The job of a union boss — when they aren’t frittering away members’ money for their own lavish lifestyles — is to protect the wages of their members, regardless of economic reality. One of the areas where the fallout from this role is worst is in the area of trade, where union leaders push protectionism. Columnist Bob Novak has weighed in on what Big Labor’s demands on its political allies has wrought:
Why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi renege on her previous commitment? She dances to the tune of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who preaches protectionism. Hostility toward not only the Peru and Panama pacts but also a vital agreement with Colombia can be traced to influence on U.S. unions by South America’s leftist labor leaders, originating in Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela.
Beyond U.S. unpopularity in the Western Hemisphere, this exposes deeper problems for the Democratic majority in Congress. While the AFL-CIO’s authority is diminished in the labor movement and among the nation’s workers, its chief rules in Congress. Democrats bowed to Sweeney’s wishes in voting to end secret ballots in union-recognition elections, but the more audacious demonstration of labor’s influence on Capitol Hill was getting the House leadership to renege on a bipartisan deal affecting world trade.
Hat tip to the Shopfloor.