Steve Malanga at the Wall Street Journal,
Union Power and the Christie Effect
After decades of expanding political clout, organized labor is finding voters increasingly unreceptive to its high-tax message.
The backlash against public unions has gone beyond heavily unionized states like California and New Jersey. One illustration is the finding of a July 7 national Rasmussen poll: Only 19% of Americans said that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to keep government workers from being laid off. Even in public safety, where Americans are sometimes reluctant to see cutbacks, the poll found only 34% endorsed higher taxes to preserve police and fire jobs.
The electorate may also be turning away from public unions because of their relentless campaigning for higher taxes. Mr. Christie has estimated that New Jersey’s public unions spent some $4 million throughout the spring on ads advocating higher taxes and railing against his budget. In California, the teachers union has kicked in $500,000 as part of a campaign to rescind business tax breaks to keep jobs in the state. Last year in Michigan, a coalition of unions engineered a campaign called “A Better Michigan Future” that advocated hundreds of millions in new taxes, which the state legislature rejected.
Unions are also on the defensive in the culture wars. Later this month the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” about the failings of our public schools, will debut in theaters nationwide. The film is directed by Davis Guggenheim, who earned impeccable liberal credentials as the director of the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth.” His new documentary, say reviewers who’ve seen it, places a chunk of the blame for the woes of our schools on teachers unions and in particular paints Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, as an opponent of meaningful reform.
Mr. Guggenheim’s film is likely to exacerbate growing discontent with teachers unions. In a May Rasmussen poll, only 38% of Americans said it was good that teachers belong to unions, while 62% either thought teacher unionization a bad thing or were undecided.
Unions have other obstacles, which Malanga explains. Go read the rest of the article, but also check out the website for Waiting for Superman. Here’s the official trailer,
hat tip: Net Right Daily