Matt Patterson

Hmm, sounds a lot like what unions have inflicted upon the United States: wholesale corruption as many union chapters have historically acted as fronts for organized crime; forced inequality as unionized public employees out-earn their counterparts in the private sector; grotesque injustice as greedy unions strong-armed lavish salaries and benefits for themselves that bust the budgets of entire states, forcing non-union folks to suffer higher taxes and fewer services.

The sad thing is, for a time in the 20th century, American unions turned from this seedy past to become defenders of economic freedom. As Ivan Osorio, labor expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes, “During the Cold War, the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and most major U.S. labor unions were staunchly anti-communist. In fact, the AFL-CIO under Lane Kirkland worked closely with the Reagan administration to aid the Solidarity movement in Poland.” Unfortunately, our 21st-century unions seem to be slipping back to their traditional socialist mores and tendencies as they decline in popularity. In 2010, the union membership rate was 11.9 percent, down from 20.1 percent in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unions today loathe freedom, as Andy Stern demonstrates in his Wall Street Journal column, because unions require unfree markets in order to thrive. They love big government because unions require the government to guarantee their monopolies on labor. And it is precisely those features of unions that have contributed to their increasing unpopularity in the United States, where citizens are becoming wise to the corrupt conspiracy between unions and government to extinguish their liberties.

In a February interview with The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, Mr. Stern lamented the decline of organized labor’s power and influence and waxed nostalgic about the movement’s early days: “We had to do sit-down strikes and various other things. We had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle … but it’s not viewed through that light anymore.”

Yeah, poor unions. If we were all a little more Marxist, maybe they wouldn’t be having such a tough time of it.


Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson is senior editor at the Capital Research Center and contributor to Proud to be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation (HarperCollins, 2010). His email is mpatterson.column@gmail.com.