Rejoice! The Storm Troopers of Leftism Are Being Crushed!

 

TAA_Rally_in_the_Capitol,_2012_(6879367837)This is the second in a series on the importance and durability of conservative successes since Reagan took office and since Obama lost his supermajority; we do win battles and they can stay won.

Though FDR created the modern Democratic Party as a diverse array of government entities and sales pitches to attract various identity groups, its heart was legally-empowered unions. In what might be considered the first individual mandate, Americans under a pro-union government would be forced to pay dues to a third party who would spend it, in part, on getting Democrats elected. There’s a raft of ways in which that system was enhanced; since 1931, for instance, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws have meant that government had to overpay for contracts, with much of the surplus going to unions, who were also helped by the additional red tape. Because people rarely give much of their own free will, declared union spending on the 2012 cycle topped $1.7 billion, while the Obama campaign ($0.5 billion), DNC ($0.3 billion), and declared outside spending on the Presidential race ($0.1 billion) didn’t compare.

But it’s more than money. Unions are the Democrats’ answer for why America is great. All the wonderful changes of the twentieth century, the incredible wealth enjoyed by our middle class, the massively superior quality of life we have over our parents … all these are explained, in their telling, by unions. The roll free markets serve in conservative mythology (and in reality) are credited to unions in the Left’s narrative. They can also point to unions as a source for social capital and the guarantors of individual rights, making them not merely the purported engine of economic growth, but also the Left’s church.

What Democrats could never do through direct government control, they achieved, for a while, through unions. People complain about regulatory overhead today — and the complaint is just — but our situation is still greatly superior to the awfulness of the schlerotic unionized industries of the 1970s. Reagan didn’t just lift the boot of direct government control off our neck, but he helped lift the violence, the inflexible and cumbersome union rules, and the sheer corruption of the union system.

Private Sector Union Membership

Before Reagan took over, private sector union membership was at 23 percent. Before Scott Brown took office, it was at 7.2 percent. By last year, it had fallen to 6.6 percent. Reagan was brutal to the unions, Bush 41 followed up, and it took a while for membership to look as if it might stabilize in Clinton’s second term. Bush 43 had an excellent Labor Secretary in Elaine Chao, who I hope would be available for the next administration, and who killed the unions’ brief hope under Clinton. More recently, Obama put a ton of effort into this issue; his two biggest achievements were Obamacare and the Stimulus, and the latter was primarily a union issue (the auto bailouts helped, too). But even with Obama’s NRLB, unions being the key priority of the Democrats, and an inspirational president who got his start working for unions, the relentless drive toward freedom has continued.

That 6.6 percent figure from 2014 is set to fall further, too. In 1958, there were 18 right to work states. In 1963, Wyoming brought that to 19. Louisiana (1976), Idaho (1985), and Texas in (1993!), brought us to 22, and then there was stasis. We weren’t falling back, but we weren’t gaining, either. Other than Nevada, these were all states with weak unions, anyway. We’d never taken a union-loving state until 2012, when Mitch Daniels moved Indiana. Last year, both West Virginia and Michigan became right to work states. This year, so did Wisconsin and we’re set to see some more states fall to our conquest, with none moving in the opposite direction.

Private sector unions aren’t just the mythology the Left credits with essentially everything good that happened in America in the 20th Century. They’ve also been the Democratic Party’s best shock troops ever since the Klan failed them, they’ve been their best fundraisers, and they’ve been the reason that white men and traditionally-minded women could be proud members of the Democratic Party. And we’re grinding them to dust.

Public Sector Union Membership

It’s often said that public sector union membership is picking up the slack, but there are many fewer government workers (22 million) than there are private sector workers (120 million). More importantly, public sector unions aren’t increasing their unionization rate: they’ve merely held their numbers constant while private unions of crumpled. Public sector union membership was at 35.9 percent before Reagan took office, went up under him to 36.6 percent, was at 37.4 percent when Scott Brown won, and is at 35.7 percent now. Wisconsin and Indiana have led a charge against them, too, obviously (I bet no one has read this far without knowing about Wisconsin’s Act 10). Along with the right to work reforms, these measures will only further unions’ decline.

