Labor Daze

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of numerous books, including "Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America," now available from ISI Books. Read Daniel's blog at www.flynnfiles.com.


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Three Labor Days into his presidential term, Barack Obama has finally devised a jobs plan. With unemployment eclipsing nine percent for 26 of his first 30 full months in office, the focus on putting America to work, to be unveiled in a speech initially crassly scheduled to conflict with Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, seems quite late. But to satiate the grumblings of Big Labor, it comes not a second too soon.

“This is going to be a moment where history and our members are going to judge him,” Richard Trumka says of Obama’s jobs plan. The AFL-CIO president threatens that some of his affiliates may sit out of national politics next year, focusing instead on local races (as they disastrously did in Wisconsin this year).

The about-face would appear both tone deaf and an act of massive ingratitude. President Obama turned over General Motors to the United Auto Workers. Democrats in Congress and the White House infamously exempted unionized workers from the 40 percent excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health-care plans through 2018. His recent selection of Princeton labor economist Alan Krueger to replace Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers has been widely interpreted as a sop to unions. And his National Labor Relations Board has become a rubber stamp for union whim, with its job-killing edict blocking a new Boeing aircraft factory in right-to-work South Carolina the most glaring demonstration of this.

“America wants to work,” Trumka commented this August. “To make that happen, it will take smart, large-scale public investment to restore America’s place in the world—and the opportunities are there. Our crumbling roads, highways and bridges cry out for investment. We have a tax system that begs for an adult conversation about how to make it fairer and raise the revenues we need.”

It’s not just that Trumka’s comment overlooks the last three years—isn’t he describing what the stimulus package was supposed to be?—it overlooks the last six decades. Trumka’s demands for more spending and higher taxes seem something out of Great Depression America. They don’t reflect the political realities of a 21st-century nation facing a $15 trillion debt and an economy stuck in neutral.

If Trumka is out of touch with America, he is in tune with Unionized America. Trumka’s call for jobs is as much about means as ends. He wants more jobs, but only if pursued in a manner (massive government spending) that benefits the job holders who pay his organization a portion of their earnings. Alas, his process necessarily defeats his stated goal. The Big Government that serves as a boon for Big Labor has been a bust for the United States. Massive government projects, in the immediate wake of several years of massive government projects no less, are nonstarters for a broke nation. But such boondoggles are the lifeblood of unions that increasingly depend upon government spending. In effect, they want taxpayers to pay union dues, too.

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  • uiohasghiosga

    "But since union members (particularly dues-paying public sector employees) often benefit from what harms the rest of us, their leaders frequently advance policies that not only damage America"

    By America do you mean the wealthy elite?

    • kafir4life

      No – they mean Americans. All Americans. Dicky (Jabba) Trumpka mainly is concerned with Dicky (Jabba) Trumpka. Why did Dicky have Bammy prevent the opening of a Boeing plant in SC? Jobs? No. Wrong kind of jobs.

      I've been in 3 unions in my working life. I'm not now, but instead work my butt off, so I can negotiate a better place for me and my family. Unions will have none of that. I've had unions TELL me to slow down, don't work so hard, never produce more than the least of the union lest they look bad.

      I avoid union made products whenever possible. Not that I have an issue with the poor schmucks that are forced into it, but I don't want my money going into the tip jars of the likes of BammyO or Schmuckles (the kapo) Chumer.

      • Amused

        no , he hit the nail on the head . btw , you keep on boycotting union made in USA products like a good conservative SCHMUCK .

        • Amused

          p.s. I doubt you ever worked a union job …in fact I doubt you ever worked at all .

    • tagalog

      He probably means the 90% of American workers who aren't union members.

  • The Infidel

    Has anyone bothered to go to these guys and tell them, communism/socialism/facism has distinctly failed in every country its been tried in? heck even China aka the huge commie state has ditched in in practice and taken up capatalism. Best to quote a real scientist seeing as they love them so so so much, "the definition of insnity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result", If they reject this "real science" they should be directed to the flat earth society, ridiculed and rejected.

