Note to Unions: This Is Not How You Build a Coalition

The old saw that ‘we hang together or we get hung separately‘ is a perfect description of how the left has disintegrated into irrelevance. Too often, groups will focus on modest gains for their own narrow constituency, while selling out other allies. Over the long term, each component of the coalition is so weakened, making it impossible to have any influence. Case in point: union support for the Keystone XL pipeline (which will ship oil extracted from tar sands in Canada). John Aravosis explains:

But I’d like to highlight the environment vs. “jobs” controversy, and the union’s role in this progressive-coalition-killing discussion:

But the project’s advocates — including United Association general president William Hite, whose union represents plumbers and pipefitters in North America — said it would employ thousands of Americans while supplying oil from a close ally. “It’s a job engine for the country at a time when we need the jobs, and until we do something else, we need the oil,” Hite said in an interview. “I don’t see how we can turn it down.”

Ah, unions. Cruickshank’s rule: No one in a coalition takes a backward step to advance another member’s cause. And never forget; the AFL-CIO was the prime enabler of Reagan’s takedown of the Air Traffic Controllers union.
How can we help you, Mr Union-collaborator-in-your-own-destruction, when you won’t begin to help yourselves? I mean that seriously.

While a fair number of the protestors will still support unions in principle, they will remember this. And when unions need non-union left wing support, it won’t be very strong, it will be just going through the motions. Republicans and their allies get this, while career Democrats and their allied organizations don’t (NARAL is a classic example of this).

Keep in mind, a fair number of unions do the right thing. Nurses unions have supported a wide array of liberal causes (and are very popular as a result).

Imagine if the plumbers and pipefitters had opposed this–even though it would come at a cost to them. Either the Obama administration would back down, strengthening their natural allies, or, it would go ahead anyway. In the latter case, the jobs would still be there, but unions would be viewed as staunch allies by those on the left who aren’t unionized. And please don’t play the ‘long run’ game card. Unions can’t think that, in return for collaborating with the administration, that they’ll receive action on card check legislation or elimination of Taft-Hartley. There is no long run game without a broad coalition.

Stupid and short-sighted.

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1 Response to Note to Unions: This Is Not How You Build a Coalition

  1. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

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