Union discontent? Could it be a big factor in 2012?
Interesting story from Fox News about labor unions and their approach to 2012. Fox describes their relationship to Obama as “wedded but wary”. One of the most interesting points is found in this paragraph:
Federal records show labor unions spent close to $100 million in the 2010 midterm cycle – over $20 million more than what they spent in 2008 – but nonetheless saw their share of the electorate drop from one cycle to the next, from 21 percent to 17 percent.
That’s a significant drop in 4 years. Also worth noting is more money was spent than previously (and spent in an off-year election to boot) and the results were less than stellar. In fact, they were disastrous.
As the article describes, there also seems to be some fracturing within the union ranks. You recall that yesterday it was announced that the NEA (teacher’s union) had again endorsed Barack Obama for president. For most that was “yeah, so what’s new” news. The news was contained in the vote:
…[T]he National Education Association (NEA), which represents teachers and school administrators and is one of the largest unions in the country, voted at its annual convention in Chicago on Monday to endorse President Obama for re-election. Still, analysts took note of the margin of victory for Obama in the NEA’s rank-and-file vote – 72 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed.
That’s a significant change from the near unanimous endorsement Obama received the last time around.
When challenged, union leaders usually revert to form. Remember, the key principle of unionism is “solidarity” and it is expected of the rank and file. It’s pretty bad, though, when the “thug” making the threats to those who don’t abide by that is the Vice President of the United States.
“Let me put it this way,” Vice President Biden told a Teamsters audience in Las Vegas last Friday, after raising the prospect that some rank-and-file members might vote Republican. “Don’t come to me if you do! You’re on your own, jack!”
Because we’re an administration of the unions, not the people.
But the White House’s problem is rekindling the union enthusiasm it captured when Obama was essentially an unknown quantity – before they found out he was mostly hot air. And that’s reflected by frequent White House guest and president of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka’s words:
“You can be a friend and make a mistake once in a while. And we forgive you for that mistake. The difference is this: that we’re not going to spend precious resources helping candidates that don’t stand up and help us.”
"I have a message for some of our ‘friends,’" Trumka reportedly told another Beltway audience last month, sharpening his tone. “For too long, we have been left after Election Day holding a canceled check, waving it about [and saying] ‘Remember us? Remember us? Remember us?’ – asking someone to pay a little attention to us. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a snootful of that s—."
That grumbling and the possible lack of enthusiasm could be a very important factor in the upcoming election. Unions provide much if not most of the “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) troops that helped Obama to his victory. Dissatisfaction presents Obama with a problem. He is, at the moment, desperately casting around for a way to appear moderate and to being to run to the middle. He has a big job ahead to try and win back independents who poll after poll tell us have essentially deserted him. But on the other hand, he has to be concerned with the dissatisfaction being voiced by one of his largest and most powerful constituencies, one that has previously spent enormously in his (and his party’s) behalf and been instrumental in his victory. What’s a politician to do?
Now I’m not suggesting that unions will abandon Obama by any stretch. However, while union leaders may remain supporters of the administration and be enthusiastic about their support, it would appear they may have a very difficult time transmitting their level of support and enthusiasm to the rank-and-file.
Finally, unions continue to face this real world problem:
That the unions may be spending more money to achieve diminished results would reflect their shrinking percentage of the population as a whole. In 1950, an estimated 38 percent of the American labor force belonged to a union; today, that figure stands at around 12 percent, and even lower – 7 percent – for the private sector. This diminution in labor’s ranks is all the more significant when juxtaposed with the tripling of the American labor force over the same time period.
I’m always amused to read stories where Democrats whine about the outsized influence corporations have in politics. Union support somehow is never mentioned as being “outsized” for some odd reason. Go figure.