The question in the title of this post is more rhetorical because, in answer to the question, we are all (to varying degrees) helping to fund the demise of America and, for most of us, we are doing it every day. In so many ways, we do it every time a decision is made to purchase something—anything—be it groceries, appliances, and even bigger ticket items like vehicles.
For example, the new Chevy Camaro is a hot looking car. By all accounts, in addition to its looks, the Camaro fast and affordable. But, despite all of its cool accouterments, I won’t buy one.
Moreover, despite owning two trucks that are American made (read: union-made), a significant principle was breached over these past two years that, for the foreseeable future, will not be undone. You see, it was bad enough when the UAW banned the marines from using the union parking lot (before the union quickly retracted it) a few years ago, but when the UAW’s new boss, Bob King, recently reiterated the UAW’s ban on nonunion-made vehicles in the union’s parking lot (even if made by Americans in American plants), that cinched it.
Much like those who refuse to buy British Petroleum because of the gulf oil spill, a personal decision was made to, whenever possible, not spend money on companies whose employees’ union dues are being used to help bankrupt America, whose union bosses shamelessly and egregiously are currying special favors from political puppets, transforming the nation to a quasi-socialist state, all the while demonizing people who believe in freedom. It’s that simple.
As noted elsewhere, unions collect more than $13 billion per year in union dues and fees from workers*, the majority of whom have no choice but to pay the union or be fired from their jobs. As outrageous as that seems, it’s been the case for 75 years, when Congress enabled unions to mandate dues as a condition of employment with the passage of the National Labor Relations Act.
The Act permits, under certain conditions, a union and an employer to make an agreement, called a union-security agreement, that requires employees to make certain payments to the union in order to retain their jobs.
Democrats: America’s de facto Labor Party
While union bosses, like crony capitalists, have always curried special favors from bought-and-paid for politicians (think Boston’s “Big Dig“), their influence was mostly limited to a politician or two from certain areas. Until recently, however, unions never had a choke hold on an entire political party, let alone the country, as they do now with the Democrats and America.
Consider these few examples:
- Democrats (with some help from a few Republicans) pushed through a failed $862 billion “stimulus” package wherein artificial Davis-Bacon union wage rates were mandated, but also one third of the stimulus went to state and local governments “with the effect of propping up the pay and saving the jobs of public employee union members.”
- The $100 billion bailout of General Motors and Chrysler gave the United Auto Workers billions in company stock at the expense of stockholders and unpolitically-connected dealers
- The Obama Administration issued an Executive Order discriminating against union-free construction workers on federal projects
- Unions were the “prime movers” behind nationalizing health care, so much so that, on the day of ObamaCare’s signing, former SEIU boss Andy Stern boasted of changing America forever
- With nationalizing health care out of the way, and before moving on to nationalizing America’s retirement system, unions are heavily pushing a $165 billion bailout of their under-funded pension plans
- Union bosses were especially pleased with the recently passed financial reform where, for the very first time, union bosses now have the ability to sit on corporate boards of directors.
- And, if the nationalization of the private sector wasn’t quite firm enough, it will be when the Democrats try to push through Andy Stern’s idea of using the social security trust to invest in Wall Street.
- Then, of course, there’s the mother of all union bailouts, the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act which gives unions the right to unionize companies without a secret-ballot election, but also places a government bureaucrat in control of dictating workers’ wages and benefits through a process called binding arbitration. While today’s union bosses and the vast majority of Democrats (including President Obama) are pushing EFCA, even the late AFL-CIO president George Meany viewed binding arbitration as an ‘abrogation of freedom.’
Union Thugs? If the shoe fits.
Last week, AFL-CIO boss Richard “the Fifth” Trumka tried to blast Sarah Palin for her use of the term “union thugs.” However, to discerning Americans, as well as American businesses, today’s union bosses are living up to the “union thug” imagery very well. Take, for example, Trumka who, with his own questionably thuggish past, remarked last year:
“We need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies and challenges those who, well, can’t seem to decide which side they’re on,”
If a corporate head had made the same statement, the leftist media would be in an uproar. However, despite the fact that unions spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections, when the Target corporation contributed to an organization that backs a candidate who opposes gay marriage spawned outrage and a boycott from the Left, there was no uproar from the media. In fact, the hypocrisy is largely ignored.
While union members (and agency fee payers) can opt out of having their dues used on politics, many do not know how to go about having their dues withheld for such purposes. However, those members who do know that they have the right to demand that their dues not be used to fund union bosses’ agenda, yet do nothing about it, are tacitly approving their union bosses tactics, as well as their goals.
