Labor's Last Stand Before Oblivion

Seven years ago, just a few months before the 2005 break up of the AFL-CIO at the hands of SEIU’s Andy Stern, Teamsters boss James P. Hoffa and others, I wrote an essay entitled The Labor Movement is Brain Dead (and it’s time to pull the plug).


Although it was used out of context by the SEIU’s Anna Burger (one of the chief architects of the AFL-CIO break up) in the months prior to the  unions’ split, and the political world has since changed (as have some of the faces at the top of the unions’ pyramid scheme), the prognosis for union bosses—especially in the private sector—is not any brighter, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election.

In fact, it can easily be argued that, given all of Barack Obama’s so-called ‘accomplish-ments’ (i.e., ObamaCare, the auto bailout, the prolonged Great Recession, and trillions more in national debt), union bosses and their members are actually in worse shape than they were four years ago.

Nevertheless, union bosses are going all out in their efforts to see Barack Obama re-elected. In Ohio, the SEIU, the union largely responsible for ObamaCare, is claiming that it has knocked on 460,000 doors and the CWA has sent a busload of union activists as well.

As unions have spent $4.4 billion dollars on politics since 2005 and have nothing concrete to show for it (except partial ownership of a political party and a national health care system that is costing workers their full-time jobs), it should be clear to both union bosses and their members that they are no better off than they were four years ago—or since 2005, when the Great Schism that divided the union movement occurred.


To show how desperate they are, unions are even taking out loans from a union-owned bank to help out with Senate races.

The American Prospect postulates why unions are devoting all their resources to defeating Mitt Romney and Republicans:

A Romney presidency would surely move to suppress an already shrunken union movement—the Republican platform promises that—and America’s unions are doing all they can to ensure that presidency never happens.

As an institution, however, a Mitt Romney victory may actually be better for private-sector unions in the long run than prolonging the inevitable with an Obama victory.

As a practical matter, given the expectancy of an Obama victory, many corporations have already braced themselves for an onslaught of new regulations and union attacks. [It’s called contingency planning.]

At least with a Romney victory, union bosses might actually be forced to re-think their business model–something that is long overdue.

After more than 60 years of declining as a percentage of the American workforce, today’s union bosses are still operating under a failing business model of adversarial labor relations, mass industrial unionization, as well as the false premise that politics is their salvation.

Rather than an examination of what unions have to offer in today’s globally competitive workforce, union bosses fail to realize that what they are selling to America’s workforce is what America’s workers are now getting through government paternalism.


In other words, the unions have lobbied themselves out of existence in most cases:

  • Do you want health care? The government will be giving it to you via ObamaCare.
  • Have you been unjustly fired, discriminated, or harassed? Go see the EEOC.
  • Is your workplace unsafe? Call OSHA.
  • Is your employer cheating you out of wages? Call the Wage & Hour Division of the DOL.
  • Do you and your co-workers want to act in concert? You don’t need to pay a union, just call the NLRB and they’ll tell you how for free.

So, just what is it today’s unions have to offer?

Higher wages? No. In 2011, 41% of union contracts negotiated contained wage freezes in their first year. Of the wage increases given in contracts’ first year, the average was 1.4%—which is about what union dues cost.

Are unions providing workers with better job security? Not hardly.

Are unions offering better retirement? Ha! Have you looked at those numbers lately? [Note: It’s compared to a time bomb for a reason.]

So, as they collect billions of dollars each year from workers paychecks, what is it that today’s unions are actually good for (other than collecting money to spend on politicians)?

Given that private-sector unions have had the most pro-union President, Department of Labor, as well as National Labor Relations Board in more than 50 years, union bosses still haven’t been able to offer anything other than class warfare, the Occupy movement, and ObamaCare to America’s workforce (which a majority don’t want).  All of them are failing to rebuild union roles (and coffers). Miserably.


Until union bosses come up with a new business model, a perpetuation of their ‘business as usual’ approach will see unions dwindle further before they become nothing more than a motley collection of government unions, even motlier occupiers, aging Marxists, political lobbyists, and a retirees association. And, if that’s all unions are to become, it might just be cheaper to join AARP.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election, the writing is on the wall for today’s unions: Unless and until they do something different, no matter how much they spend on buying Barack Obama and his cronies, 2012 is likely to be union bosses’ last stand before they face oblivion.


“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

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