Digby at Hullabaloo is just, well, incensed. It’s about those, those … SuperPacs. It’s about those, those … rich … trying to buy elections.
Digby now wonders “how anyone can call this democracy anymore.”
And the rant, based on a Mother Jones article, has charts and everything.
I certainly feel a new found faith in democracy knowing that this handful of billionaires are finally allowed to have the same influence over our government that I do.
And for all this cash they’re spending, it’s chump change to them.They are that rich.
One of the charts is entitled “The top five-dark money nonprofit groups have spent $53 million on ads. They disclosed just $420,920, or 0.0079%.”
Ye gods, you say. Those rascally Republicans. Trying to buy an election.
Of course Digby tries to sell this, via implication, as some sort of recent GOP innovation. You know something along the line that SuperPacs are, essentially, an invention of the right and best used by the right, and as noted in the Hullabaloo post, being set up for future use. (cue scary music!)
Alarmingly missing from Digby’s hyperventilating about people that are “that rich”, however, is a leftist faction that’s been doing this better and longer for years and years.
That’s right, unions perfected this long ago. And you, and obviously Digby, might be a bit surprised what that means in dollars and cents. Let me just put it this way, it makes $53 million seem like a drop in the bucket:
The usual measure of unions’ clout encompasses chiefly what they spend supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions’ own coffers.
These kinds of spending, which unions report to the Federal Election Commission and to Congress, totaled $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The unions’ reports to the Labor Department capture an additional $3.3 billion that unions spent over the same period on political activity.
$4.4 billion? $4.4 billion since 2005? Makes those spending $53 million seem like pikers doesn’t it? And, of course, we know that union political activity has been going on well before 2005, don’t we?
But nary a mention, except in passing in an excerpt in the post, of that sort of spending by union or an exclamation about $4.4 billion seeming like “chump change” to them, they’re “that rich”.
But then, doing that would kill the meme in its tracks wouldn’t it?
On Wisconsin – the horrific drubbing the unions took, not the fight song. What if anything did the left learn?
There is lots of interesting (and not so interesting) “introspection” going on among lefties about why what happened in Wisconsin happened – and why it was so resounding a defeat.
Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, just thought the attempt was dumb, politically:
"It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker’s reelection," Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker’s policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.
Yeah, there’s some merit to Rendell’s point, but if there were indies and Dems who voted for Walker, it may have been not just because they opposed the recall, but because they were actually been objective enough (i.e. not blinded by ideology) to understand the problem the state faced and had seen progress in resolving it.
Even Barney Frank thought it was a fight the unions shouldn’t have picked (and that too is a key point – the unions picked this fight):
"My side picked a fight they shouldn’t have picked. The recall was upsetting to people, the rerun of the election with [Democratic Milwaukee Mayor] Tom Barrett — it’s not a fight I would have picked."
But instead of cool heads prevailing, emotion took over and ended up with a resounding loss. Their first indication that the unions were in trouble was when they couldn’t even get their chosen candidate across the line in the Democratic primary.
Here’s a stat that I see being tossed around that ostensibly supports the Rendell point (i.e. these union members voted for Walker because they “opposed the recall”).
The network exit poll for the special election showed that Walker won the votes of 38 percent of voters who said they were a union member or lived in a household with a union member.
What they don’t point out is whether that 38% were members of a household with a “public service union member”.
Because that’s what this was about. The state, the public service unions, etc. My guess is most of these 38% were members of private unions who were among those getting 28% less in benefits than the public unions.
And, frankly, when the public service union members threw their collective tantrums prior to the recall effort, they turned a lot of people off, to include other union members. Finally, when public service union members were given the choice of whether or not to pay union dues (the state quit collecting them automatically), public union membership in the state dropped dramatically. The AFCME saw its membership drop by 55%. And the Wisconsin Education Association Council (which spent $4 million of members dues on the recall)?
Since the collective bargaining measure was enacted last year, WEAC’s membership has dropped from around 90,000 to 70,000 but the remaining membership became energized by the recall and union leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues such as public school funding. The union is working on membership drives this summer.
Over at Reason, Shikha Dalmia cites Alec MacGillis at TNR’s rationalization for the loss:
Over at The New Republic Alec MacGillis enumerates all the reasons why public unions experienced an utter rout yesterday in Wisconsin: they were outspent; they should have attempted a referendum like their more successful comrades in Ohio rather than a recall; voters were in a pro-incumbent mood; Walker is a wily bastard who exempted cop and firefighter unions and thereby splintered the union vote.
