Josh Kraushaar on the Right-to-Work Fight in Michigan

Josh Kraushaar of National Journal explains why 2013 and 2014 are likely to prove important for the organized labor movement:

Labor is confronting the same challenges as Republicans—its core voters are aging and its mission for much of the 20th century doesn’t match the necessities of a changing America. The new economy, filled with workers regularly switching jobs, isn’t the same as a generation ago, when most employees stuck with the same firm for life and negotiated benefits accordingly. Labor badly needs a retooling, to focus as much toward building worker-education programs to train employees for service-sector jobs as on fighting laws designed to crack down on their political power, which has been declining without any external involvement. Historian Walter Russell Mead argues that we’re undergoing a sea change in American life, the demise of what he calls the blue economic model: “The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the 60 years after the New Deal, don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them.”

One glaring irony about the 2012 presidential election is that unions were able to provide a bulwark of support to President Obama in many battleground states, even as their numbers dwindled sharply. In Ohio, union households made up only 22 percent of the electorate, down 6 points since 2008. In Michigan, labor households made up just 28 percent of the electorate, a steep drop from 34 percent four years earlier. Even outside the Rust Belt in Nevada, the labor proportion of the vote dropped from 23 percent to 16 percent.

These upcoming gubernatorial races will be a test for how much influence labor can still muster. [Emphasis added]

Kraushaar goes on to describe a number of forthcoming gubernatorial races in which labor unions will make a concerted effort to defeat controversial conservatives, many of whom have tried to curb union influence over policymaking. Much will depend on the outcome of these races.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Religion

Billy Graham: Neither Prophet nor Theologian

Asked in 1972 if he believed in miracles, Billy Graham answered: Yes, Jesus performed some and there are many "miracles around us today, including television and airplanes." Graham was no theologian. Neither was he a prophet. Jesus said "a prophet hath no honor in his own country." Prophets take adversarial ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More