John McCaslin

Jay Timmons, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), tells senators he's of labor union roots, but enough is enough.

"I have never met a man for whom I have more respect and admiration than my grandfather, who was a proud union member at the local paper mill in southern Ohio where I grew up. Most of my extended family and many friends possessed a union card," Mr. Timmons informs Capitol Hill in a letter.

But "in the early part of the last century, pay was inequitable, working conditions were unhealthful and workers had no rights to grievance or bargain."

Today, the need for unionization "has diminished substantially as employers- particularly manufacturers - foster positive employee relations and understand that these relationships should be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and fairness."

Mr. Timmons' letter follows the recently introduced Employee Free Choice Act, which he calls "one of the most direct threats to economic growth and job retention and creation," including barring employees from using secret ballot voting when deciding whether to join a union.


"I've lived through '64, '74 and '92. In '64 we were beaten so badly people talked about whether the party had a future. By '66, Lyndon Johnson had gone so far to the left and spilt the Democratic Party and we gained 47 House seats and picked up a bunch of governorships and Senate seats. Since 1968 you have not elected an overt liberal in 40 years. In '74 to '76, we had Watergate and a bad recession and then a Reagan-Ford nomination fight. In that period, only 17 percent of the country identified itself as Republican and yet four years later, Reagan won a smashing victory and Carter collapsed under a bad economy. In '92, Bush, having thrown away the fiscal conservatives by raising taxes, lost the three-way race and, two years later, we gained the House for the first time in 40 years and kept it. I know how fast the country can switch."

- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, reminding Newsweek's Eleanor Clift that the nation's political landscape can change at the drop of a dime

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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