Terence Powderly, the founding father of America’s modern labor movement, regarded strikes as last resorts pursued only when they met four prerequisites: righteousness, the collapse of other honorable options, the possession of the cash to adequately fight, and at least an equal chance of becoming victors as vanquished.
In their tin-eared attempt to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, leaders of public-employee unions, who don’t know Terence Powderly from Powderly, Texas, have violated all four rules of the Grand Master Workman of the Knights of Labor.
The Left doesn’t learn from its history because it doesn’t know its history. It’s too busy dreaming up the future.
The RealClearPolitics poll of polls indicates a 6.4 percent advantage for Governor Scott Walker, with the latest survey’s 12-point advantage showing an ominous trend line for union interests.
More telling than the polls are the Democrats.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee last week pulled $112,000 in anti-Walker advertising. They didn’t do this because they had a change of heart about the governor.
Badger State Democrats badgered their national party for $500,000. But Democratic National Committee (DNC) losers know a loser when they see one. Their rebuff left labor leaders fuming, as they have been since the governor eliminated their free money stream from automatic pay deductions siphoned from public employees.
It turns out that the DNC doesn’t like being forced to pay union dues, either.
Perhaps most indicative of the weakness of the union position is the polling that has propelled them to drop any reference to the raison d’être of their catastrophic campaign. Mentions of collective bargaining, state-funded pensions, and Cadillac health-care plans in Wisconsin are as scarce as mentions of the Giants steamrolling the Packers in last year’s playoffs.
The electorate unsurprisingly doesn’t feel as passionately as public employees do about state workers not grabbing as many public dollars as they used to. The unions surprisingly have only now discovered that their selfishness at universal expense isn’t universally endorsed.
What Democrats once touted as a proxy battle for November’s war they now call just a meaningless intramural skirmish. “I think, honestly, there aren’t going to be any [national] repercussions,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz explained on a C-SPAN program that aired Sunday. “It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin.”
The recall campaign that overlooked Powderly’s four rules is not exactly a strike in an organized labor sense. It is more like one in an organized baseball sense.
Strike one was Wisconsin Democratic legislators’ attempt to flee their own state. Strike two was Wisconsin Supreme Court justice David Prosser’s narrow election victory over liberal state assistant attorney general Joanne Kloppenburg. Strike three was the failure of Democrats to wrest control of the state senate from Republicans in last year’s recalls.
Here’s where the three-strikes-you’re-out baseball analogy breaks down. Public employee unions want unlimited swings at pitches. Should Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett again whiff swinging at Walker, the if-at-fourth-you-don’t-succeed unions will try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again. People accustomed to free money rarely take the hint to go make their own.
Terence Powderly made a success of his labor union. His labor union also made a success out of him in politics. He served six years as mayor of Joe Biden’s birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Powderly commented as labor’s power shifted to less responsible hands, “I have noticed that most of the spouters and mouthers of bolshevism could not be guilty of having ever soiled their hands with honest labor.” One could make the same quip about the instigators of organized labor’s kamikaze recall.
Obama’s Democrats, in the words of their booster paper in New York, seek the votes of “professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists—and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.” To Obama’s Democrats, Terrence Powderlys don’t seem worth courting.
That’s a shame—for the working man and for the man not working out in the White House. Both would have benefitted from a Democratic president who actually worked for the workers.
Before the Left attempted to recall Wisconsin’s governor, they should have recalled their history. It would have saved them the bother.