Editor’s note: Below is the video of author Mallory Factor’s speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2013 West Coast Retreat. The event was held February 22nd-24th at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California. A transcript of the speech follows.
Mallory Factor: I don’t know if you know how unions run elections and are involved in elections. I’d like to give you an idea of how that works.
When a union official was talking to the head of elections for the union, he was talking – he said – how did it go? He said – well, I got some good news for you, and I got some bad news for you. Said – well, what could be good, if there’s bad news? Said – well, the bad news is that the guy we didn’t want to win got 53 percent of the vote. Said – well, what could the good news be? Said – the guy we wanted to win we got 54 percent of the vote for.
That tells you everything you need to know about unions and elections.
I am just deeply honored to be here with you today. And I mean, you have to thank David Horowitz for all that he’s done over the years. You have to.
And likewise, Mike Finch – I don’t know how he does all of this. I mean, that is –
But I thank all of you, really, the great Americans that support the Freedom Center. Your work is vital to keeping our country free and for preserving and defending our American way of life. I can’t thank you enough for having me at this terrific gathering.
The first time I attended a Freedom Center event was this past November at Restoration Weekend. Once I came to that forum, I could not believe that I hadn’t been there before. It was like coming home. And now, coming back together with you all here in California, it’s an even richer experience. Mike, I guess I’m going to have to write another book so I can be invited back next year to these events.
My friends, today I want to give you an overview of the landscape of government unions in America, and why government unions are a huge problem for our nation. I covered some of this ground at the last meeting, when I shared with you some of my discoveries in researching “Shadow Bosses,” which is my recent book on how unions impact our government.
But today, I’m going to give you some new information for the first time. I’m going to share with you how the unions impacted the 2012 elections and how they secured victory for President Obama. I’ll explain what we need to do to have a fighting chance in the next election cycle.
First, all the things that you’ve heard about private sector unions are true – the violence, the corruption, the feather bedding, the wasteful rules, the graft. But what I discovered in writing “Shadow Bosses” is that government employee unions are far, far worse for this nation. Private sector unions have to make sure that their demands are not so excessive that the employer is driven out of business.
Hostess’s bankruptcy – you know, the death of the Twinkie – is just the latest example of what happens when unions representing private sector workers make unreasonable demands on the employer. Unions end up negotiating members out of a job, as 18,500 Hostess workers learned firsthand. By the way, it was just announced that the unions that bankrupted Hostess will be receiving generous government subsidies.
But the picture’s entirely different for government employee unions. Outrageous concessions to these unions don’t drive the government out of business and throw union members out of jobs. Unwieldy union contracts just make government immensely bigger and more burdensome to you, the taxpayer.
Republicans and Democrats used to agree that collective bargaining for government employees is harmful to our nation. One of the most pro-union Presidents in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said that collective bargaining for government workers was wrong. Strikes against our government were “unthinkable and intolerable.“ This is what Roosevelt believed. Even union officials thought the idea of a government employee union was a nonstarter.
George Meany, the former head of the AFL-CIO, actually said, and I quote – “it’s impossible to bargain collectively with government.“ The Democrats then realized that they could use the unions as a piggybank for their election campaigns. Suddenly, Democrats were able to get campaign support for unions in exchange for supporting the union agenda. In January 1962, President Kennedy signed an executive order to give collective bargaining to federal workers. And since then, government employee unions have taken over the union movement and even the entire Democrat Party.
The power and the money in today’s labor movement is centered on government employee unions. Unions elect their own bosses. They elect government officials and legislators who grow the size of our government, hire more government employees, and give these employees higher pay and benefits. Then unions keep government inefficient by preventing it from reorganizing, from streamlining and from rightsizing.
There will be a tipping point when our government gets so big and government unions get so entrenched that America will no longer be able to support the enormous cost of running our government. And, my friends, we are rapidly approaching that point.
You may’ve heard that union membership is down. And you may expect that the problems of unions are just going to go away naturally over time. It’s true – less than seven percent of private sector workers are now union members. But for government workers, the picture’s completely different. Of the – it’s mindboggling – 20.5 million government workers, already 42 percent are represented by a union.