  • StephenD

    Often the cry is for "support of the middle class working man."
    I always ask, Whom should I be expected to support, the "Working Man" demanding more from my taxes or the "Working Man" paying for this increase? I vote the latter.

    Unions have been a valued force in America. I still believe employees ought to have advocates for working conditions and rights of grievance procedures. Apart from that, they have served their usefulness to the American people and now look to serve the Socialist agenda. Apart from this, the unions have "Bargained" themselves into irrelevancy.

  • Brujo Blanco

    The unions in the private sector are interesting in that they appear to be trying to put employers out of business. This makes no sense to me. It seems logical that if there is a work slow down to increase the hours the peoplemwho write the checks lose money. If they go under the rank and file may not have a fiscally capable employer.

  • fiddler

    UNIONS = PARASITES

  • Texasron

    Hey union workers:
    Remember it's your company who supplies you with a job. Obama's regulations destroy jobs by destroying profits.

    • Amused

      hey companies ,remember , it's your union workers who got you there , and who keep you there ….making profits . Take away regulation and you get -Banking Loan Scandal of the 80's / Enron / Dot Com Bubble ..and BURST / Mortgage Loan Bubble ….and BURST-wrecking the economy .
      As for Texas and Perry ? Most of the "jobs" Perry created were by expanding government there ….Reagan ? expanded Big Government by 18 % /After 8 years in Office – TRIPLED the deficit .
      Wake up to The Facts Texasron .

  • pyeatte

    One thing to change is the requirement that US Government construction contracts must be union labor – this greatly increases the cost of the project and we pay for it in higher taxes. Unions like those headed by Trumka are a cancer on our society as are the public sector unions.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    I consider the Union, NonUnion debate and consider the caliber of the people that
    are working out the working conditions, pay and benefits. Character and the lack
    of it and the absence or presence of honesty in the players is crucial. What is
    right and wrong is gone by the wayside, it is all about what one can get over
    on the other, America is a failing Nation due to lack of moral pulchritude.

    Unions have been undermined by socialist/leftist activists, management acts
    like they are doing everyone a favor by existing. The Unions take on political
    activity at the expense of the Union members and Management, which is
    wrong, it is subversive in intent and outcome. The Unions should work toward
    fair treatment for membership and keep the Union dues where they belong,
    in the Union and not in politicians pockets. Corruption is the problem and
    until the character of the players changes, more trouble and desruction will
    take place in the economy………..keep politicians out…………..William

  • Fred Dawes

    Big Labor has been in the hands of the one world guys for 60 years it is a tool being used against all Americans, unions are not unions but race hiring hall's with many corridors to hell.

  • quark1912

    Any employment, unionized or not, is predicated on the idea that the employee must add value to the organization. A foolish union which demands too much would prevent it's membership from adding value thus destroying the employers competiveness thus jobs, and dues paying members, would be lost. Unions must remember that they are a business like any other, that they too must add value by proctecting members from arbitrary treatment, not subtracting value by demanding Congress and state legislatures raise taxes and costs on employers thus reducing employment.

  • angel

    I agree with Rush assessment, the Unions are nothing more than a money laundering operation of the Democratic party. The Marxist and Communist ties run deep in the Unions. It is easy to develop a family tree that leads back to strong communist association. Where you see a direct cause and effect derived from political influence and power, I see a much more sinister agenda. I believe that most of Americans now recognizes what the Unions are and see them for what they are a cancer on society.

    The destruction of our industrial might could easily be traced to the Unions. The U.S. company became less competitive because of unions and overbearing regulations. I believe it all leads to the same thing a far left agenda which is destructive to prosperity. All you have to do is look around the world to see who is really prosperous.

  • coyote3

    As far as private sector unions are concerned, they are a different animal than public sector unions. In the private sector, there are two sides represented at the bargaining table. If they come to an agreement, and one wants to give away the store, I don't have much sympathy for them. That is between them and their shareholders. However, the problem with the public sector is that there is no who can consistently be relied on to represent the interests of the taxpayers. Certainly not the elected officials. It is not their money, and they have every interest in courting the labor union, in return for votes, money, and muscle.

