The Democrats have picked a curious and potentially very costly fight this election year. President Obama came into office promising Big Labor that its agenda is his agenda, and he wasted little time using the National Labor Relations Board to make good on that promise. That board is supposed to be a fair arbiter of labor disputes, but the president packed the NLRB with Big Labor activists, and the board tried to ram a union-favoring “ambush rule” through to implementation. The rule would slash the amount of time employees and employers have to consider unionization in non-unionized work places from six weeks to as little as 15 days, potentially tilting America’s increasingly non-unionized work force toward unionization. When unions can plot and ambush workers and employers with snap elections, their winning percentage goes way up, but when more time is allowed for both sides to weigh all the potential ramifications of unionization, workers routinely reject unionization.
The NLRB was short two of its five members when it voted for the ambush rule. Additionally, only two of its sitting members actually voted on the rule. The lone Republican on the board abstained from the vote, denying the board a quorum.
The US Senate took up the board’s illegal vote, or to be more accurate, it could have and should have. But ahead of the rule’s implementation this month, the Democrat-controlled Senate declined to put a halt to it. But in so doing, the Democrats may have won what will prove to be the most fleeting of victories.
First, a federal judge struck the ambush rule down on the reasonable grounds that two votes do not make a quorum on a five-member board. But the NLRB isn’t taking a federal judge’s ruling for the last word. Despite the clear ruling against them, the board is signaling its intent to implement the rule anyway. Like its vote to adopt the rule, and President Obama’s later move to pack the board with more Big Labor supporting members without consulting the Senate, the board’s move would be illegal.
Even more disturbing, several Democrats from swing states are allowing the NLRB to get away with its lawless moves. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has refused to take a public position on whether the Senate should overturn the board’s actions. McCaskill had the opportunity to side with her state’s businesses and workers, but instead she has chosen to stick with the Obama NLRB and its radical rule-making.
McCaskill isn’t alone in putting her party and its Big Labor backers above the people of her own state. Montana Sen. Jon Tester came into office promising to be a moderate Democrat, but like McCaskill, when workers’ freedom was on the line, he sided with Big Labor. And like McCaskill, Tester refused to tell the voters of his state which way he planned to vote or why. He ambushed Montana voters and sided with the NLRB ambush rule.
Why would Sen. Tester put his future in the Senate on the line? It’s tempting to simply follow the money: Tester has accepted nearly $500,000 in contributions from the unions since 2007. Montana is a forced union state. Tester is siding with the unions to help them preserve and expand their power over Montana workers and employers.
Joining McCaskill and Tester are Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and *Tim Kaine of Virginia. They both hail from right to work swing states, but have put their party and Big Labor above their constituents. Nelson, like Tester, has taken hundreds of thousand of dollars from Big Labor. Kaine, former head of the Democratic National Committee, stood silent as his president packed the NLRB with Big Labor cronies, and remained silent when the board pushed the ambush rule.
After all of this anti-business action, the Democrats face an acute problem. The party decided to reward North Carolina for narrowly supporting Obama in 2008 by holding its national convention in Charlotte this year. North Carolina is a right to work state. President Obama has relentlessly attacked businesses in regulations and rulings as well as rhetoric, and now is having considerable trouble raising money to fund the convention. To make up the shortfall in time to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to fund the convention, guess where the Democrats are turning: Big Labor. Big Labor funds the Democrats, who have Big Labor’s back on items like the ambush rule. American workers and employers lose out, but the Democrats close ranks. When push comes to shove, the Democrats directly reward Big Labor at the expense of non-union workers.
Adding insult to the injury of carrying Big Labor’s agenda in exchange for campaign cash, the Democrats are now directly insulting the workers of North Carolina. In one of the most in-your-face moves in recent American politics, the Democrats are only hiring unionized, out-of-state workers to support the DNC convention. North Carolina was supposed to be a shrewd selection for the Democrats, but instead is serving to expose the fact that Democrats literally put unions and their campaign money ahead of local workers. The economic benefit that North Carolina was supposed to receive from hosting the convention will now be spread back to blue states instead of staying in the swing state.
So to answer the question posed in the headline, many Democrats will probably pay a price for sticking with Big Labor instead of supporting American workers’ rights. They should. McCaskill, Tester, Kaine and Nelson all face difficult races this fall and their union choices could cost them their seats. The Democrats’ collective choice to insult North Carolina workers by hiring out-of-staters to support the DNC convention may cost them North Carolina and its vital electoral votes. Given the state of the economy and the closeness of the presidential race, if President Obama loses North Carolina in the fall, he probably loses several other swing states and, thereby, the election.
*Originally I wrote that Tim Kaine is a senator. He isn’t. Hopefully he won’t be.