I talked about MacGillis’ nonsense the other day. It is hardly a “pro-incumbent” mood out there. And we’ve also come to know that the “we were outspent" assertion is nonsense as well. Dalmia contends there’s also another reason MacGillis avoided:
The only reason he neglected to mention happens to also be the correct one: taxpayers straining under out-of-control union demands finally cried: “ENUFF.”
I don’t think the public service unions yet understand this. They don’t seem to understand that their “special case” puts them in a position where they’re “bargaining” with the people they’ve elected and the public understands and doesn’t like that. And so they’ve gotten completely out of hand and what they’ve “bargained” for is unsustainable. Dalmia makes the point:
Whatever the flaws of private sector unions, they have a right to collectively bargain to get as big a share of company profits as is sustainable. What is sustainable? Something in line with the value they help generate. If they ask for more, employers can’t summarily fire them and hire someone else given how our labor law is currently written. But unions can’t make limitless demands forever without sucking the company dry. Hence there is some market discipline that they have to hew to even when labor law arguably gives them unfair latitude.
But there is no equivalent discipline that public sector unions have to submit to. They don’t generate profits. So there is no objective way to measure the value of their work. The main purpose of their collective bargaining powers – it is a misnomer to call them “rights” — is to extract the most lavish wages and benefits they can possibly get from their government employer. Meanwhile, the employer, who pays from taxpayer pockets not her own, has little incentive to insist on reasonableness, especially if unions have helped put her in office. Collective bargaining powers in the public sector, then, virtually invite abuse. And so long as unions have these powers, they will have little reason to “self reform" beyond minor, cosmetic changes.
An example of a private union which was their own worst enemy was the Eastern Airline union. It refused to compromise, refused to work until the company caved into its demands and when it finally got what it wanted, it had put the company in an unrecoverable position. Consequence? They got 100% of nothing.
Private sector unions, for the most part, understand that lesson and exercise a sort of discipline that keeps that line from being crossed (for the most part).
Public unions have no such governor. There is no line for them. They see the taxpayers as an unlimited source of funds. They see themselves as an entitled class. And even in the face of what any reasonable person would classify as unsustainable debt, they clamor for more. Recall the public service union members chanting “raise taxes” when they were confronted with the unsustainability of their benefits in Illinois? So do voters.
Bill Frezza sums up the point:
"The power of private sector unions was long ago broken by many heavily unionized companies going bankrupt. While this was painful for both workers and shareholders, the economy motored on as nimbler non-union competitors picked up the slack. This approach is problematic for the public sector because bankrupt state and local governments cannot be replaced by competitors waiting in the wings. Yes, citizens can always vote with their feet, emptying out cities like Detroit, leaving the blighted wreckage behind. But isn’t Walker’s targeted fiscal retrenchment less painful than scorched-earth abandonment?"
Yes, it is. And that’s what the voting public is discovering. Walker delivered results. And those results will serve as an example to other states. Reality is a bitch and reality is finally arriving in the public service union sector.
Finally, the big question: Does this victory in Wisconsin mean anything nationally?
The White House, unsurprisingly, says “no”.
"The President supported and stood by Tom Barrett, but I certainly wouldn’t read much into yesterday’s result beyond its effect on who’s occupying the governor’s seat in Wisconsin," Carney said in a question-and-answer session aboard Air Force One. "What you had was an incumbent governor in a repeat election that he had won once, in which he outspent his challenger by a magnitude of 7 or 8 to 1, with an enormous amount of outside corporate money and huge donations, and you got essentially the same result," Carney said.
But here’s the key point that those saying “no” seem to miss:
Walker’s surprisingly easy win over Democrat Tom Barrett on Tuesday was fueled by a big turnout from a motivated Republican base of voters, and by heavy spending by out-of-state conservatives who flooded Wisconsin with campaign cash.
Both trends raised difficult questions for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has struggled to match the enthusiasm of his 2008 White House run and compete financially with the huge sums of money being raised by conservative outside groups ahead of the November 6 election.
That’s right … what was exercised and proven in Wisconsin was a template that included cash and a ground game.
It worked. And it put WI in play in November (pretending that the wildly inaccurate exit polls prove otherwise is simply an exercise in whistling past the graveyard).
Which brings us to a question posed by Jim Geraghty in his Morning Jolt this morning:
A Blasphemous Question: What if Axelrod & Company Were More Lucky than Good in 2008?
Here’s a simple, basic explanation about David Axelrod and the Obama campaign, and their performance four years ago and now: When the wind is at your back, it’s easy to look smart. When the wind is in your face, it’s very hard to look good.
