Many rank and file, as well as union bosses, have been disappointed in President Obama’s actions after he enthusiastically courted Big Labor during his campaign but failed to deliver on many of his promises.
Aaron Stanley has the story on polizette.com.
President Obama has continued in the tradition forged by Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, treating labor unions warmly during campaign season, but leaving them out in the cold after Election Day.
Labor enthusiastically helped President Obama win the presidency in 2008, hoping his progressive message of rebuilding middle-class America would breathe new life into the country’s fading worker movement.
Seven years later, the labor unions have little to show for their support. While Obama has never been viewed as anti-union, his brand of liberalism has prioritized blending the interests of coastal elites with those of minority groups, meaning that white, blue-collar union workers have largely been crowded out by environmentalists, internationalists and gay activists.
Most recently, Obama’s push to fight global climate change overruled domestic priorities to create jobs when he blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, which was supported by many unions and would have created 42,000 jobs.
“We are dismayed and disgusted that the president has once again thrown the members of LIUNA, and other hard-working, blue-collar workers under the bus of his vaunted ‘legacy,’” Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said in a statement. “His actions are shameful.”
But nothing has ruffled union feathers more than Obama’s zeal to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which harkens back to stinging job losses incurred under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Unions have threatened to cut off campaign contributions to politicians that support the deal.
The aggressiveness with which Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has introduced new regulations on industry has also given many unions buyers’ regret. After enthusiastically supporting Obama in 2008, the president of the United Mine Workers was arrested in 2014 protesting against a proposed EPA rule that would shutter coal mines and power plants.
But despite incremental progress on potentially unionizing low paying service jobs — and even college athletes — well-paying, blue-collar union work nationwide remains in decline. In 2014, only 11.1 percent of the workforce was unionized, compared to 20.1 percent in 1983.