New Congress And Administration Get Ready To Sucker Punch Labor

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For decades, labor’s strongholds were in the car business, newspapers, states and municipalities, and transportation. Between the UAW and the AFL-CIO millions of workers had jobs which were virtually guaranteed along with good wages and ludicrous benefits.

Over the last decade, management made inroads in undercutting union power. Workers would argue that the Republican party encouraged that. But, now both the executive and legislative branches are dominated by a party which owes labor big. Unions endorsed Democrats and they pushed their members to get to the polls.

In the words of WC Fields, "Never wise up a chump." Labor is about to get poleaxed by the federal government, just when it needs a level of assistance which it has not required for decades.

According to The New York Times, "labor invested more than $300 million to help elect Mr. Obama and enlarge the Democratic majority in Congress, and it expects both to enact legislation that will make it easier for millions of workers to unionize." There is not a chance in hell that labor will be aided by the new government’s plans to revive the economy.

The bailout package that is being proposed over the next two years will focus on infrastructure, medical IT advancements, and energy efficiency. Very few of the businesses in these sectors are heavily unionized. That’s hardly a good sign for unions.

Looking at the situation from the other side, the car companies are likely to fire more workers even if they get government loans, the newspaper industry is in its final years as a large employer, and state and municipal employees will be put out on the streets by the thousands as local governments run huge deficits due to falling tax bases and rising borrowing costs. The federal government may help bail out some states, but only to the extent that they need to cover essential services.

If the labor movement in America was not done with before this recession, it will be done with by its end. One of the realizations which has been slow to hit the federal government but is slapping it with full force now is that there is only so much assistance to go around.  A handout for labor is not going to make that cut.

Douglas A. McIntyre