How Bad Does Big Labor Want This?

By April 4, 2008Labor Unions

Kimberly Strassel’s Potomac Watch column today in The Wall Street Journal looks at organized labor’s aspirations for the fall elections and finds that the unions are going all in.

How bad does Big Labor want this? Consider the money and manpower so far. The AFL-CIO has approved a record political budget of $53 million to help fund 200,000 union workers on the street. Its affiliated national and international unions have pledged another $200 million. The National Education Association will throw $40 million to $50 million at races. The Service Employees International Union has marked off $100 million for politics, and intends to pay 2,000 union members the equivalent of their salaries to work on Democratic campaigns. Add in union money for federal or state political action committees, for 527s, and for local and state races, and some astute members of the business community – those who have seen this coming “tsunami” (as one puts it) – estimate union political spending may top $1 billion in 2008.

Don’t self-styled reformers say we must rid our electoral system of big-money interests?

Well, never mind.

As to goals….

[Unions] will add passage of “card check,” which would outlaw secret ballots in union organizing elections. Alongside will be legislation to make union officials the exclusive bargaining agents of most police, fire and rescue personnel. Then there’s the biggie – so big that most officials don’t talk about it publicly. Tucked into the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act is a provision called 14(b), which allows for “right to work” states. Big Labor last took a run at deleting this section, and forcing more unionization, in the Johnson administration. With a filibuster-proof Senate, they’d have a far better shot.

Unions want a Department of Labor that will sit on corruption cases, water down financial disclosure rules, and turn a blind eye to the use of pension funds to influence boardroom decisions. The National Labor Relations Board has three vacancies, which Senate Democrats will refuse to fill this year. Big Labor’s own slate would include people favorable to proposals to allow “mini-unions” within corporate workplaces, or to rework job definitions to bring more positions under the union umbrella.

Business is overwhelmed on many political fronts and may find it difficult to resist labor’s all-out efforts, Strassel observes. Except…and here she reaches the same conclusion we do: The people may well object to labor’s overreaching in such instances as card-check, Strassel argues.

Where have we seen that before?

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