This year’s most important election will not occur in November, when more than 90 million votes will be cast for governors and national legislators. The most important election, crucial to an entire region’s economic well-being and to the balance of the nation’s political competition, has already occurred.
Last week at a Tennessee factory, workers rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union. The 712 to 626 vote — an 89 percent turnout — against unionizing the three-year-old Chattanooga Volkswagen plant was a shattering defeat for the UAW, for organized labor generally and for liberalism nationally. It was a commensurate victory for entrepreneurial federalism.
Sixty years ago, some 35 percent of the U.S. workforce was unionized, almost entirely in the private sector. Today, 11.3 percent is unionized . About half (49.6 percent) of this minority are government workers whose union dues do much to elect their employers. UAW membership has plummeted as far and fast as Detroit has — from 1.5 million in 1979 to about 380,000 in 2012. In 2011, UAW President Bob King said, “If we don’t organize these transnationals, I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW.”