Teachers, firemen, policemen and postal workers – they’re the most unionized government employees. And government unions now represent almost every type of government worker, including office workers in state and local government, Treasury workers, state university professors. But even the Peace Corps workers, zookeepers and NASA scientists!
Most people believe that while many other types of government workers are now represented by big labor, our military and our national security employees can’t be unionized. My friends, is that really true? Not at all. Many of our vital national security employees have already been unionized – border patrol agents, FEMA, immigration and customs agents, TSA and civilian military personnel. All these workers have been unionized, leaving our nation exposed to union control, strikes and work slowdowns. Without almost anyone noticing. Twenty percent of our entire military, our Defense Department’s workforce; 60 percent of our civilian military, and over 40 percent of Homeland Security has already been unionized.
One of the main arguments against privatizing government functions within the national security sphere, [as] these functions are too important to be subject to market forces. But if these critical functions shouldn’t be subject to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, they certainly shouldn’t be subject to the iron fist of the labor unions.
Unions are on our military bases, they’re inside our Pentagon. Unions are determining workplace rules and norms, filing grievances and influencing personnel decisions at these sensitive job sites. One Defense Department attorney alerted us to a grievance filed by the union on a military base – the price of a can of soda had been raised from 50 to 55 cents. And this type of grievance is filed all the time, wasting our military’s limited resources.
There’s another danger – organizing any group of employees makes strikes among them more likely. Strikes are illegal for federal workers and many state and local government workers. But that doesn’t prevent strikes from happening. New York City transit workers, Tacoma, Washington teachers; Detroit teachers, Chicago teachers, postal workers – they’ve all gone on strike illegally.
The legendary Al Shanker, former head of the American Federation of Teachers, explained. And I quote – “One of the greatest reasons for the effectiveness of the public employees’ strike is the fact that it is illegal.“ When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers struck in 1981 – in violation, of course, of federal law – PATCO President Robert Poli snapped, “The only illegal strike is an unsuccessful one.“ And that’s still true today.
As unions gain a stranglehold over our government, we lose something as a nation. We lose control over our national security employees to private entities – labor unions. Unions are private entities working to maximize their profits. These private entities drive big government spending and overregulation of our economy. They are also having a greater and greater influence over who wins our elections.
During the 2012 elections, unions doubled down on political spending. And they did this to build a monumental voter registration, electioneering, and get-out-the-vote machine. As a result, the unions almost singlehandedly won reelection for Obama in 2012. People think that the Labor Movement is a subsidiary of the Democratic Party – they’re wrong. Today, the Democratic Party is a subsidiary of the Labor Movement.
Right after the election, Richard Trumka, head of the huge Federation of Unions, the AFL-CIO, claimed credit for Obama’s victory. The huge push by the nation’s labor unions, Trumka claimed, gave President Obama Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada, which carry 34 electoral votes combined. And I quote – without the unions, “none of those states would be in the President’s column.“ This is what Trumka puffed. My friends, he’s right.
Unions practically ran the ground game for the entire Democrat Party. Matter of fact, I think Obama should hold a state dinner for Trumka. He should, at the very least, continue to meet with Trumka, as he did in his first term, more often than he does with most members of his cabinet.
Unions spent $500 million on President Obama’s reelection campaign. A single union, the SEIU, which Obama had worked for, spent $74 million to reelect President Obama, making it Obama’s largest outside spender, dwarfing spending by any PAC.
But the unions’ biggest contribution to President Obama’s reelection was the manpower and organization on the ground. AFL-CIO registered more than 450,000 new voters leading up to the election, mostly in the swing states. AFL-CIO volunteers knocked on almost 14 million doors nationwide during the election. And this voter canvassing and mobilization machine was not shut down on Election Day. AFL-CIO pledged to build a long-term year-round mobilization structure to keep its issues on the front burner all year long, not just during the election season.
Unions increased their reach over the electorate by using powers available to them under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United case. Liberals complain that this case gave corporations more leeway to spend on politics. But the real story in the 2012 election was about what this case did for the unions, not the corporations.
