Labor Watch

Labor Unions Routed (Mostly) …but not everywhere, as unions see some glimmers of hope for better days

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Overall, 2014 was a bad year for unions, at least in terms of political power. They lost most of their highest-priority races, including gubernatorial races in Wisconsin and Michigan and the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky. But not everything went wrong for unions in this year’s elections, with key victories in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, and in referenda on the “minimum wage.”

Voters nationwide gave Republicans an across-the-board boost in the midterm elections in November. Pundits and politicians have concluded that it was also one of the most disastrous routs in memory for one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable allies: organized labor.

Republicans captured the U.S. Senate with their largest majority in two decades—54 seats, to 46 for Democrats (counting two independents who caucus with Democrats). In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans now hold the most seats since 1928 (247, to 188 for Democrats). As a result, the ranks of union allies in Congress have been sorely diminished.

To put the House of Representatives election in perspective, keep in mind that Democrats held 292 seats after the 1976 election. Since then, they have lost almost 36 percent of their seats. In addition, labor-backed Democrats lost races for governor in such historically union-friendly states as Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. These defeats for organized labor for governorships were coupled with setbacks at the state legislative level that is unprecedented in modern times.

In Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker won the governorship over Democratic nominee and State Attorney General Martha Coakley. [Click HERE for the rest of the story]

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