Wednesday, June 9, 2010

White House to Labor Unions: *&ck You

If only we were Republicans, the White House might pay more attention to us and like us. Maybe those of us on the left should start accusing the president of being a fascist baby-eater. I am sure we will get a conference call for that one. No, instead, we get told to jump in a lake, as we always do, and have in the Democratic Party for the past 30 years. You see, labor unions, this is your reward for supporting the administration. Your UAW workers, those who were not thrown out of their jobs already, get their health care plans taxed to subsidize private insurance for everyone else. The Employee Free Choice Act, well, I think we all know how that one turned out (like the striker replacement bill under Clinton).

And if that was not enough, here is the incumbent 'Democratic' Senator from Arkansas, whose idea of being a Democrat is reducing herself to a tool for corporations (the same corporations opposed to trade protectionism, striker replacement, and the Employee Free Choice Act). I am sure when she loses in November her campaign sponsors will reward Blanche kindly for her services with a cushy lobbying job in DC. Strike one for the establishment. We lost. And make no bones about it, the White House could not be happier.

Blanche Lincoln Win Sparks Furious Sniping Between White House, Labor

by Sam Stein

The loss of Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Arkansas Senate Democratic primary runoff election resulted in a rare outburst of intense, sometimes nasty, griping between the White House and the organized labor community on Tuesday night.

Shortly after Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) emerged victorious, an anonymous White House aide began spreading word that the President Obama's political team thought that the money unions had spent on Halter's candidacy was a massive waste and damaging to the party.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the unnamed official said to Politico's Ben Smith. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

Another senior Democrat (who also would not be quoted by name) echoed the point in an exchange with the Huffington Post. "Labor is humiliated," the source said. "$10 million flushed down the toilet at a time when Democrats across the country are fighting for their lives, they look like absolute idiots."

It was a remarkably blunt dumping on the unions. And, in the process, it provided one of the most telling revelations as to how frayed the relationship between Obama and the modern labor movement truly is. Up until now the two parties have generally aired their disagreements over policy and politics in private, with scant public acknowledgment that friction was building below the surface.

But it clearly is there, in part because of legislative disappointments, but mainly because of labor's decision to go after moderate and conservative Democrats. Asked to explain why the White House would so quickly disparage the labor unions (namely the SEIU and AFL-CIO) after an embarrassing primary outcome, another White House aide said that "folks are just tired," noting that the administration has also taken a heaping of criticism from speakers at the progressive Campaign for America's Future conference taking place this week in Washington D.C.

Labor, of course, found the verbal lashing genuinely appalling, and a confirmation of their larger philosophy to act in their own political self-interest.

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"We are not an arm of the White House or the DNC or a political party," said AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale. "We work on issues. And if we feel like someone is standing up for working families, we support them, and if they don't, we won't support it. In the past, people would have assumed that was talk, but now we have backed that up with action."

"Is the lesson they are taking out of tonight that they can go after labor and anonymously trash us and we will put our tail in between our legs and slink home? That ain't happening," Vale added.

Driving home the point that the White House was cravenly hiding behind the cloak of anonymity in their attacks, the AFL-CIO spokesman signed off the conversation with the following: "My name is Eddie Vale of the AFL-CIO and I'm proud to fight for working families and I don't hide behind anonymous quotes."

These are the most acrimonious exchanges between the unions and the White House in recent memory, and it stands to reason that things will get worse before they get better. Labor, after all, seems even more inclined now to support what one official described as "accountability candidates" -- even if those candidates aren't the administration's preferred choices.

As proof Vale pointed to comments offered early in the day by the AFL-CIO's president Richard Trumka, who stressed that it was entirely unlikely that the labor organization would support Blanche Lincoln in the general election (the decision will ultimately be made by union members in Arkansas). Another labor source said that the SEIU would likely be sitting out the general as well. "How in the world can labor turn around and support her?"

Notice who the White House reserves its wrath for. Not the murderers of the human rights folk on the flotilla, the banks that wrecked our economy, the insurance companies that kill tens of thousands of people every year by omission. No, it is reserved for us, the very people these ingrates depend on come November. They play us for fools because they know that we have nowhere else to go, except stay at home, and use the Republicans as our bogeyman to scare us to the ballot box. Meanwhile, we get stabbed in the back every time by the Democratic Party and its leadership (NAFTA, GATT, the non-passage of the striker replacement bill and EFCA).

The question I have is why should anyone in Arkansas who is in any way progressive vote for Blanche Lincoln? For that matter, why should I vote for or support Barack Obama? If this is what the Democratic Party thinks of me and my people, coming from a union family, what is the point of supporting candidates whose view on unions and workers is basically the same as the Republicans? I ask it as an open question.

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