Unions Are Demanding Political Payback for 2006 Democrats’ 2006 Election Victories

Published November 1, 2007

Big Labor invested heavily in the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress. The AFL-CIO spent a reported $40 million to mobilize union households. The Service Employees spent $65 million. Overall, labor unions spent an estimated $200 million on the midterm elections.

When voters gave the Democratic Party the majority in Congress, 351 state legislative seats, and six governor’s mansions in November 2006, Big Labor began demanding political payback.

Grateful Democrats were quick to oblige. Four of the seven issues on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) 100 Hour Agenda were labor priorities.

In August the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Labor Policy Center issued its “State of Labor 2007” report. This year’s report, themed “Unions Demand Political Payback,” reviews significant developments in the labor movement over the past year, analyzes union involvement in politics and their subsequent demands for payback, and offers legislative solutions to unfair policies promoted by organized labor.

2007 State of Labor Report: http://www.effwa.org/labor/2007_State_of_Labor.pdf

Minimum Wage Law Victims

Unions are the primary proponents of raising the minimum wage, but “no union member works for anywhere near the minimum wage,” writes Fr. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. Why, then, do unions lobby for minimum wage increases?

“Labor unions don’t like competition, particularly from low-wage, inexperienced employees,” writes Sirico. “They prefer higher minimum wages to block certain people from getting a foothold in the workplace.”

Sirico adds, “Whenever the minimum wage is raised, there are victims–and they usually are the most marginal members of society, the people without work experience, the young, those who are likely to be discriminated against.”

“Minimum wage laws create victims among the vulnerable”: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=/20070814/opinion01/708140306/1008

Unions Back Universal Preschool

In a wide-ranging article, the Capital Research Center shows teacher unions are a primary force behind the rise of universal preschool.

With Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, teacher unions are demanding loyalty from candidates they fund, particularly in regard to the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Teacher unions oppose NCLB because its testing and accountability standards put their jobs at risk. But, the article says, unions are offering to agree to reauthorization if the new majority also mandates universal public preschool. That would result in a massive influx of public-sector jobs “ripe for unionization.”

The article then moves to an in-depth analysis of the largest universal preschool campaign to date, last year’s failed Proposition 82 in California. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers were significant supporters of the initiative. The California Teachers Association alone invested $1.5 million in the campaign.

The state teachers union boasted, “Prop. 82 will strengthen public education by putting credentialed teachers in every preschool classroom and increasing the opportunity for teacher training.”

And every “credentialed teacher” in every new preschool classroom would be forced to join the union–a windfall of millions of dollars each year for the union.

“The Teachers Unions’ Fight for Universal Preschool”: http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/v1185558558.pdf

Hard Times Don’t Hurt Union Bosses

A two-part series in August in The Detroit News compared the wages of union members with those of their union bosses.

Part one spelled out how “[i]n tough times, leaders still gain as workers lose ground” and pointed out, “During the toughest economic times for organized labor in decades, union leaders are more likely to keep their jobs and get raises than the members they serve.”

The second installment pointed out that when United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union clerks at Meijer stores received a 1.9 percent raise–35 cents an hour–their union president received a raise of 5.2 percent–from $229,000 to $237,000. When the employees received no raises, their union president’s pay climbed 29 percent, reaching $305,000.

Even in the union hall, pay discrepancies abound. For example, Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers (UAW), manages a $300 million organization with more than 500,000 workers. Robert Potter, president of the UFCW union mentioned above, cares for a membership one-twentieth the size of the UAW. But while Gettelfinger earned a little more than $156,000, Potter made $305,000.

“I’m not embarrassed or apologetic about what I make,” Potter told The News. “Even at my highest salary, I was never in the top 20 in the UFCW in the country.”

For more information …

Do you feel your union officers’ pay is reasonable?: http://info.detnews.com/graphics/2007/union_top_50_081407.pdf

Search for a union’s financial information: http://dev.detnews.com/projects/2007/business/union_pay/union_view.php

Search for names of union staff and officers: http://dev.detnews.com/projects/2007/business/union_pay/person_view.php

“Labor bosses don’t share workers’ pain”:

“Pay gap divides labor chiefs”:

Ryan Bedford ([email protected]) is a labor analyst with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Washington