The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Unions are hijacking our democracy

Matt Patterson
Executive Director, Center for Worker Freedom, ATR

Big Labor is desperately trying to save besieged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Over 150,000 union members and their affiliates are working for Reid’s reelection throughout Nevada, a massive coordinated effort between the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees Union (SEIU), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), among others.

Labor’s heavy hitters have even been deployed, including AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who has himself stumped for Reid, telling supporters, “If we’re going to keep our champion …We’ve got to fight for him.” Unions have also brought their incredibly large checkbook to bear: The SEIU alone has allocated $725,000 to help ensure Reid’s return to the United States Senate.

Unions are spending like their very existence depends on liberals holding on to power in the U.S. government — which it does. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), in fact, “has spent more than any other outside group this election,” according to Vincent Vernuccio, Labor Policy Counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In the 2010 election cycle, the AFSCME has given nearly $90 million, “almost exclusively to left-wing candidates,” says Mr. Vernuccio.

(Unions have long operated as little more than liberal re-election slush funds.  In the 2008 election cycle, labor unions spent a combined and whopping $400 million to elect their pet liberals, who could be counted on the vote for union-friendly legislation like card check and ObamaCare.)

It is a sign of the times that a public sector union like the AFSCME is now the biggest outside campaign contributor. Public sector unionization has exploded — last year, for the first time, more union members worked for the public than for the private sector. The AFSCME is a prime example — while many private unions have seen their membership plummet in the last decade, the AFSCME’s ranks have swollen 25 percent.

The reason is simple: Unions have realized that government is the only growth sector around these days. Government unionization offers two key advantages over private unionization. One, taxpayers can be leeched dry long after your average private company will have gone belly up under the crushing weight of lavish union strong-armed pensions and benefits. And two, public unions, by campaigning to put favored politicians in office, literally hand pick their own bosses, i.e., those who they will be bargaining with for higher salaries and benefits. These politicians can surely be counted on to be suitably grateful.

And liberal politicians have indeed repaid their union masters handsomely. Not only with bloated public pensions that are bankrupting entire states — California, New Jersey, and Maryland, to name but three of the most troubling examples — but, as Michael Barone recently noted: “The February 2009 stimulus package contained $160 billion in aid to state and local governments. This was intended to, and did, insulate public employee union members from the ravages of the recession that afflicted those unfortunate enough to make their livings in the private sector.”

Under these conditions, it is no exaggeration to say that the public sector union/liberal politician alliance constitutes a corrupt bargain that enriches both parties at the expense of the American taxpayer, an unholy arrangement that threatens both the economic well-being of our nation and the integrity of our representative institutions.

If unions fail on Tuesday in their desperate battle to save their favorite political pets like Harry Reid, an opportunity may present itself for the nation to re-think the legitimacy, and legality, of government-worker unionization.

Matt Patterson is senior editor at the Capital Research Center.

  • http://to-god-and-country.blogspot.com flataffect

    I think this needs to be addressed by the new Congress. Unions are more interested in making themselves indispensable to politicians rather than really representing their members. It’s absurd and offensive that they can get away with the coercion and meddling in politics and misusing dues money without being held accountable. Democrats are angry about the Citizens United case, but businesses are subject to far more stringent oversight than unions are. Closed shops ought to be outlawed along with using dues money for political campaigns. If they want to do that they should operate separate PACs and stop coordinating activities with specific campaigns. “Union” and “thugs” have practically become synonyms.

  • nickel1951

    I live in Maryland and the public sector unions not only have a stranglehold on our elected officals even the candidates to run against them are normally as much in bed with the unions as the incumbants. The time has come to stop this inside the brotherhood robbery of the taxpayers. Unfortunately, with little real private sector business left in a state like Maryland there aren’t enough voters with an understanding of the problem to provide a base of support for any reform movement. Witness the insanity of California voting in Jerry Brown, who first legalized public sector unions in California last time he was governor to come back to allow the public sector unions to get the Federal taxpayers to bail them out. Thank God for the Tea Party. Without it we would all be circling the drain.

  • junkmaninohio

    Unions are not just hijacking our Democracy, they’re bankrupting our States and Country with their unsustainable lifetime pensions and cadillac health care liabilities. The working stiff in the private sector can no longer afford to feed these parisites.

  • robb32

    To attack unions is WAY too convenient a target as the biggest ill of society; one most targeted by wealthy conservatives, and far right talk show hosts. Unions have their place. Without the ability to support worker’s rights and some form of balance, bearing the nature of fallen man, we would simply return to a feudalistic form of society, where people work 70 hrs @ 2.50 per, with no o/t and the return of sweatshops. Don’t forget, without binding arbitration returns the rights to strike and all the ugliness that entails. Just look at Greece, France, etc.
    The same Bible confirmed fallen nature and corruption of man exists within the union as well. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Again, One day very soon it’ll end with the return of Christ.

    • thephranc

      Nothing will end and return to christ because gods aren’t real. Neither is the need for unions real. If unions were so important they would represent more than just 12% of the work force. That other 88% of the workforce isn’t feudal.

    • matedeirdre

      “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

      You just made the case to end public employee unions right there. Those unions hold tremendous power and influence over government officals, so much more then the average tax payer. So who is corruped now?

    • FromMissouri2

      Well my experience with unions started when I was 19 working at a factory in Belleville Ill. I made about 1.65 an hour or there abouts…we went on strike for 2 weeks and got a 6 cent an hour increase….I was only 19 but even I could figure out that it would take me something like 15 years to make up the 2 weeks lost wages at 6 cents an hour. Sorry to say that my experiences with hiring union labor for work around my house has not been any more inspirational then that experience all those years ago..EVERY SINGLE time I’ve had union labor the job has been done poorly without regard for quality. From my perspective unions only allow the inept to collect a wage.

  • ltsjdad55

    The vast majority of unions do not have to be held accountable to the members. Closed shop states such as Maryland require everyone to become members of a union. The union does not have to earn their right to represent the members, it is shoved down the throats of the workers by the elected representative who depend on union dollars to fund their reelection campgains.

    End closed shops and allow union members to vote every 4 years to keep or drop a union. No Card check either!