The increasing overlap of labor and political activism is an insidious form of public corruption in this country. It enables union officials to deemphasize their role of representing workers at the bargaining table in favor of advocating policies to socialize the economy, building incestuous relationships with politicians, and fattening their bank accounts. This tendency was heavily felt in 2012, a presidential election year. Union leaders recognized the need to re-elect their ally and benefactor, President Barack Obama, over someone who was a wealthy Republican with a strong business background; i.e., someone they truly could despise. They got what they wanted. In the process, they further built a political infrastructure. Yet union leaders also experienced reversals of fortune at the state level - most of all, in Michigan - where they had been used to getting their way.
Unions for many years have been a highly reliable segment of the Democratic Party Left. Yet this perhaps no more was this true than in 2011 - and with good reason. The year began with the Republicans holding a nearly 50-seat edge in the House of Representatives following the GOP's smashing wins in the November 2010 midterm elections. Avoiding legislative process became a top priority for organized labor.
Organized labor, masters of aggressive politics, had its share of triumphs in 2010. With Democrats, their natural ally, the previous year having taken control of the White House and the Senate while increasing their advantage in the House, this was to be expected. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union officials used their window of opportunity to pressure Congress into passing a health care overhaul mandating unprecedented degrees of government intrusion, and by extension, major opportunities for unionization of the health care labor force. They also secured key presidential appointments.
Obama Election, Mob Prosecutions, Tougher Rules Led Way
The year 2008 will be remembered most of all for the $7 trillion in stock market assets that evaporated. The losses were a consequence of the widespread attitude among Wall Street money managers that debt-fueled growth has no limits or negative consequences. The equivalent view among union leaders is that institutional growth must come at any cost, whether to the unions themselves, employers or the country as a whole. Only 7.5 percent of the nation's private-sector work force now belongs to a union. Labor officials are convinced that with the right laws and programs in place, that figure could double, even triple. Everyone supposedly would win, save for certain "greedy" employers and ideologues hostile to the interests of working families.