The Future if a Republican Wins in 2016

There’s more to follow; Scott Walker may be the only candidate to have a solid labor reform platform and an indisputable record of achievement, but he’s not the only candidate on the right side of the issue. Bush and Rubio fought teacher’s unions indirectly in Florida. Kasich has a record for fighting, if not defeating, unions. Our Congressional leadership is more anti-labor than any Congressional leadership in a half century. Jim Geraghty talks about the way that Huckabee immediately trashed Walker’s plan for being excessively anti-labor, but Jim’s excellent piece misses the magnitude of the change. We used to have a lot of labor-friendly Republicans. We just don’t any more. The last time we had a majority, we couldn’t pass Davis Bacon reform because labor could count on Santorum, Kit Bond, Mike DeWine, George Voinovich, Mel Martinez, Gordon Smith, Ted Stevens, Chuck Hagel, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, and Lincoln Chaffee. They’re all gone now, and they haven’t been replaced. Sen. Susan Collins is a moderate, but even she’s better on labor than any of those guys. There’s simply no place in today’s elected GOP for Huckabee’s identity politics only style of Republicanism that devoid of conservatism, or at least there wasn’t in 2010, 2012, or 2014. Even this year, I don’t believe Huckabee could get elected as governor or to congress.

Walker’s approach in Wisconsin was to liberate workers as a way to cut budgets, and his federal plan follows this model. This means that it can be passed with reconciliation. Unless we lose five seats in the Senate, any president can follow Walker’s model. He puts it better than I could, but basically he would: 1) Remove the NRLB as a way of immediately undoing all of Obama’s bad labor rules and to divert mediation to a more efficient system (the one used by railway workers, for historical reasons); 2) Enact a raft of reforms to make it harder for federal unions to raise money for politics, protect whistleblowers, make every state right to work (with the ability for states to opt out of that); and 3) Most importantly, repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, a law originally passed in the 1931 to keep African Americans out of the Northern states and Mexicans out of border states, and that now cripples American infrastructure, actively increases inefficiency, and provides massive cash payments to Democrats. A Davis-Bacon repeal is straight-up cash left on the table, even before you look at its moral costs. The gig economy — Uber and such — creates a space in which the elimination of labor as a non-trivial force becomes ever more plausible.

The Future If We Lose

Regardless, we shouldn’t pop the champagne yet. If we lose, the NLRB rules will take hold and stick. McDonald’s, for instance, would be far more likely to unionize. Other expansion seems likely. Obama’s reforms have been delayed, but they’re ready to bite, and a Clinton (or Sanders) Administration would give them the space to expand unions. A Supreme Court with Kennedy replaced by a 100% liberal would reverse decisions like Harris v. Quinn, which would mean that home-care assistants could be forced to join unions. And then, Uber drivers. And a host of other guys who won’t even know that there’s an election on, but will be notified by text message that they’ve chosen to join a union. The gig economy expanded under the wrong SCOTUS and the current NRLB could see massive expansions of the involuntarily unionized. Without Congress passing a new law, union membership would skyrocket to unheard of levels: 40, or even 50 percent of the country wouldn’t be impossible.

With that, we wouldn’t just lose general elections, although that would be one consequence. Union funding would go back to not merely dwarfing the other sources, but doing so to an absurd degree, and then rise beyond that to unprecedented height. Part of the impact would be that we would start losing primary elections to friends of labor again.

2016 looks set to be the election that decides the electoral and business future of the country for decades to come. Both victory and loss would have irrevocable and decisive effects.

Image Credit: “TAA Rally in the Capitol, 2012 (6879367837)” by Peter Patau. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

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  1. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    James Of England: This is part 2 of a series on the importance and durability of conservative successes since Reagan took office and since Obama lost his supermajority; we do win battles and they can stay won.

    part 1: http://ricochet.com/rejoice-rejoice-victory-oh-victory/

    • #1
  2. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    captainpower:

    James Of England: This is part 2 of a series on the importance and durability of conservative successes since Reagan took office and since Obama lost his supermajority; we do win battles and they can stay won.

    part 1: http://ricochet.com/rejoice-rejoice-victory-oh-victory/

    D’oh! I should probably have done that myself. Thank you!

    • #2
  3. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Good piece James. I’ll have to get to part 1 tonight. Thanks.

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Do other candidates have similar labor platforms? Walker is clearly the subject matter expert and I would be surprised if others are as meticulously well thought out.

    • #4
  5. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    So far as I know, no. Walker also has the only Obamacare replacement plan, but it is early, still.

    • #5
  6. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Control of the NRLB is very important. My little company was attempted to be unionized four times. Twice by the teamsters, once by the steel workers and once by the food workers union. Unless you have personally experienced this it is hard to explain. I had two very large organizations attempting to take over my business, the unions and the government. I had very good legal service and I prevailed all four times, but twice by sheer serendipity. Suffice to say the teamsters were the mafia in Pittsburgh and I am not sure the NRLB wasn’t also.

