Time for Democrats to Pay Their Dues

From In These Timeshttp://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14445/time_for_democrats_to_pay_their_dues/

For too long organized labor has failed to ask the Dems, ‘Which side are you on?’

BY James Thindwa
February 6, 2013

The swift passage of Michigan’s so-called right-to-work legislation in December cemented a stark reality for labor: U.S. workers have been left without a national political party to champion their interests. Many local Democratic leaders—and a few members of Congress—still join the struggle for union rights, but aside from union-friendly rhetoric deployed around election time, the national party is disengaged.

The fact is, the success of the American labor movement has always depended upon a welcoming policy environment facilitated by an allied political party. While many forces are contributing to labor’s decline, we can no longer ignore a central one: The once-reliable Democratic Party has abandoned the cause. However, the party remains heavily dependent on labor for financial and organizational infrastructure. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that unions spent $1.1 billion between 2005 and 2011 supporting federal candidates for office. In 2008 alone, according to the New York Times, labor laid out $450 million to elect Barack Obama. If the state-by-state GOP war against unions is aimed at a primary source of electoral support for its opponent, why hasn’t that galvanized Democrats?

Indeed, Democrats have had ample opportunities to uphold workers’ rights. Unprecedented income inequality; attacks on labor in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan; and a low-wage business model that saps the wealth of workers and communities provide a natural pivot for Democrats to push a pro-labor agenda. But there have been no takers, in Congress or the White House.

Congressional Democrats have failed to revive the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to liberate the 60 million workers who want to join unions. And not one Democrat in Congress sponsored a resolution repudiating the GOP’s attack on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan.

As the Democratic Party distances itself from labor, it increasingly has embraced a corporate agenda. Witness the bipartisan attack on teacher unions, labor–crippling privatization schemes, opposition to living-wage laws, and the cycle of impunity for those who commit financial crimes. It is no wonder that corporate power is ascendant, while the labor movement continues its unmitigated downward spiral.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14445/time_for_democrats_to_pay_their_dues/

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