How Democrats Use Unions

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

How Democrats Use Unions


Byline: Grover G. Norquist, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Mallory and Elizabeth Factor have written an important and powerful new book, Shadowbosses, that explains the symbiotic relationship between the modern Democratic Party and today's labor unions. One is not possible without the other. Democratic politicians pass laws that give union leaders power over workers, and union leaders use that power to take dues money from workers to give to Democratic politicians.

Last year, in 2011, 16.3 million workers who belong to unions (in every sense) had $14 billion taken from them in union dues. Much of that money flowed into political campaigns as cash and to pay volunteers. Labor unions are the skeleton and muscle of the modern Democratic Party.

Before the federal government passed the Wagner Act in 1935 forcing workers to join unions as a condition of employment, only 8 percent of Americans chose to join unions voluntarily. Thanks to Franklin Roosevelt's legislation giving unions power over workers, once a union was in place, it did not need to ask workers to join. They paid dues or did not work.

Before the creation of government-empowered unions, the Democratic Party was the party of the discredited Confederacy, and from 1860 to 1932, of 15 presidents only two were Democrats: Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson only won because Teddy Roosevelt ran as a Progressive, splitting the Republican vote.

When Herbert Hoover imposed massive tariffs, hiked the new income tax to 75 percent and spent like Barack Obama, he deepened a recession, and Franklin Roosevelt was able to win the 1932 election. FDR continued Hoover's policies of higher taxes, stimulus spending and government regulations. He might have lost the next elections. But FDR created a new extension of government - labor unions with powers over workers to extract union dues. With government relatively small, those unions were in factories and there was a limit to how high wages and work rules could go without bankrupting businesses. Union power was constrained by its interest in the health of the overall economy.

Over time, unions killed off much of the auto, steel, mining and manufacturing industries in the United States. They went on the prowl, looking for new sources of dues money - and they found it in government workers: police, fire, teachers and generic bureaucrats.

Today, most union members are paid for with tax dollars. They work for the government. Of the 14.8 million union members in the United States, 7.6 million work for government and only 7.2 million work in the private sector. Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers belong to unions, but fully 37 percent of government workers belong to unions.

Why can President Obama impose expensive regulations on coal miners and steel workers? Because those industries he is damaging are small potatoes compared to the public-sector unions that now fund his campaigns. He doesn't care about unemployed coal miners. They are not paying customers. Most miners now are non-union.

One can understand Mr. Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi after reading Shadowbosses. Why did Mr. Obama throw billions into stimulus spending that made the recession worse? That is easy to understand. The stimulus spending programs of almost $1 trillion were largely designed to subsidize state and local government workers who pay dues back to the Democratic Party's structures.

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