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What Big Labor Thinks of American Experiment

The current issue of the New Labor Forum includes a long column by Max Fraser, a left-winger who writes for publications like the Nation and Dissent and, improbably, is associated with both Dartmouth and Yale. His column is titled “Organized Money: What is Corporate America Thinking?–Freedom’s Janus Face.”

Fraser briefly notes the likely significance of the Janus case:

[W]ith the Court likely to issue a decision in the closely watched Janus v. AFSCME case sometime in late spring or early summer, the pro-business forces which have been spearheading the legislative and juridical assault have already begun sharpening their knives for what may prove to be the deepest cut yet.

He talks about the pro-freedom efforts of the Freedom Foundation of Washington and the Mackinac Center in Michigan, and then turns his attention to Center of the American Experiment. He brings to his observations the usual leftist myopia:

In Minnesota, likewise, the driving wedge of the opt-out campaign is the Golden Valley-based Center for the American Experiment…

Apparently, at Yale they don’t stress the importance of getting an organization’s name right if you are going to attack it.

…which bills itself as “the leading voice in Minnesota for conservative and free market policy.” Founded in the early 1990s, the Center includes a familiar list of donors among its longtime supporters—the Bradley Foundation, the Donors Capital Fund, Roe, Walton.

Leftists are obsessed with conservative foundations, and like to pretend that they are the key supporters of think tanks like American Experiment. Actually, the Center is supported by thousands of Minnesotans who want to make their state a better place. A few of our individual donors give through individual or family foundations, but we get less than 5% of our funding from the national foundations. In 2017, we got less than .002–one-fifth of one percent–of our revenue from the foundations Fraser lists. Liberals like to pretend that the big money is on the side of conservatives, when in fact, the biggest financial players in our political system–by far–are unions.

The Center saw a fifty-percent bump in annual contributions after 2016, when it brought in an influential conservative blogger, John Hinderbaker, to increase the its public profile.

Apparently they don’t emphasize spelling at Yale, either.

Flush with cash…

That’s pretty funny, actually. We are growing and are drawing more support from Minnesotans every year, but we are hardly “flush with cash.” If you want to make us flusher, you can donate here.

…the Center began laying out plans for an opt-out campaign called “EducatedTeachersMN” which is overseen by Senior Policy Fellow Kim Crockett, a former corporate lawyer who specializes in public unions and labor law and previously ran the State Policy Network-affiliated Minnesota Free Market Institute.

The Center plans to roll out the campaign early in 2018. Last November, meanwhile, it co-authored its own amicus brief in Janus (along with the Cato Institute and the National Federation of Independent Business), which decried mandatory fair share payments as “repugnant to our Constitution” and called for public-sector workers “to have their First Amendment liberties restored.”

That is all more or less true. Fraser concludes on a pessimistic note:

The success of the opt-out campaigns orchestrated by groups like the [Washington] Freedom Foundation, the Mackinac Center, and the Center for [sic] the American Experiment, especially in relatively high union density states like Washington (17 percent, as of 2016), Michigan (14 percent), and Minnesota (14 percent), will go a long way toward determining whether or not the trade union movement will survive the Janus case.

Fraser is saying that if union members actually have a choice, the public sector unions are done for. That is a rather telling admission.

If unions are able to combat the misleading rhetoric of “employee freedom”…

Not sure what is “misleading” about saying employees should be free to decide whether they want to join, or contribute to, a union.

…and reveal the campaigns to be just the latest gambit by seasoned conservative activists like Tom McCabe and the right-wing billionaires who fund them…

Here we go again with the billionaires! Actually, if you did a count I think you would find that most billionaires who are active in politics are on the left. But liberals cling bitterly to their illusions.

…the labor movement may be able to hold onto its last redoubt of real organizational strength in the public sector. If not, and if McCabe and his cronies get their way, Janus may signal the beginning of the end for organized labor as we have known it.

Fraser doesn’t comment on why it is that public sector unions are organized labor’s “last redoubt.” Maybe unions should focus less on supporting far-left causes, and more on actually serving their members. Maybe then they wouldn’t have to use the force of law to require employees to pay union dues against their will.




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