Thought Longshoremen, AFL-CIO Obamacare-split was a good sign? Not

Thought Longshoremen, AFL-CIO Obamacare-split was a good sign? Not

ILWU logoLabor unions, public and private, have been as loyal as any faction of the Democratic Party; so it seemed a good omen for future repeal or de-funding when the Obamacare-supporting AFL-CIO lost 40,000 ILWU members over that support. But then we discover that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are only upset that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t grant their particular union a tax-waiver and socialize health care in America more radically.

In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath cited quite a list of grievances as reasons for the dissolution of their affiliation, but prominent among them was the AFL-CIO’s support of Obamacare:

“We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along,” McEllrath wrote in the letter to Trumka.

The ILWU President made it clear they are for a single-payer, nationalized healthcare policy and are upset with the AFL-CIO for going along with Obama on the confiscatory tax on their “Cadillac” healthcare plan. The Longshoreman leader said, “President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits.” But, regardless of that promise, the President has pushed for just such a tax and Trumka and the AFL-CIO bowed to political pressure lining up behind Obama’s tax on those plans.

McEllrath also went on to say that they support stronger immigration reform than the AFL-CIO is supporting…saying it is “designed to give [only] highly-paid workers a real path to citizenship.”

McEllrath also went on to proudly recount the Longshoremen’s Communist (IWW) “Wobblies“, independent roots, but I digress.

Labor union members discovered that their liberal Democrat president also lies to them, as he does to non-labor union members; and the latter are reminded that many thieves insist upon honor between fellow thieves.

Yes, I said thieves.

Big Labor just another Big Business

Labor unions were born in the USA of the Nineteenth Century to combat true injustices committed by mostly large corporations against former skilled farmers and artisans who had become wholly dependent upon industrial employers for their mostly un-skilled factory laboring. Politicians beholden to Big Business rarely enacted universal minimum working wage, hours, and safety standards; and courts unfairly applied Common Law contract and criminal restraint-of-trade conspiracy laws, to prohibit employees from exercising their free speech rights to persuade others to join “turn-outs” (work stoppages), via injunctions, while mostly looking the other way at employer black lists.

But, 20th Century Big Labor, instead of mostly seeking responsible minimum standards via state and federal legislation applicable to all employees, concentrated their efforts on writing special interest favoritism for unionism into the law. Progressive judges increasingly allowed union workers to conduct inherently-violent and private property-violating picket and sit-down “strikes”. An employee has always had the option to refuse to work for an employer for wages he deemed insufficient; and many such workers successfully organized “turn-outs” to obtain wage increases and ten-hour work day-limits in the 19th Century. But to “strike” meant to  refuse to work AND to prohibit an employer from hiring an employee to replace a striker, even if by violence or the threat of violence.

By the time the New Deal’s National Labor Relations (or Wagner) Act was enacted in 1935, organized labor had become just another Big Business group operating as Big Labor to use government for its own institutional benefit, and not the general welfare of all workers. Big Business routinely buys politicians to essentially steal market share from small businesses that can’t afford to comply with regulations that purport to promote safety, environmentalism, or equality of some sort. The Wagner Act stole private property rights from business owners and employment contract rights from non-union workers willing to work for less.

It is instructive for Big Labor to suffer the consequences of their slavish electoral support for the Democratic Party and in some small way experience the loss of their own liberty to obtain health insurance in a market free from government mandated coverages that raise the price. The rest of us have been suffering rises in prices of many goods and services due to favors granted by government to Big Business and Big Labor, but I repeat myself, for decades; and could end up paying for collapsed pension plans and liberal Democrat cities and states in indirect, if not direct, ways.

This isn’t your grandfather’s labor movement

Of course, no individual likes to have their property, including Cadillac heath insurance, taxed or regulated to their detriment; and it is proper for labor unions to defend the rights of their employees to prevent such retrenchment. But maybe the most significant aspect of the ILWU’s dis-affiliation from the AFL-CIO is the former’s demand that immigration reform pave the way for MORE un-skilled immigrants.

The ILWU hasn’t suddenly forgotten the Econ 101 laws of supply-and-demand (even if the Wagner Act shields them from many aspects of it). They understand that an increase in the supply of immigrant packers and lifters will have a downward effect on wages and drive many non-immigrant Americans out of the work force altogether. If this union were concerned with “labor”, it would oppose more amnesty as vociferously as it does free trade (which this author, Pat Buchanan and few others also oppose in its present form, but I digress) and anti-Luddite-ism.

Union support for the importation of millions more unskilled laborers is a reflection of their failure to rally more native-born American citizens to their cause, even with Wagner and other Acts that give them organizing advantages anathema to labor market liberty. Labor unions increasingly see the only way for their particular union and the “movement” to survive, is for them to have access to millions of potential new members that are ignorant of the evils their Big Labor Business have fomented; harm to prices that individual laborers may demand, be damned.

It is imperative that electoral majorities over many election cycles insist that their representatives kill Obamacare (and many other liberal job-killing laws) before it finishes off what is left of the individual liberty to engage in free market capitalism that makes America exceptional as compared to Europe, China, Japan and even much of the Third World. Maybe there are some potential conservative converts left in the increasingly small and insular world of organized labor, but I doubt it.

But for those voters that re-elected a President who practices affirmative action to get more Americans dependent upon food stamps and other government entitlements rather than facilitating job creation and the personal independence that entails; it is instructive to see former allies of Obama and his party be betrayed by their Big Democrat Government benefactors.

Mike DeVine‘s

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

Mike DeVine

Mike DeVine

Mike DeVine is a former op-ed columnist at the Charlotte Observer and legal editor of The (Decatur) Champion (legal organ of DeKalb County, Georgia). He is currently with the Ruf Law Firm in Atlanta Metro and conservative voice of the Atlanta Times News.


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