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  • Morning Bell: Big Labor Is Bankrupting Our Country

    Last month when the White House released its visitor log for the first six months of the Obama presidency, one name appeared far more often than any other: Service Employee International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern. Stern has every right to expect to be welcome in the Obama White House. He has repeatedly bragged about the fact that under his leadership, the SEIU spent $60.7 million to elect Barack Obama president. Stern and Obama collectively support ever expanding federal government programs and state government bailouts which are rapidly bankrupting our country.

    Unlike his predecessor, John Sweeney, who came up the ranks after starting with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Stern entered the labor movement when the SEIU organized his shop when he was working as a welfare case worker for the State of Pennsylvania. Stern’s public sector entrance into labor is by no means an anomaly. In fact, for the first time ever in American history, preliminary estimates of union membership for 2009 show that most union members now work for either the local, state, or federal government.

    Heritage scholar James Sherk has the numbers: “The overall unionization rate between January and September 2009 stood at 12.4%, unchanged from last year. However, this difference masks a large difference between unions in the private and public sectors. Union membership has fallen to 7.3% of private sector workers – the lowest rate since Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act into law. But it is a completely different story in the public sector: 37.6% of government employees belong to unions, up almost a percentage point since last year. Those 7.9 million unionized government employees are 51% of all union members nationwide.”

    The days when “union member” meant an American working in a steel plant, or coal mine, or auto factory are gone. Today, unions are dependent on government, not the private sector, for their livelihood. Therefore, unions like the SEIU have little interest in private sector job growth. Private sector jobs don’t help fund $60.7 million political campaigns. But government jobs do. The change in incentives has been devastating to American taxpayers. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Steven Malanga explains why:

    In the private sector … employers who are too generous with pay and benefits will be punished. In the public sector, however, more union members means more voters. And more voters means more dollars for political campaigns to elect sympathetic politicians who will enact higher taxes to foot the bill for the upward arc of government spending on workers.

    Heritage’s Sherk details just some of the ways we have already witnessed this:

    The United Auto Workers already made General Motors and Chrysler so uncompetitive they had to be bailed out by President Obama. But who will Obama turn to when Stern’s SEIU has bankrupted us?

    Quick Hits:

    • After announcing that the deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms of $1.42 trillion, the Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected.
    • After spending more money on new programs in his first nine months than Bill Clinton did in his entire eight years, President Barack Obama plans to announce in next year’s State of the Union address that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit.
    • Following last week’s announcement that the nation’s unemployment rate hit 10.2%, President Obama will hold a “jobs summit” next month.
    • According to Gallup, more Americans now say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage (50%) than say it is (47%).
    • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told KOMO News in Seattle it is “very fair” to send people to jail for not buying health insurance.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    52 Responses to Morning Bell: Big Labor Is Bankrupting Our Country

    1. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:


      The Republican National Committee's health insurance plan covers elective abortions for its employees. -

      Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

    2. Jack E Lohman says:

      I suppose it was Big Labor that got the Glass-Steagall banking deregulation bill repealed … and Big Labor that created the giveaways that restored the banking funds already spent on executive bonuses … and Big Labor who outsourced all of American jobs.

      Wrong on all counts. It was a corrupt political system which allowed politicians to give away taxpayer assets to the special interests that funded their campaigns.

      If you want this fixed, and politicians voting for the best interest of their nation rather than their pocketbook, only public funding of campaigns will do it. See http://www.fairelectionsnow.org or http://moneyedpoliticians.net

    3. Linda Burrell - Oreg says:

      I work for a small construction company that installs fire sprinkler systems in buildings. We are a non-union company. Since the economy has been slow, we have been bidding on government funded jobs lately. We cannot seem to get any of these jobs, even though the labor is supposed to be bid using Davis Bacon/Oregon Prevailing wage rates. After the last bid, my employer talked to other contractors and heard that Union General Contractors are going in with Union subcontractors on these projects, and that the unions are paying $8.00 per hour per man, so that these companies can come in below the rate that everyone else is figuring. He was told that the unions received stimulus money for this. Does anyone know if this is true?

