NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 9, 2009

Since taking office, President Obama has lavished labor unions with gift after gift, says Matthew Continetti, an associate editor with the Weekly Standard.

For example:

  • Days after taking office, he issued three executive orders reversing Bush-era labor policies.
  • In February, he approved a stimulus bill that contained "buy American" provisions.
  • The $400-billion omnibus spending bill that Obama signed into law in March eliminated funding for pilot programs allowing Mexican trucks in the United States as mandated by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • In June, the president oversaw a restructuring of General Motors that left the United Auto Workers (UAW) owning 17.5 percent of the company; the union is GM's second-largest shareholder (the largest is Uncle Sam).
  • Early in September, in a speech to the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, Obama said he was "standing behind" the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize by seriously diminishing the secret ballot in union elections.
  • And on Sept. 11, the president imposed a 35 percent tariff on Chinese tire imports, a policy straight from the wish list of the United Steelworkers.

The costs of a heavily unionized workforce outweigh the benefits, says Continetti:

  • Organized labor often politicizes the workforce and hinders economic efficiency.
  • Once a workplace is unionized, it's more difficult to fire unproductive workers, and thus a lot harder to hire good ones too.

In their new book, "Rich States, Poor States," Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams rank all 50 states based on economic performance over the last decade:

  • Seven out of the 10 best performing are right-to-work states.
  • Eight of the 10 worst performing are not.

Nor is it an accident that as union membership has declined, global markets have become increasingly integrated and the price of consumer goods has fallen, says Continetti.

Source: Matthew Continetti, "Obama, Labor's Lackey," Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2009.


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