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To begin...





  1. 1. What should be done?

    • Unions should be left as they are, and allowed to continue doing what they do.
    • Unions should be forced out of politics, but allowed to continue fighting for their membership with businesses.
    • Unions should be disbanded and destroyed. Their pupose is fulfilled.
    • Something else... please add it in the comments. :)

So, as introductions go, I am a young man living just outside of Seattle, Washington, am this close to receiving my degree in political science, and have become heavily involved in my state and local politics, while getting my feet wet on the national front.


Politically, I tend to be a moderate with some of my opinions leaning right and some left. For example of my left leanings, I firmly believe that the state should not discriminate on who is allowed to enter into a legal contract that confers state and federal benefits, aka: I support gay marriage equality. That said, it is my more right leanings that have me thinking today. I've recently seen a darker side of labor unions, and sat through a presentation this morning on them that painted them as glorious defenders of the down trodden, and I wanted to explore that idea.


You all get to follow along, if you like, simply because DM now lets us all blog. :D


The Background:


I have several family members who are members of unions. Some are merely dues paying unionized workers who show up to vote when the union proposes a strike, while others served multiple terms as officers within the union. They run the gamut, and they've all shared their myriad opinions on their personal unions. One of the local political races I was working on this year was highlighted by the unions within my state as one of their key races. The unions were displeased with the State Government, and the Democrats in power, because the State passed a budget that cut some jobs and used furlough days to make up a budget gap. The Party Leadership (Democrat) proposed this budget and convinced their members to support it. My local State Senator was one of those votes convinced by her party leadership.


Well, after the budget was passed, the Labor Unions immediately began seeking a challenger for my Senator. They shopped around to other local politicians, who all turned them down. They shopped around to other local leaders, who all turned them down. Eventually, they found an ambitious young lawyer/lobbyist who worked for one of their coalition members, who was willing to challenge the incumbent based on the union support.


Then the unions began to play dirty.


Due to the recent decision in Citizens United, campaign spending limits were deemed unconstitutional, meaning anyone or any organization with deep enough pockets could spend to the moon on any election of their choosing. The unions decided to pour money into the race to unseat a moderate Democrat who had voted with them 87% of the time. In the end, they spent $350,000 in total, trying to oust her. For comparison, her campaign raised and spent about $80-90k for the primary election, and their candidate only raised $30k for himself. The unions out-spent all of the candidates in the race by an extreme margin. Their ads were misleading distortions of the truth, and in the end their advertising firm used questionably legal tactics to end the game. (There is a current law suit against the firm, but that's another post.)


At the same time, in my state, there are nine initiatives on the ballot, four of which will reduce state income (forcing the politicians to cut more jobs), one of which will bind the legislature from raising taxes for at least two years, another that will privitize the Workers' Compensation Program in our state (something the unions have fought dearly in the past), and the list goes on. The unions barely spent anything on these initiatives. Another point, is that the Teacher's union was part of the attack on my Senator, and throughout our state there were levies on the ballot and the Teacher's union spent 10s of thousands of dollars in this race, but spent nothing advertising for the levies.


The president of one of the larger unions actually came out and said that they were deliberately flexing their wallet to send a message to the politicians in the capitol that if they did not vote with Labor, Labor would take them out.


My thoughts:


Yes, I know that unions have done great things for the workers in this country. If it weren't for unions, we wouldn't have 8 hour work days. We wouldn't have sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, or the ability to use our time off to care for a sick loved one. Without unions, we wouldn't have a livable wage in many fields; and without unions we wouldn't have many of the products that we take for granted.


But, after watching the unions in my state go after a good legislator who simply happened to be one they could target, I worry about their continued role in our society.


Their behavior in that race was nothing short of thuggish. Sending a message to other politicians by knee-capping another? And doing it while ignoring the things that will actually harm their membership? All they did was preserve their political power in the capitol while doing significant harm to their membership.


Beyond that, with how public it has become, their tactics and what their ad firm did, they might have handed the race to the republican who made it through.


What is the solution? I'm not sure. It is wrong to bust unions. Making conditions horrible for workers until they agree to break up their union isn't right at all. But, the unions should not be allowed to continue behaving like this. Spending limits were deemed unconstitutional, and in our state a court case was tried that came to the eventual result that you cannot require truth in political advertising (because making lies illegal violates the first amendment), so really... I don't see a solution.


I don't know what will happen in the long term, but for now, unions are able to buy seats in the state legislature.


Anyone want to share their thoughts?



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