In 2008, Obama had a series of big gusts at his back. Yes, glowing media coverage was one, but he probably wouldn’t have done as well if he had brought the same resume and style to the 2004 political environment or the 2000 one. His ascension to the White House required eight years of the opposition party’s rule, an unpopular war, a series of scandals involving the opposition, and finally the Lehman collapse and the resulting economic meltdown. Almost a perfect storm.
And now, he’s got a record – and a poor one at that – combined with a stagnant economy, massive unemployment and, well you name it on the negative side and you’re likely to find it.
So, yes – it isn’t at all hard, given the number of missteps and misfires his re-election campaign has had to come down on the “lucky” side for 2008, is it?
I have no idea how the vote in Wisconsin will go today. All polls seem to point to a victory by incumbent governor Scott Walker and my guess is that’s how it will turn out.
But the left, or at leas part of the left in the guise of The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis, is trying to walk back the national significance of a possible Walker victory.
Citing the conventional wisdom that a loss today would bode ill for Obama in Wisconsin and nationally come November, well, he’s not on board with that:
I don’t buy it. And that goes the other way, too — I don’t think Democrats should take away too much optimism for their fall prospects if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pulls off an upset win. Part of this has to with all the usual reasons why state contests should not be taken as barometers of national sentiment, as listed in a smart guest post by Will Oremus on David Weigel’s Slate blog: "1) It’s a recall. 2) It’s happening in June. 3) The incumbent is a Republican. 4) Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is running. 5) A significant number of states (49 by my count) will not be participating. 6) Need I go on?"
Seems to be missing a few numbers, doesn’t it?
7) the left initiated the recall, has poured millions upon millions of dollars into a state which Obama took by 14 points, and is seemingly failing in its attempt to oust a sitting Republican governor.
8)if the left and unions can’t motivate voters in this state, what does that say about their chances nationally?
9)the left elevated this into an election with “national implications”, not the right.
10)the left began the meme that this would foretell the November national election, not the right.
11)Barack Obama is avoiding WI like the plague because he understands the national implications of being associated with a loss there by the left.
MacGillis is pretty sure he can figure out a way that such a loss would actually be good for Obama.
My colleague Noam Scheiber adds an interesting conjecture on the lessons that the parties will take from the Wisconsin results about the allocation of resources this fall, arguing that a Walker win might also help the Democrats in that regard.
Oh, well, then certainly a loss would be much less biting then (really?). The Democrats would learn a valuable lesson about “the allocation of resources this fall”? Yippee.
But how does MacGillis think this is a good thing for Obama? Well, he manages to ignore 7-11(+) above (and pretty much everything else of significance) and reduces his analysis to the absurd:
So beware the pundits who turn Tuesday’s vote into nothing but a grand partisan referendum and fail to take into account a less cable-ready way of assessing a Walker victory: as a statement of grudging pro-incumbent sentiment in a time of cautious optimism about a painfully gradual economic recovery.
Anyone who actually believes it’s a “grudging pro-incumbent sentiment” being expressed in Wisconsin is doing an admirable and obvious job of whistling past the graveyard. They also don’t have any real clue about what’s happening there today.
There’s a report out that Wisconsin Democrats are furious with the DNC for not supporting their efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker, the target of unions since he tried to curtail their power in the state, is in a runoff election with the former mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett. This is a race the unions have made a “national election”. They’ve poured money, time and effort into this recall election that has been unmatched in recent electoral history. But it seems it isn’t enough. At this point, with 3 weeks to go, Walker leads Barrett by 9 points.
Some of the strength of the base supporting Walker was evident in the primary. Ace fills us in with some numbers:
You know those 626,000 Republicans who turned out in Wisconsin yesterday? Go higher. A LOT higher.
Big number, but if the Marquette Law poll released last Wednesday is to be believed . . . that number is actually low.
MU found that of the voters confirming they would be voting in the Democratic primary, 17% were Republicans.
We will never know the actual numbers per party since there was no exit polling.
Assuming that even HALF of that number stuck by their decision to cross over to cause some mayhem, that means that over 50,000 votes on the Democratic side were just devilish Republicans, bringing the total turnout to over 676k for our side.
If you go by the Marquette number, those "hidden Rs" swell to an additional 110k, bringing total turnout to 736,000: nearly matching Prosser’s share in 2011 for a primary.
There is no way to spin turnout Tuesday in the Democrat’s favor. . . .
