Big Labor Suffered Major Losses in Tuesday's Election
Lots of mysteries, but here's one certainty.
1:55 PM, May 20, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
How did big labor do in Tuesday's election? Not well, in two words. So poorly, indeed, that even the New York Times picked up on this angle: "On the Democratic side, organized labor, which invested millions into the races in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, did not achieve a victory in either state," the paper reported.
In Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter, big labor's favorite candidate in the Senate Democratic primary experienced an embarrassing upset. And big labor was heavily involved, supporting Specter with tons of dollars and institutional support. The Workforce Fairness Institute claimed Specter's demise as a sign that voters don't want the Employee Free Choice Act passed -- and that voters don't support big labor in general. Here's WFI's executive director, Katie Packer:
In truth, labor won't be displeased with Joe Sestak, the Democrat who dispatched Specter and was the favorite of progressives all along. But Sestak is not who they backed and funded.
In Arkansas, the other state where big labor played a big role, they backed the only candidate in the Democratic primary who didn't come out against card check: Bill Halter. Halter didn't quite lose yet, but he didn't win -- he will go to a June 8 primary runoff against incumbent Blanche Lincoln. (My prediction: Halter's likely to lose the runoff, since Lincoln will gather most of the third candidate's votes, since they are more ideologically congruent.) The big loser in this primary was, again, big labor, which helped bankroll Halter's campaign.
Interestingly, Halter hasn't publicly come out in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act, but his closeness to big labor has led many to speculate that he fully supports their agenda.
Here's some of the help unions offered Halter:
According to the Arkansas Secretary of State Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Report (from 2/15 and 4/15), the CA State Council of Service Employees donated at least $10,000 to Halter's campaign.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA-COPE) donated at least $8,000 dollars to help Halter pay off campaign debt from his 2006 bid for lieutenant governor. The United Steelworkers provided the same dollar amount to Halter for the same cause.
The Arkansas AFL-CIO endorsed Halter, saying:
The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Iron Workers donated $5,000 to Halter on March 3.
Union heads promised $1,000,000 to Halter in the beginning of March.
So on, so forth. The point is, big labor threw all it had at Blanche Lincoln. All their support went to Bill Halter. For one reason: Their number one priority is the Employee Free Choice Act. If they weren't sure that Halter was on their side, there isn't any way they'd support him like they did.
Many will debate the primary winners and losers in great detail, but this we know for sure: Big labor's payments didn't pay off.
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