Not the labor secretary's job

Not the labor secretary's job

February 21st, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

For decades now, fewer and fewer American workers have chosen to form or join unions.

There are lots of reasons for that. Some have been put off by strong-arm union tactics or by Big Labor's support for extremely liberal political candidates. Others have shied away from unions after witnessing the near-collapse of unionized workplaces that had unsustainable compensation packages.

At any rate, union membership fell again in 2010, to 11.9 percent of the U.S. work force. And most union membership today is among government workers -- who shouldn't be unionized.

The continued decline of unions and of Big Labor's political influence recently prompted U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to jump improperly into the fray by suggesting unions need a bigger voice.

"As workers across the country continue to face lower wages and difficulty finding work due to the recent recession, these numbers demonstrate the pressing need to provide workers with a voice in the workplace and protect their right to organize and bargain collectively," she said in a press release.

We realize that a labor secretary appointed by a liberal Democrat president is certainly not going to be anti-union, nor should she be. But neither should she be advocating on behalf of Big Labor. She should seek only to uphold the law.

It is not surprising, though, that the secretary of labor is "taking sides" in favor of unions. Her boss, President Barack Obama, and the Democratic Party rely heavily on union campaign donations. Unions obviously expect to get support from the administration in return. In fact, while campaigning for the presidency, then-Sen. Obama declared that if elected, he would even join a picket line in Chicago to help unionize workers at a hotel there.

Unfortunately, what is in the best interests of Big Labor is not necessarily in the best interests of individual workers or of the United States as a whole.