    4. Joe Calomino says:

      Great article. Please take some time to see what SEIU has done in Illinois…



    5. M. S. Brown, Denver, says:

      Gov. Ritter made an executive order to allow government unions when he first got into office. Then, the union proceeded to get a vote from the workers. I thought that my group voted it down, but other groups supported the union. I received my union card today.

      Is there anythinhg I can do to stop this from going on? It seems like the first executive order should be illegal somehow, but, unlike the elite in politics, I am not a lawyer.

    6. Tyler Durden says:

      Crazy quote by Nancy Pelosi. She could not even work in my company's mailroom. Only in Washington…..

    7. Manuel Miranda says:

      Surprisingly, you did not address the looming thing that will make private sector union membership increase, partly by making private sector employment most like government sector employment. That one thing, once removed from the cost of a Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it hard for an employer to say no to unionization. That one thing is a public option. Once employers can send their employees to a public option, they will have no defensible reason to stand against unionization because most of the cost of a CBA will disappear. This is the undiscussed object of Mr. Stern's WH visits three chess moves away.

    8. Vin Bickler says:

      Of course Nancy Pelosi thinks it is fair to send people to jail if they do not buy health insurance. She sees anyone who opposes her as the enemy and must be crushed. We are living in a very dangerous time with the people in power in Washington, D. C. hell bent on destroying our great nation.

    9. Tamara Brase says:

      Isn't taking large sums of money from one source for campaigns illegal????

      Even if the large sum came in smaller amounts, they were still orchestrated by the same organization. In the case of a union it was probably taken right out of their checks and delivered as a lump sum, with a list of contributors.

      But if the union head is going to brag and take credit for what he did then maybe he should be taken at his word.

      Stern and Obama should be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for their sneaky plan and deliberate abuse of campaign contributions.


    10. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      When my late husband joined the Union for Bus drivers in the 1930's, the Union fought for limited hours, better pay and health Ins. We live in Virginia which is a right to Work State and joining a Union is a choice, My husband rose through the ranks, started as a bus driver and was number 2 in command when he retired in 1972, he was still a Union (although non voting) member of the Motormen, Coach operators Union, his father also belonged and was a streetcar operator in D.C. Too bad they(Unions) got greedy

    11. Kathy Brower says:

      Not knowing where to find the info…My question is…IS it true that under the Cap and Trade Bill the Gov.will not allow you to sell your home, unless it meets new energy standards?? Are they going to be controlling this too??? Thanks Kathy

    12. Susan K. Olthoff, Gl says:

      If 51% of the unions today are public sector employees is there a conflict of interest when the unions supporting, providing campaign funds and campaigning for individuals with partisan endorsement under the Hatch Act?

    13. Bob Veigel, Arlingto says:

      If it was just labor that would be bad enough. But it is the entire government and the current administration has lost it's mind and has gone berserk. America is being led on a very disastrous road. Is there a way out? Wish I knew.

    14. Prevailer76AZ says:

      I wonder how people that don't have a job are expected to buy health insurance. Unemployment benefits barely put food on the table. Cobra payments to extend ones insurance are priced out of reach for all but those already independently wealthy. Every thing Pelosi and crew do, greatly worsens the mess they have alrealdy created. We seem to be at the mercy of the elite in congress.

    15. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      The union had its place and time, both are long gone. This just shows that obama was bought and paid for, as the rest of the dems were. When a union is so big that it can shut the country down it needs to be done away with. I will never understand why someone would pay for the right to work, union dues are just that. Payment for being allowed to work.

