Big Labor Spends Nearly $2 Billion to Slow Right to Work Progress
Despite facing a challenging political climate in November’s elections, the Right to Work movement was able to make real progress in key areas even as it defended gains in others.
At the federal level, the most significant gain for Right to Work advocates this fall was their expansion of Senate support for ending pro-forced unionism legislative and judicial power grabs.
(See page six of this Newsletter edition for an account of Right to Work allies’ electoral accomplishments at the state level.)
Over the course of Big Labor ex-President Barack Obama’s time in office, the federal judiciary, with the important exception of the U.S. Supreme Court, grew more and more protective of forced unionism.
Obama Judicial Appointees Have Established an Alarming Pattern
And taken as a group, the 46 Obama appellate court nominees who were confirmed by the Senate have established an unmistakable and alarming pattern of “reinterpreting” federal labor laws.
Time and again, they have undermined court precedents and statutes that protect, at least to a limited degree, employees’ freedom to affiliate with a union.
An egregious case in point is the October 2017 ruling by two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Riffey v. Rauner.
In the decision, Judges Diane Wood (who was appointed chief judge of the Seventh Circuit by Mr. Obama in 2013) and David Frank Hamilton (appointed by Mr. Obama in 2009) found that Big Labor Illinois politicians and union officials had not violated the constitutional rights of in-home care providers.
Judges Wood and Hamilton claimed that the government does not inflict a First Amendment injury on such individuals when it forces them to subsidize Organized Labor speech without their prior consent.
They reached this conclusion even though the U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled in its 2014 Harris decision, argued and won by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, that forcing homecare providers to pay for union-boss advocacy is unconstitutional.
National Right to Work Committee and Foundation President Mark Mix commented:
“The unfortunate 2017 ruling in Riffey v. Rauner illustrates the kind of uphill battle Americans whose rights are trampled by Big Labor will have to fight to obtain justice until the composition of the federal appellate judiciary changes dramatically.”
Activist Anti-Right to Work Decisions ‘Stand Despite Their Defective Reasoning’
“At the end of last June, Foundation attorneys convinced the Supreme Court to invalidate the Riffey opinion and send the case back to the Seventh Circuit,” Mr. Mix continued.
“Unfortunately, in early December Judges Wood and Hamilton reaffirmed their earlier anti-Right to Work ruling.
“Foundation attorneys will challenge this decision. But the fact is, the High Court only agrees to hear or remand a small fraction of the appeal petitions it receives. That’s why activist anti-Right to Work decisions often stand despite their defective reasoning.”
Mr. Mix added that, in the wake of the 2018 elections, Right to Work supporters do have reason to hope that the pro-union monopoly bias of appellate courts like the Seventh Circuit could diminish over the next few years. He explained:
“No one knows what will happen next, but President Trump’s judicial nominees over the course of his first two years in office have overwhelmingly been, based on what we know of them, the kind of jurist who will give a fair hearing to workers who have a disagreement with Big Labor bosses.”
Four-Seat Senate Gain For Right to Work Means Judicial Progress Can Continue
As this edition of the National Right to Work Newsletter went to press in early December, 29 of Mr. Trump’s appellate court nominees had been confirmed by the Senate.
But if Big Labor Democrats had taken operational control over the Senate last fall, as union political operatives publicly predicted they would, hopes of further reducing judicial bias against the individual employee’s Right to Work would have been severely undermined, if not dashed altogether.
“Time and again, pro-forced unionism senators have voted in lockstep against Trump judicial nominees who they suspected would uphold statutory and constitutional protections for American employees who do not wish to join or bankroll a union,” recalled Mr. Mix.
“But for the next two years, at least, it won’t be easy for Big Labor to block such nominees in the Senate.”
On November 6, citizens for whom the Right to Work is key helped oust Big Labor Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.). All four are being replaced by challengers who made campaign pledges to support Right to Work 100% if elected.
Moreover, in Tennessee, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a sponsor of the House version of the National Right to Work Act who has pledged to continue opposing forced unionism across the board in the Senate, was elected to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker, a fence sitter on federal Right to Work protections.
Nevada was the only state in which union kingpins succeeded in replacing a Right to Work Senate supporter with one of their puppets.
The net four-seat gain will put Senate support for federal forced-dues repeal at an all-time high this year.
Even with an estimated total of nearly $2 billion in mostly forced-dues money at its disposal, the union machine utterly failed to generate a “wave” for its favored Senate candidates.
But in House contests, lavishly funded union electioning operatives dealt Republican politicians their worst defeat in more than four decades.
Republican Union-Boss Appeasers Fared Worse as a Group
The net Democrat gain of 40 House seats was more than sufficient to switch over partisan control of the chamber and install dyed-in-the-wool forced-unionism proponent Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as House speaker for at least the next two years.
“While Big Labor successfully targeted a very small number of staunchly pro-Right to Work GOP congressmen, it picked off more forced-unionism appeasers, such as six-term Congressman Pete Roskam [Ill.] and five-termer Leonard Lance [N.J.],” noted Mr. Mix.
“That’s why, despite the overall results, the incoming House potentially has, based on members’ campaign pledges and past records combined, a record number of sponsors of national Right to Work legislation in it!
“As speaker, Nancy Pelosi can be expected to advance a virulently anti-Right to Work agenda in the months ahead.
“But Right to Work leaders are cautiously optimistic we will be able to block all such power grabs through grass-roots mobilization in the Senate.”