Politics & Policy

Union Stooge

Specter takes union-boss direction well.

As Pennsylvania’s white-hot GOP Senate primary nears the finish line, the National Right to Work Committee today will make a final effort to inform voters that Rep. Pat Toomey outpaces Senator Arlen Specter by three or four lengths on compulsory unionism, union violence, and related matters of concern to wage earners.

”Starting Monday morning, we will contact by phone NRTW members in Pennsylvania and possibly other identified supporters to remind them of the positions of the candidates on right-to-work-related issues,” says NRTW vice president Stefan Gleason. The group will try to reach out and touch at least 65,000 people.

Each of NRTW’s owned and operated telemarketing facilities can dial up to 9,000 phone calls per hour and is manned by up to 60 live operators,” Gleason says. “The main criterion for activating our membership is the fact that there is a clear distinction on the issues between the candidates. And the legislative program has a lot to gain or lose depending on the result. And obviously that is the case here.”

The supply-side-oriented, fiscally responsible Toomey already contrasts dramatically with Specter, the tax-hiking free spender who has been in the Senate since 1981. When it comes to keeping workers free from union coercion, Toomey and Specter, not surprisingly, see things very differently.

“In six years as a U.S. congressman, Pat Toomey never has let America’s workers down on compulsory unionism,” says Doug Stafford, also an NRTW vice president. “Pat Toomey has a long record of support for right to work and opposition to forced unionism. He pledged to continue that if he is elected as the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and pledged 100 percent opposition to forced unionism in his candidate’s survey.”

Over the last six weeks, the Springfield, Virginia-based organization has sent four mailings to its Pennsylvania members asking them to encourage Toomey and Specter to respond to a questionnaire on compulsory union membership, privileges for union bosses, federal tolerance for strike-related violence, and similar topics. Toomey replied and proved solidly behind the rights of workers to do their jobs without having to join or be intimidated by labor groups.

As for Specter, Stafford says, “Through the whole series of letters, he refused to repudiate his record of support for forced unionism. He even tried to hide his views from the people of Pennsylvania by not answering the survey at all. Unfortunately for him, his record speaks for itself.”

And what a record it is! NRTW’s August 2002 newsletter highlighted Specter’s chores as errand boy to Big Labor:

‐Specter was one of only four GOP senators to help 50 Democrats and independent James Jeffords of Vermont kill an amendment by Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell to require union presidents and secretary-treasurers to certify the accuracy of their financial statements. The July 2002 measure also would have made unions audit their financial-disclosure reports using the same guidelines that apply to publicly traded corporations.

‐In 2001, Specter was one of the few Republicans to support a proposal by then-Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D., S.D.) to impose “exclusive” or monopoly collective bargaining on state and local firefighters and cops across America.

‐In 1994 and 1992, Specter voted for Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy’s so-called Pushbutton Strike Bill that essentially would have forced many companies to choose between accepting union demands during strikes or shutting their doors. Filibusters by pro-right-to-work senators killed Kennedy’s bill both times. In 1994, Specter was one of only three GOP senators to embrace Kennedy’s legislation.

‐In 1986, Specter helped stop S. 1774, a bill that would have closed the stranger-than-fiction legal loophole that still exempts union violence from prosecution under the federal Hobbs Act, so long as the thuggery advances “legitimate union objectives.” Specter still opposes efforts to end Washington’s wink-and-nod attitude on strike-related union mayhem. If he were reelected and rose to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, such brutality likely would continue to be tolerated by federal prosecutors.

These and many other pro-union votes have helped Specter earn a 62-percent lifetime favorable rating from the AFL-CIO. Toomey, hewing to his free-market principles, scores a nine-percent lifetime rating.

These numbers are doubly significant:

First, while Toomey’s detractors–including Pennsylvania’s other GOP senator, Rick Santorum–claim that the Allentown congressman is too conservative to win statewide, Keystone State voters keep reelecting Santorum despite his lifetime AFL-CIO rating of 12 percent. This score is not far off the 9-percent mark set by the “unelectable” Toomey, who was, in fact, re-elected in November 2000, even as Al Gore beat G.W. Bush in Toomey’s House district.

Second, Specter comfortably wins the dubious honor of being the AFL-CIO’s favorite Senate Republican. Specter votes with the AFL-CIO far more frequently than do other moderate to liberal Republicans. Rhode Island’s barely-Republican Lincoln Chafee has a 47 percent lifetime favorable AFL-CIO rating. The numbers for other RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) are revealing: Maine’s Olympia Snowe: 32; Maine’s Susan Collins: 23; Ohio’s George Voinovich: 21; New Mexico’s Pete Domenici: 20. Even Vermont’s Jeffords, the backstabber whose 2001 departure from the GOP let Democrats capture the previously split Senate, has a lifetime AFL-CIO rating of 50.

Simply put: James Jeffords just says “no” to the AFL-CIO half the time. Arlen Specter cannot perform even to that incredibly shabby standard. Instead, Specter has cast nearly two thirds of his votes the way America’s biggest union confederation wants. How precisely does this serve the Republican party or the republic?

Specter’s campaign website is rather mum about his coziness with unions. It does carry an August 22 article from the Erie Times in which Specter writes: “Long-term economic growth with more good jobs requires reducing and ultimately eliminating the deficit and changes in our tax policy.” His message on “Jobs and Growth” ignores compulsory unionism, forced collection of union dues, and similar themes.

Toomey’s website, conveniently lists the unions that have endorsed Specter. They include:

AFL-CIO

AFSCME: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

Airline Pilots Union

American Federal Government Employees Union

American Federation of Teachers

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers

Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen

Carpenters Union

International Bricklayers

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

International Longshoreman

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

Ironworkers

Laborer’s International

Maritime Officers AFL-CIO

National Education Association Fund

Operating Engineers Union

Seafarers International Union

Service Employees International Union

Teamsters

United Association of Steam and Pipefitters

United Food and Commercial Workers

United Mine Workers

UNITE: Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees

Sadly for Specter, Tuesday’s vote is open only to GOP voters. So, it is unlikely that many of his Democratic-leaning union pals will cast ballots for him, even though Richard Scardelletti of the pro-John Kerry Transportation Communications International Union encouraged his 3,800 members in Pennsylvania to reregister Republican, vote Specter, then “switch right back after the primary.”

Among 431 Republicans, meanwhile, an April 12-18 Quinnipiac University poll found Specter scoring 49 percent of likely voters with 44 percent siding with Toomey. A 4.7 percent margin of error reveals a statistical dead heat. Specter’s 40-percent approval rating among Republicans–despite four terms in the Senate, President Bush’s endorsement, and a three-to-one spending advantage–is anemic.

Tomorrow, Great Right Hope just might nose ahead of Union Stooge in a photo finish.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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