    16. Stirling, Huntingdon says:

      If the private sector is going to be hamstringed by union benefits over the long term it will cause more damage then it will help beacause business will not have the flexibility to hire/fire and make long term financial decisions for their companies. Just look at the problems with the teachers unions and removing teachers in urban school districts that are not qualified or failing to help students succeed. Workers need to be protected to some degree, but not to the detriment of the Capitialist system and our country as a whole.

    17. George J. Shinn says:

      Nancy Pelosi's statement " It is very fair to send people to jail for not buying health insurance"

      Given that statement, the present administration had better allow monies to build many prisons to handle all of the people without the funds to pay for their FREE Healthcare…

    18. harv, Pa says:

      If Nancy Pelosi wants people to be arreseted for not acepting her health insurance, she should be also, for her irresponsible disreguard of the constitution.

    19. jim smith says:

      SEIU is the largest customer of Hillerich & Bradsby, larger than all of the professional baseball leagues in the world, combined. They make

      Louisville Slugger baseball bats, many from old growth aluminum.

    20. J. White, retired [c says:

      My opinion of unions- all unions- is the result of having been forced to join the Teamsters at a Westinghouse facility. Because I was "getting too much done before anybody else- stop it or we'll cut your tires in the parking lot."

      This IS the union mentality- less work for more money. Almost all of them whom I've met have this inane idea that somehow they are owed something beyond what they actually contribute to the efforts of reaching production goals.

      From where did they "get this idea" that they are owed something that they did not earn? From their fathers who had to work for far less pay per hour? Yet, even those same whiners had the same opportunities to get more education whereby they would be able to demand more pay based on their qualifications. It is a simple matter of getting up ff one's sorry behind and do it!!

      Too often, even among college students, there is this idea that they are entitled to things for which they have not worked. I have had students for whom I got job openings for very well-paying jobs only to have the lazy imbeciles not show up for an interview. I asked why- "Well, I would have to drive for 45 minutes and that interferes with my personal time." HUH?????

      I no longer help any of them. The unions and the morons whom belong to them in the UAW destroyed the auto industry just as my old uncle helped destroy the steel companies via the Steel Workers…

    21. David A. White Alaba says:

      I see you trash the unions, but you never say anything about the large bonus money that ceo's and coporate big wigs get on an annual basis. We have unions in the public sector, because we don't have any jobs in the private sector. We don't have steel mills, no garment industry, no electronics, and the American auto industry is on the fast lane to extinction.

    22. John, Arizona says:

      A great example of union stupidity is the situation in Arizona, where the union is planning to go on strike against Fry's and Safeway Foods. In a time when unemployment is over 17%, and the country is in a recession, the brainiacs in the union management, decide a strike is a good thing. Never mind that the membbership doesn't get a vote, the union big shots will decide to strike or not.

    23. Lars, Ca says:

      We are entering a changing time when our Government isn't there to provide infrastructure and regulation to keep commerce fair and just, they are now becoming a dictator or wages and setting unfair practices and catering to those who can help their own causes, such as ACRORN, which was given Billions of stimulus money. This spend and borrow cannot continue. We are a nation of free people with a strong Military, which has been changing since Clinton took over. Our strong Military kept others honest. There is a survey about current applicants to the Military, saying some 75% don't make the cut by not scoring on the ASVAB or just plain not being in good enough Health to qualify, thats a sign of laziness young american's… We have to change our ways. Kids don't respect their elders as was the way when I grew up in the 70's. Government isn't helping.

    24. Pingback: ‘Creating jobs’ explained « Psssst! Over Here!

    25. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Unions are the like the Mafia. They're shakedown artists. In fact, they ARE shakedown artists because the vast majority of

      them ARE in bed with the Mafia. If the communists had wanted to take over the labor unions, they would have had to compete with the Mafia in order to do it.

    26. Roberta Folino Calif says:

      I am a California State worker. I am also an SEIU member. I do not choose to be a member of this union but that is what is available to me.

      Being a Conservative Republican, I cannot approve of SEIU's political views and I have requested that my dues not be used in any way to support a political party.

