An unnamed White House official told Politico that unions had wasted $10 million in their “pointless” support of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Halter had launched an unsuccessful primary challenge against Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
The New York Times took offense to that remark. The White House, it said, should have been “paying attention to the signals that were sent” in a race that Lincoln won with a narrow margin. The signal, in the Times’s opinion, was anger over Lincoln’s opposition to “card check.”
What did the unions want, really? I’m no big fan of Lincoln and pro-union, but I join many other good people in not liking the card check proposal. Card check would let organizers force unionization by collecting a certain number of signatures from workers — thus bypassing the need for a secret ballot vote.
Having belonged to two unions (the Teamsters and the Newspaper Guild), I can attest that union activists are not always the nicest of people. And some businesses offer cushy wages and benefits to make their workers not want to join unions. Workers should have the right to choose whether to form a union without some brute breathing down their neck.
Furthermore, “card check” is said to be a negotiating chip that organized labor is willing to give up in return for other concessions. It is not some holy principle. So you wonder whether the card-check obsession is really aimed at forcing a gesture of submission on the politician’s part.
Many progressive voters are rightly sore at Lincoln for fighting against the “public option” in the health-care bill. I that was the true cause of her near-upset, I wouldn’t be surprised.
My take on the Tuesday primaries and the special election in the late John Murtha’s Pennsylvania district: The right people won.