Ex-GOP Congressman Still Shills For Big Labor

(Click here to download the May 2014 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter)

Right to Work Electoral Wins Give the Lie to Steve LaTourette

Two decades ago, when he defeated Big Labor Democratic incumbent Eric Fingerhut to capture a U.S. House seat representing a northeastern Ohio district, GOP politician Steve LaTourette pledged to freedom-loving citizens in the Buckeye State that he would support a national Right to Work law.

mainstreet_partnershipRunning for reelection successfully two years later, Mr. LaTourette explicitly promised not just to support, but also to cosponsor and seek roll-call votes on federal forced-dues repeal.

After a few years in Congress, however, Mr. LaTourette threw his campaign promises down the memory hole and became one of Big Labor’s most obsequious appeasers in the Republican Party.

And Mr. LaTourette’s unabashed advocacy of union bosses’ monopolistic special privileges became more and more valuable to them as he gained seniority on Capitol Hill.

For example, in May 2011, during Mr. LaTourette’s last House term, pro-Right to Work members of the House Appropriations Committee attached an amendment to a spending bill that would have prohibited union-only “project labor agreements” (PLAs) on military, VA, and other construction funded through the measure.

On the House floor the following month, Mr. LaTourette sponsored an amendment to strip the pro-Right to Work provision from the spending bill (H.R.2055).

On June 13, 2011, fewer than 12% of the 229 Republicans present and voting on the anti-Right to Work, pro-PLA LaTourette amendment sided with Big Labor. But along with 177 pro-coercion Democrats’ votes that was enough for union lobbyists to grab a 204-203 victory.

So-Called ‘Defending Main Street’ SuperPAC a Front Operation For Union Barons

In late July 2012, Mr. LaTourette suddenly announced he would not seek reelection to his seat, which by then had expanded southward to include all of Geauga County and northern parts of Trumbull and Portage Counties. Ohio GOP officials were left in the lurch, though they ultimately managed to hold the seat.

Meanwhile, Mr. LaTourette wasted no time in leveraging his congressional track record as one of Big Labor’s most predictable Republican allies to launch what is undoubtedly a lucrative lobbying business.

He now heads up the so-called “Main Street Partnership” (MSP), which, as pundit Michelle Malkin skeptically observed in a column published early this year, “claims to represent ‘thoughtful,’ ‘pragmatic’ ‘common sense’ and ‘centrist’ Republican leadership.”

But the reality behind the MSP’s blandly pleasant words is apparent from a Cleveland Plain Dealer analysis of the funding sources of an MSP satellite personally founded by Mr. LaTourette that is known as the “Defending Main Street SuperPAC.”

As Plain Dealer D.C. reporter Sabrina Eaton wrote on April 11, records uncovered by her newspaper show that in 2013 the LaTourette SuperPAC raked in $250,000 apiece from bosses of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and from “Working for Working Americans,” a construction union SuperPAC.

Ms. Eaton added that the LaTourette SuperPAC had also gratefully accepted $150,000 from Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) bosses and $100,000 from a LIUNA satellite known as the “Laborers’ League Political Education Fund.”

Aims to Maintain, Expand Clout of Anti-Right to Work Congressional GOP

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, reasoned:

“LIUNA, IUOE and other Big Labor bosses who deploy the overwhelming majority of their reported and unreported political contributions to help union-label Democratic candidates aren’t shoveling all that money into the LaTourette Super PAC because they’ve suddenly changed their political stripes.

“The union chieftains’ obvious goal here is to shield anti-Right to Work Republican members of Congress from the wrath of GOP primary voters, who oppose compulsory unionism even more lopsidedly than does the public as a whole.”

In fact, as this edition of the National Right to Work Newsletter goes to press, the LaTourette SuperPAC has already reportedly spent $200,000 to aid the re-election campaign of Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson.

Like Mr. LaTourette, Mr. Simpson pledged to support a national Right to Work law when he first ran for Congress. And also like Mr. LaTourette, Mr. Simpson welched on this promise after he evidently decided he could do so safely.

In the GOP primary scheduled for May 20, Mr. Simpson faces a potentially difficult race against attorney Bryan Smith.

Grassroots Committee activists are taking the opportunity to convince Mr. Simpson to at last make good on his years-old vow to cosponsor forced-dues repeal. In response to citizens’ requests, Mr. Smith has already pledged to support Right to Work if elected.

Do Big Labor Appeasers Have the Ear of Key House Republican Leaders?

Since, despite all the political machinations of Steve LaTourette and his ilk, support for Right to Work within the House and Senate GOP caucuses has steadily grown over the past two decades, some Newsletter readers may wonder if the various “Main Street” fronts for Big Labor constitute a serious danger.

Unfortunately, if recent news reports are correct in stating that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attended the MSP’s annual gathering on Florida’s picturesque Amelia Island on Palm Sunday weekend, it seems imprudent to dismiss this group as marginal.

“For decades, Republican politicians inside the D.C. Beltway have been strangely susceptible to the siren song of forced-unionism appeasement,” said Mr. Mix.

“One of the most remarkable illustrations of what I’m talking about dates back to 1986, when Idahoans were just a few days away from defeating a Big Labor scheme to overturn the Gem State’s then-fledgling Right to Work law in a 54%-46% statewide ballot.

“In the October 28, 1986, edition of the Wall Street Journal, then senior Idaho U.S. Sen. Jim McClure, a Republican who has since passed away, was quoted as saying, with regard to Right to Work:

“‘I’ve urged Republicans not to raise the issue for years.

“‘I think it’s a bad political issue for us and it’s a real motivational issue for union people.’

“What actually happened is that the Right to Work issue carried Idaho’s staunchly anti-forced unionism junior U.S. Sen. Steve Symms [R] to reelection in a very difficult race. Meanwhle, Idaho’s Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, David Leroy, tried to distance himself from Right to Work, and lost.

“After the 1986 elections were over, Mr. McClure was perceptive and gracious enough to admit he had been dead wrong. But in Washington D.C.,  establishment Republicans apparently learned nothing, and it seems most never will.”

Big Labor Threats to Punish Right to Work Allies Repeatedly Prove to Be Empty

That there is still no meaningful foundation for claims by Steve LaTourette and other Big Labor shills that opposition to forced unionism is somehow politically detrimental was very evident in the 2012 election cycle.

Early that year, the GOP-controlled Indiana House and Senate infuriated the union brass by passing the 23rd state Right to Work law.

In a January 31 newspaper interview, national AFL-CIO czar Richard Trumka vowed that elected officials and candidates who had supported Right to Work would “pay a price at the polls.”

In reality, five pro-Right to Work Republicans targeted by the union brass in primaries that spring were all re-elected. Two anti-Right to Work candidates seeking GOP nominations for “open” House seats were thrashed at the polls.

In the fall 2012 elections, the GOP state Senate and state House majorities in Indiana both expanded, and by a full nine seats in the case of the House.

“National Right to Work members would prefer, of course, to have principled allies in both major parties in Congress, but as long as Big Labor retains its current near-absolute stranglehold over the national Democratic Party, we will take support from the elected officials who offer it,” said Mr. Mix.

“History shows again and again that politicians help themselves by unabashedly supporting Right to Work. And GOP leaders like Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy will surely hurt themselves most of all if they ignore the lessons of history.”