      However, we California State workers have been very badly beaten up by those in power in this state. We have been used as pawns between both parties. We have had nothing to do with the overspending and poor governing here. We have nothing to do with the Departments that pay high salaries to retired cronies both former members of State Government or former lobiests. We are not responsible for those "leaders" who cave in to groups like the Sierra Club nor do we contribute to the illegal immigrants who are draining our economy.

      Nevertheless, we State workers have had our wages cut by nearly 15%. That hurts folks like myself but it hurts friends where both husband and wife are State employees even more.

      I happen to be 73 years old and a lung cancer survivor. My husband who is retired is nearly 80 and has medical problems. I am working to keep my insurance. I do not depend on Obama's plan. I am working.

      We are not simply union members, we are hard working people. At the moment, SEIU is all we have. No one seems to care much.

    27. Robert Ivy, Dawsonvi says:

      There was a time in our development that it was not possible to legally unionize Federal or State or local government employees.

      This changed in the 60's and has continued since The legality of unionizing government employees should be made illegal again.

      Those interested in power alone and not the welfare of our nation and its residents should not have private sector rules for employment in the public sector. It seems a bit unusual that a public employee has the right to dictate what rules govern his employment, when his pay and security are derived from the taxes imposed on the private sector businesses and employers.

      Who works for who?

    28. Joe Panzic - Columbu says:

      Congressman Zack Space (D) from the 18th district of Ohio stated in the paper today that an imperfect bill, (health care) is better than no bill. Are you kidding me! He's a blue dog? Where in the constitution does it say, "though shall vote in the Nanny state." This guy will have to go back to his law firm in 2010.

    29. Jim Griffin, Ingram says:

      I'm retired now but was required to belong to a union (AFLCIO) as a condition of my employment. Over a 24 year period, I saw many things occur inside the union that would land a normal person in jail. Unions exist for one reason, to collect dues and forward them to the national union so the leadership can live in luxury condos and ride around in chauffeur driven limousines.

      If I had invested my union dues in a S&P 500 index fund, I'd have an extra million $$ in my retirement fund right now.

      The article speeks the truth.

    30. Bobbie Jay says:

      can't understand why "home of the brave," let arrogance, ignorance and thieves, take it away?

      Get rid of the unions.

    31. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      Traitors and thugs are running things and America is being bullied and trampled upon.

      What a disgrace to America this Administration is!

    32. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Regarding those who think unions are a good thing, and government support of these even better, and both can only improve our fortunes, here are some quotes:

      "If there is any proof of a man's incompetence, it is the stagnant mentality of a worker … who, doing some small, routine job in a vast undertaking, does not care to look beyond the lever of a machine … does not choose to know how the machine got there or what makes his job possible, and proclaims that the management of the undertaking is parasitical and unnecessary…."

      Ironically, when the work will consist of the empowerment of a mendacious and meretricious government "machine", the context will have shifted to imply the opposite of that statement, but will by contrast only prove it all the more. But, that's not all. A return to the "guild socialism" of the Middle Ages is averred by the quoted author:

      "Guild socialism is the rule of, by and for mediocrity. Its cause is a society's intellectual collapse; its consequence is a quagmire of stagnation; its historical example is the guild system of the Middle Ages…"

      Regarding Queen P.'s threats:

      "The notion of morality as a monopoly of the government (and of a single branch or group within the government) is so blatantly a part of the ideology of a dictatorship that the … attempt to get away with it is truly shocking."

      The quoted author was referring to the student rebellions of the sixties, but the text applies equally to the administration's attempt to "sell" its "health ins. product" as something so particularly ethical or moral that severe penalties may be exacted for non-compliance. Actually, it is itself the greatest violator of morality in this instance, on numerous levels: Absence of Constitutionality. Violation of property rights (one must buy their approved version, or else). Violation of freedom of contract to buy and pay for what is best suited to the proper needs and desires of both parties. (Were they honest, they would merely penalize those who attempt to obtain "free" services from their providers.) All in the name of a vague altruist/collectivist/statist doctrine leading directly to fascism.

