Busy unions

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

For over three years I have subscribed to the weekly St. Louis/Southern Illinois Labor Tribune newspaper. I'm sure a lot of my union friends swallow hard when the publication publishes pro-abortion, get out of the war in IRAQ and automatic anti-Bush, Talent and Blunt editorials with one-sided coverage.

The Labor Tribune's campaign against Wal-Mart (and most recently Best Buy in St. Louis), telling their readers to not shop at these stores, is probably not endorsed by the majority of the union members.

On March 22, the front page headlined an article: "McCaskill leads effort to allow airport screeners to unionize." According to the article, "McCaskill inserted the provision into a bill enacting the renaming recommendations of the 911 Commission. ... After the Democrats took over, the American Federation of Government Employees, which wants to represent the 43,000 screeners, pushed quickly for the union-organizing provision."

McCaskill probably owes a great deal of credit for her Senate election to state and national labor union activity and funding, but I don't recall this being part of her pre-election rhetoric.

Labor organizes: The AFL-CIO, working to become a force in the 2008 presidential race, plans a grassroots outreach in the coming campaign that will surpass its previous such efforts:

Volunteers, 205,000

Union voters' doors knocked, 8.25 million

Phone calls made to union voters, 30 million

Pieces of mail sent, 20 million

Fliers distributed, 14 million

Union voting as a percent of electorate who voted, 24 percent

Note: "Union voters" means voters in union members' households. -- Source: AFL-CIO

Unionism: For decades, organized labor insisted that secret ballots were a sacrosanct necessity in determining whether workers really wanted to join unions.

Without a secret ballot, union leaders feared, management would intimidate pro-union workers.

Now labor bosses want to chuck the secret ballot. Unionization would instead be decided by workers signing a petition or pro-union signature cards. No more elections.

Labor bigwigs have little faith they can win secret ballots in the private sector, where labor-union participation is now a paltry 7.4 percent. (In contrast, more than 35 percent of government workers are unionized.)

Workers will come under even more intense pressure, from both management and the unions.

The House of Representatives has passed this blatantly anti-democratic proposal. Senate Republicans should let the thing come up for a vote. Democrats know most Americans despise this idea, but the Democrats are loath to offend Big Labor. If it passes, President Bush should veto it. -- Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine

The following two paragraphs from a recent Paul Greenburg column in this paper bears repeating.

"If you still think letting Congress force the president's top advisers to testify under oath is a good idea, consider what would happen if the tables were turned, and the executive branch were allowed the same power over the legislative branch. Instead of Democratic congressmen getting to grill aides like Karl Rove and Harriet Meiers under oath, suppose Rove & Co. could make Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer or Ted Kennedy reveal the details of their confidential political discussions.

"The power to subpoena is the power to destroy. As Harry Truman well knew. Here's hoping George W. Bush does. Because if he allows Congress to invade the confidences of his presidency, he will pass on a much weakened executive branch to his successors. On this issue he needs to stand fast."

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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