Tag: organized labor

Union Popularity Still Slipping

A new Gallup survey reveals, “U.S. Approval of Labor Unions Remains Near Record Low,” with a topline finding that only 52 percent of Americans approve of unions, the second lowest percentage in the 70 years the organization has studied the issue.

Another striking result: Forty percent of Americans want labor unions to have less influence, 27 percent the same, and 29 percent more.

Gallup finds these implications:

Labor unions are less popular now in the United States than they have been for most of the last 70 years. One reason for this could be the economic downturn. With many Americans out of work and struggling to find work, organized labor groups’ missions may not seem appropriate or even fair as they might have when jobs are more plentiful. There is some precedence for an economic-related downturn in union approval, as Gallup found a mild drop in union approval during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the U.S. economy was in poor shape.

The more negative appraisal of unions the last two years could be due to the belief from union opponents that unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration, including recent legislation providing aid to states that will preserve thousands of education and public sector jobs.

You don’t really have to be a union opponent to believe that “unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration.” You can reasonably draw that conclusion from reading President Obama’s recent speech to the AFL-CIO executive council.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit)

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Card Check and the Colorado Senate Race

The Employee Free Choice Act played a much smaller role in the Senate Democratic primary in Colorado than it did in the Arkansas primary, or so it seems to us (having followed the races from afar).

Organized labor wanted to punish Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for her criticisms of union-backed policies like the Employee Free Choice Act, but she handily defeated their favored candidate, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. In Colorado, both the incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (appointed in January 2009) and his challenger, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, had their labor support.

Still, Romanoff endorsed the Employee Free Choice Act, while Bennet avoided taking a position on the anti-democratic legislation, labor’s No. 1 priority. Most notably, Bennet did not cosponsor the bill, S. 560, in the U.S. Senate.

And in the end, Bennet won with a healthy margin of victory, 54-46 percent.

Bennet will face Ken Buck, Weld County district attorney, who defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, 51.5-48.4 percent in the Republican primary. He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act in clear terms.

Here’s how Buck responded to a Denver Post candidates’ survey question on the issue:

Ken Buck: EFCA seeks to undermine the privacy of voting in unionizing elections. By implementing a “card check” system, EFCA would undermine individuals the right to cast a private ballot. Citizens of our country should have the freedom to vote how they want without the fear of retribution. EFCA also requires mandatory arbitration. This requirement inhibits the union employees’ and employers’ ability to negotiate. The inclusion of a third party in such conflict complicates and undermines the process.

We would expect the Employee Free Choice Act to be an issue in the general election, with voters demanding that Sen. Bennet address his support or opposition to the bill with more specificity.

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A Week’s Review of Labor’s Power

Mark Hemingway of The Washington Examiner embarked Monday on a weeklong series of columns about the political power of organized labor, commenting that, “Whatever wants, labor gets.”  It’s hard to argue with the thesis when talking about the Obama Administration, but it’s not entirely true when elective representative bodies like the U.S. Senate are involved: Labor has not gotten the Employee Free Choice Act…so far.

Today’s column is “Big Labor fills the ranks of Big Government,” discussing the recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, the confirmation of Patricia Smith to be the Department of Labor’s solicitor, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis herself.

On Monday, Hemingway wrote, “Stuffing union coffers with taxpayer cash,” leading with the example of the anti-democratic unionization of daycare workers in Michigan.

One day last fall, approximately 40,000 private day care owners in Michigan woke up to discover they had become members of a public sector union. Most had no idea what was coming.

Here’s how it happened: The United Auto Workers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees worked with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to conduct a vote-by-mail union election.

Of the 40,000 day care workers in the state, only 6,000 responded to the ballot they received in the mail. But that was enough for the state to declare all of the day care owners would henceforth be represented by the newly organized Child Care Providers Together Michigan union.

Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and former Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York also signed executive orders to promote the unionization of private sector daycare workers in their respective states. (See Fordham Urban Law Journal.)

The actions by these governors, heavily supported by organized labor, seems even more economically ominous given a program included in the new health care law. Jeffrey Birnbaum in The Washington Times reports on the issue in a column, “The not-so-Class Act“:

The health legislation signed into law last week by President Obama includes a provision called the CLASS Act, which provides long-term care at home. Few people know about it, but experts agree that it could well explode the federal budget deficit down the road.

