Last Updated:November 26 @ 07:29 am

Chavez: Race Isn't the Problem for Obama

By Linda Chavez

The president of the AFL-CIO is worried that President Obama is doing poorly among white, working class, male voters -- and he plans on putting 400,000 of his troops in the field in six key states to change the equation.

Recent polls show the president doing poorly with white males with less than a college education. Mitt Romney leads the president among white males voters by more than 2-to-1 in a recent Washington Post poll, with the president favored by only 28 percent of this demographic group. Other polls show similar results. Republicans have won a majority of white males' votes in most recent elections; but the president has slipped significantly among this cohort from his last race. In 2008, Obama carried 39 percent of white male votes.

Richard Trumka, the former coal miner who now leads the 8.4 million- member AFL-CIO, hopes he can at least convince his own white male members to vote for Obama. But, apparently, he doesn't have a very high opinion of those who choose not to follow his lead. He recently told Reuters that of the 1-in-4 union members who didn't vote for Obama in 2008, "some of this I think was pure racism. Some of them would be gun owners, some of them would be right-wing. Some of them would be ... died-in-the-wool Republicans."

Trumka and the Obama team are counting on stoking class resentment to motivate union members: Portray Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy who wants to ship jobs overseas, and maybe union members will ignore the fact that far more Americans are out of work today than when Obama took office. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in January 2009; it's 8.2 percent now, despite massive government spending. Obama's own economic advisers predicted that the nearly trillion-dollar 2009 stimulus package would bring it down to less than 8 percent.

It should be no surprise that Trumka and other union leaders are making an all-out push for Obama. In recent decades, unions have become virtual auxiliaries of the Democratic Party -- devoting resources, money, and manpower to electing Democrats at every level of government. This election cycle will be no different. Last election, the AFL-CIO claimed they put 250,000 union members to work helping elect President Obama. And they spent hundreds of millions of dollars -- much of it union dues -- in the 2008 and 2010 elections.

But if a quarter of all dues-paying members disapprove of their union's choices, shouldn't that have some bearing on how their money is spent? In most organizations, a disgruntled member could merely quit if he or she didn't like the way the organizations used their money. Not so for many union members, for whom paying union dues may be a requirement to get the job in the first place. Even in so-called agency-shops -- where workers may not be required to join the union -- they must still pay "agency fees" to the union for representing them in collective bargaining, whether they like it or not.

A Supreme Court ruling in 1998 gave workers the right to ask for refunds of that portion of their agency fees spent on politics and other matters not directly related to collective bargaining, but it's often difficult -- even risky -- to do so. And those "fees" that remain in union coffers end up helping elect Democrats come election season.

It's not just fees-paying non-union members who object to this system. Even some union members are voting with their feet -- and not to go door-to-door for President Obama. In April, the AFL-CIO released its annual report on membership, which showed a decline of 1.2 percent from 2011. Overall, the AFL-CIO is down by more than a third from its peak more than three decades ago.

In Wisconsin, which passed legislation that requires state employee unions to collect dues from members directly rather than having the dues automatically deducted from government paychecks, membership fell dramatically. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers, the second-largest union in Wisconsin, lost more than half of its members last year.

Perhaps Trumka and the AFL-CIO ought to be less worried about delivering their white male members' votes to President Obama and more worried about delivering the services their members actually want. It's not race that is driving the decline in support for both President Obama and unions -- it's pure economics.


Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal."


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  1. jdb121Comment by jdb121
    August 3, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    The obvious question here is, is it the policies or is white skin simply worth more than black skin? Perhaps, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange can enlighten us concerning the options and futures of white skin and black skin…..somehow, I am skeptical. But, at least we know that if the policies are to blame, the mentality among leadership is to hang right in there and “let’s all hang together” because it is the failure of policies that are not working that is important and some things, like leadership, should never adapt and change. Where is the hope in that?

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  2. mvjimoComment by mvjimo
    August 3, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    I would be much more interested to see how union membership has done since 2009. This would be much more telling about the current administration, which has helped big labor but has hurt everyone else.

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    • theoldsargeComment by theoldsarge
      August 3, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

      “I would be much more interested to see how union membership has done since 2009. This would be much more telling about the current administration, which has helped big labor but has hurt everyone else.”

      That isn’t difficult to find out. Just takes a little research and it isn’t all that hard. Because of the unions, of earlier years, we have laws in place so that non-union as well as union workers have better wages, benefits and clean, safe working environments. I will agree that the unions have done a lot for the common worker. Today, the greed and mismanagement at higher union levels, with outrageous demands, have forced big business to relocate to other countries. They are not the same unions of our grandfathers. It isn’t just the Conservatives and big business that are doing a number on the workers. The Democrats, Republicans, Upper Union Management and the Media are all in bed together with the workers taking it in the shorts. Here is what I’m talking about.

      In 1994, the unions were vehemently against NAFTA and GATT. In spite of that, the lame duck Democrat Congress passed it and President Clinton, a Democrat, signed it. Who did the unions support in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 and the Mid-Term elections? The same party that cut their throats in 1994 by approving NAFTA and GATT.

      I have said this before. The union members better watch their backs. As soon as Obama doesn’t need them anymore, he will throw them under the bus. It seems to me that he has already started to do just that. Just ask the union members who have lost their jobs since he took office. Start with General Electric and The Presidential Job Czar, (And also head of GE) Jeffery Immelt. He has done more to create jobs in China than he has in this country.

      When Obama helped his buddy Immelt and General Electric set up their light bulb operations in China and close their plant in this country, it put a lot of union members out of work.

