Editorial: Card-Check Last Gasp of Big Labor
Last week, the Washington Examiner reported that 17 senators and representatives from nine states refused to comment on whether they would return some $359,000 they had taken in 2006 and 2008 from five labor unions “with significant internal corruption problems.”
Which is no wonder. According to top researcher at Americans for Limited Government, Don Todd, “Labor leaders often confuse what is good for the ‘cause,' with what is good for themselves. They also sometimes confuse the union bank account with their own.” It may sound like he is joking, but as the Examiner reported, “[a]mong the five unions, there were a total of 71 convictions in federal courts since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement and mail fraud to falsifying official reports to government and conspiracy.”
Of the 17 senators and representatives, 3 were Republicans and 14 Democrats. Todd notes without apology, “Many people believe that the labor unions are a subsidiary of the Democratic Party. They have it backwards; the Democratic Party is a subsidiary of the union movement.” As reported in the Examiner article, all 17 congressmen are co-sponsors of the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act”—the bill that would abolish secret ballot elections when unions are organized.
Instead, union officials could go around the workplace and dragoon workers into signing signature cards until a majority indicates their interest—and then a union is organized without any vote. Such a system would be coercive, utilized for political purposes, and roll back workers' rights, not enhance them. Todd posits, “Unions are in the intimidation business. They have intimidated businesses like the auto companies for over half a century. Now they want to intimidate the rank and file through card check. Intimidation is all they know.”
For now, “card check” is considered to be effectively dead legislatively ever since Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) came out against the legislation. Currently, Republicans in the Senate have enough votes to filibuster the measure, but that does not mean it will not be attached to another bill. Or that some other Republican member of the Senate will not succumb to union intimidation down the road.
The problem for unions is that card check, coercion, and lead pipes may be the only way to get workers to sign up for a union these days, with union participation on the overall decline over the past many decades.
As reported by the Becker-Posner blog, “Union membership has been declining ever since 1954 when it peaked at 28% of total employment -unions' share of nonagricultural employment was then 35 %. During the subsequent half century the union share declined more or less continuously, and now is only about 11%. A mere 7% of private sector employees are unionized. The one bright spot in the union picture is the growth in their share of government employees to about 37%.” And with revenues to local and state governments, as well as record budget deficits for the federal government, scaling back of public employee workforces is all but inevitable once the bailouts dry up.
Ultimately, the economic stagnation, inefficiency, and outright venality often promoted by labor unions will prove to be their own undoing. As Todd says, “Union leaders refuse to believe that it is their product that is their problem. Card check will only mask the real problem which is their economic model is out of date and offers nothing to a 21st century work force.” And all of the corrupt politicians in Washing cannot negate that simple fact of the matter.