Vice President Joe Biden swept into town over the past weekend, delivering a boilerplate speech to a Teamsters convention on how Republicans and the evil rich stand in the way of allowing organized labor to revitalize the American middle class.
It was standard fare designed to whip up the faithful. "We can't have a strong middle class with a declining labor movement," the vice president said to a crowd at Paris Las Vegas.
Well, that's one point of view. Still another holds that unions, as they have evolved today, too often have a long-term detrimental effect on job creation, creativity and prosperity.
Look around. Heavily unionized domestic industries have been collapsing under the weight of their labor contracts for decades. This isn't an accident -- or a coincidence.
Let's be clear: Organized labor can boast a long litany of heroes and brag of many important successes over the years, particularly in the realm of safety. In addition, those in favor of forming or joining a union must be free to act on their beliefs under the First Amendment's right to free association.
Organized labor today, however, has become a thinly veiled political movement, embracing a far-left agenda, not only in the arena of worker-management relations but in social policy as well. Instead of standing for worker rights and job creation, today's Big Labor has -- fair or not -- become synonymous with collectivism, protectionism, sloth, coercion, and inefficiency.
Is it any wonder, then, that the percentage of Americans in the private sector who choose to belong to a union has dropped precipitously over the past few decades, all the way from 35 percent to just 8 percent in the past 60 years?
Those numbers reveal that the great majority of the private-sector middle class has rejected the union brand. Rather than promote job creation, union bosses discourage it if an employer runs a non-union shop. Consider the Culinary union in Las Vegas, which has actively sought to undermine the ability of non-union employers such as Station Casinos to expand, preferring that no jobs be added to the work force, at all, if they're not filled with dues-paying members.
"Unions simply do not provide the economic benefits that their supporters claim they provide," writes James Sherk, a labor expert with The Heritage Foundation. "They are labor cartels, intentionally reducing the number of jobs to drive up wages for their members."
Nevertheless, Mr. Biden and other Democrats recognize the valuable financial contributions that organized labor provides to their causes and candidates. It's in their best interests to champion this cash cow for all it's worth. But there's just one problem looming: With government unions now dominating the labor landscape, and state and local governments across the country suddenly struggling to meet the generous salary and benefit expectations of their employees, the decline of public-sector unions is virtually inevitable -- and has likely already begun.