Union Owned and Operated?

Posted on June 17, 2011 by

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer’s recent column “Union Owned and Operated” outlines what he calls democrats “fealty” to organized labor.

For progressive critics of congressional democrats and this white house, it’s instructive to see how the right stokes its base by citing the union boogeyman.  And it’s important to recognize that many republicans honestly believe that labor does, in fact, control the democratic party.

Krauthammer clams that free-trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea have been held up by the administration because “unions don’t like them” insisting that “trade adjustment assistance” to displaced American workers are included in the deals.

Listing the economic stimulus, the auto industry bailout and a representation election at Delta Airlines as examples of union-driven policies, Krauthammer then raises the latest attack on Obama’s submission to the union agenda: 

The National Labor Relations Board’s action against Boeing for allegedly punishing union workers in the northwest by moving work to a nonunion plant in the southeast.

Just because conservatives say we’re powerful doesn’t make it true.  In fact, the threat by the AFL-CIO to withhold support from anti-worker democrats is an attempt by labor to regain some leverage in policy matters.

The fact, though, is that unions – because of contributions and boots on the ground during elections – can exert a degree of influence on democrats, particularly in certain regions.

But using that power to transform the political culture on behalf of workers is the challenge.

And – whatever Krauthammer and his readers choose to believe – the labor movement certainly hasn’t been able to do that.

Comments (3)

 

  1. FluxRostrum says:

    fear of engagement with those who think they think different than you is withholding on a potential opportunity for both to grow. The Union agenda is the peoples agenda, don’t let anybody fool ya.
    http://fluxview.com/USA/PeopleMovingMountains

  2. Joe Uehlein says:

    “Union Owned and Operated”? — add an “s” to union and it might be more accurate: “Unions owned and Operated” by the Democratic Party — over the past 30-50 years a case could be made that unions have done what the D’s have asked them to do — get out the vote and win elections without expecting much in return.

    “…many republicans honestly believe that labor does, in fact, control the democratic party.” Would that this was true. But the opposite is more the case. But forgive my hyperbole — D’s do not “own and operate” labor — not even close, but when it comes to elections and politics labor does have a sad “lap-dog” history of getting whacked with the newspaper and still jumping up on the laps of the D’s and licking them in the face. A few trips to the White House does the trick.

    “…using that power to transform the political culture on behalf of workers is the challenge.” That is the goal, that is what we should be doing, and yes, that is the challenge given the corporate-controlled nature of the D’s.

    “…the threat by the AFL-CIO to withhold support from anti-worker democrats is an attempt by labor to regain some leverage in policy matters.” This an old and tired threat — I’ve heard it many times over the past three-plus decades. It is entirely possible that a leader as smart, progressive, aggressive and strategic as Rich Trumka might now be laying the groundwork for a 21st Century labor movement independent of the D’s, and powerful enough to voice that independence. That, however, requires manifold strategem to rebuild the movement, re-position the movement as a 21st Century movement (think sustainability), organize new and traditional groups of workers, and change the way we do business. No easy task. My hope is that Trumka, with a track record of tackling “no easy task” more than once, can do it. But I don’t know…time will tell — the next 2-3 years will tell.

    On any given day I might be an unabashed cheerleader or critic of the labor movement, but every word is written with love and respect! I know how hard the job is.

  3. Jann Whetstone says:

    Gentlemen, I must agree Labor pulls Dems out of the mud all the time, and to often we receive a slap in the face. No doubt the labor machine can be powerful, but it is definitely regional. In Los Angeles the Labor machine was built over several years by a dynamic couple… the only way for labor to be truly powerful would be to organize our own political party. There are so many skilled and strategic leaders it could happen, with work. If we can do it for Dems why not for us?

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