Dane County gave the Democrats a massive edge in votes of about 80,000, but proportionally that did not materialize in Milwaukee, which is a big concern for anyone trying to unseat Walker. If you remember earlier discussions here at the AOSHQDD, depressed Democratic turnout in Milwaukee county relative to the rest of the state actually saved Justice Prosser. The Madison vote will show up. The pro-Walker vote will show up from the Milwaukee burbs. Will traditional Presidential-race Democrats in Wisconsin’s largest city bother for a special election, even one as hyped as this? So far, the little evidence we have points to a big fat nuh-uh.
Walker won the largest uncontested share of a primary vote for governor last night in 40 years. His base is behind him when they really didn’t need to show up at all.
If you don’t recognize the name “Prosser”, he was a Republican justice who most felt would fall to a pro-union Democrat. But the election results most desired by the union didn’t materialize. Prosser won. The key graf in Ace’s analysis is the last one. Walker was uncontested. Yet, his base demonstrated their strength and intent. And, if the Marquette poll is to be believed, you can add up to 17% more in June.
It looks like union effort is faltering. How badly? Well, they couldn’t even get their preferred candidate elected in the Democratic primary:
Kathleen Falk’s drubbing in Tuesday’s Democratic primary has some political insiders questioning the decisions, and influence, of the state’s major public labor unions.
Falk, 60, was the first Democrat to enter the recall election, announcing her candidacy even before the race was official. Major labor unions, including AFSCME and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, quickly endorsed her and then went on to spend nearly $5 million to help her win the nomination.
But on Tuesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett — a candidate for whom the unions initially showed very little love — defeated the former Dane County executive by 24 percentage points; a margin of victory all the more startling given that he entered the race late and was outspent 5-to-1. Barrett’s victory was even more pronounced in Dane County, Falk’s backyard, where he won by 30 points.
As Jim Geraghty asks:
So if the AFSCME and the Wisconsin Education Association Council couldn’t move votes in a Democratic primary, why should we expect them to move more votes in the general election?
That’s why they’re now whining about the DNC. My guess is if they lose, the DNC will be the fall guy, the “if but for the DNC’s failure to throw good money after bad, we’d have won” assertions. It’s time to become a victim. Gov. Walker has returned Wisconsin to at least a semblance of fiscal sanity with a budget surplus this year. His program of changes is working. The voters in Wisconsin aren’t blind or stupid. So victimhood is about all the recall proponents have left at this point.
In a last desperate attempt to salvage the effort, Wisconsin Democrats are trying to rewrite a little history:
“Scott Walker has made this a national election,” the Wisconsin Dem tells me. “If he wins, he will turn his victory into a national referendum on his ideas about the middle class. It will hurt Democrats nationally. The fact that [national Dems] are sitting on their hands now is so frustrating. The whole ticket stands to lose.”
Scott Walker had nothing to do with initiating a recall election, throwing collective temper tantrums in the state capitol or bussing in union members (and buckets of money) in from out of state. Democrats and unions did. It is they who have been appealing nationally. It is they who have elevated the Wisconsin recall election a “national election”. And, to this point, it is they who are fumbling the ball.
But they’re right about one thing. Thanks to them, it has been turned into a national referendum of the sort they don’t want to lose. And, unfortunately for them, at this point, they are.
Yes, he’s apparently finally realized that as goes coal, so goes his union (via Labor Union Report). Interesting comparison to Osama Bin Laden. My guess is the administration see’s coal in the same sort of light as they viewed bin Laden – an enemy. And thus, the results of their campaign against it – the loss of jobs, even if they’re union – are acceptable “collateral damage”.
The coal industry will suffer the same fate as Osama bin Laden under new climate regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the head of the United Mine Workers of America said this week.
“The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” Cecil Roberts, president of the powerful union, said during an interview Tuesday on the West Virginia radio show MetroNews Talkline.
Roberts blasted Jackson, the EPA administrator, over the proposed regulations, which would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Opponents of the regulations, including Roberts, say the new rules would be the death knell of the coal industry.
But, will Mr. Roberts actually do anything to actively protect the jobs of his union members?
While the United Mine Workers of America likely won’t actively oppose President Obama’s reelection bid, Roberts said the new EPA regulation could prevent the union from endorsing the president.
“That’s something that we have not done yet and may not do because of this very reason. Our people’s jobs are on the line,” Roberts said, adding that Obama has “done a lot of great things for the country.”
So United Mine Workers, why are you paying the dues to pay this man’s salary?
