In the past decade, the AFL-CIO has lobbied Congress on three major issues of any importance to union members:
The unions lost every vote. Demonstrating his savvy political skills, the head of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, repeatedly throws the federation's support to political candidates who opposed labor on all three issues. So if you ever find yourself negotiating with Sweeney, make sure your opening bid is "nothing."
Sweeney's curious lose-at-any-price strategy has cost the unions everything. The only two Democratic presidential candidates to vote with the unions on any of these issues ? not all, but any ? were Representatives Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich. Gephardt was out of the race after the first primary, and Kucinich can't break beyond the Aliens-Kidnapped-My-Mother crowd. (Dennis Kucinich did his tax return this week, and under "occupation" he wrote "Jay Leno punch line.")
There is only one candidate for president who didn't vote for NAFTA, didn't vote for trade with China and supported drilling in ANWR. That candidate is George Bush. He got into office by beating Al Gore ? the guy who was the head cheerleader for NAFTA. And unlike Dick Gephardt, Bush spends more time on the phone with Jimmy Hoffa than with Barbra Streisand. As president, Bush enraged free traders ? and our precious European "allies" ? by imposing tariffs on steel imports.
Sweeney has rewarded Bush by calling him a "horror" for organized labor. Apparently what "organized labor" really wants isn't good jobs at good wages, but ... abortion on demand! The AFL-CIO has vowed to devote massive union resources against Bush in the crucial swing states of Missouri, Ohio and Florida in the coming election.
Strictly following his strategy of selling union votes for nothing, the AFL-CIO has endorsed Sen. John Kerry ? who voted for NAFTA, voted for trade with China and voted against drilling for oil in Alaska. Skilled laborers will have to wait another day for "fair trade" and high-paying jobs in Alaska, but at least Sweeney's candidate supports the issues that really matter to the average blue-collar worker: gay marriage, global-warming treaties and hybrid cars.
Kerry denounces "Benedict Arnold" CEOs who ship "American jobs overseas." (Experts are still trying to figure out why Kerry didn't mention his service in Vietnam in that statement.) Sweeney seems to be satisfied with Kerry's explanation that ? like his vote for war with Iraq ? he voted for free trade, but then was shocked when free trade resulted.