      Finally, a prediction made nearly forty-five years ago in that same essay:

      "If a determined, disciplined gang of statists were to make an assault on the crumbling remnants of a mixed economy, boldly and explicitly proclaiming the collectivist tenets which the country has accepted by tacit default — what resistance would they encounter? …"

      Does anyone not see the resemblance to almost all programs now being "debated"? Obamacare, Pelosicare, Waxman Markey, Cap and Trade, "Subsidies" to labor unions large and small on many levels, to other dubious associations like ACORN? Public assumption of private bank debt? Ditto, of private industry debt? But these are only a list of symptoms.

      All that this philosopher predicted as long ago as 1960 has come to pass. And she predicted worse to follow, if it went unchecked. Last chance now to stop it! The old bromide, "you can't fight city hall" will not help, this time. Too many forgot that they are "city hall", we all are, and we can stop it! We must!

      (Quotes from "The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution" by

      Ayn Rand; in the included essay: "The Cashing-In: The Student Rebellion". July-September 1965. New American Library, Second Revised Edition, 1975. Presumably still obtainable from the Ayn Rand Institute. Look at ARI.com or ARC.org)

    33. Rubicon says:

      The union push for Health Care Reform is why the bill should not be passed. they are not interested in health care. They are interested in union jobs & union government jobs in particular. Add to that the Card Check push on health care workers that will come if this reform is passed & what we have is a power grab, not health care.

      Pelosi says its OK to punish folks for not buying unconstitutional health care. Gosh, wish she would be as dramatic when prosecuting illegal aliens who sneak in, plus steal identities, plus steal government benefits.

      She & her husband have gotten theirs in government funds, government forced activities, etc., so what does she care!

    34. Frank S. says:

      The only hope we have is when the next election comes about, is to vote all the radical big spenders out of office .

    35. Ellen Tulsa, Ok says:

      I am not waiting until the next election…I am sending emails to those dumb people in Washington and telling them the democrats, republicans and the independents are banding together and taking our country back.

      I am also sending emails to the president and telling him how he is an all encompassing failure and to repeat Joe Wilson…you are a liar.

      I tell the president he has the blood of our troops in Afghanistan on his hands. He refuses to send extra troops to help our troops…some are on their 4th rotation. My heart is heavy when I see the young men and women carrying the heavy back packs and knowing the temperature is 120 degrees.

      It seems like all Obama wants to do is travel to foreign countries and make speeches and show that big toothy smile.

      He should be staying home and working on the things that matter to the American people.

      Obama, Pelosi and Reid seem to be saying to us…shut up…we will do as we please!


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    37. Don, Michigan says:

      George J Shinn, They already have plenty of space to jail the people. There are 800+ FEMA camps in the US, all of which are empty.

    38. chris ,md. says:

      i'm retired from the i.b.e.w., electricians union. we are the most productive as most of the tradesmen are why bash all the unions because of a few bad apples. i'm a middle of the road guy on the political landscape, so stop bashing all the unions for what a few do ,to make a change we will change that in the next election and we still need unions.

    39. Nicolai Alatzas says:

      Linda Burrell – Oregon,

      It maybe the case they may have pooled resources to take advantage of New Market tax credits to offset labor and construction costs. But new market tax credits have been there a long time and this would of been the case from the get.

      It has been a long time since I worked for a union however and I never met anyone that only made $8 an hour even with 20% new market tax credit that means that if they gave all the free money away they would only be paying $10 an hour. They also pay out cost of living increases at a rate of 50 cents every 6 months.

      I highly doubt your loosing bids to a union that is paying slave labor.

      I suspect you may be loosing out because of payment terms. When a Union goes in they finance their end of the project. Meaning the GC keeps collecting interest until the end of the project.