As a result of the Citizens United decision, unions can buy advertising and campaign materials for candidates using their immense dues income. And by the way, it’s a little over $14 billion a year, which we were able to show in “Shadow Bosses.“ And for the first time in this election, unions were able to canvass and call voters who were not their members as a result of the changes under Citizens United. All these changes meant that unions could vastly increase their voter canvassing and reach in battleground states and swing more union and nonunion voters alike to President Obama and, of course, other people on the Democrat ticket.
In the battleground states, unions overloaded the political landscape with volunteers, many of whom they actually paid for their efforts. Unions put 400,000 members on the streets to work for Obama.
Rather than go into a whole bunch of states, let’s just take one state as an example – Ohio. The unions in Ohio gave the Democrat Party use of 1,800 local union offices as outposts for the Obama Campaign. These local union offices have been operating for years, engaged in the community and in community organizing, and they’ve done this on a year-round basis. The fact that the Obama Campaign used permanent offices with deep roots in the community gave it a huge edge over the Republican ticket, which largely used offices just set up for the presidential campaign.
The Obama Campaign also used local unions to get into the workplaces all over the state. Local unions appointed worksite coordinators for each unionized workplace in Ohio, as well as in other swing states. But we’re using Ohio as an example. The coordinators ran extensive worksite leafleting and education programs – education programs – to reach voters at their place of work. My friends, Republicans didn’t have anything comparable in terms of workplace access, because they don’t control workplaces like the unions do.
Unions registered, in just Ohio, 70,000 new voters and worked to get almost all of them to the polls. And in the last four days before the election, just in Ohio, union representatives contacted 800,000 Ohio voters. One union in particular, the SEIU, had a very carefully targeted plan to drive voter turnout in Ohio. With 2,300 full-time volunteers on the ground in just Ohio, in the last days of the campaign, the SEIU – Service Employees International Union – focused on African-American and Latino voters.
The SEIU also purchased radio ads and targeted calls aimed specifically at communities that vote reliably for President Obama. The message aimed at the African Americans urged use of early voting procedures to overcome alleged voter intimidation at the polls. They said, and I quote – “Those who don’t vote are playing into the hands of those who are trying to suppress the vote.“ The result? In Ohio, African-American voters increased from 11 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 15 percent this past election, which alone made the difference in winning the state for President Obama. Obama won this state by about 103,000 votes. And unions made the difference multiple times over.
Unions have spent so much money on political action that they’ve developed very sophisticated political operations. If we don’t counter it effectively, the union political machine at some point could turn the Democrats into an undefeatable majority.
And, my friends, what type of voter registration, canvassing and get-out-the-vote machine did the Republican Party control in 2012? Nothing, nothing even approaching the scale of this well-coordinated and well-funded union political machine. Republicans matched the Democrats dollar-for-dollar in 2012, with each side spending about $1.2 billion on the presidential election. But Republicans didn’t have the benefit of using year-round field offices run by local unions.
And as we know, Republicans probably also, shall we say, prioritized the wrong things in their spending. For example, the Romney Campaign spent close to $500 million on mostly negative TV ads, almost all in the battleground states. Republican spending on TV for Romney exceeded Democrat spending on Obama ads by about $100 million. But a plethora of 30-second spots didn’t change hearts and minds. TV ads couldn’t counter the years the unions have invested in political infrastructure and community organizing, which they shared with the Obama Campaign.
If the Republican Party is going to survive as a major party in national politics, the party will have to build up its own political infrastructure that operates on a year-round basis, particularly in the battleground states. It would take a huge investment and years of work to develop a political arm for the Republican Party that could compete with the unions.
My friends, we may be right on the issues. But Republicans cannot hope to win elections without matching the boots on the ground that the unions provided for the Democrats in the battleground states. The Republican Party is going to have to look to a new paradigm to win 2016, and the time to start is right now.
Since the November 2012 elections, we’ve been told again and again that Republicans will have to secure Latino votes to win future presidential elections. Our pundits debate which potential GOP candidate will attract Latinos, and they suggest changes in our policies to appeal to this growing demographic group.
