Commentary Magazine


Contentions

He Gets Credit For Candor

Pro-business groups and conservatives aren’t the only ones, we learn from this report, who see a problem for “card check” legislation in Blago-gate:

Gerald W. McEntee, president of one of the nation’s largest unions, said the labor movement was damaged when the FBI linked a competing union to Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s effort to sell Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat and it hurts labor’s push to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, unions’ big legislative priority.

“I don’t think it’s helped, let me say that on the record. I don’t think it’s helped,” Mr. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, referring to allegations that the Service Employees International Union was linked to Mr. Blagojevich’s moves in Illinois. “It sure … is a shame it happened.”

But you have to love the candor:

Mr. McEntee said labor must guard against overreaching and should avoid warring with other Democratic-leaning groups – “to turn the other cheek on this and be more interested in the bigger picture,” he said – but he also said unions paid their dues by supporting Democrats and Presidenelct Barack Obama in this year’s election.

He said they expect that effort to be rewarded with action.

“The payback would be Employee Free Choice Act – that would be a vehicle to strengthen and build the American labor movement and the middle class,” he said. “It’s the condition of the country, it’s health care, it’s the Employee Free Choice Act, it’s some kind of effort made in protection of their pensions. These are big and major items.”

Well, there you have it: Millions and millions for the Democrats in exchange for special-interest legislation stripping employees of their right to secret ballots in union elections –a measure which is extremely unpopular with those it affects and voters at large. The New Politics looks surprisingly similar to the old politics. The only elements missing in this particular instance are the standard pretenses for why this piece of legislation is needed (impossible to come up with any: where are the masses of workers currently barred from organizing under existing labor law?) and minimal recognition that the economic timing is not ideal for pushing union-empowering initiatives. After all, excessive union obligations were already suffocating the domestic auto industry long before there was a recession. If Al Sharpton can figure this out, certainly the rest of the public should.