    • #6
  7. wilber forge Inactive
    wilber forge
    @wilberforge

    Have had the “Privelage” of being a Unión member long ago, actually required. Attendance at monthly meetings was a mandatory thing and every one was identical to a political rally. Distastefull and lacking substance or actual progress.

    Observed other unions demand action from members and then abandoned them emasse in the end.  Also found the NRLB a similar political entity in actions.

    To summarize, why try to sell ice cubes to Eskimos when they can simply be mandated to buy them.  A truly predatory process in need of restraint.

    • #7
  8. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    How are we crushing Leftism if we’re precariously close to having disastrous NRLB rulings cemented and sweeping changes to labor law made if we lose one election?  You went from an opening saying we win battles and they can stay won then go into how easily they can all be lost.  Sorry, if we were crushing the Left things would not be that close-cut.  We have the potential to do so if we win a series of elections and then actually do something, but we haven’t crushed anyone yet.

    • #8
  9. Could be Anyone Member
    Could be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    @ Whiskey Sam – I agree with James that technically speaking we have been winning the fight against labor for the past century. The issue is that conservatives are fighting for the restraint of the state and the left is fighting for no restraint. It’s a hard job trying to prevent state action when it’s far easier sell that doing something will solve an issue than not doing will. The left starts the economic woes then creates false solutions and relies on a few manipulated data points to tell a tale of economic prosperity under their tyranny (the left has done this from FDR to Clinton) so as to maintain their charade and power.

    The point of James is that labor unions were for the most part useless, inefficient, and ancient in origin organizations (goes back to the guild system) that were thrust upon America by state intervention at great cost to the bulk of Americans; at the same time though they served to build a base of leftist political power but have since greatly declined. Currently the economy is changing in terms of employment with what James calls a “gig economy”. Those millions of union industry jobs are gone now (because of multiple factors) and a chunk of that demographic is now in service sectors that are not unionized. The left has finally seen this, James assumes (I personally wouldn’t be as charitable to their intellect), and are willing to get/create new “storm troopers”.

    If the left succeeds then they will repeat their strategy and unionize another sector in order to rebuild support, thus giving them new blood and weakening us. Hence why James thinks we need to win again and hopefully strike another lethal blow to organized labor and prevent their forced growth.

    • #9
  10. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Whiskey, we’ve made tremendous progress. Ending that progress has been a key focus of the Obama administration and it will take them at least another term to do it.
    So far, the unions have felt nothing but pain for 35 years. Clinton has one shot to create a new structure, which would be different to the old structure. The previous form of union is not going to be resurrected, but if all workers in the gig economy are unionized, along with McDonalds and such, the Democrats will have a replacement income stream.
    People say that the gains we make don’t stay. These gains have been critical, stayed for decades, and are likely to be deepened. That is not nothing, even if a chance of future pain lies in wait for us.

    • #10
  11. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Sorry, phone posting and didn’t see Could Be’s much better response.

    Edit: although I’m less worried about the gig economy providing physical muscle than about it providing unprecedented amounts of cash.

    • #11
  12. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Well said, James.

    • #12
  13. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    How exactly did the Mo Republican supermajority just fail to pass right to work?

    • #13
  14. Palaeologus Inactive
    Palaeologus
    @Palaeologus

    For those keeping score, “home-care assistants” aren’t necessarily nurses for old folks. People we have historically referred to as “babysitters” also fit that bill. Unionizing them would be a big (Biden-lingo) deal.

    James, I think your headline is a bit grandiose but I agree wholeheartedly that tenuous victories are still victories.

    From what I’ve seen bouncing around this site in the last two days, we could use a bit of the rah-rah.

    Our team is pretty darn good at fighting up-hill. Populist, snake-oilish bunk sells spectacularly at the retail level.

    • #14
  15. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    We have to do a much better job of counteracting the left’s Working Class Hero narrative in the minds of the voters.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Right Angles, I think we’ve mostly won on that fight; this is one of the central reasons that the Democratic white vote outside academia has shot down so fast.

    • #16
  17. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    I think it’s fair and politically shrewd to distinguish between public and private sector unions, as James has consistently done. Most working families, including ones in unions, do this in real life. If a union strikes Ford, a less and less likely occurrence, people switch to other brands of car. Even the least politically aware adult knows that they can’t go to a competing police force or a competitive motor vehicle department. They see the difference in the way the staff looks and acts when AFSCME sets the tone of a workforce, or when Nordstrom’s does it.

