With Becker’s NLRB nomination in trouble, Labor’s ills grow 

Eyebrows were raised recently when White House visitor logs revealed that Andy Stern was the most frequently appearing name on the list.

This week, its Jeri Thompson’s release of a Stern directive to Senate Democrats to make sure they vote right on a key confirmation. As Stern made clear during the 2008 campaign, he and other labor leaders expect a handsome return on their partisan investments.

And a huge investment it was, including some $60 million spent by Stern’s Service Employees International Union to elect President Barack Obama in 2008. According to the Los Angeles Times, SEIU deployed at least 100,000 volunteers for Obama and another 3,000 full-time campaign workers.

Overall, Big Labor spent an estimated $400 million to get Obama into the White House, including money, volunteers, employees, campaign advertising and phone banks.

Many more millions from Big Labor are spent to elect and protect Democratic congressional majorities. Building trade unions, for example, already have given more than $6.5 million in campaign contributions to 2010 congressional candidates, with 92 percent of the total going to Democrats.

Government-employee unions also have been extraordinarily generous with Democratic congressional candidates, giving 93 percent of $4.2 million to them. And 98 percent of the $3.3 million given by industrial unions went to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets.org.

This is why Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly ask “how high” whenever Stern or other major Big Labor leaders say “jump.” The trio are, as is said of members of another line of work often associated with union activities, “made men.”

Forget that by most estimates about 40 percent of union members are Republicans, millions of whom voted for Sen. John McCain instead of Obama and GOP congressional candidates.

So far, however, Stern and his fellow union bosses have gotten a mixed return on their investment in Obama and the Democratic Congress. Labor’s top legislative goal for years has been the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check) to abolish secret ballots in workplace representation elections.

Despite heavy lobbying and incessant sympathetic coverage in most corners of the mainstream media, though, Card Check stalled months ago. Stern and his buddies now are reduced to hoping Card Check might be slipped unobtrusively into another bill that Congress can pass.

Then there are the hundreds of key appointments made by Obama to influential executive branch positions. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis does what she’s told, and the Senate just confirmed Patricia Smith as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), despite clear evidence she lied to Congress during her confirmation hearing concerning her activities favoring unions as New York’s state labor commissioner.

This week’s Big Labor payback was another NLRB appointment, that of radical labor lawyer Craig Becker as the board’s chairman. Becker wanted to reshape labor law to enable union bosses to ride roughshod of company owners and managers and he’s made it clear he will use his NLRB job to get there.

But, with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., promising to filibuster Becker’s nomination and Republicans united in opposition, Becker’s nomination was shot down on a 52-33 vote. So much for the memo from SEIU’s legislative consultant Alison Reardon that Thompson made public yesterday. Reardon said SEIU expected Senate Democrats to show up and do what they’re told when the Becker showdown came.

Or to put it another way, the union bosses expect the politicians they’ve bought to stay bought.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott’s Copy Desk blog on www.washingtonexaminer.com.

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