But while Republicans have been talking about how to court the Latino community, unions have pursued Latinos directly. Unions have been bringing Latinos into the union movement and have been selling the Democrat Party to Latinos and two other groups as well.
To do this, unions have changed their historic approach to immigrants and immigration. Up through the 1970s, unions were openly hostile to immigrants. Unions considered immigrants strike-breakers and competitors who undercut union workers on wages and benefits. But now unions are even treating the 11 million undocumented workers as potential union members and recruiting them.
Unions have made immigration reform one of their core issues today. The SEIU has committed 2.1 million members for the fight for immigration reform and is planning extensive lobbying, rallies and member education on immigration. AFL-CIO Trumka embraces President Obama’s Pathway to Citizenship for illegal immigrants. Trumka explained that the President understands that empowering immigrant workers – and I’m quoting – “is a win for all working people.“ Translation – turning immigrants into union members is a win for the shadow bosses and the labor unions.
Unions are courting immigrant and nonimmigrant Latinos to bolster their numbers. A number of unions, especially SEIU, have aligned themselves with immigrant groups and are actively organizing workplaces which rely on immigrant labor – you know, workplaces such as – that have janitors, home healthcare workers, domestic workers – they’ve all been unionized under this new initiative.
And my friends, the strategy’s working! Nationwide – and we’ve just been able to put this together – unions have gained a net of 156,000 Latino members in 2012, many of them immigrants. That also is about $150 million in additional dues, too.
While union membership declined in many states, union membership grew in California and in right-to-work states – Congressman Gohmert – like Texas and other Southwestern states, which the AFL-CIO credits to increases in Latino union membership. These gains are critical. And this is going to shock you all, because this is a new number – because unions have lost in 2012 an astounding 547,000 white members.
By building immigrant Latino membership, unions are riding the tide of growth in the Latino population. But at the same time, unions are also cementing an alliance between Latinos and the Democrat Party. It’s just another way unions are working hand-in-glove with the Democrats to achieve a permanent Democratic majority.
I want to conclude now, fairly rapidly. Because I see my time is going pretty fast, and I want to take some Q&As.
The key to curbing the influence of labor unions is to cut off the flow of the money into their coffers. There are a number of ways to do this. And the best way to do it is by strengthening workers’ rights. States can break up union monopoly over government employees, as Wisconsin did. States can enact right-to-work laws, as Indiana and Michigan did. The result in each case is fewer workers paying dues because they’re not forced to pay dues to keep their job, which means less income for the unions.
The big takeaway, though, isn’t just reducing union revenues; it’s increasing workers’ freedom – increasing their freedom to make a decision if they want a union in their workplace, if they want to have a union represent them. Believe it or not, of all the union members in government, less than seven percent ever voted for or against a union.
These members have had almost no rights. And that’s how we have to approach this. And they need to be able to decide, the workers need to be able to decide, if they want to pay a union. When workers are given these rights, unions will diminish, or unions will have to do something better to serve the workers. They’re going to have to do something for them to join them.
At the same time, the Republican Party needs to come up with an action plan to match the superior forces on the ground that unions provide to the Democrat Party. It’s not just enough to spend money on media and for the consultants to collect their 15 percent, and hope that this counteracts the sea of volunteers. [What] we need is in-person voter contacts that the unions do so well. The Republican Party needs to develop its own year-round political infrastructure on the ground. It’ll be expensive, it’ll take time, but we need to get started.
My friends, it’s going to take us all to stop labor unions and the Democrats from taking America further down the path to socialism and decline, and they’re doing this with each successive election. You, my friends here – you here are the heroes in this battle. And your support of the Freedom Center is just one part of it. You’re the people that are leading the fight to make sure government is held accountable to the people.
Our greatest battles are ahead of us. The fight will be long and hard. But with the help of each of you, we can ensure America’s freedom and America’s prosperity into the future.
I want to thank all of you for what you do to keep America the greatest country on earth. Thank you.
Unidentified Speaker: Mallory, thank you very much. Tremendously illuminating.