      It was just recently learned that General Electric will be closing their division in Wisconsin that makes X-ray equipment and moving it to China where there is cheaper non-union workers. Guess who is helping them do it. I’ll give you a hint. His initials are BHO. I wonder how many of those union members will be drawing unemployment.

      General Electric also plans to send their jet engine manufacturing to China. How many of those union members will loose their jobs?

      There are a lot of Union Oil Workers who lost their jobs when Obama put a ban on further oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

      His attacks on the private jet industry is sure to put a lot of union members in the ranks of the unemployed.

      Even though he bailed out two auto companies, he didn’t stop them from closing some parts plants and relocating them overseas. That helped put some UAW members out of work.

      The unions were recently up in arms about Obama putting a stop to the Keystone pipeline. Don’t be fooled by his little side show in Oklahoma. They still need to get the pipeline built from Canada. I would bet that he will put that off until after the election and then kill it. As a result, the union construction workers and Oil workers will not get the jobs that project would have made.

      Now the closing of three coal burning power plants. How many of those union members will loose their jobs?

      Do you know where Hershey is making their chocolate candy these days? Not in Pennsylvania. More unemployed union members.

      Now we come to Federico Pena and his role at Vestar Capital Partners. Pena has been a partner at Vestar since 2000. Pena is a former mayor of Denver and now is one of 35 co-chairs for the President’s 2012 campaign. Vestar laid off 1000 workers at Del Monte, closed three factories and laid off 540 people at Solo Cup Co and fired another 500 workers at Birds Eye food processor. I wonder how many of those jobs were done by union workers? Not much different from what they are accusing Romney and Bain Capital of doing.

      I hope that the out of work union members will remember how Obama, along with his Democrat and RINO Republican followers, helped them loose their jobs when they go to vote in November. Republicans are not saints either. Politicians from each party get huge donations from Special Interest Lobbies so we have the best politicians money can buy. I’m not blaming the voters that voted them all into office. At least they voted. In the past elections, less than 50%, of those eligible, even bothered to vote. Those who don’t vote deserve the government they got. They are doing just as much to put corrupt politicians in power as the ones that vote them in. Apathy put those corrupt politicians in power and apathy will keep them there. Don’t take my word for all of this. If you can read this, you have the ability to do your own research, or you can just pretend to be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand and wait for that rude awakening. WAKE UP AMERICA! APATHY IS THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR LIBERTIES AND FREEDOMS. NOT OBAMA.

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  3. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    August 3, 2012 @ 10:54 am

    Speaking of Race;

    “The race is not always to the swift,
    Nor the battle to the strong,
    Nor bread to the wise,
    Nor riches to men of understanding,
    Nor favor to men of skill,”

    These people never get a chance to win in a Union shop where freedom of choice only belongs to the Union leaders and thugs.
    Obama may attempt to divert our attention from our real problems to America’s Race problems, but the real race problems originate in a government that penalizes those in the race who are swift, strong, wise, understanding and skillful, so that he and his later party of the lame, the weak, the foolish, the confused and the unskillful can refute the laws of God and nature and rule over and sit in positions of dominance over the former.

    This form of race is never a problem for Obama, just a problem for the people he was hired to serve.

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  4. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    August 3, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    Trumka, a former coal miner, wonder how many ‘present’ coal miners will vote for a **** ( fill in your own descriptor) who is doing everything in his power to destroy their livelihood. I guess, in some dubious way of thinking, the United Mine Workers (UMW) should use all its resources to continue in power the present administration. Welfare will supplant wages.

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  5. slickzipComment by slickzip
    August 3, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    AMEN ,, so very true, so many members of unions belong only because they are forced to belong in order to have their job ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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    • effwingerComment by effwinger
      August 3, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

      Its called extortion, and its supposed to be illegal…..

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  6. WaltComment by Walt
    August 3, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    The unions have sent more jobs over seas than any CEO or Company, they have priced themselves and others out of a job. The Members should demand thier union dues back that was spent on politics, Trumka and his thugs needs to take a hike.the states that have the Right to work law are the states that are getting the new companies and the old to build thier Factories there. The unions at one time where there to help the working man today they have done just the opposite.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      August 3, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

      Remove the non-productive cost of union featherbedding from the company wage structures and American businesses COULD compete and their jobs would not go overseas, and the net income of the employee sans union dues would still remain the same with the company profits intact to expand. The dollars re-distributed to unions and political contributions should be going to building new businesses and creating jobs, not creating a political class of union leadership rich.

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  7. lovemygang8Comment by lovemygang8
    August 3, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

    It’s really sad to read about this going on (we all now know where O supports stand and what they will do) BUT this makes it even more depressing. 1st Thank God for write like you. 2nd, I would love to see unions GONE. maybe somewhere in the work force they were once good BUT not anymore, and now especially since they’ve proven their allegiance to the liberals by extreme actions and money. YOUR money from all of you who believe in unions. This is nothing more than nazi’s doing a hit job on the american people,who I would hope have had enough. These Klansmen do nothing but go about spreading lies and threatening anyone and everyone who isn’t going to vote for O. How is this any different than the KKK??? O & all his Chicago & liberal gang has done a done **** job and does not deserve another 4years at OUR EXPENSE. Just so he can take our Money and our lives away from those of us who believe in this country and the freedom that has been fought for and believed in by hard working people that don’t believe in Greed(like the politicians) and taking and taking and NOT working for what you get!
    If all these liberals and their cohorts don’t like it here, GO TO RUSSIAN, CHINA OR WHERE EVER COMMUNISM EXCIST or go bye your own island somewhere and make it what you want and leave us the H alone

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