In 2008, labor union approval hit an historic low. Gallup found unions had dropped to a 48 percent approval rating. In 2018, that number has jumped up to 62 percent, a rating more in line with historic norms.
Why the erosion in 2008? From 2007-2009, organized labor mounted a huge legislative effort to pass the “card check” bill. If enacted, this law — deceptively titled “the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) by the creative folks at the AFL-CIO — would have provided unions a huge organizing advantage in combating their declining membership numbers (today, only 6.5 percent of non-government employees belong to a union) by being able to bypass secret ballot elections.
Union organizers often engage in intimidation that pressures employees into becoming dues-paying members. Card checks — “just sign this card”— which take the place of elections — are one of the most notorious tactics unions demand of employers to accept. EFCA would have cemented this practice as the default organizing protocol.
In 2008, the average American saw through the “card check” bill to the union’s real motives — forced membership, dues-money, and power. It’s the only environmental anomaly that could explain the polling outlier that year.
But will Americans get it right the next time around? If the upcoming midterm elections switch control of Congress, we can expect more laws aimed at boosting the power of unions and their ability to collect billions of dollars to fund liberal (and soon to be Socialist) agendas.
Ten years later, Americans need reminding of the reputational and ethical shortfalls of the major unions — especially the younger generations who may have missed the lesson during the EFCA debate.
Let’s start with the most recent example. Last week, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) McDonald’s workers held strikes in 10 cities across the country. Typically part of the #FightFor15 movement to raise the minimum wage, this time they took a page out of the #MeToo movement’s book. They were demanding employers provide better protections against sexual misconduct in the workplace.
However, SEIU members should get their own house in order, and address the widespread sexual misconduct within their union before lecturing others.
Last year, four SEIU executives were fired or resigned amid allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, including Caleb Jennings, the leader of the union’s #FightFor15 campaign in Illinois; SEIU Executive Vice President Scott Courtney; #FightFor15 Organizing Director Kendall Fells, and Mark Raleigh, who ran the #FightFor15 Detroit chapter.
Let’s not forget the most recent lawsuit, filed against SEIU Vice President Dave Regan accusing him of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit claims the SEIU “fostered a discriminatory workplace” and that sexual misconduct was pervasive throughout the organization — not just limited to Mr. Regan.
Tonya Exum had a similar assessment, though she was talking about the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. A member and employee at a Ford plant in Detroit, Tonya was the victim of sexual harassment that she claimed “was not an isolated experience; it was pervasive behavior afflicting every corner of the plant.” See a trend here?
Corruption at the UAW goes even further than sexual harassment. In an ongoing corruption case between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the UAW, several high ranking union officials have been charged with accepting bribes from automakers, including lavish vacations, expensive jewelry, and — perhaps most egregious — an extravagant party that came complete with “ultra-premium booze, $7,000 worth of cigars and $3,000 in wine with custom labels.”
Anyone who needs more evidence of the degenerate leadership and corruption plaguing unions can look to the New York City Building Construction Trades Council (BCTC), which shares a long history of racial discrimination.
An analysis done by the Center for Union Facts, where I act as executive director, found a 23 percent pay gap exists between what white unionized construction workers earn versus what black construction workers earn. In New York City, black unionized workers earn on average $7.69 less per hour than their white counterparts — who earn an average of $35.28 per hour.
To top it off, amidst this sea of corruption, unions habitually finance the left’s political agenda with their members’ dues. Between 2010-2017, unions gave over $1.3 billion to left-wing groups — including the Clinton Foundation and Planned Parenthood — without any consent from dues-paying members. The recent Janus decision curtailed this out-of-control spending for public-sector employees. It still runs rampant in the private sector.
Years of corrupt union leadership have poisoned the well for workers. The Department of Labor regularly charges hundreds of union leaders with claims of dues embezzlement. Employees need to ask themselves: Is this really who we want representing them?
• Richard Berman is the president of Berman and Co., a public relations firm in Washington, D.C.
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