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On Labor Day, Unions Have Nothing to Celebrate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

For labor unions around the country, this Labor Day serves as a painful reminder that when they decided to go all-in for Obama in 2008, they alienated the rest of us non-government, non-union members- the 99 Percent- who have to go out and earn our keep every day. And that alienation is being expressed in political defeats by unions around the country. 

I’m wondering if the unions are starting to regret their investment in Obama.

Unions dumped $450 million into the Obama effort in 2008, according to the New York Times, hoping that they’d buy political clout with Obama that they don’t actually own on Main Street. But besides the auto bailout, and a few years of government stimulus spending, the strategy has been pretty much a disaster.

“This is not about payback,” the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of government affairs told the New York Times. “We’re looking to work with the new administration on a shared set of priorities that focus on lifting workers and improving the economy.”

I think he meant “lifting workers’ wallets.”

Because on the other counts, I think you can call their strategy a failure: No payback for unions and no improving economy.

And just another fine job for liberals, who don’t seems to be able to accomplish even those things that they say they desire.

Instead, the mass of the country has turned on unions, union members, bloated union benefits and even- gasp!- public teachers- who used to be as iconic in America as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and, um… Chevrolet?

The laundry list of failures for the union agenda is really staggering. They spent the most money ever. They elected the greatest president EVER.

But what did they really get? The union has faced the longest string of defeats since the losing streak that started at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Well, they wanted to be in politics. Congrats, Mr. Union. You are now in politics.

Card check? The union equivalent of forced busing and segregation? Voters completely rebuked unions on that one.

Then there was Madison, WI and the recall rebuke when Scott Walker took on teachers’ unions. What do you call it when voters vote a governor back in by recall with a wider margin than he originally received in the general election? A permission slip to give the unions detention.

How about that union fiasco with the National Labor Relations Board trying to stop Boeing Corporation from opening a $1 billion plant in South Carolina because it wasn’t a union shop? Another union disaster where they had to lower their colors.

Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, is calling the regulatory climate for business the worst in U.S. history.

From MarketWatch:

Asked by a reporter if regulations are any worse now than in decades past, McNerney gave an emphatic yes. “It’s different today. The attitude is different,” he said. “Unless you live it it’s hard to see it.”

McNerney said the Roundtable “hears about it all day long” from member companies. The group represents large U.S. firms that employ more than 14 million people and generate sales in excess of $6 trillion a year.

Many of those regulatory hurdles are put there just to coddle unions.

Even liberals like California Governor Jerry Brown are beginning to call on unions to start sharing the sacrifice that the rest of us felt since the recession began.

"We have lived beyond our means," said Brown about California’s public employee pension system according to Reuters. The pension fund is currently short about $136 billion. "The chickens are coming home to roost and this [pension cut] is just one in a series of countermeasures that will be required over the next decade."

As more municipalities begin to eye bankruptcy proceedings as a way out of this financial mess, many believe that one great advantage of bankruptcy proceedings is that it will allow the nullification of fat union wages, pensions and other benefits that taxpayers in the private sector don’t get.

But if the example of Stockton, California serves as a guide, city officials would rather screw taxpayers and bondholders than take the union-led public employees off the state-sponsored tit.

And of course they would.

Public employee unions make public campaign contributions to politicians precisely for the exigency when taxpayers’ interest conflict with the interests of public employees.

“The debate centers on Stockton, California, the largest city in the nation to declare bankruptcy,” reports Bloomberg. “In its initial proposal to creditors, the city would fully fund its pension system while walking away from $124 million in debt from pension-obligation bonds [Editor’s emphasis] it floated in 2007.”

So they are defaulting on the money they borrowed last time to get out the pension mess that they didn’t fix when they had the chance the first time.

Now they are contemplating a kind of municipal bankruptcy with none of the messy benefits of long-term financial relief.

Continues Bloomberg:

Stockton couldn’t meet its financial obligations to pay for enhanced pension benefits five years ago, so it borrowed the money [Editor’s emphasis]. Rather than cut unsustainable benefit levels while it has the chance to do so now, officials there would rather default on the $103 million it owes Assured (AGO) Guaranty.

