The parallels of Big Labor's collapse with the fall of Imperial Germany continue to grow.
Readers will recall how I likened Big Labor's recall effort in Wisconsin and ballot initiative in Michigan to the Kaiserschlacht of the spring of 1918 – Germany's last desperate offensive to win the war before American forces arrived.
Just as the Kaiserschlacht failed, so both of these initiatives collapsed – leaving Big Labor that much weaker. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker actually increased his vote percentage and in the process became a national figure within the Republican Party. In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder signed Right to Work legislation, essentially destroying the citadel of unionism.
In the wake of Germany's defeat, the famous discipline of its armies began to crack. Hammered by Allied counteroffensives, the Germans fell back.
On August 8, 1918, the British drove deep into the German lines near Amiens, capturing thousands of prisoners. It was, in the words of German Field Marshall Erich Ludendorff, “the Black Day of the German Army,” the moment when the reality of defeat set in.
The Black Day of Big Labor was Friday, Feb. 14 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Given the losses over the previous years and the waning power of the post-bailout Big Three, it was essential for the UAW to organize a foreign-owned plant in Right to Work territory. The Volkswagen facility seemed ideal – VW management are used to dealing with unions in Germany and supported the move. With the company offering no resistance, the all-out organizing effort seemed certain to succeed.
The workers had other ideas.
Part of the problem is that the union label itself now has a negative connotation. It has been a long time since Big Labor's primary concern was worker well-being. As a member of the Coalition of the Left, they offer de facto support to all of the divisive polities that socially conservative blue collar workers find so obnoxious. The workers knew they were already well-off and that their wages were above the industry average.
At the same time they knew their dues would go to subsidize the alphabet soup of Progressive causes, from taxpayer-funded abortion to gun control.
Once upon a time, unions acted a social restraint to the Leftist tendencies of the Democrat coalition, but those days are long gone. A union card is now effectively indistinguishable from a membership in Planned Parenthood, Gun Control Inc. or Emily's List.
Unions are nothing more than labor cartels, an attempt to create a monopoly of one of the factors of production. In a situation where production is also focused in a cartel, unions make a certain amount of sense.
But the production cartels are collapsing and Big Business is reduced to rent-seeking and bailouts. Advances in technology, communication and the integration of global trade no longer favors monolithic holding companies. Unions are a obsolete as a rotary-dial phone.
These trends were apparent for years, but the election of Barack Obama promised one last opportunity to rewrite the rulebook in the unions' favor.
Many observers felt that these efforts presaged a stirring revival of union fortunes, but we at the Posse knew better. Events have proven us right. These desperate offensives were symptoms of union decline – and that decline is accelerating. The UAW is now too weak to prevail even in a “gimme” election with company support. Right to Work activists have taken note.
At their height, unions had two great strengths – vast numbers of voters supportive of their issues and huge sums of money to support their candidates of choice. Both of those advantages are now nullified. Each defeat further saps their dwindling finances and also erodes the membership base. Having lost ground in private enterprise, unions are trying to entrench themselves in the government. Detroit's bankruptcy is one result of this strategy.
The writing is on the wall. After spending more than a million dollars, the UAW has nothing to show for its efforts. Each renewed attempt reaches deeper into Big Labor's dwindling reserves; each "all-out effort" leaves them more enfeebled and demoralized.
The South is closed to them, and the North is turning on them. There is no place left to run.