Therefore, as a consumer, while there may be no choice (except at the ballot box) in supporting the government appartchik through higher taxes (which unions are pushing for), there is a choice when it comes to how to spend a buck. And, whether supporting a company whose employees fund union bosses’ political agenda, or a company whose employees do not fund a union is a matter of knowledge and choice.
Unions have boycotts, Americans can have buycotts.
Last year, in the midst of the health care debate, Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey had the apparent temerity to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that offered free market-oriented alternatives to the health care debate. Rather than having his views considered, the UFCW quickly organized a boycott of Whole Foods. This was quickly countered with a Whole Foods “buycott.”
Two Votes: November 2nd and every day at the cash register.
Despite the concept of a buycott on behalf of Whole Foods having quickly taken hold, it was almost as quickly forgotten. However, the union crusade against America’s free enterprise system has not stopped.
As unions are projected to spend more than $200 million on their November 2nd Get Out the Vote efforts in order to save Democrats from defeat, that election will be over on November 3rd. Yet, every day, Americans make choices that enable unions to further their agenda, and that is at the cash register.
Here are a few examples:
- FedEx or UPS? There are two big shipping companies in the U.S., United Parcel Service (UPS), which is unionized by the Teamsters, and FedEx which is primarily non-union. At UPS, it is estimated that the Teamsters collect more than $10 million dollars every month in union dues. Where will you spend your money?
- YRC Trucking. Teamster-represented YRC Trucking, one of the companies lobbying for the $165 billion pension bailout and has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for nearly two years. Who does your company use in its LTL shipping?
Can you hear them now?
- AT&T Mobility, which supplies wireless phone service is largely unionized by the Communications Workers of America, a union attempting to get the government to fund high-speed internet as a “basic right.” Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are among the wireless providers that are predominantly non-union.
Bagging the UFCW:
- The grocery stores are where most Americans spend a lot of their time and money. The grocery stores are also where consumers are getting more and more choices on where to shop. While there are many unionized grocers, there is also a growing number of non-union grocers as well.
The list of union versus non-union companies across most industries where consumers can make personal choices is vast. In some cases, there are even companies that are partially unionized, but also have non-union locations. But, knowing the difference is the key.
Earlier this year, Big Government blogger Liberty Chick made the case for Americans making a choice between union or non-union on her personal blog, as well as provided the resources to start discovering which companies are unionized:
Just as corrupt union bosses will shakedown companies that are not union shops, why can’t consumers do the same to put pressure on those companies that ARE corrupt union shops? If we don’t want these criminals taking over whatever remains of our shambles of an economy, we’re going to need to do it ourselves. Congress and the White House have prostituted themselves out to these pimp union bosses and it’s all gone too far for them to turn back now.
So go ahead. Take charge of it yourself. Check out this partial list of the companies (including government and other public sector employers) with labor union collective bargaining agreements registered with the Department of Labor. Look for those that employ the biggest union offenders, like SEIU, and the others in Andy Stern and Anna Burger’s Change to Win labor coalition. Then tell them you don’t appreciate their support for the same corrupt unions bosses who are taking our hard earned dollars from us and redistributing it to others, while they also get off tax-free with their Cadillac health care plans.
I started by not renewing my Verizon account (sorry to my brother in law…). And instead of food shopping at my local Change to Win supported A&P, I shopped at a different supermarket. One whose workers’ union doesn’t abuse its members’ union dues to purchase Congressional votes. One that doesn’t swindle the American people and make a mockery of our political system. Wherever I can, I’ll make that conscious choice now. And I feel better already. Perhaps we should all combine forces and do it – including you union members who yourselves are tired of the abuse and corruption. That might be the only thing strong enough to actually change anything.
Download the complete list of collective bargaining agreements in PDF
View the list online at the Department of Labor website
While unions and their allies may decry that an American “union-free buycott” of products and services offered by non-union companies hurts workers, on the whole that is misleading. While unionized companies and their workers may lose in an American union-free buycott, other Americans will be helped. Ultimately, it is the consumers choice and, if consumers choose to support the unions’ political agenda, they can. If not, then they can take their business elsewhere.
In the early 1900s, Samuel Gompers, the father of the modern American labor movement, fought both socialism and government interference in labor unions. He knew that both would eventually ruin the movement. He knew that, were unions to become too reliant on government, that the pendulum would swing and, history has proven he was right.
On November 2nd, Americans will have the choice at the polls whether or not to support unions’ political agenda. However, Americans also make that choice every day when they make the decision to buy goods and services. The question is, are you helping to fund the demise of America?
* Note: This number ($13 billion per year) is an extremely conservative estimate that only includes private-sector (not government workers). If government workers dues are included, union dues collected may actually surpass $26 billion per year.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
For more news and views on today’s unions, go to LaborUnionReport.com.