Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Labor Leaders Need to Re-Evaluate ; Unions Dont Have Much to Show After

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Labor Leaders Need to Re-Evaluate ; Unions Dont Have Much to Show After

Article excerpt

If anyone should re-evaluate their message and tactics following the recent general election, West Virginias labor leaders top the list. Their political action committees spent $3 million to take back the Legislature for the Democratic Party, only to wake up the following morning with a net gain of four Republican state senators and a net gain of one Republican member of the House of Delegates.

Who wants to invest in that kind of return after spending $3 million?

True, their Democratic candidate for governor, Jim Justice, won over Bill Cole. Some speculate Coles push for right-to-work and prevailing wage legislation might have been a contributing factor to his loss.

However, Justices prior membership in the Republican Party and business background were likely much more effective at drawing votes after the primary than anything Big Labor brought to the table.

Regardless, the legislative races were where Big Labor could have proven itself this year. They needed to chip away at the kind of Republican legislators who passed those aforementioned pro-business bills. Their gambit failed completely.

One vivid example of this rout was the $1 million spent by the labor-backed West Virginia Family Values Political Action Committee against Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson. If Carmichael cant relate to Winston Churchills famous quote about the exhilaration of being shot at and missed, who can? Spending a million against a single state senator is a new low for Big Labor. But losing after spending that much is an embarrassment.

What might sensible union leaders do now to become more competitive again?

In past years, union leaders could expect a certain level of support in West Virginia. The difference today is they now find themselves in new territory. Today, they need to use persuasive arguments for their initiatives not only for legislators and the general public but even their own would-be union members.

Todays younger workers take safe working conditions and certain benefits for granted. After all, so much of what the union rightly fought for in the past is now settled law.

As a result, unions have to demonstrate their services are still genuinely needed, that unions exist for more than just keeping union leaders content in their generous salaries, paid for by union members dues. …

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