He certainly has made his choice hasn’t he? Unquestioning party loyalty over your jobs. He doesn’t care about them and obviously neither does the president.
I’m sure you’re surprised.
You remember the “Citizen’s United” case I’m sure. And you probably remember the cries from the left when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the 1st Amendment saying that amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions.
Bad decision according to them, remember? What was it Barack Obama said? That the decision "gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates."
He even lectured the Supreme Court justices at that year’s State of the Union Address saying, "last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
Yes, those evil corporations were sure to be bankrolling American elections to the detriment of the “little people”.
But unions? Meh. Not a word from Obama about unions.
Unions are getting ready to pour money into the 2012 elections. The AP’s Sam Hananel reports that AFSCME is planning to spend at least $100 million, the SEIU will spend $85 million or more, and total union efforts will reach at least $400 million. While many of its affiliate unions, such as AFSCME, will spend heavily on advertising and candidates, the AFL-CIO will continue to focus on developing the infrastructure for year-round, grassroots mobilization.
And not a word since. When I hear Barack Obama rail against union spending and call for it to end, then I’ll believe he’s against unlimited spending for principled reasons (not that I’d agree, but I’d given him that benefit of the doubt) and not political ones. Until then he’s just another in a long line of political hacks trying to limit the funds of those who would spend their money in opposition to him.
After the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the left -automatically assuming that the shooter was some right-wing extremist – railed against the violent language of the right. They were sure that they, the keepers of the flame of civility, had been the victim of the right’s violent rhetoric. And that rhetoric had driven one of their own to attempt the assassination of the Congresswoman. They were wrong.
Of course it also soon became evident that the keepers of the flame were the worst offenders. Numerous examples of a lack of civility by the left have been documented since then. The most recent comes from the usual suspects. Labor and politicians. In a Labor Day speech, Jimmy Hoffa decided that instead of inspiring, he’d attack. Instead of celebrating labor, he’d stoop to general ad hominem attacks on the right. Apparently, like the race baiters of the passing generation, he see’s his meal ticket in trouble. Big labor has not been doing well. And its reaction is reflected in the rhetoric of one of its leaders. Violence:
Teamsters union president James Hoffa would say it all again if he could, he told TPM Monday.
Hoffa riled up Fox News and the right wing Monday with a Labor Day speech in Detroit in which he called Republican members of Congress "sons of bitches" and said union workers are ready to "go to war" with the tea party next year and "take out" Republicans at the ballot box.
Hoffa said he’d say the exact same words all over again.
"I would because I believe it," he said. "They’ve declared war on us. We didn’t declare war on them, they declared war on us. We’re fighting back. The question is, who started the war?"
The speech came shortly before President Obama took the stage in Detroit — and Hoffa’s remarks certainly overshadowed Obama’s on Fox. But the Teamsters chief said he was just matching fired-up conservative rhetoric when it comes to organized labor and Obama with some fired-up rhetoric of his own.
Hmmm … be nice if he provided some examples. Michelle Malkin, however, has provided a number of examples of union violence and violent rhetoric.
"The right wing — the tea party, backed by the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce and the Walton family are underwriting, you know, bills to take away collective bargaining," Hoffa said. "Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor want to take away Social Security and Medicaid."
"The answer to that is, people that do that, is we’re going to declare war on them," he added.
Of course Ryan and Cantor do not “want to take away Social Security and Medicaid”, they want to reform it so it is sustainable. What a horrible goal, no? And they’re not at all interested in unions in the private marketplace because there’s a market mechanism in place that helps control the excesses of collective bargaining found in public service unions. Even Democratic governors are moving to curb collective bargaining in those venues. Hoffa, however, seems to have missed that.
Finally, you see the classic leftist tactic of demonization. Straight from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”. It also helps keep those blinders firmly in place for the mob, those who will do his bidding as you witnessed in the Malkin piece.
And then there’s Joe Biden, always good for a negative example or gaffe. In this case, he characterized a large part of his supposed constituency – he being Vice President of the United States and not of the Democratic party – as “barbarians”, because, you know, they disagree with his political agenda.
“You are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates…the other side has declared war on labour’s house.”
Yes, we had a little hate fest this weekend and it was led by the left. You know, the civility police. The side which is sure it is only the right which uses uncivil and violent rhetoric and they are chaste and pure in that department. I can’t decide whether it is simple hypocrisy or cluelessness. Or a combination of both.
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.
You remember our Chicago lawyer whose sole argument against moving some of the Boeing Dreamliner production to a non-union plant in SC (a right to work state) was that Southerners in general were less skilled and less literate?
