11.07.2013 1

McAuliffe victory in Virginia: A big win for Big Labor

McAuliffe/ AP Files

By Tom Toth

Elections have consequences

On Tuesday, Terry McAuliffe edged out Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by 2.5 percent of the electorate in a winning bid for the commonwealth’s governorship. Labor unions played no small part in manipulating the outcome of the race, lining the election coffers for McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman and Big Labor ally, with $2.5 million.

Making high-stake, multimillion dollar political bets is not a new game for labor unions, which are notoriously relentless in pursuing the election of like-minded, powerful political leaders. Despite these massive campaign contributions, unions presently find themselves in a membership crisis. Once representing over a third of the workforce, recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistic show private-sector membership down to just 6.6% percent – the lowest level of membership since the 1930’s.

Like most of the South, Virginia is a “right to work” state, meaning that Virginians have the right to work for a company that has a union without joining the union and paying union dues. This law crushes unions demanding dues money from employees for unfair assembly-line era, one-size-fits-all deals that include seniority promotion, limited merit-based bonuses, and other incentive-killing provisions that hurt the common employee.

At the AFL-CIO’s quadrennial national convention this September, unions adopted an expansive “Southern Strategy” for organizing southern states and placing advocating leaders in high office to combat the further spread of labor laws that are good for individual employees and hurt Big Labor’s bottom line. Consider Terry McAuliffe the first major victory from this strategy.

McAuliffe has never held public office and has no record upon which to draw a legislative history and see just how committed he is to advancing union special interests. Over the course of his campaign, the new governor-elect refused to acknowledge support for “Right to Work,” the right for union members to vote by secret ballot, or any law that’s not supported by Big Labor. Instead, he’s used their millions to get elected – something neither he nor Big Labor will forget about when future executive decisions are at hand in the state. Spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, Fred Wszolek remarked on McAuliffe stating, “No one has been a better bag man for union money than Terry McAuliffe…[h]e’s going to bide his time, but he’ll eventually hand the keys to the capital to unions. Virginia doesn’t know what it’s getting here.”

By refusing to back Virginia’s successful labor reforms of the past, McAuliffe is the advocate labor unions desperately wanted when they decided to put millions on the line for this campaign. How exactly he’ll repay his union benefactors remains to be seen.

Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government

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