The Community Living Services and Support (CLASS) Act was designed to assist people who need help with basic daily tasks and are willing to pay for in-home assistance. The plan, which was long championed by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, would, in effect, enable elderly and disabled people to stay out of nursing homes.

People who paid into the program for five years could qualify for federal subsidies to purchase in-home care. As Birnbaum argues, laudable goals but fiscally unsustainable. We predict when the rules are written, the only in-home care providers eligible for the program will be subject to (forced into) union membership. The SEIU smiles.

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Labor and Card Check Losers in Tuesday’s Election

The next governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, often criticized the undemocratic Employee Free Choice Act during his campaign against Creigh Deeds, who tried to avoid the issue. (See also Amanda Carpenter, Washington Times, “EFCA’s role in McDonnell’s win.”

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s core support came from organized labor, pushing his candidacy at the same time they made the Employee Free Choice Act their rallying cry. See The Star-Ledger story, “Unions organize to help an ally: Jon Corzine.” Former federal prosecutor Chris Christie defeated Corzine on Tuesday, 49-45 percent.

In Pennsylvania, organized labor’s candidate for the state Supreme Court, Jack Panella, lost to Joan Orie Melvin. Judging by Panella’s website, he was counting on the unions to bring home the vote. Nope.

True, labor’s favored candidate won in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, but Bill Owens was the AFL-CIO’s second choice after Dede Scozzafava dropped out.

Labor’s failures weaken its political power in Congress, if only at the margins, making it even more difficult to pass the Employee Free Choice Act this year. The unions will therefore continue their power plays in other venues, such as the National Mediation Board and the National Labor Relations Board. Expect the SEIU’s Andy Stern to make even more visits to the White House to coordinate strategy.

UPDATE (9:45 a.m.): Mickey Kaus, from his “Election 2009: Some Winners, Losers,”:

Losers: Dems who were planning to argue that a Corzine victory, when contrasted with Deeds’ loss, shows the need to stick with “core Democratic values” (i.e. unions) …

Loser: Card check. Virginia Republican McDonnell didn’t fudge on labor’s “card check” bill. He bashed it. He won. Virginia is hardly a union state, but neither are the states with Senators who are swing votes on “card check”. …

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Agreed, U.S. Needs to Boost Its Exports. But How?

Tom Walsh of The Detroit Free Press cites recent remarks by NAM President John Engler in today’s column, “U.S. needs to boost its exports,” and asks the necessary question: Why don’t we do more to boost manufacturing exports?

Complacency, mostly. America was the biggest, most affluent, most productive economy in the world for so long, many manufacturers saw no need to hustle their wares abroad.

But today, U.S. consumers aren’t spending so freely. Global competition is fierce, and studies show that active exporters are more innovative than the stay-at-home crowd. So we need to get serious about exports.

That means dialing back U.S. constraints on exports, such as cumbersome licensing requirements that date to Cold War security issues, as U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke proposed last week and NAM supported. Corporate income tax rates, research and development credits and other tax issues need revisiting with the aim of boosting U.S. export competitiveness.

Complacency? Really? Organized labor represents a powerful political force against trade and exports. It’s not complacency that drive the union bosses toward protectionism, it’s misguided self-interest and an almost tribal “us against them” attitude.

But agreed on the Walsh’s prescriptions, 100 percent.

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Card Check: Public Support for Organized Labor Slides, SLIDES!

From Gallup.com, “Labor Unions See Sharp Slide in U.S. Public Support“:

Princeton, NJ — Gallup finds organized labor taking a significant image hit in the past year. While 66% of Americans continue to believe unions are beneficial to their own members, a slight majority now say unions hurt the nation’s economy. More broadly, fewer than half of Americans — 48%, an all-time low — approve of labor unions, down from 59% a year ago.

We’d say most of the slide comes from labor’s relentless bullying to pass the anti-democratic Employee Free Choice Act. The public objects to anybody trying to eliminate secret ballots.

But we suspect it’s the role of organized labor in driving two major domestic automakers into bankruptcy that most caused the unions to lose popularity. The federal aid to save the companies demonstrated that the union contracts were unsustainable, self-serving and destructive to the general economy. After all, before this year how many people knew about UAW job banks that paid people for not working?

UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): In a post, “Labor Day Shock Poll!” Mickey Kaus judges the factors about the same as we do, save he adds the public teachers unions as another cause for slipping popularity. And he postulates: “Polls like this aren’t going to make it easy for the Senate to pass even a watered-down labor law “reform.” Did the UAW kill ‘card check’?”

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