Tags: | Unions | 2014 midterms | labor unions

Labor of Losing: Unions Reassess After Midterm Shellacking

By    |   Thursday, 06 Nov 2014 10:37 AM

The midterm elections exposed a power shift across the country, the waning power of labor unions whose strength in the past helped to get out the vote for Democrats, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Their efforts came up short in several governors' races as well as Congressional contests, which saw GOP victories in spite of deep labor spending.

In West Virginia, the Journal noted, Rep. Nick Rahall, who served in Congress for 38 years, was ousted by his Republican challenger. His shocking defeat came as the United Mine Workers kicked in more than $400,000 to support his campaign.

But as the Obama energy policy impacted the state's biggest industry, the union's backing was not enough to allow Rahall to keep his seat, noted The Hill.

Republican governors also prevailed in places like Wisconsin and Michigan where the state leaders have pushed back on union policies that they say have stymied economic growth for too long, the Journal reported.

Despite massive losses, union leaders tried to shine a light on the few positives of the midterms. AFL-CIO head Richard Trumpka noted support across the country for minimum-wage increases and Social Security benefit increases, but he also noted that voters in many places did not step up to vote for candidates who supported those, the Journal noted.

One former AFL-CIO political director said such rebukes for unions will no doubt have them reassessing their strategy in 2016.

“You can’t go through an election like this and not challenge your assumptions and rethink how you do the work,” Democrat strategist Steve Rosenthal told the Journal.

One telling statistic that emerged from the elections came from teachers unions. They spent about $60 million on local, state and national races and most of their candidates came up short, The Washington Post reported.

“We knew this was going to be an uphill battle,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia told the Post.

Even she was shocked by the midterm aftermath.

"I don’t think anybody on our side, and we’ve got some very savvy people, anticipated going over the falls like this. Tectonic plates have shifted. And we’re going to have to come back with a new way of organizing for these kinds of races.”

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The midterm elections exposed a power shift across the country, the waning power of labor unions whose strength in the past helped to get out the vote for Democrats, The Wall Street Journal reported.
2014 midterms, labor unions
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2014-37-06
Thursday, 06 Nov 2014 10:37 AM
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