Organized Labor Is Losing Some of Its Best Friends (Thank God!)

The Pendulum may be moving in the other direction. Little by little, politicians are beginning to realize that the pro-labor position may not be the best position for its constituents. Gary N. Chaison, a professor and labor expert at Clark University, said some Democratic officials now see it as a “badge of honor” to take on the unions.“They see it as a way to show their independence,” he said.

Its more than a badge of honor, during the past 16 months the actions of the Obama Administration has placed government bias toward unions front and center. As the remaining 88% of the population have not been getting the same “breaks” as the unions and this pro-union bias has cost the federal budget money.

From day one, President Obama has favored the unions over the vast majority of the country. Here are three of the many examples,

  • GM/Chrysler Bailouts: the right of the primary investors were ignored so the President could give the UAW more than their fair share of the companies.
  • “High Road Contracting Policy” This Presidential order basically cuts out the non-union shops from the $500 billion dollars worth of Federal construction Jobs, thus raising the cost of construction jobs between 10-20% and increasing the federal deficit.
  • Cap and Trade-Kerry bill empowers the Secretaries of Labor and Energy to funnel federal contracts to unionized contractors. Or, to mandate the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal and federally-assisted construction projects. This measure would choke off non-union companies from competing and resulting in an inefficient process that will raise the cost of projects, stymie the economy and lead to higher taxes.

So its very understandable that the vast majority of America is feeling “left out” and politicians are beginning to see the handwriting on the wall:

For years, Republican lawmakers have railed against public employees’ pay and benefits, but now another breed of elected official is demanding labor concessions, too: current and former labor leaders and allies themselves.

After 12 years erecting steel beams for office buildings, Mr. Sweeney became a top official in New Jersey’s ironworkers union, now holding that post along with his legislative one. He says the state can no longer afford the benefits won over the years by public sector unions.

“At some point, you reach the limit of your ability to pay,” he said.

Ya Think?

In Oregon, Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski, a former lawyer representing the state employees’ union, is insisting upon wage concessions from those very workers. In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former teachers’ union organizer, is battling once-friendly unions, demanding $100 million in concessions.

In New York, Gov. David A. Paterson, a longtime union ally whose father is a top adviser to several unions, is threatening large-scale layoffs unless public sector unions agree to a pay freeze and re-open contracts.

The transition from labor ally to labor critic can be bruising. Viewing Mr. Sweeney as a traitor, several public sector unions in New Jersey are threatening to get another Democrat to challenge him and have hired airplanes to fly over the Jersey Shore with banners denouncing him. They have even dragged out giant inflatable rats to embarrass him at speaking engagements.

“I’m getting branded as an antilabor person by the public employee unions, which amazes me because I’ve spent my lifetime doing right by working men and women,” said Mr. Sweeney, who has sponsored legislation that raised the state minimum wage and required companies to provide paid sick days. “I’m a labor leader, but I’m also elected to do right by all the people in the state of New Jersey, and not just union members.”

That’s the real point times are bad all over, and the unions do not know when to ease up.  They are showing themselves as greedy pigs.

Another New Jersey Democrat, Donald Norcross, who is both a state senator and president of the Southern New Jersey Central Labor Council, has been told by several public sector unions that they will not contribute a cent toward his Senate re-election campaign because he has backed so many of Mr. Sweeney’s proposals. And in Los Angeles, Mr. Villaraigosa has faced hostile union-paid advertisements and librarians demonstrating outside his home on Father’s Day.

Many of these new vanguards of fiscal restraint are the same people who previously helped the Unions in their gluttonous demands.  Mr. Paterson did just that as Democratic leader of the New York State Senate and Mr. Villaraigosa did the same as a member of the California State Assembly.

Last year, 51 percent of cities froze or reduced pay, according to the National League of Cities, while 25 percent laid off workers, 24 percent reduced health benefits and 22 percent revised union contracts to reduce pay and benefits. According to the Pew Center on the States, states are $452 billion behind in their pension contributions while also having $554 billion in liabilities for retiree health care.

Even with the resistance from public sector unions, some elected officials are realizing that getting tough with the unions can be good politics in down economic times, as government employees’ benefits are held up as examples of excess — and as taxpayers (and voters) demand greater accountability.

….At a time when many private sector workers have been badly squeezed by stagnant wages, soaring health care premiums and shrinking 401(k)’s, resentment has grown even among private sector union members toward the public employee unions. “It’s almost as if the private sector is blaming the public sector as the spoiled child in the house of labor,” Professor Chaison said.

Unions think they are being scapegoated, for example Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America, New Jersey’s main government workers’ union, told the NY Times:

“You can drum up a lot of resentment when people are hurting economically,” Ms. Rosenstein said. “It’s very, very hard to see people so angry at teachers and social workers.”

A major part of the cost of running a state is labor compensation, therefore one key way of cutting back when your State Budget is about to go bust is to cut back on labor costs. But Labor believes that everyone else should make the sacrifice through higher taxes.

In New York, Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association of New York, said union members feel betrayed by Mr. Paterson.

“If you told me five years ago that David Paterson would be our enemy, I would have laughed at you,” Mr. Donohue said. “He’s trying to balance a $9 billion deficit on the backs of public employees.” The Paterson administration says it is asking many parties to sacrifice.

Ms. Rosenstein, of the communications workers, says “People talk of shared sacrifice,” “We’ve already sacrificed.”

Ms. Rosenstein, So have the rest of us. We can no longer afford the higher costs that labor unions cause. Our government has been protecting the unions and screwing the majority of the people for years. Its time the unions share in the pain it helped to cause

You can read more of Jeff’s writing at his website, Jeffdunetz.com

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