A shoe that I (and others) have been waiting to drop since November. The FT reports (sub required) that the US administration is planning to “toughen its regulation of organised labour, in what critics see as the latest in a series of pro-business policies sweeping Washington.” It’s invoking powers that haven’t been used in decades to force unions to file detailed financial statements and increase “accountability and transparency.” This isn’t an effort to further the interests of union members; it’s the beginning of a quite deliberate attempt to cripple unions as political actors. As the FT reports:
Privately, one senior figure in the administration said it was concerned about the power of unions, arguing that some campaigns against big business were not always in the interests of members. There is also concern about moves to scrap secret ballots for some union votes, which the administration fears would further entrench the power of union leaders.
Needless to say, no similar efforts are contemplated to check the ability of the leadership of the American Chamber of Commerce to engage in partisan attacks on Democrats without extensive processes of consultation. This is, simply put, a battle that the left can’t afford to lose. Trade unions are one of the most vital constituencies of the Democratic party. These purported reforms have the sole purpose and intent of making it more difficult for trade unions to take political positions that don’t reflect the most narrow possible definition of the interests of their members. If blogs can organize a boycott against Sinclair Communications, and can play an important role in pushing back against efforts to destroy Social Security, then they can certainly do something to help fight against this. It’s an important battle; perhaps, in the long run, the most important battle of the next two years.