The stillborn Fast Food Strike now receding, union-less (and cheap) Wal-Mart is to be attacked tomorrow, September 5th with union-organized employee walkouts in 15 big cities, primarily bastions of Democrat government. The recent smug self-satisfaction of America’s big private-sector unions is giving way to anxiety, with fear not far behind.
The classical three warnings have been issued the labor movement: The abject failure so far, of its desperation-revealing effort to organize fast food by setting up walkouts at the likes of McDonalds is the first. Following that with the promotion of massive walkouts at Wal-Mart is the third; folks need their jobs these days. And the second toll of the warning bell was the recent, little-noted walkout by the Longshoremen… who walked out of the AFL-CIO over Obamacare. It’s a bad sign when your own troops run away.
Though U.S. population has grown, union membership has declined by more than 3 million members since 1983. That has hit particularly, the private sector, where the union membership rate is one fifth of the rate in government employment. But that’s just background. The automaker bailout under Presidents Bush and Obama is well known, a less noticed detail was that the primary beneficiary was the auto unions. Not so much workers but union pensioners’ benefits were at risk. A normal bankruptcy would probably have reduced that liability; the unions and Democrats were able to avoid that, courtesy of taxpayers who were of course, not consulted. But union pension plans share with public ones the corrupt management and Fed-imposed ceiling on interest earnings that have put many of them into the pickle jar of underfunding. You may imagine how happy union bosses are at the prospect of paying more into pension plans while watching membership dues collections, shrink.
To this observer, it seems likely that our years of private sector labor peace are at risk as the desperation of the unions increases. Reports that almost 70% of the jobs created in the recent second quarter were in low wage industries suggest a trend that will pressure both unions and workers and if they are paying attention, add taxpayers.
It will be volatile: Unions will pressure politicians who will need votes from folks who are also workers, consumers and taxpayers. And the bottom line will be: There is no money! Perhaps the unions will go quietly in the face of that reality. But, wanna bet? Maybe the Democrats will abandon their union clients for lack of money; again, wanna bet? Meanwhile, if you’ve noticed, the government has been raising taxes. Maybe that will stop. Wanna bet?
The bottom line here is, everybody—government, unions, business, workers—are all contending, likely soon to be fighting, for a shrinking amount of money generated by a moribund economy. America’s living standard is declining. The enumerated parties all want their own share to shrink the least. Just now, the unions’ reactions are starting to be visible. That’s behind tomorrow’s show at Wal-Mart. It bears watching.