Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, hyper-partisan liberal Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer have sought to reverse the decision's removal of limits on corporate spending in politics. Schumer would thus deny freedom of political speech to millions of Americans who choose to speak collectively as corporate shareholders. He claims only to be worried about the allegedly corrupting influence of corporate money on politics. Funny, Schumer never talks about the corrupting influence of union money on politics, which is anything but inconsequential.
As the Weekly Standard's Mark Hemingway pointed out recently, "since 1989, 12 of the top 20 donors to political campaigns have been unions. Unions spent over $400 million on elections in 2008, and nearly every penny went to Democrats. They spent over $200 million in 2010, and the single largest donor in that election was the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which spent $87.5 million. AFSCME has already pledged $100 million for the upcoming election."
Here's something else folks like Schumer never talk about: Citizens United also ended a long-standing ban that prevented union members from canvassing non-members during elections campaigns. To grasp just how important that change is, consider that Big Labor has for decades provided Democrats with the biggest political army in the country, sending an estimated 250,000 volunteers to get out the votes of union households.
Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, hordes of union organizers can invade front porches in neighborhoods across America. The faces of some of these activists might even be familiar to television viewers who saw video of union goons protesting on the front lawns of private citizens who think differently than they do about politics and economics.
Thus, it is hard to understand why President Obama's appointees at the National Labor Relations Board insist on acting as if Big Labor needs more help from the federal government. The latest example is NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce's decision to try again to force non-unionized employers to give union bosses the home telephone numbers and personal email addresses of all their employees. The board dropped the idea last year after loud protests, but Pearce recently told the AP that he wants a "new round of regulations in place by the end of the year" that would include the contact information.
Predictably, protests are resuming. The Workforce Fairness Institute's Fred Wszolek, for example, reminded Pearce in a March 19 letter that "union elections are often contentious. Workers want the right to have their private space respected and leave the debate over unionization to the workplace. The last thing most workers want is workplace controversy following them home and literally landing on their doorstep."
Similarly, since nobody likes those pesky evening telephone sales pitches from telemarketers, the federal government created a "no-call" list on which millions of Americans have signed their names. Similar thinking was behind the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act approved earlier this year by the House of Representatives. That bill guarantees employees the right to keep their contact information private. The Senate should also pass this bill and the president should sign it. Maybe then Pearce and the rest of the NLRB will get a hint.