From the diaries by Erick
Union bosses have the federal government all sewn up. They’ve got a lock on the White House, they’ve got a lock on the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives. So, what’s the problem?
Immediately following the election, the President-Elect appointed the AFL-CIO’s Ellen Moran to be White House Communications Director (she has since moved on to the census-controlling Commerce Department), SEIU’s Patrick Gaspard to be White House Director of Political Affairs, SEIU’s Anna Burger and AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka to his “Economic Recovery Advisory Board,” and SEIU’s Dennis Rivera is currently running the White House’s war on health care. On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the newly-annointed President appointed hard-core union radical Wilma Liebman to the Chairmanship of the National Labor Relations Board. Since then, the Administration has appointed dozens (or more) of hard core unionists to various posts in the government and given union bosses some key wins early on like the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and union-only Project Labor Agreements. [For a broader list of union wishes fulfilled go here.]
So, why are union bosses getting antsy and feeling that they’re being shoved to the side?
Perhaps it is because the unions’ hand-picked president is not performing to their expectations?
As the Boston Globe reports this morning:
[L]abor’s agenda has been pushed down on the priority list by the very lawmakers they helped elect, leaving some union backers frustrated.
Labor is eager to win passage of a “card check’’ bill, a measure that would make it easier for workers to form unions, but the White House and Congress took up a Wall Street bailout plan first.
In the health care debate, labor is seeking to avoid a tax on expensive health care benefits. But President Obama, who slammed the idea during the campaign, this summer indicated he might be open to such an idea.
“It’s beyond belief to me,’’ said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. While Obama and Congress inherited “a big mess’’ from Bush, Haynes said, “there aren’t any excuses anymore. If you can’t deliver health care, and you can’t deliver jobs, and if you can’t deliver [card check legislation], and you can’t figure out how to take care of the working people of this great city and country, you don’t deserve to stay in office.’’
The poor economy and the attention demanded by such issues as health care, Afghanistan, climate change, and the pending closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison have put labor unions’ concerns far down on the list in Washington, analysts and lawmakers say.
Many labor union leaders say they still have faith that Obama will push for their legislative wish list, especially the so-called card check bill to allow workers to organize unions without a secret ballot, once he gets a health care bill signed. And while unions are anxious about provisions in the health care bill that might affect union members, leaders say the larger goal of getting closer to universal health care is most important. [Emphasis added.]
When union bosses pushed their guy into the Oval Office, like a Tsunami from the Left, many had assumed that he would flood the American landscape with labor’s wish list. While he has in part, some some of the biggest ticket items on labor’s laundry list have been stalled.
Following the most expensive union campaign in history, despite the other “inherited” issues, the union agenda was also held back by some moderate Democrats, as well as the absence of Al Franken then, later, Ted Kennedy and, now, Robert Byrd.
Nevertheless, unions seem to be getting cranky that their man in the White House may let their agenda slip through the cracks before 2010 and, once the mid-terms get into full swing, the union agenda may get passed over entirely.
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.
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