Stockton and other Californian cities have slashed public services, thus putting the demands of public employees above the concerns of taxpayers and residents who rely on public services. Now we see that even bondholders don’t stand a chance when their interests collide with those of public-sector unions.

It’s easier to take on an offshore firm than confront CalPers [California Public Employees’ Retirement System], which had threatened to wage a protracted court battle against another Californian city, Vallejo, if it decided to reduce pension promises after its 2008 bankruptcy. Stockton officials no doubt are aware of that threat.  

Why not screw the bondholders?

Isn’t this the precedent established by our president when he gifted $25 billion to the UAW pension plan- which killed the automakers to begin with- while giving the GM bondholders the shaft in extra-legal bankruptcy proceedings?

The taxpayers will now pick up the tab.

Let me repeat: The taxpayers WILL pick up the tab.  

Perhaps it’s time to do away with the throwaway holiday of Labor Day.

Instead, perhaps on the first Monday in September we should remember things that matter, like those people who died in the 9/11 tragedy.

If you agree, please contact your state legislative representative through this link and forward to them the resolution below:

A Resolution Setting Aside One Hour on Labor Day

 In Order to Memorialize the Events of September 11th, 2001

Whereas, the people of the state of ________________________ remember the tragedy that befell our country on the 11th of September in the Year 2001; a tragedy which was wholly unprovoked by any policy or action of any citizen or government of the United States;

Whereas, eleven years has passed since the murder of our innocent citizens, who were our brothers, our fathers, our sisters, our mothers, our sons and our daughters;

Whereas, U.S. troops remain in harm’s way as a result of the cowardly attack on the 11th of September, 2001;

Whereas, the people of the state of ________________________ are desirous of memorializing the great sacrifices made by those who gave their lives as a result of the cowardly and unprovoked attack on the 11th of September, 2001, an attack made on peaceful citizens who were laboring towards peaceful pursuits;

Whereas, the people of the state of ________________________ wish to thank those law enforcement officers, public safety officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen who labored through the crisis of the 11th of September, 2001 and those who labor to keep us safe today;

Whereas, the people of the state of ________________________ understand that the common experiences that are shared by all Americans make up the dynamic American community and create the historical experience of being American;

Whereas, the United States has seen fit to set aside the first Monday of September, in every year, as a day to celebrate and honor the dignity of labor and it was labor in which our fellow citizens were engaged when they were attacked;

Whereas, we hold that religion has a special place in society in helping sanctify the dignity of labor and the sacrifices of our fellow citizens;

Whereas, therefore, we here assembled do instruct and ask the members of the ________________________ Legislative delegation to introduce a suitable joint resolution in the ________________________ Legislature inviting all ________________________and, in the name of the ________________________ Legislature, to set aside one hour on the day commonly reserved for Labor Day, in the Year 2013, and all subsequent years, to repair to their respective houses of worship and worship their Creator, each in their best understanding of their Creator and give thanks to Him for His help during our hours of trial and to memorialize the dead of the 11th of September, 2001, and those who subsequently gave their lives that our nation might live;

Whereas, we ask religious organizations to make available to their congregants special services on that day and continue to do so in perpetuity, year after year for as long as it’s deemed necessary to hold the day in remembrance;

Whereas, we call upon our non-religious fellow citizens to only remember in their heart, the whole day, the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 and to be tolerant of those citizens who wish to memorialize and dignify the deaths of their fellow citizens as their conscience dictates.    

Whereas, since it is fitting and proper that we do so, we here assembled do instruct and ask the members of the ________________________ Legislative delegation to contact their colleagues in the legislatures of the several states that make up our national Union and invite them to introduce similar resolutions, so that all Americans may remember together the events and sacrifices consequent to the events of September 11th, 2001, for as long as it’s deemed necessary to hold the day in remembrance.  

Whereas, we submit this resolution to the people of the state of ________________________ and to the judgment of humankind under our Creator;

Be It Resolved by All Here Assembled. 

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