The widening gulf between labor leadership and the rank-and-file

drawbridgeIn a move that puts even more daylight between Big Labor union leadership and the workers they purport to represent, the AFL-CIO has announced that they are opening up membership to pretty much anyone. Writes The Hill:

The move faced stiff resistance from union officials who fear the AFL-CIO’s primary mission of representing workers will be left behind if the federation becomes a mouthpiece for liberal and progressive groups.

Note to union leaders: You left the primary mission of representing workers a long time ago when you became a mouthpiece for liberal and progressive groups, this just makes it official. Your past antics of climbing into bed with the likes of the Sierra Club and other greenies has already cost your workers thousands of jobs. The foot-dragging on the Keystone pipeline project, the EPA end-run around Congress on cap-and-trade and the War on Coal are just a few examples of how such alliances are counter to protecting the jobs of the workers you claim to represent.

Then there is Obamacare.

Most labor union rank and file members had gold-plated health insurance benefits that were the envy of every worker. Yet, labor unions jumped on the Obamacare band wagon along with every other social progressive group with scant regard for the implications to their member’s benefit plans. To paraphrase the infamous quote by Nancy Pelosi “they had to pass it to see what was in it.”

Well their members are beginning to “see what is in it” and they don’t like it:

But some union leaders have grown frustrated and angry about what they say are unexpected consequences of the new law — problems that they say could jeopardize the health benefits offered to millions of their members.

The union leadership that sold their rank and file members down the river by supporting Obamacare have responded by acting like a surprised bystander at a train wreck that they helped cause. No wonder many union members are beginning to question what they are paying dues for.

Such blatant disregard for bread-and-butter worker issues in pursuit of a more nebulous “social justice” agenda illustrates why right to work legislation (such as recently passed in Michigan) is an important check on union monopoly power. Union members that are tired of seeing their dues go to candidates and causes popular with the labor bosses but costing them jobs, pay and benefits can threaten to leave the union if leadership doesn’t get their act together. They can do so because they do not have to fear losing their job by exercising such rights.

If any more vindication is needed in the passage of right to work legislation in Michigan (or anywhere) it has been provided by organized labor themselves.

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About Charles Owens

Charles Owens has been advocating the interests of small business in the Michigan Legislature for over 25 years, beginning with his tenure at the Michigan Institute of Laundering and Dry-cleaning and currently with the National Federation of Independent Business / Michigan. As the State Director of one of Michigan's most respected small business organizations, Owens is responsible for directing the NFIB in its mission to maintain the viability of small business in the face of expanded legislative and regulatory challenges. Owens has been an active participant in the legislative debate over numerous landmark Michigan issues including: the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, inheritance tax, tort liability reform, Unemployment Insurance reform, Workers’ Compensation, and Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Act (MIOSHA) issues. Owens and the NFIB spearheaded the efforts of other small business groups in the fight for fairness and equity for small business in the debate over the repeal and replacement for the Michigan Business Tax. Owens is a 25 year member of the Capitol Club, a dedicated group of association executives committed to the advancement of legislative advocacy for their respective organizations. In 2005 he was elected by his peers to be President of the organization. In 2006, Owens was ranked as number five of the top ten single interest individual lobbyists in Michigan by Inside Michigan Politics. Under his leadership, NFIB was also ranked in the top twenty lobbyist organizations and top ten single interest lobbying organizations by the same publication. Originally a native of Rockford, Illinois, Owens graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors Degree in Finance and Business Administration. follow on twitter: @OwensNFIB
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