Union leaders are objecting to the Obama faction’s proposed tax on the health benefits packages of certain workers. “The 40 percent tax would fall on employer health plans worth more than $8,500 for an individual or $23,000 for a family. Although Obama terms them ‘Cadillac’ plans, union leaders say numerous working-class Americans who’ve negotiated good benefits in exchange for lesser pay would be hurt.” It’s no wonder union leaders object to a move that obviously undermines hard-fought gains by the workers they are supposed to represent. The wonder is that union members don’t smell the same rat in the whole move toward a government takeover of the health sector.
The push for so-called health-care reform has made unlikely bedfellows of Obama faction unions like SEIU and giant corporations like Wal-Mart. What explains the corporate support for the move toward socialism? Maybe it’s the fact that the ultimate result will shift the cost of health insurance from the corporate books onto the government’s ledger. Instead of being paid for from the gross income of the corporations, it will be paid for with tax dollars, with a hefty share coming from the pockets of workers who now enjoy its value as an untaxed component of their overall remuneration.
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It’s not hard to see why the corporate managers welcome this prospect. But the same union bosses who protest the Obama administration’s proposed tax on some workers have enthusiastically promoted the push for a government takeover that will make workers pay for something they now receive as untaxed value for their labor. Maybe the real reason the union bosses are objecting to the tax proposal is that it may start some workers to thinking about the tax implications of the government takeover. They’ll realize that, in exchange for short-term political payoffs, the union bosses are betraying the long-term economic interests of the workers whose remuneration they should be striving to protect.
Will this counterproductive result lead rank-and-file union members to examine more closely the socialist Kool-Aid the Obama faction, with an indispensable political assist from their lap dogs in union leadership, is forcing down America’s throat? Will it lead them to consider the sad loss of union independence that has characteristically resulted from the transition to socialism whenever it takes place?
After the government takeover, instead of negotiating their benefits package with corporate managers in a situation where their solidarity lets them negotiate from a position of relative strength, they will have to deal with a legislative process that is already being revamped to allow party bosses to run roughshod over the views of the people. At present, workers can achieve advances through a bargaining process that forces union leaders to be sensitive to the need to maintain support from the rank and file. Under the socialist regime, they will face a closed door political process that allows political leaders to offer union leaders a separate peace assuring their personal fortunes and power as long as they shill for whatever party line the political bosses dictate.
The American union movement, unlike those in Europe, resisted the false temptation of socialism precisely because many Americans instinctively understood that free and independent unions are unlikely to survive once people have been lured into dependence on government bureaucrats and political bosses for their access to basic necessities like housing and health care. They realized that socialist control remakes the whole nation in the image of the “company town,” with party bosses replacing corporate bosses as the dictators of the workers’ fate. When corporate bosses controlled the apparatus of law enforcement and legislation, they could make life awfully hard for workers trying to organize to get a fair shake. Once the workers learned to use the political process effectively, they acted to thwart this abuse of government power. But when the controlling bosses are the politicians and bureaucrats, how will workers get around their hold on power? The fate of independent unions under communist and national socialist rule doesn’t suggest very promising prospects.
Free unions can’t hope to survive except in a free society. If America’s unionized workers continue to follow self-serving union leaders down a path toward government-controlled dependency, their future is in doubt. I pray they will think this through before it is too late.