Apparently he pulled that out of the part of the anatomy that doesn’t get much sunshine. In his case that might have been his head, considering where it had to be residing at the time to come up with that sort of an argument.
Nevertheless, the Washington Examiner, in an editorial, examines a CNBC survey on exactly that topic and finds the lawyer’s argument to be specious:
The strongest remaining argument that labor unions are relevant or desirable is that they provide business with a better-trained and more knowledgeable work force. But as quaint as it is to think of organized labor as the guardian of know-how and quality, it just isn’t so, according to a new CNBC ranking of "America’s top states for business." The survey, which considered the work forces of all 50 states, found that the downsides of unionism far outweigh any advantages when it comes to work force quality.
And those downsides are demonstrated by the results of the survey:
Incredibly, 17 of the top 18 states ranked by CNBC in terms of "work force" are "right-to-work" states, where unions are significantly less powerful. In states with right-to-work laws, workers cannot be compelled to pay union dues, and workers are far less likely to let unions represent them if they are actually given the choice. In CNBC’s survey, all 22 of the nation’s right-to-work states (mostly states in the South and West) made the top 25 in terms of quality of work force. In the separate category of business friendliness, which gauged states’ regulatory and legal environments, 10 of the top 15 states were right-to-work states as well. Needless to say, the combination of good workers and congenial business climates make these states highly attractive to business.
You’d think it would be “needless to say” such a thing, but then our Chicago labor union lawyer points out why, in fact, it is necessary to say these things. Primarily because it is a myth that union states provide a more highly skilled and productive workforce and it is also a myth that unions are necessary in today’s business climate. Those are two myths which are obviously hard to kill, but the survey makes the point that potential employers have already discovered and have been taking advantage of for years – something of which our Chicago lawyer was obviously completely unaware. Workers in right-to-work states are highly skilled and productive and willing to work at a good wage that still gives their employer the ability to compete.
But on the other side of this there’s a method, or at least a policy, that is so obvious it is getting to be hard to deny, and the Examiner hits it:
Obama has made the survival of unions a much higher priority for his administration than sustainable job growth, beginning with the bailout of the automakers and continuing most recently with his National Labor Relations Board’s persecution of Boeing for expanding its manufacturing operations in the right-to-work state of South Carolina. It is sad, although perhaps not surprising, that Obama would subordinate the interests of 93 percent of American workers to those of one politically favored group, but this is precisely what he is doing. The 93 percent would do well to take notice in the coming elections.
I’m not sure all of the 93% will all notice, but those who are and have been effected by this administration’s obvious bias should – like those Boeing workers in SC, or the screwed-over stakeholders in GM and Chrysler, etc. This is an administration, along with the party it is a part of, which have cast their lot with unions almost to the exclusion of the rest of the working public. Their NLRB action against Boeing in SC makes that point loud and clear.
And that’s not a myth – that’s reality. It is a narrative which needs to be used in 2012 when it will again become obvious who it is the Democrats and the Obama administration will turn for funding and activists. We’ve seen the union rent-a-mobs working before. They’ll be in action again. That relationship needs to be highlighted and relentlessly exposed, especially in this era of high unemployment.
At least for now:
Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.
The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had halted the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.
The changes on collective bargaining will take effect once Secretary of State Doug La Follette arranges for official publication of the stalled bill, and the high court said there was now nothing to preclude him from doing that.
This, however, is not the end to law suits against the bill, it’s just one case which has been settled that had stopped implementation of the law in its tracks. In fact, this finding was more about how the lower court judge had exceeded her authority:
The court ruled that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s ruling, which had held up implementation of the collective bargaining law, was in the void ab initio, Latin for invalid from the outset.
"The court’s decision …is not affected by the wisdom or lack thereof evidenced in the act," the majority wrote. "Choices about what laws represent wise public policy for the state of Wisconsin are not within the constitutional purview of the courts. The court’s task in the action for original jurisdiction that we have granted is limited to determining whether the Legislature employed a constitutionally violative process in the enactment of the act. We conclude that the Legislature did not violate the Wisconsin Constitution by the process it used."
The court concluded that Sumi exceeded her jurisdiction, "invaded" the Legislature’s constitutional powers and erred in halting the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.
So – the law must now be officially published for it to take effect and according to the court, there’s nothing standing in the way of that happening.
I wonder if we’ll be treated to another spectacle of teachers and the like throwing a collective tantrum. Oh, wait, it’s summer – they’re on vacation. With no works stoppage available to them to make their point, probably not.