Yesterday’s election was a “resounding victory for progressive ideals,” as “progressives triumphed in all regions of the country and won overwhelming support from individuals of all different backgrounds.” Already, though, the prospect of progressive policies being enacted has conservatives sounding the alarm.
At the forefront of the conservative outcry is the notion that American business will suffer under a progressive administration and Congress, particularly due to pro-union measures. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
What appears to worry business interests most is the possibility that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House will shift the balance of power between employers and unions back in favor of unions, after two decades or more in which unions have been in retreat.
Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the Heritage Foundation, announced in the Washington Times that the election of Barack Obama “tilts the playing field to the left” on “a range of issues making it easier for labor to unionize businesses and collect dues, [and in favor of] automatic arbitration favoring unions.”
Even before election day, conservatives were warning that a progressive Congress would pass the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize. Yesterday, though, was not only a repudiation of the conservative agenda, but also a denunciation of anti-union initiatives. For instance, “Colorado voters decided against Amendment 47, a contentious ‘right-to-work’ measure that sought to restrict the way unions organized in the state.”
A shift in power back toward unions will simply start to reverse eight years of conservative, pro-corporate rule. In 2007, top business executives earned “344 times the salary of the average American worker.” Between 1980 and 2005 – as unionization rates plummeted – CEO pay rose. General wages were 0.3% lower in June 2008 than they were in March 2001.
On average, union workers make 30 percent more in wages than non-union workers, and are more likely to have health insurance. 72 percent of union workers have a guaranteed, defined pension, “compared to only 15% of nonunion workers.”
Unions were indeed “in retreat” while conservatism ruled. Ending that retreat could lead to a better life for many of America’s workers.