GOP’s ‘Dangerous Liaison’ With Union Bigwigs

FRIENDS OF JOSH HAWLEY’S FRIENDS? In April, Chicago Teamster bosses hosted a pro-Iranian “Death to America” seminar. (Credit: The Free Press)

Hawley Pandering a Bad Example For Other Republican Politicians

Six years ago this November, GOP challenger Josh Hawley knocked off incumbent Missouri Democrat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, an unabashed proponent of forced unionism, by a solid 51.4% to 45.6% margin.

Mr. Hawley captured what was then regarded as a “swing state” Senate seat, in a year that was generally not a good one for his party, after he had returned his National Right to Work Committee candidate survey, pledging 100% opposition to Big Labor special privileges.

Unfortunately, practically from the day he took office in January 2019, Mr. Hawley has gone out of his way to distance himself from his pro-Right to Work campaign pledges and win over the affections of the very union bosses who had gone all out to beat him at the polls.

Long Known For Corruption, Teamster Dons Increasingly Cozy With Radicalism

Rather than keep the pro-Right to Work promises he made to freedom-loving Missourians in 2018, Josh Hawley has opted to cravenly court the support of employee-coercing, anti-free market union bosses like Sean O’Brien. (Credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Most regrettably of all, last fall, in a radio interview broadcast by Joplin’s KZRG, Mr. Hawley explicitly repudiated his past support for repealing the current forced-dues provisions in federal law, claiming that he doesn’t want to “impose Right to Work on anybody.” But he evidently doesn’t mind “imposing” compulsory dues on workers in Missouri and across the U.S.!

To underscore his adopted pro-employee-coercion stance, over the past year Mr. Hawley has repeatedly schmoozed with striking militants for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), now ruled by Sean O’Brien. 

The history of the IBT brass isn’t pretty. As many Americans still recall, Teamster corruption during the 1950s was so bad that it led to the union’s expulsion from the AFL-CIO. Mob-related corruption involving Teamster pension funds led to four decades of federal oversight that ended only last year.

It is even commonly believed that mobsters who had at one time been allied with ex-Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa are the culprits behind his still-unsolved kidnapping and murder in 1975. 

Current President O’Brien likes to claim things have changed, but have they really? Before his rise to national prominence, Mr. O’Brien ran the Teamster local in Boston that was responsible for a 2014 assault on the crew and destruction of the property of the Top Chef television show, which was shooting an episode in a neighboring community.

To avoid testifying at the trial concerning his knowledge about the attack, Mr. O’Brien invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Despite clear evidence of guilt, four Teamster militants who participated were acquitted. 

Union attorneys successfully invoked the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Enmons decision, which exempts union thugs from prosecution for extortionate violence and vandalism if it furthers the union’s institutional economic interests.

More recently, Teamster bosses have become cozy with unsavory elements in American society of an altogether different sort. 

Just this April, Teamster bigwigs in Chicago played host to a pro-Iranian, anti-American seminar and rally, during which participants chanted “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” in Farsi (AKA Persian), Iran’s national language.

Before They Contribute Real Money, Union Bosses Demand Total Political Subservience

Apparently unconcerned by Teamster lawlessness or Teamster friendliness with America haters, Mr. Hawley proudly accepted $5,000 from the IBT Political Action Committee for his re-election campaign this spring. 

But the senator would be foolish to count on getting much more cash or “in-kind” campaign support from Organized Labor, if he gets any at all.

To garner substantial union-boss support, Mr. Hawley would surely be required, as Jim Kabell, former president of Teamsters Conference of Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska, has explained, to transform himself into a full-fledged, unabashed supporter of expanding Big Labor’s monopoly privileges. 

Nothing short of support for the freedom-crushing PRO Act, a smorgasbord of special favors to union kingpins that includes effective repeal of every state Right to Work law now on the books, would suffice to get Mr. Hawley real money from union bigwigs. 

And by acquiescing to such a demand, Mr. Hawley would surely alienate his own political base in Missouri on a career-ending scale.

Union Bosses Never Miss Chance to Stab Republicans In Back if Opportunity Arises

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented: 

“Josh Hawley and other Republican candidates should look at myriad examples of what happens when their precursors have played footsie with the union bosses. It never ends well.

“Take the significant number of Republicans in southeastern Pennsylvania holding local, state, and federal offices who for years catered to virtually every expressed whim of the union brass in their jurisdictions.

“This obsequious behavior was ‘rewarded’ in 2018, when despite putative endorsements by these same union bosses, the unions they led proceeded to donate hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to super PACs working against Republican ‘friends’ of Big Labor.

“As a result, up and down the ballot there are today almost no remaining Republicans in suburban Philadelphia.

“In Missouri, Josh Hawley’s GOP predecessor Sen. John Ashcroft voted against the National Right to Work Act in 1996, going against promises he had made to National Right to Work.

“Mr. Ashcroft’s attempt to placate Big Labor was ‘rewarded’ with its energetic and ultimately successful effort to defeat him when he ran for re-election in 2000.”

Republicans Running in 2024 Should Ignore Big Labor’s Siren Song

Union-label Democrat President Joe Biden’s failures have alienated Missourians so profoundly that Mr. Hawley is betting he can get reelected this year no matter what he does, but GOP candidates in races that are likely to be close would be very foolish to emulate his political pandering to Big Labor.

In Ohio, for example, Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has held various public offices for 50 years and has made his relentless support for compulsory unionism a point of pride. 

Republican nominee Bernie Moreno would do well to remember there is no way he can compete with Mr. Brown in kowtowing to the union bosses, so he might as well side unambiguously with the vast majority of Ohioans who believe unionism should be voluntary.

The same can be said of Republican Tim Sheehy, the frontrunner for his party’s U.S. Senate nomination in Montana. Incumbent John Tester has, over his nearly two decades in the Senate, cultivated a faux-populist image that places his fealty to the union brass at the heart of it.

‘Vacillating on Right to Work Is Electoral Poison’

Meanwhile, Republican Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania, who is trying to unseat Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, should recall how Republican Rick Santorum, who had voted against the National Right to Work Act, lost to Mr. Casey in 2006.

Mr. Mix concluded: 

“The political lesson to be learned is simple: Vacillating on Right to Work is electoral poison. 

Big Labor may decide, for strategic reasons, to throw a bone to a union boss-appeasing Republican like Josh Hawley if that Republican is bound to win that year anyway.

“But for a GOP candidate who is running in a genuinely competitive race, no amount of placation of Big Labor will ever be enough. Supporting worker freedom consistently pays off in the end, and all candidates should know that as we head to Election Day this November.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

To support our cause and help end forced unionism, go here to donate.

NRTW Home » News » GOP’s ‘Dangerous Liaison’ With Union Bigwigs