    Public employees are magnets for resentment; private sector ones are not, at least nearly to the same degree. Be strategic–start by knocking off the least popular part of the the other side’s coalition.

    • #17
  18. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    James Of England:Right Angles, I think we’ve mostly won on that fight; this is one of the central reasons that the Democratic white vote outside academia has shot down so fast.

    I sure hope you’re right, and your post gives me hope. I guess I get disheartened by some of my lefty friends’ Facebook posts from the – have you heard of this – Coffee Party. You’d think we were in 1935 and the mean Republicans were against child labor laws.

    • #18
  19. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Gary McVey:I think it’s fair and politically shrewd to distinguish between public and private sector unions, as James has consistently done. Most working families, including ones in unions, do this in real life. If a union strikes Ford, a less and less likely occurrence, people switch to other brands of car. Even the least politically aware adult knows that they can’t go to a competing police force or a competitive motor vehicle department. They see the difference in the way the staff looks and acts when AFSCME sets the tone of a workforce, or when Nordstrom’s does it.

    Public employees are magnets for resentment; private sector ones are not, at least nearly to the same degree. Be strategic–start by knocking off the least popular part of the the other side’s coalition.

    I agree. And I hope people realize that public sector unions were very instrumental in the bankruptcy of Stockton, CA, and they’re causing problems in Chicago among others.

    • #19
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The King Prawn:How exactly did the Mo Republican supermajority just fail to pass right to work?

    They had a 96-63 vote in favor; that’s a pretty healthy majority. Governor Nixon isn’t hanging around after 2016, and Missouri’s turning increasingly red. All the predictions (Cook, Sabuto, etc.) have it as a tossup.

    If we work together, support the nominee (both Presidential and gubernatorial), and don’t self immolate, there’s every chance we’ll have a Republican governor, the vote will be repeated (or we might lose some votes, but we’re not going to go from a 96-63 majority to a defeat) and Missouri will become RtW.

    Or if we get a President Walker or a Republican President with his boldness, Missouri will become a Right to Work State by federal law instead (that is, Walker would dis-apply the default application of the Wagner Act, instead having states be able to opt in, something that Missouri would not do; we’d probably get the 7 states with undivided Democratic government (CA, CT, DE, HI, OR, RI, and VT) opting in, and 43 states going the other way, including all of the larger states but California.

    • #20
  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Gary McVey:I think it’s fair and politically shrewd to distinguish between public and private sector unions, as James has consistently done. Most working families, including ones in unions, do this in real life. If a union strikes Ford, a less and less likely occurrence, people switch to other brands of car. Even the least politically aware adult knows that they can’t go to a competing police force or a competitive motor vehicle department. They see the difference in the way the staff looks and acts when AFSCME sets the tone of a workforce, or when Nordstrom’s does it.

    Public employees are magnets for resentment; private sector ones are not, at least nearly to the same degree. Be strategic–start by knocking off the least popular part of the the other side’s coalition.

    This illuminates one of the two ways in which my post was inarticulate.

    We should distinguish between Federal, State, private, and private contractor unions, because they have different regimes.

    We should not refrain from going after any of those, although state employee unions shouldn’t be impacted by Federal reforms; they should be fixed by state reforms.

    In both cases we should emphasize, as Walker did, that we don’t want to get rid of unions. We just want to reduce union abuses while retaining the good stuff they do (employee representation and such). That won’t persuade the Coffee party folks, but we don’t need to persuade the Democratic base. It’s also true; there’s no harm in genuinely voluntary, weak, and non-violent unions existing, and their right to do so is protected by the First Amendment right to association. Sometimes consistent representation (all employees using the same law firm) can even increase corporate efficiency.

    Currently, unions in all sectors operate to increase funds spent on causes that the individual members often disagree with and engage in corrupt and sometimes violent politics. That should end (although union members should feel free to join political groups).

    • #21
  22. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Palaeologus:For those keeping score, “home-care assistants” aren’t necessarily nurses for old folks. People we have historically referred to as “babysitters” also fit that bill. Unionizing them would be a big (Biden-lingo) deal.

    James, I think your headline is a bit grandiose but I agree wholeheartedly that tenuous victories are still victories.

    From what I’ve seen bouncing around this site in the last two days, we could use a bit of the rah-rah.

    Our team is pretty darn good at fighting up-hill. Populist, snake-oilish bunk sells spectacularly at the retail level.

