News Story

Strings May Be Attached When a Politician Has the Union Label

A letter from a union leader shows that endorsements from organized labor don't come without strings attached.

Saundra Williams, president of the metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO signed a letter dated April 30, 2010, that stated "... failure to commit to this pledge stating that you will refrain from supporting the "privatization" of public sector jobs, Charter Schools and "Right-To-Work" legislation ... will jeopardize the status of any current or future support of your candidacy for any office."

Williams didn't return an e-mail or phone call seeking comment.

The letter also included a questionnaire sent out by the union asking political candidates specific questions.

The letter states, for instance, that "right-to-work" laws have increased infant mortality.

The questionnaire asks politicians if they support charter schools and if they'd speak out at public meetings. It also asks if they support Wal-Mart stores and if they carry an AT&T cell phone, which the letter states is the only unionized cell phone company.

Some school districts have saved money by privatizing some services. Durand Area Public Schools administrators said they saved $190,000 privatizing custodial and some cafeteria workers.

University of Michigan economist Don Grimes has said that Michigan should consider right-to-work laws if it wants to go after manufacturing jobs or else risk losing them to the southern states where the law is common.

"What they want is a candidate's pledge that they will continue flushing Michigan's economy down the hole before they will support them," said Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. "Smart unions realize they can't rely on Democrats to maintain control of all branches of government forever. They know how to shave off just enough Republicans to prevent reforms."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.