Free Markets, Free People


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.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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13 Responses to Union discontent? Could it be a big factor in 2012?

  • … but nonetheless saw their share of the electorate drop from one cycle to the next

    I’ve been predicting this for a few years now.
    There is a limit to how much money used for radio and TV ads can do.
    After hearing the same weary ad more than a few times, you start to notice who is annoying you. I expect a return to the days of “Payola” but instead of radio getting it, expect to see voters bought off.

  • Richard Trumka’s first draft:

    “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] ‘How come you didn’t stay bought?’”

  • What with Secretary LaHood going to Mexico today to sign some bit of paper saying that truckers from Mexico can travel anywhere they want in the US, I expect the rank-and-fil of the Teamsters to be less than enthusiastic about supporting Obama…

  • Rank and filers…unless they are particularly frothing specimens…are sensitive about being out of work.
    That union looks less and less like a “band of brothers” and more and more like a bunch of privileged, entitled pukes who pushed you out of competitiveness for a job.

  • McQ[T]he key principle of unionism is “solidarity” and it is expected of the rank and file. 


    Yeah, the unions have certainly twisted “solidarity” to their own ends.  It originally meant, “None of us go back to work until the boss agrees to our demands and we ALL go back.” Now it’s, “Shut up, pay your dues, and do what your union leaders tell you to do.”

    As for the shrinking size of the unionized work force, what can they expect?  The things that early unions fought for – decent wages, 40 hr work week, safer working conditions – are now guaranteed by law.  Why, then, should anybody pay to be a union member (i.e. pay Peter for the priviledge of working for Paul)?  What does the union do for anybody?

  • The in-the-bag-for-Obama groups — blacks, Jews, youths, union workers, progressives — are all losing enthusiasm, but they are still unlikely to vote Republican. So Democrats will see reduced fundraising and reduced turnout. That’s bound to cost Obama 2-3 points at the ballot box. The swing vote in the middle against Obama is another 5+ points easy.

    In a nutshell that’s why it’s hard for me to see Obama getting reelected — barring game-changers.

    • ” barring game-changers.”

      I’m sure there’s another TANG document out there for him to use – he’ll be running against BUSH again of course.

      • We can be sure that, since the Democrats have little to brag about it, they will wage an overwhelmingly negative campaign.

        Yet many on the right are pessimistic about 2012. Is it the incumbent advantage or the bizarre 2008 election or not wanting to get cocky that has them spooked?

  • I am amused everytime the unions lose. They are the antithesis of everything we need in this nation.

  • “Don’t come to me if you do! You’re on your own, jack!”

    What a disgusting display from this guy.  Heaven forfend the President represent everyone, even those who had the temerity to vote against him.

  • Wow! 28% of teachers are racist oil companies.

  • As huxley suggested…
    Although I would suggest that it is not merely “unlikely” that union members would vote for a republican, that it would be a cold day in hell when they do.
    Think about it – one cannot swing the proverbial cat without hitting a republican who is doing their damnedest to completely destroy the unions.  So union members are going to look at their options: return a man to the dance hall who refuses to dance with you, or bring a new guy to the dance hall who is carrying a can of petrol and a cigarette lighter.

    These guys are just voicing their dissatisfaction.  And given their choices, it won’t mean anything come election day.

    Cheers.