labor at the table - Rivera Court

labor at the table - Rivera Court

Ugh I don’t even know why I bother to read the Washington Post editorial page. Maybe it is the boost it gives my morning by raising my blood pressure, but in any case I exposed my tender brain-cells the thoughts of Charles Krauthammer this morning.

Chucky has a piece in the WaPo with the title of “The union owned Democrats” the first thing I thought when I read it was “I wish!”. This is a tired old meme from a tired old man. The idea that everything the Democrats do on issues of workplace rules or safety is somehow motivated by the fact that unions overwhelmingly support Democrats.

It could not possibly be because the funders of the Republican party have been wanting to dismantle the counterbalancing force of organized labor for, well, ever. One of the reasons that Ronald Regan has been sainted if not deified by the Republican Party is that he broke the Air Traffic Controllers union and set the DOJ on other unions looking for mafia ties and corruption. It was the start of the major decline of the Labor movement in this country.

What has Krauthammer’s undies in a twist? A couple of things; first off there is the NLRB’s decision to take Boeing to court over the union busting attempt they made by building a factory in South Carolina, which is a right to work state. To be clear (since everyone including Chucky misses this point) it is not about the fact that Boeing decided to build a new plant in a management friendly state, it is their intentions in doing so. You can build wherever you like, but if you do it with the intention of busting your union at your primary facilities, that is illegal.

He also rails against the saving of the Auto Industry by the Obama administration. Take a look:

In 2009, Obama pushed through a federally run, questionably legal, bankruptcy for the auto companies that robbed first-in-line creditors in order to bail out the United Auto Workers.

You know, the successful saving of our domestic auto industry did have some benefits for UAW workers. But they also took on a lot of liability to help out with that. They are now funding the health care that was promised by GM and Chrysler to employees who worked their entire lives on the factory floor. The UAW did it because it would help to reduce the costs of the companies and save jobs, but it was not like they were not taking over an obligation that was the auto companies. It is and was a big blow to the financial health of the UAW, but it was the right thing to do.

That is before we get to the fact that having our domestic auto industry collapse would have been a huge blow to both the economy and our ability to compete world wide in heavy manufacturing.

The last point on this is that it worked. It was far, far cheaper than the bail out of our banks, coming in at some 17 billion in estimated losses (we can’t know for sure yet because the Federal Government owns a lot of GM stock they got at rock bottom prices and will sell at something hire than they paid for it). It also kept tens of thousands of workers on the job at a time when we were shedding jobs from the economy at a rate of ¾ of a million a month.

To say this was some kind of “union only” policy is to be completely blind to all the other important factors of the auto industry bail out. But that is our Red Skull of the Right for you.

The Red Skull then goes on to make a bizarre defense of Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in Wisconsin attempt to gut collective bargaining for public employees. He compares the move to deny the Republicans a quorum by Democrats to arson. Yeah, Chucky thinks that acting to prevent a railroading of a radical and massively unpopular policy through the legislature to a felony. It is too bad that he is not interested in felonies committed by Republicans, like torture or outing a covert CIA operative or lying to a Federal Grand Jury, instead of accusing Democrats of similar crimes.

What is amazing about this section of his column is that he sees the implementation of this law as a victory for Republicans. He seems to gloss over the fact that the actions of the Wisconsin State Senate has led to the recall of six of the Republicans and will likely result in that party losing their majority. I will say that I will take that kind of Republican victory everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

Krauthammer keeps making the point that since Labor gives a lot of money to Democratic campaigns that this means the Dems are beholden to them and will always work in their interest, for that reason alone. This is a dangerous comparison to make given the amount of money that flows to Republicans from people like the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

After all if the standard is that giving money predominately to one party means that you are dictating their actions, is Chucky the Skull ready to say that Republicans are owned by the Health Insurance Industry, the Banking Industry. Big Oil and Phrama? This is his standard for accusation, not mine, so I think it is completely fair. Anyone think I should hold my breath waiting for this kind of statement from Krauthammer? Me either.

The column ends with this line:

But what are those when there are unions to appease and elections to win?

It would be great if the Democrats were actually trying to appease Labor. The Labor movement has a ton of policies that actually benefit, not just their members, but the working public as a whole. The fact is Dems are not trying to appease Labor. If they were we would have seen real movement on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have allowed, among other things, card check voting, if no one in the labor force objected to it.

What has Chucky spun up is the fact that the Obama administration is once again enforcing existing labor law and regulations. After eight years of malevolent neglect in this area by the criminal Bush administration, any return to normalcy looks like an attack on the business interests that Krauthammer prays to daily.

A resurgent Labor movement would be big trouble for people like Chucky who dream of a time when you could abuse your workers all you like and there was nothing they could do about since they had to have this job and there was always someone else starving in the street that would take it if they spoke up.

The assault on Labor is far from over. This is part and parcel of what we will see in the Republican campaigns this cycle. They have decided that they have enough power to take out one of the last counterweights to the huge amount of money they have, Labor. They are going to do everything they can to weaken and destroy the movement that gave us the weekend, the middle class and a manufacturing base that not only provided good jobs but was the back bone of our prosperity.

This kind of dishonesty needs to be called out at every turn. The idea that corporations are going to look out for the good of jobs and workers in this country is false on its face. There is a reason we have labor laws and unions, it is because of the abuses of business. If we remove those checks on business the abuses will come back. It is that simple.

The floor is yours.