While Congressional Democrats may be able to agree on a tax-and-spend “reconciliation” bill, supporters of the party are disappointed that President Joe Biden’s narrow election and the narrow Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have not successfully recreated the liberal policy victories of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson and their massive congressional blocs from the New Deal and Great Society eras. But what if the self-described “pro-democracy” movement could find one weird trick to get around the people’s elected representatives?
A Familiar Plan
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, an erstwhile conservative who has since become a periodic source of content for White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain to share on Twitter, has an idea. It should sound familiar to regular readers of Labor Watch:
Democrats in the Senate, hamstrung by the filibuster, have failed to pass protections for voting and abortion rights, universal prekindergarten, subsidies for child care and paid sick leave, to name a few widely popular policy items. While Democrats will continue to push for their legislative goals, many of these objectives can be obtained incrementally through a movement with considerable momentum: union organizing.
Readers may know this practice of Big Labor providing political muscle for the broader left-wing agenda including abortion access by the name “social justice unionism.” Sure enough, Rubin has eyes on Big Labor providing the Left with wins outside the electoral process on far more than economic matters:
They can also make demands well beyond traditional worker benefits. For example, they can seek requirements to include a voter registration form with new employee paperwork and paid time off to vote. They can also bargain with companies to allow use of their facilities as polling places. In other words, they can help expand access to voting even when Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are trying to do the opposite.
Unions also can make proposals for paid time off and reimbursement if an employee needs to go out of state for an abortion. The cost and inconvenience of such absences might make businesses somewhat more inclined to support candidates who support in-state abortion care.
More Correct Than Some Think
Rubin’s ideological journey from party-line cheerleader of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to conservative critic of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election to a commentator indistinguishable from a party-line Democrat has led commentators to often make Rubin a figure of jokes and hilarity. But in identifying Big Labor as a loyal servant of the broader left-wing agenda, Rubin is closer to describing reality than those on the right who hope unions would protect conservative workers facing a possible “requirement that the workers embrace management’s latest ‘woke’ human resources fad.”
As Rubin clearly sees, Big Labor (and, I would argue, “little labor” as well) serves the interest of the broad left-progressive movement. Those who would lead a “new right” should see that clearly as well.