    This is the second. I was wrong to talk about Clinton rolling back decades of progress. If she succeeds, she’ll bring in a lot of new union members, but the membership structure will be very different.

    Gig economy unions are unlikely to be able to micromanage much; it’s just not a model suited to that. They should be able to bring in money for the Democrats, but they won’t be like the unions of the 1970s. Fast Food workers, likewise, are too distributed to have excessively complex union regs., but the unions will still be able to send cash.  Our defeat of the old union model has been durable and non-tenuous, and if we win this election there won’t be a replacement. If we lose, we will still have gains that matter (and our successes against state employee unions will likely continue, even under a President Clinton), but they will have some tremendous advances elsewhere.

    • #22
  23. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    James Of England:

    In both cases we should emphasize, as Walker did, that we don’t want to get rid of unions. We just want to reduce union abuses while retaining the good stuff they do (employee representation and such). That won’t persuade the Coffee party folks, but we don’t need to persuade the Democratic base. It’s also true; there’s no harm in genuinely voluntary, weak, and non-violent unions existing, and their right to do so is protected by the First Amendment right to association. Sometimes consistent representation (all employees using the same law firm) can even increase corporate efficiency.

    Currently, unions in all sectors operate to increase funds spent on causes that the individual members often disagree with and engage in corrupt and sometimes violent politics. That should end (although union members should feel free to join political groups).

    I would like to see the rule everywhere be that joining any union is voluntary, and that dues collection is not done by payroll deduction, but by some other billing method.  That produces the genuinely voluntary system you mention, and at the same time greatly reduces the influence of the union, because under those conditions many people won’t join and others won’t pay.

    • #23
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    I see this post has an unusual number of interested Followers who have not yet commented. I urge you to leave the peanut gallery and join us. The first part of this (so far) two part series was also top heavy with avid spectators. I believe that James of England’s three dimensional analysis is more than convincing; it’s correct.

    • #24
  25. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Of course, I reserve the right to argue with it anyway.

    • #25
  26. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    In your list of Presidential Hopefuls with anti-union records, you missed Chris Christie. He first showed up to conservatives nationwide because he would argue with Teacher’s Union people and look good while doing it. I’m still a Scott Walker man myself, mind you.

    Union membership goes up when the economy is bad. I worked in a door factory in ’08; when the housing market crashed I found myself more and more out of a job. Even before then though, the management had been, shall we say, making poor decisions with respect to employee relations. I heard later that the place had unionized.

    It’s sort of like hearing a couple having a bitter argument in public. You hunch down, shuffle away quickly and pretend you don’t know them.

    • #26
  27. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Gary, JoE’s posts are similar to Ole Summers’ in that they are most comprehensive and don’t need much amplification. I appreciate James’ answering questions and participating.

    • #27
  28. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    James Of England: They’ve also been the Democratic Party’s best shock troops ever since the Klan failed them

    This is an excellent line. Ouch.

    James Of England: they’ve been the reason that white men and traditionally minded women could be proud members of the Democratic party.

    There might be a chicken and egg aspect to this. How hard has the left been pushing unionism in the past thirty or so years? All the great crusades have been in racial minority’s rights, and gay marriage, and making sure science fiction writers only choose the proper leftist hogwash for awards. It seems to me that the Democrats have largely abandoned their working class white demographic to favor college-age white feel-gooders, which means that culturally there’s less propaganda to make unionism popular.

    • #28
  29. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    James, imagine if we eliminated payroll deduction for income taxes and everyone had to voluntarily write a check for their tax burden. Perhaps we could begin to free ourselves from our self induced tyranny.

    • #29
  30. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    James Of England: They had a 96-63 vote in favor; that’s a pretty healthy majority. Governor Nixon isn’t hanging around after 2016, and Missouri’s turning increasingly red. All the predictions (Cook, Sabuto, etc.) have it as a tossup.

    Republican supermajority, enough to override the D governor’s veto (this was the vote that failed) because 13 of those Republicans voted with the unions. You know I’m as stridently anti-trump as anyone, well anyone other than Rick Wilson, but if a pinkish state like Missouri with Republican supermajorities can’t override a veto to bring their state out of the early 20th century, then what will electing more of the same class of Republicans accomplish?

    As far as forcing right-to-work from the top down, really? I still believe in separation of powers between the national and state governments. From which enumerated power would this heavy hand of the national government extend to crush a state’s right to be as stupid in their labor contracting laws as their voters agree they should be?

    • #30
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