Democrats Fiddle as Republicans Kill Off Unions

Posted on February 8, 2012 by

Making sure the labor movement never regains real power in America, republicans in congress and the states do everything possible to prevent unions from organizing, bargaining and collecting dues.

Republican governors make undermining government worker unions their top priority.  So even if conservatives hold statehouse majorities for only a couple of terms, they leave office with weakened public employee unions.

Likewise, congressional republicans never miss a chance to insert anti-union provisions into legislation or undermine agency regulations which could benefit the labor movement.

Meanwhile, democrats – whose existence is threatened by a diminished labor movement – often meet republicans halfway.

This week, senate democrats caved-in to house republicans to pass a Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] funding measure which included provisions making airline industry organizing more difficult.

It’s ironic and maddening that it’s the republicans who clearly recognize the potential of unions to shift the balance of power in the American workplace and economy.

Don’t forget, it was a handful of senate democrats who foiled labor law reform during Obama’s first year in office.

Republicans also completely understand the historic and current value of “right-to-work” campaigns which, when successful, carve out low-wage states and spur a race to the bottom for American workers.

Democrats often get trapped by their opponents in arguments over the “sanctity of the secret ballot” (the ruse used to defeat labor law reform), or the morality of “compulsory” unionism (the language of the right-to-work movement).

In the FAA “compromise” democrats site the number of construction and other jobs which will result.

What our “friends’ don’t seem to get is that the republicans are out to kill off the labor movement and – in so doing – destroy forever the working-class base of the democratic party.

Comments (8)


  1. Greg says:

    Another nail that we provided to close up our collective bargaining coffins. RIP Labor because with friends like this, who needs enemies?

  2. Nick says:

    You spelled diddle wrong.

  3. Democrats have become “Republican lite.” Don’t expect help from them either. Labor has to enlist the support of religious organizations, community-based groups, the Occupy movement, students and shut the country down and organize a major march on Washington, DC. Unless, millions of disenfranchised Americans step up we may as well wait until things go to rock bottom before the Phoenix will rise up. Sad but true.

  4. Richard Slawson says:

    This is another example of Labor letting others define what we stand for and what we do. We are not perceived as having value to the average American family. And, we are not presenting our message to them to change the perception of Labor Unions.

    That we don’t present ourselves; as demanding good jobs for every family, as demanding good trade agreements instead of bad trade deals, as demanding a progressive tax systems, as the only grass-roots defenders of Social Security and Medicare (and a “single payer” national medical system), and that we negotiate good, strong wage and benefit contracts every day for workers in every walk of life; lets others define us a a “special interest.”

    All you have to do to make this clear is to ask your friends who don’t have a Union what they think, and it is immediately evident that the general public isn’t aware, in any way, of the positive effect that Labor Unions have on the economy, on the middle-class and their work place.

    The AFL-CIO needs a national television – corporate style – advertizing campaign to re-establish Labor Unions as what they are; American Institutions established to defend the rights of every American worker for a fair share of the profits in our economic system and a voice in the work place and society. We can do this by asking every Union worker and even our business partners to contribute to a 501c3 fund to advertize – to tell our story in our own words – to tell the truth about what we do.

    Just a dollar a month from every Union member would bring such an advertizing fund over $100,000,000.00 a year. We all need to contact our International Unions to ask that they demand a plan to begin telling our story on national television. It will change the dynamic so that Organize Labor won’t have to depend on any political party to act for workers, Organized Labor will one again be able to demand action for all American workers.

  5. John Ludwig says:

    I agree with Richard Slawson, there has been very little work to fight the mis-information that has been attacking unions. It seems like all you hear in discussions on unions is how bad they are, how corrupt they are, or how they cause jobs to be eliminated. I rarely hear any public information campaigns to counter the attacks. We need to make people understand how unions benefit all.

  6. Joan Conway says:

    An easy way to understand this dilemma is to read “Party Politics and Class Conflict” an essay written by Richard C. Edwards and Michael Reich for the “Capitalistic System.”

    In the final chapter IV. Monopoly Capitalism, the State and Class Conflict states,”….["...Thus, the state has become more immediately and directly involved in the accumulation process.

    For capitalists, this increasing intervention of the state in the economy makes control over state policies more crucial. How the state regulates industries, (sets taxes), conducts macroeconomic policy, buys military hardware, etc. has an increasing impact on profits. The problem this creates for capitalists, as we have seen, is that their control over the state is far from complete. It is certainly less complete than their control over the means of production, and it becomes more uncertain with the continuing demise of small propertied interests and the expansion of an enfranchised working class.

    At the same time, because of the growth of state activities, the working class must also struggle over state policy to defend or advance its interests. Class struggle occurs not only in relation to individual employers, but more and more spills over into the political arena itself. This struggle includes, though is not limited to, elections and party politics.

    We have seen how capitalists have responded to democratic political reforms by seeking to limit democracy. The struggle to extend democracy consequently has become increasingly a struggle against capitalists and against the structural constraints that capitalist relations of production place upon the state. The struggle to extend democracy has become more than every a struggle against the capitalist mode of production."] Newsweek, September 13, 1976, p. 16.

  7. Dean Clark says:

    We really have no one to blame but ourselves, we keep electing the same people over and over again. Even after they do such terrible things to our labor force. Hopefully soon people will wake up and get the right people in. However it is probably too late for that now.

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