In a whiny commentary for The American Prospect published three days after workers at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga voted decisively against union monopoly bargaining last month, Harold Meyerson, the leftist magazine’s pro-forced unionism editor-at-large, bemoaned the role “cultural” considerations played in the campaign’s outcome. (See the link below to read Meyerson’s piece.)
While a large share of the employees who cast ballots against UAW union control over their workplace undoubtedly believed it would result in lower paychecks, less job security, and/or other economic detriments, Meyerson is probably right that a substantial share of the “no” votes came from employees who aren’t averse to union representation, but dislike the UAW union hierarchy’s partisan politics. That partisanship is often unabashed.
For example, in the May-June 2013 issue of Solidarity, the national UAW publication, union czar Bob King declared that the reelection of President Obama in 2012 was a “great victory” for his union and its “progressive allies.” It is indeed true that UAW and other union kingpins poured well over a billion dollars in mostly forced-dues money into 2011-2012 electoral efforts on behalf of Obama and thousands of other like-minded federal, state and local politicians.
Is it really news to UAW bosses that their intense political partisanship offends employees who support the candidates the union opposes? Not likely. Rather, Bob King and other UAW chiefs are unwilling to back away from spending vast sums of workers’ forced dues on politics, even though they know full well that many workers who might otherwise support the union won’t as a consequence.
In Right to Work Tennessee, where no forced dues or fees are permitted, union officials could at least give employees who dislike the UAW’s politics the choice to join the union, but pay reduced dues that would be used only for bargaining activities, rather than politics. Officers of the UAW and other major unions never offer workers such a choice, probably because they see electing and reelecting politicians who share their “progressive” ideology as an integral part of their mission.
Harold Meyerson evidently thinks it’s unfair that many workers who otherwise might be amenable to unionism respond to this snub by opposing Big Labor organizing campaigns. But in the real world, union officials and their allies shouldn’t expect workers who don’t share their political views to react any differently.