As millions of Americans take a well-earned break over the long Labor Day weekend, organized labor will be working overtime to influence this November’s pivotal mid-term elections.
Disregarding last year’s largely symbolic split triggered by differences over whether to spend money on politics or coercive organizing programs, union elites within the so-called “Change to Win” coalition and the AFL-CIO recently pledged their unity in the 2006 election cycle. In fact, not only have the two groups pledged to share mailing lists and contributions, but they also vowed to work hand-in-glove at the local level, mobilizing armies and paid “volunteers” for their hand-picked candidates.
Mounting a zealous effort to install a majority in Congress sympathetic to expanding forced unionism privileges, the AFL-CIO recently earmarked an unprecedented $40 million dedicated to the 2006 mid-term election cycle. The amount eclipses the mark the AFL-CIO spent on the last mid-term cycle in 2004 which totaled over $30 million.
This, however, is the tip of the iceberg.
To most, the true reach and power behind union officials’ electioneering remains unknown. Money spent by union-fronted political action committees – far in excess of $100 million for federal races last year – is just the beginning. The real prize possession is the $800 million forced-union-dues war chest spent on basic political organizing, including voter identification activities, get out the vote drives, literature drops, cleverly-crafted issue ads, and boiler room phone banks.
Meanwhile, polls consistently show that more than 60 percent of union members oppose any use of union dues for electioneering. A McLaughlin & Associates research company poll indicates the number of workers unaware of their right to withhold mandatory dues for politics stood at 67 percent. And history indicates over 40 percent of union members will likely not vote for the candidates anointed by their union hierarchy.
In spite of these numbers, Big Labor enjoys the most corrupt aspect of America’s political system: the special privilege to force millions of workers to pay union dues as a job condition. More than $8 billion annually in forced union dues alone flows to union officials from workers who would lose their jobs if they refused to pay, much of it funneled towards maintaining and expanding this special privilege.
The fact is, fewer and fewer workers join unions on their own volition these days. The corruption and political activism of union officials is one turnoff. Union featherbedding, uneconomic and wasteful work rules, and the lack of consideration of merit and performance alienates others. Because of this, even though Big Labor resources continue to grow, less than eight percent of private sector workers today belong to a union, while roughly fifteen percent belong to government unions.
That’s why Big Labor and its allies are working feverishly to change the political landscape. What they can’t get from American workers, union officials hope to get from politicians in Washington.
And their plan is well underway.
Union officials now claim that the secret ballot election process for unionization should be banned. Instead, Big Labor is pushing an intimidating organizing scheme wherein workers must say “no” to union organizers face-to-face in a so-called “card check” campaign.
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA) introduced legislation to ban the traditional secret ballot election process outright, and federally mandate “card check” unionization. Ironically, just five years ago Congressman Miller and 15 other members of congress implored the Mexican government to establish a secret ballot election process in that country because, they wrote, they “are essential to ensure that employees are not intimidated or coerced.”
This “card check” issue is fast becoming a point of contention in the presidential and congressional races. The AFL-CIO has stated that support for its bill is the closest thing they have to a litmus test for who receives union support this election year.
The bottom line is that union officials and their allies in congress know that they can’t afford to give workers an actual say when it comes to unionization. While Big Labor pays lip service to “workers’ rights” this Labor Day, union officials are hard at work undermining the freedom of American employees.
Mark Mix is the President of the National Right to Work Committee.