Occasionally I will read Paul Krugman lament that Obama is not liberal enough, or someone at the National Review complain that he is too radical a liberal, and I am reminded to appreciate his moderation in the face of such critics. This was my reaction to an column by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post who argues, believe it or not, that Obama has not been friendly enough to unions.
I saw the bailing out of G.M and Chrysler, and the administration’s willingness to exempt union members health plans from higher taxes as being very friendly to unions. Meyerson makes a persuasive case, though, that things have not been so great for unions thus far under Obama’s tenure:
Labor’s primary priority — the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) — died when the Democrats lost their 60-vote majority in the Senate. Labor’s normal priority — a functioning National Labor Relations Board — also seems out of reach… Other key legislation for which labor has lobbied, including health-care reform and financial regulations, languishes in the Senate.
True, these are all things the unions wanted, and it even seemed like they might get. He further worries that the decline of private sector unions will lead to the decline of public sector unionization:
What will life be like in an America with almost no private-sector unions or collective bargaining? … a deunionized private sector won’t readily support — politically or economically — a unionized or expansive public sector.
I agree that this is probably true, but, unlike Meyerson, I see it as a benefit to the decline of private sector unions. One man’s cost is another man’s benefit I suppose.