  • Amused

    oh what tripe , Unions are not their own worst enemy , The Republican Party is and always will be their worst enemy . Unions dont say slow down , they say dont run , do the job right .And dont be hypocritical , big buisiness lobbies the same way unions do – for favorable legislation . And according to the new Supreme Court ruling , if companies are "people " ,then so are unions . Big buisiness will always do what's good for big buisiness ,so who are you jokers trying to kid ? "The Destruction of our Industrial Might " can be traced DIRECTLY to short sighted management , politicians , failure to modernize , and competition from foreign shores where slave labor and government subsidies make it impossible to compete …unions or no unions . No one wants to mention the "balance of trade " with China because too many fat cats of big buisiness are getting rich .

    • olustee

      Your comments have a familiar smell. Were you in Madison last February? If you weren't, your kind was highly represented. Listen, union guy and listen close: the people in Wisconsin–including myself–who voted Walker in knew exactly who we were electing and why: among other things to bring the public service unions to heel. The latter recognized the challenge for what it was and duly showed up to muscle, swagger about, and generally play the goon, bully, and all-purpose piece of excrement. (I have no problem making a reply out of personal attack because "personal attack"–as your above comments show–is what you do yourself.) You union people have made the worst enemies in the world: call them "tea party" or call them what you want: they are the people who took down Hitler and Tojo–posturing tyrants and bullies all–and will take you people down as well. Hoffa yesterday recognized who his enemy is and he was right. The "tea party" adherents include the broad spectrum of middle-class non-union workers. Who the hell do you think constituted that great wash of Red moving from Southeast to Northwest across the whole of the U.S. that put the Republicans in office throughout the country in the elections of 2010? That was the "picture" of the county-by-county for the 2010 election for the whole of the U.S. : a massive repudiation of union-driven democrats.

      What you people simply cannot understand is that every time–everytime!!!–you make you bully-goon moves even if only in speech (Hoffa on the subject of attacking "sons-on-bitches" of the Republican Party, for example) you lose support. Every time. You are stupid, Amused, and labor unions are stupid. The wave of the future is going involve a place for you seriously diminished over what it is now.

    • olustee

      Your comments have a familiar smell. Were you in Madison last February? If you weren't, your kind was highly represented. Listen, union guy and listen close: the people in Wisconsin–including myself–who voted Walker in knew exactly who we were electing and why: among other things to bring the public service unions to heel. The latter recognized the challenge for what it was and duly showed up to muscle, swagger about, and generally play the goon, bully, and all-purpose piece of excrement. (I have no problem making a reply out of personal attack because "personal attack"–as your above comments show–is what you do yourself.) You union people have made the worst enemies in the world: call them "tea party" or call them what you want: they are the people who took down Hitler and Tojo–posturing tyrants and bullies all–and will take you people down as well. Hoffa yesterday recognized who his enemy is and he was right. The "tea party" adherents include the broad spectrum of middle-class non-union workers. Who the hell do you think constituted that great wash of Red moving from Southeast to Northwest across the whole of the U.S. that put the Republicans in office throughout the country in the elections of 2010? That was the "picture" of the county-by-county for the 2010 election for the whole of the U.S. : a massive repudiation of union-driven democrats.

  • Amused

    If anyone doesn't like THAT , then write your politicians to BAN ALL LOBBYING ,,,,and we'll all be better off . Until then dont whine about Unions , someone's got to safeguard workers rights and it certainly aint the Republicans or Conservatives , who would even do away with the NLRB which protects all workers rights . Keep on putting down the American worker , soon there wont be any left , if big buisiness had it's way EVERYTHING would be made in China , with slave labor ….and poor quality at that . Yea , and that'll make the shareholders real happy . Maybe some of you geniuses oughta study labor history , there were workers guilds in existence centuries before "communism and socialism " . You owe your 40 hr.week and laws regarding overtime to the notion of organized labor as well as safety regulations .Maybe you wanna give up your overtime , let your boss flaunt all regulations regarding your safety in the workplace and work Chinese overtime ?