Friday, February 12, 2010

A Disastrous Year For Labor

Harold Meyerson on the first year of the Obama Administration for Organized Labor:
For American labor, year one of Barack Obama's presidency has been close to an unmitigated disaster.

Labor's primary priority -- the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- died when the Democrats lost their 60-vote majority in the Senate. Labor's normal priority -- a functioning National Labor Relations Board -- also seems out of reach, with Republicans on Tuesday blocking the appointment of Obama nominee Craig Becker (that's why Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown scurried down to Washington last week to take his seat). Other key legislation for which labor has lobbied, including health-care reform and financial regulations, languishes in the Senate.

For the unions, the Senate's inability to pass EFCA is devastating and galling. Democratic senators had developed a compromise proposal that would have jettisoned the controversial "card check" process -- by which unions could be organized without a secret ballot -- in favor of expediting the election process (so that management couldn't delay for months, or even years, employees' votes on whether to unionize) and stiffening the penalties for violating the rules that govern election conduct.

The compromise had a shot at winning all 60 Democratic votes. The unions, which spent more than $300 million in the 2008 elections on Democrats' behalf, wanted a vote on EFCA last year, but Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked them to wait until health reform had passed. (Their requests for confirmation votes on NLRB appointees were similarly delayed.)
As much as Obama and the Senate Democrats seem to get aroused at how far they can throw their biggest allies under the bus, I'd always figured they'd throw them a bone here and there out of self preservation. Well, they haven't even done that, and they'll reap the rewards of that strategy this fall:
Union leaders warn that the Democrats' lackluster performance in power is sapping the morale of activists going into the midterm elections.

"Right now if we don’t get positive changes to the agenda, we’re going to have a hard time getting members out to work," said United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, in an interview.

“There’s no use pretending any longer.”

The biggest threat, of course, is apathy from a Democratic constituency that has a history of mobilizing for elections.

"You're just not going to be able to go to our membership in the November elections and say, 'Come on, let's do it again. Look at what the Democratic administration has done for us!'" Gage said. "People are going to say, 'Huh? What have the Democrats done for us?'"
See unlike the corporate front groups that fund the other side's political work, unions are made up of living breathing people that need to be given reasons get off their ass and campaign. Things like "we passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act"(something even zombie Clinton could have done) and "we didn't fuck you over as hard as John McCain would have" aren't really going to cut it. So keep at it guys, not only are you screwing over the working class but you're insuring your own demise in the process.

I'd me more than happy to watch a Democratic bloodletting in November if I thought there was the slightest chance that the party learn the right lesson from it. They never do though, and the media will write about how Blanche Lincoln lost because she spoke nicely about the Kenyan usurper and Harry Reid lost because he pushed too hard to enact a progressive agenda.

I know this may sound pretty dire, but watching these people make the same mistakes over and over again doesn't exactly inspire hope. And when you imagine some generic Scott Borwn looking Republican running a faux populist campaigns based on Obama's ties to Wall Street, it's enough to make you wanna throw up.

1 comment:

  1. "Huh, what have the Democrats done for us?" is going to be a really popular question in a lot of the country this fall, but instead of being properly horrified and mending their ways Obama and company seem compelled to do even less for their allies. interesting strategy, chums.