      Another avenue you can look at is minority run business's. If the Union your bidding against is a minority run business. Then you can pretty much save the energy of bidding if you have a white guy that owns your company.

    40. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      I was an IBEW Electrician, big Union and no matter how bad the Democrats betrayed us the Union still forced us to support them. Unions are supposed to be a Grass Roots democracy, representative and responsive to Membership. I think Big Unions have been Usurped by Communist Cold War Infiltrators, and like everything else, driven into the ground. 7% in the Private Sector is evidence and proof, and 37.6% Government Sector means Union Communists are fully infiltrated in Government, that Union have become part of a Shadow Government.

      M.S. Brown, of Denver CO, you are another Victim of forced unionization, but it isn't really unionization is it? They do not Represent your Interests.

    41. Wyn, Tacoma Wa says:

      Doesn't Mr. Stern of the SEIU see the writing on the wall? California is bankrupt. New York is about to be. A good number of cities and counties are in bad shape. That means a whole lot of public sector workers will be laid off, just like private sector workers. Think about it, Mr. Stern of the SEIU. Who's going to pay your precious salary when you keep losing members due to lay-offs? You dug in too deep with that knife and have killed the golden goose.

    42. Billy Plano, Texas says:

      Unions are about as useful as a hog with a side saddle.

    43. Frank, Illinois says:

      If we are blaming the unions for the demise of Chrysler and GM then shouldn't we be praising them for Ford's growth? There is corruption in all arena's of business, government, etc. because man is naturally deceitful. Tell me were the banks nonunion? How about AIG, Enron, or Worldcom? How about the the president of Tyco? The problem is not unions or the middle class people who make them up. The problem is greedy, bought off leaders that may be in charge of them. Be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. It wasn't too long ago that people were working 17 hours a day 6 days a week right alongside their children. The facts are that unionism has brought about fair pay, safer working conditions, fair hours, and better end products. I belong to a private trade union that cares about job creation. If I were in a nonunion shop I would be making less than half of what I make and with little to no benefits. I would not be able to support my family or pay my taxes or medical bills. Government unions may be a problem, but the elimination of all unions including the private ones would be detrimental to our middle class.

    44. J.Hall, SF, CA--coll says:

      Admittedly, the union involvement in the bailout debacle is abominable–lots of self-preservation going on. But unions on the whole still have their place. No, we don't have the deplorable working conditions that existed in the early 20th century, but can the executives of private-sector employers who are trying to squeeze out every last dollar of profit, really be trusted to look out for their workforce, or anyone else, for that matter? Think Enron. While labor unions may be less effective in knowledge-based industries, there are still a large percentage of Americans eeking out a living working (or looking for work)in labor-driven industries, and collective bargaining can have an overall positive effect for workers in these industries. The role of the labor union must evolve into a more “cooperative” partnership with employers to ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are protected. There must be a system of checks and balances, on both sides. Otherwise GREED will rule the day. In order to compete with our global counterparts, labor unions should focus on ensuring that U.S. companies have a viable future workforce. When employers have to "close up shop," everybody loses.

    45. Ella QUINN N.C. says:

      we can not be forced to get health insurance.I have health insurance.The ones who do not have it do not worry,they cannot force you to.We all can stand up and show them, they will not controll us.We have never lived under controll of a president and never ever will.We will show them who america belongs to the people that is who.

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    49. lyle b (live in New says:

      Hello Conservative Friends,

      I am a union worker and the last time I looked in a mirror I saw the image of an American looking back at me.

      God Bless the USA

      You all are great Americans.

      Thank You Heritage Foundation for allowing me to post.

      Lyle B

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    51. James Murphy Napa, C says:

      When socialists are in charge will there be an honest election following the damage they have wrought?


    52. Pingback: Heritage Foundation: Big Labor Is Bankrupting Our Country | FlashReport

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