News Story

Commentary: How Unions Run Government … And Democrats

Below is an excerpt from a story published in the July 19 MIRS News “Capitol Capsule,” a daily newsletter published primarily for Lansing insiders. The details of the story are irrelevant – it involves wrangling over the kind of decisions faced by all statewide political campaigns. This excerpt is shared with MIRS’ permission for the insight it offers into the degree of coordination between unions and the state Democratic Party and Democratic legislators.

As indicated in the last paragraph, the state Republican Party also has its own special interest “BFFs,” although in one important respect these differ from the government employee unions in the Dem camp (which includes the UAW): Their members aren’t employed by the same government this political party is trying to get control of.

Democrats might counter that many of the businesses who belong to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce are or would like to be recipients of state corporate welfare, which makes their participation in campaigns to elect the legislators who hand out the loot just as inappropriate. To the extent Chamber of Commerce members do collect said loot (many do), and it lobbies for said loot (very seldom if at all), that is a fair criticism.

Those qualifications don’t apply to government employment unions, however: All of their members get paid by the government, are required by the government to pay dues or fees to a union, which are extracted by the government and delivered to the union. Union officials who live off these coerced dues then work to elect legislators who will increase government employees’ pay and perks, and the union’s power alongside them.

Excerpt from “House Dems Clash Over '12 Campaign,” published July 19 in the MIRS News Capitol Capsule, reprinted with permission:


“(S)ources that attended a July 13 caucus meeting at a Novi Ironworkers hall (say) on that day (Democratic House Legislative) caucus officials, (Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark) Brewer and union officials met in Lansing on campaign issues. Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, sources tell MIRS.

“In the past few cycles, the House re-election effort has been led by a campaign chair and members, staff and Lansing-based communications agency Byrum-Fisk in coordination with the MDP. Some House members say that leadership informed them that now the MDP and unions want to take over the effort completely. It was sold as that there would be a centralized communications effort for both chambers, but one insider told MIRS that the takeover ‘would be the logical extension’ of the new campaign structure.

“Mark FISK said the company's policy is not to comment on its clients and referred questions to Brewer.

“. . . One source tells MIRS that unions involved include the Michigan Education Association (MEA), United Autoworkers (UAW), AFL-CIO, Carpenters and SEIU. The Laborers and AFSCME were not involved.

“It would also entail more coordination from groups sympathetic to Democrats, like the Michigan Association for Justice. One source described it as being similar to how the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Republican Party (MRP) and Right To Life of Michigan coordinate on campaigns on the other side.”

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.