The proximity of the New Hampshire and South Carolina Republican primaries sets up an interesting discussion over the fate of right-to-work among the states. Indeed, after New Hampshire’s Republican voters cast their ballots for their party’s nominee for the general election, its legislators were already holding hearings to determine whether or not to transform New Hampshire into a right-to-work state. On the other hand, South Carolina’s status as right-to-work was made famous by President Obama’s assault on non-unionized jobs brought to the state by Boeing Co.
Remembering the old adage, “all politics is local,” Republican candidates weighed in on this topic during two consecutive debates in New Hampshire earlier this month. Mitt Romney claimed “Right-to-work legislation makes a lot of sense for New Hampshire.” In fact, it makes more sense for New Hampshire’s legislature to implement this policy than for most other local governments. How can the “Live Free or Die” state deny its workers the basic liberty to choose which organizations they associate with and contribute money to? Why would one of the first states to ratify our national Constitution continue to impose a policy that contradicts that document’s emphasis on freedom of assembly? In a nation of citizens who value their freedoms, right-to-work should be a common sense principle rather than a rare policy only enacted by 22 of 50 states. No one is doubting a worker’s right to join a union, so why must today’s liberals doubt their right to not join one?
Next Rick Perry asserted that a right-to-work labor market would make New Hampshire a “powerful magnet” for jobs in the region. Indeed since no other Northeastern state has adopted similar legislation yet, if New Hampshire became right-to-work, that state would be the first in the region to do so. As a result, any skilled workers in the area hesitant about union membership or businesses unable to meet the demands of unreasonable union bosses would flock to New Hampshire, providing a significant boost to its economy.
Although purporting to be the party that supports workers’ rights, the Democrats have risen in unified opposition to guaranteeing American laborers one of their most fundamental freedoms: the ability to choose whether or not to join a union. For instance, the Democratic Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, vetoed a previous right-to-work bill passed overwhelmingly by his state’s legislature.
Even President Obama has injected himself into these local disputes, claiming: “When I hear some of these folks trying to pass so-called ‘right to work’ laws for private sector workers, that really means the right to work for less and less and less. When I hear some of this talk, I know this is not about economics. This is about politics.”
However did the President consider the economic impact of his actions when he sided with the National Labor Relations Board to prohibit thousands of new jobs being created in South Carolina purely because those jobs were not unionized? Did the President consider the economic impact of his actions when he awarded labor unions significant shares in the same auto companies that they helped bankrupt through unprecedented wage and benefit demands? Did President Obama consider the economic impact of his fellow Democrats’ actions in Wisconsin when they childishly fled their state in order to preserve the unions’ right to collectively bargain at the expense of their fellow taxpayers? Repeatedly President Obama and the Democratic Party have prioritized their lucrative relationship with Big Labor over the economic concerns of their constituents.
Through his unwavering support of labor unions, President Obama consistently refuses to take into account the negative effect those institutions have on the American economy and, in consequence, the workers they claim to protect. Winning a higher wage and more extravagant benefits for workers in a particular industry might benefit those individuals in the short term. However in the long term as American businesses struggle to compete in a competitive global marketplace, those demands harm the average worker by encouraging his employer to outsource his job elsewhere. Is the temporary increase in benefits and salary that unions provide worth the higher likelihood of unemployment that will result from an increased burden on the employer?
Apparently we are not the only ones who have realized the destructive force of American labor unions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 union membership fell to 11.9% of the American workforce, its lowest percentage in over 70 years, demonstrating the increasing irrelevance that such institutions possess. Although labor unions face declining membership, declining usefulness, and declining purpose in our society, the Democratic party functions as their last life-line, using every legislative measure necessary to artificially keep a dying system alive. Right-to-work legislation, card-check bills, and a sympathetic National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are all examples of measures designed by liberals to artificially boost the ranks of labor unions in response to their declining influence and membership. President Obama even granted labor unions special waivers from his health care plan in order to protect their valuable Cadillac insurance agreements, negotiated through collective bargaining. Democrats claim that, by supporting unions, they are supporting the American worker, but the motivations are unfortunately much more selfish.
While President Obama ironically criticizes Republicans for playing politics with the issue of labor relations, only his own motives for supporting the unions’ efforts are actually very shady. The Center for Responsive Politics has cited three labor unions as being among the top five donors to political candidates in the last campaign season. Collectively these entities donated 170 million dollars to Democratic candidates during the 2010 midterm elections. AFSCME, a public sector union representing government workers, earned the distinction of being the biggest donor of that election, handing over 90 million dollars of its members’ salaries to liberal campaigns. Although liberals protest corporations and Big Business for controlling politics in America, labor unions spend more annually in lobbying expenditure than any private market industry.
Labor unions unfairly contribute their members’ dues on these liberal campaigns regardless of those individuals’ political leanings. Therefore whenever union membership is increased, and such organizations collect more dues as a result, the Democratic Party benefits financially. It is thus no coincidence that all their initiatives relating to labor consequently result in greater union membership. When Democrats cannot encourage more workers to join unions, they force them to through opposing right-to-work legislation. Liberals’ opposition to right-to-work is not based on any fundamental concern they have for the American worker, but instead a well coordinated political scheme to fund their campaigns.
Meanwhile Republicans’ labor relations policies result in millions of dollars worth of attack ads being spent against their candidates and highly motivated union representatives organizing protests and recalls against their initiatives. The fact that conservative candidates, such as Governor Scott Walker, Governor Chris Christie, and Governor John Kasich, continue to reveal the same truths about unions without fearing the repercussions listed above demonstrates that their actions regarding labor relations are based on convictions rather than their future reelection campaigns. Can the same be said about Democratic candidates who accept millions of dollars in campaign funds from such organizations each year?
Whether granting waivers to unions from Obamacare, opposing Governor Walker’s efforts to reduce public workers’ benefits in Wisconsin, or outlawing non-unionized jobs, President Obama and his Democratic Party have blindly accepted the demands of America’s labor unions for their own political expediency. As the debate over the Keystone pipeline reveals, the only group liberals pander to more are the environmentalists, another major Democratic campaign donor. Who will buy the Democratic Party next? Hopefully a group that actually values the free market.
Written by Evan Draim