Can you comment on union elections, undocumented or illegal aliens, and the policies of the INS?
Mallory Factor: Thank you.
Something just came out over the past couple of days. And unions are willing to go very far to attract immigrants to their ranks. In a dramatic new development, unions are actually protecting immigrants who are potential union members against America’s own labor and immigration laws.
A recent example involves a company called Palermo’s Villa. It’s a Milwaukee, Wisconsin frozen pizza manufacturer that sells to Costco. The United Steelworkers have been trying to organize the largely Hispanic workforce at Palermo with the help of [Foch es] de la Frontera, which is an immigration rights group. In the midst of these organizational efforts, Palermo faced an immigration audit which required the company to ask each worker for proof of work eligibility. The company was compelled and did fire workers who did not comply, as federal law requires. Makes sense, right? Workers struck over this eligibility verification. It’s astonishing that they did.
Even more astonishing is how the federal government responded to the labor dispute of them striking. After union officials complained about the firings to the Obama Administration, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, halted its immigration investigation against Palermo.
Was ICE satisfied that Palermo had resolved its immigration issue? That’s not it. You can’t make this up, this is just shocking – an agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department actually requires this – if a union and an employer are engaged in a dispute over organizing workers, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is barred from pursuing an immigration investigation of the workplace under this agreement. A pro-immigrant group explained that this agreement means ICE can’t take action against workers who have a false Social Security number or a borrowed employment authorization document to get a job in any workplace in which there’s an ongoing labor dispute.
My friends, enforcement of our laws apparently now takes a backseat to labor unions’ right to organize workplaces. This is exactly the type of outcome that we should expect when we let labor unions get deep into our federal government.
In 1973, there was a very famous case – it’s called US versus Enmons, a Supreme Court case that involved striking electrical workers who allegedly fired high-powered rifles at three utility company transformers. They drained oil from the transformers, and they blew up a substation. The Court decided that their acts were not wrongful –
— and that they couldn’t be prosecuted under federal extortion laws, because they were in the furtherance of legitimate union goals.
Unidentified Speaker: Whoa.
Unidentified Speaker: Wow.
Mallory Factor: And these goals being improving the outcome of a strike.
Some federal and state laws actually carve out labor union exceptions from laws regulating criminal conduct, such as stalking, trespassing. And we go into this in the book in great detail. Now, there was a bill put in, I think, from Georgia, Congressman Gingrey, to solve this problem. Can’t even get it on the floor, can’t even get it on the floor, with a Republican House. Because Republicans are afraid that the unions could hurt them.
Anyway, thank you, yes. We go into great detail in it, and there’s a whole chapter on that. And some of the stuff is just shocking. I mean, the idea that union violence and coercion is legal, and we can’t even correct it. Thank you.
Unidentified Audience Member: Can you tell us how many states have the right-to-work laws and how we can get more states to take the same approach?
Mallory Factor: Twenty-three – 24 now, I guess, with the last one – states are right-to-work. And basically, right-to-work doesn’t mean – do you all understand what right-to-work means? Okay, let me help you out here. First of all, right-to-work does not mean that you can stop a union from taking away your First Amendment rights. I mean, a union collectively bargains for you, and you have no right to stop them from doing that. This is under federal law. What it means is you don’t have to pay a union to keep your job. That’s all it means.
There are seven states, however, where if you’re a government employee you don’t have to have a union represent you. And these states, obviously, have the lowest unionization rates in government employees. But only seven states, not all the other right-to-work states. And most people don’t have any idea about it. We go into that in the book in detail, because that’s even more shocking.
Remember, if you have a job, and there’s a union in your workplace, even if you’re a right-to-work state, the union still represents you. You just don’t have to pay them dues. Obama wants to get right-to-work abolished by taking a little tiny section of the Labor Relations Act – it’s called section 14b, just a few words. And that goes, there’s no right-to-work states any longer.
Anyway, I could go on for days. If anybody wants to read “Shadow Bosses,” I’ll be happy to sign it for you. I know a lot of you have it already. And thank you all for being so generous and telling me that, it’s made me feel great. And thank you, Mike.
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