Progressives Love, Love, LOVE Unions... (For Everyone But Themselves)

There is something untoward—almost indecent—in listening to liberal-speak*. To hear them talk, liberals progressives love, Love LOVE unions. In fact, if it weren’t for unions out beating on doors and pounding the pavement every election cycle to get Democrats elected, most progressives would be relegated to the fringes of society to sit on street corners eating alfalfa sprouts and blogging about vegan pee.


However, when their Pavlovian unions-are-man’s-best-friend rhetoric comes to pay a visit on their own fire hydrants, progressives come unhinged. You see, all too often, they feel unions are great for everyone else…just not them.

The Case of the Union-Busting, Left-Wing Goddess

In 2006, Philadelphia restaurateur Judy Wicks was considered a “left-wing goddess.” A true believer in all things liberal: She served organic food, believed in paying a “living wage,” was a speaker at progressive conferences, founded Philadelphia’s Sustainable Business Network Conference and she turned out to be a…union-buster?

Judy Wicks founded the SBN in 2001; the White Dog, which she opened on the bottom floor of her home at 34th and Sansom streets in 1983, is considered a shining example of a sustainable business, one of the country’s most prominent adherents to the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit. That means it buys organic, local food when it can and pays “fair trade” prices for imported goods like chocolate, coffee and tea. It uses 100 percent wind power and recycles religiously. And in 1999, it made a commitment to pay employees, at minimum, a “living wage” of $8 an hour, as well as offering health benefits, paid vacation and other perks rarely found in the food-service industry. In short, it’s what other sustainable business owners hope to build.


However, after Judy’s staff chose to unionize behind her back, Judy did the unthinkable and the expected… She became a hypocrite. The “left-wing goddess” allegedly threatened and fired pro-union supporters.

If her place were unionized, Wicks fears, she would become an enemy in her own home; if her place were unionized, her model would become less appealing to others.

“If my place were unionized,” she says, “it would be a sign of my failure.”

The President’s Anti-Union Princess and Her Paupers

Billion-Heiress Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s campaign chairwoman (and overall rich woman) who sits on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (alongside former SEIU boss Anna Burger and AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka) is the epitome of good for thee, but not for me liberalism.

As a confidante of the union-backed Obama, and her opposition to the delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act well documented, Pritzker has also been accused of destroying union jobs by the Boilermakers and union busting by the hotel union UNITE-HERE.

Harping on Harper’s Hypocrisy

In 2009, Harper’s Magazine‘s progressive President and Publisher John R. MacArthur wrote a glowing piece about the United Auto Workers wherein he stated:

…the United Auto Workers union, the country’s best and traditionally most honest mass labor organization.


It wasn’t so long ago that the UAW set the standard for successful collective bargaining and trade-union integrity. Its greatest leader, the leftist Walter Reuther, was so powerfully independent that in 1968 he even dared to bolt from the AFL-CIO and its reactionary boss, George Meany.


Yet, when MacArthur’s staff decided to unionize with the UAW in 2010, MacArthur turned his liberal love for the UAW into progressive hypocrisy. Rather than accept card-check, which progressives, Democrats and unions have been pushing for five years, MacArthur went through a contested NLRB election:

MacArthur contested the entire staff’s right to unionize, arguing that editors and assistant editors who make up about half of the editorial team were management and thus did not qualify…


MacArthur hired veteran employment lawyer Bert Pogrebin, who had previously faced off against the Village Voice union, to negotiate on his behalf….


MacArthur wrote that forming a union “will not, as some have requested, give any of you a great voice in the selection of the next editor,” and added, “Certainly, the union will not be able to solve the financial problems of the magazine or get us more subscribers, newsstand buyers or advertisers. It will, of course, be able to collect initiation fees and dues from you.”

On October 14, staffers certified the union and formally joined UAW Local 2110.

The Purple People Beaters

The SEIU, the bastion of progressive unions is also a model of do as I say, not as I do labor practices. With its far-reaching tentacles, the SEIU has several run-ins with unions and the SEIU’s unionized staff:


In January 2007, unionized members of SEIU Local 1.on, organized through the Teamsters, went out on strike against SEIU over complaints about low wages. Elsewhere, the union’s own employees filed a federal complaint against the union for its behavior as an employer. An announcement from employees said, “SEIU’s bullying of its staff continues to be met with resistance” after the union attempted to “force an unfair contract including a demand to waive legally protected rights.” It was just the latest evidence of a pattern of SEIU abusing its own staff.

Labeling SEIU’s management as a “well-oiled de facto politburo” former SEIU organizer Kevin Funk exposed his union’s hypocrisy, which he argued was “characterized by an often subtle yet convoluted net of deceit, fear-mongering, incompetence, and, in fact, union-busting.”

Progressives, it seems, love their labor unions through thick and thin…Except when unions come to unionize their businesses. Then, and only then, their Marxist ideals get traded out for their inner Gordon Gecko, their love for Lenin…Well, you get the point.

The funny thing is, there are so many so-called Progressive Business Leaders out there that it would be very interesting to see just how many are unionized…Or, whether they want to become unionized.

Rule No. 4: Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.



* Liberal-speak is, of course, that strange narrative of preach unto others what you would not have done to you.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776


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