Union label


In 2008, unions spent more than $400 million to help elect Barack Obama and increase the size of the Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.

They've gotten some consideration for those donations -- Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, is a frequent White House guest, and President Obama helped keep General Motors and Chrysler alive as union employers for now through bailouts.

Nonetheless, on balance, leaders of labor's largest federation are stuck for a plan to reverse frustrating failures in most of their headline issues as they convene for their annual meeting this week in Orlando.

If their agenda stalls even after that much spending, and even with the whopping legislative majorities enjoyed by Democrats through all of 2009, one possibility the organizers may have to face is that neither they nor their agenda is really all that popular.

Socialized medicine? Even a new, "low-calorie" version isn't doing that well. A bipartisan jobs bill did pass the Senate last week, but drew tepid praise at best from the AFL-CIO.

Union leaders fought hard to keep a Democrat in Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat -- and lost.

Another setback came in January when two Senate Democrats joined Republicans in blocking the appointment of labor lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board.

Card check? It now appears dead in Congress.

Union membership in the private sector fell 10 percent during Mr. Obama's first year in office, to a historic low of 7.2 percent. A poll last month from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 41 percent of those surveyed now have a favorable view of unions, compared with 58 percent in a similar survey in 2007.

It's up to them, of course, but maybe the AFL-CIO should simply announce it's going to work next fall for the party that has the best plan to cut government spending, cut taxes and thus allow private employers to create new jobs. Because a change of course seems advisable. And dumping the radical, far-left agenda -- which the rank and file have never considered a hill to die for -- might be a start.

 

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