labor union politics

When Unions Play Politics

Originally published at Townhall

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud recently observed, “Basketball players want to be football players, and football players want to be basketball players.” I think it’s equally true of union executives and lawmakers: Those running labor unions want to be politicians, and politicians want to run labor unions. 

Any union member who has seen their elected union leadership go astray would know what I’m talking about. I first learned about union executives’ unhealthy interest in politics from a former local firefighter union president Frank Ricci, who saw it firsthand among state- and national-level union executives in Connecticut. He distinguished between advocating for workers (which he’s still doing) and enlisting oneself as a political operative in party politics. Good union leaders would draw the same line. 

Unfortunately, union executives running the country’s largest public sector unions—including teacher unions like the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA)—have trouble drawing that line. The allure of political celebrity often leads them to treat the union as their shot to elect politicians or advance political causes that have nothing to do with rank-and-file employees. Instead of boring themselves negotiating fair contracts and helping employees with workplace issues, union executives want the excitement and intrigue of political maneuvering, horse trading, and media appearances. 

Read more at Townhall