pat Cleary says:


      Glad you asked. We spend exactly ZERO on political contributions, don’t have a PAC.

      Thanks for writing,

      Pat Cleary

    • Jennie Moreland says:

      Given that the consistent theme of your blogs is designed to disparage labor and its efforts to promote politicians that are labor friendly, I can’t help but notice that you are not forthcoming in publishing the dollar amounts that you and other manufacturing associations spend on lobbyists and political contributions.

      You actively point out how bad all of these proposed bills are that are designed to help the average worker but you do not present the proposed bills that manufacturing and industry spend millions of dollars in lobbying to get passed. These bills promote big business wants – not what the average worker wants.

      The last time I looked the United States is a democracy which allows both parties and all views to promote their agendas. So why don’t you try on that just because you don’t agree with “labors” agenda you have one of your own and, quite frankly, you sound a little jealous that labor has access to funds which it can and does use to combat your agenda.

      Healthy debate is one thing but where you to truly stop and take a look – organized labor exists because big business has never recognized that it caused the labor movement by virtue of the fact that it never established a ‘self policing’ mechanism to ensure fair consistent treatment of its workforce. Union’s can’t organize where employees are being properly paid and treated with respect.

      The reason that you and your big business cohorts are so afraid of the proposed “card check” bill is because you know that this will force American business to have to address workplace issues with a new level of integrity. Businesses that won’t be a target to ‘card check’ are those that treat their workforce with respect and dignity. They will have open and honest communication with their workforce and they will have a wage and benefit policy that is fair. Workers really don’t want the moon – they want to know that they are valued.

      Companies that don’t address favoritism and work issues will find themselves dealing with a union and they won’t have the opportunity to fight off the attack by hiring a bunch of union busters that go in and scare the hell out of the employees.

      Organized labor declined when business improved and standardized their workplace labor policies. Now sweatshops and years of stagnation have created an environment where workers are looking for help. This isn’t the union’s fault – its the failure of business to address its labor forces’ concerns. Don’t blame labor for doing what it was designed to do.

      You don’t see organized labor out here whining about all the money that big business spends on lobbyists or how many politicians that big business controls! You don’t see the AFL-CIO or Change to Win or any of the independent unions disparaging your right to fight them so why do you believe that you have a right to those venues but they don’t.

      If you really want organized labor to go away – look inward not outward.

      Jennie Moreland
      International Secretary-Treasurer
      American Federation of Professionals

    • Mark Johnson says:

      The issues discussed in this article are of great importance for nation, in particular the wage bill and FMLA, are necessary to uplift the living standard of organized workers.

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