Governor O’Malley and Big Labor

Following up with yesterday’s post about Maryland, labor, and the O’Malley Administration comes more complaints from the left regarding the O’Malley’s Administrations dealings with the labor movement. Adam Pagnucco at Maryland Politics Watch has a long post discussing the topic. Be sure to read the entire thing, but here’s a sample of the grievances big labor has with O’Malley and the Democrats:

Among the bills that died in 2008 were ones requiring employers to provide shift breaks, requiring construction contractors on state jobs to participate in state-registered apprenticeship programs, requiring construction contractors on state jobs to provide health insurance, requiring construction projects over $500,000 to have lavatories, prohibiting state agencies from purchasing apparel from sweatshops, requiring any casinos permitted by the slots referendum to negotiate project labor agreements for their construction jobs, establishing a Public School Labor Relations Board, and increasing the maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit.

However, one of the most interesting pieces of this puzzle is near the bottom of the post:

“What’s the alternative?” asked one labor leader, dismissing out-of-hand any consideration of the still-detested former Governor Robert Ehrlich. That may be a valid point, but here is the problem for Governor O’Malley: how many people in his base are now asking that question?

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This goes back to something I discussed yesterday as it relates to big labor and their predisposition to blindly follow Democrats. It’s true, labor leaders really are left with nowhere else to go other than the oft-mentioned possibility of a primary challenge by Comptroller Peter Franchot. But union members themselves, that’s another story.

When you really get down to it, the preponderance of union members themselves are not liberals, and will not steadfastly adhere to the Democratic Party line. If labor leaders falter, particularly in Maryland, they will lose access to the administration and to government officials if they even hint that there is a possibility they may endorse a Republican. Labor leaders are held captive by the political climate, hence they often put their interests ahead of their members interests. But there is nothing to stop union membership from bolting. Many of these members are Republicans or Reagan Democrats. They believe in small government, own firearms, and don’t want to pay more in taxes. It’s true, from the perspective of the union leader who isn’t getting their agenda passed, there may be nowhere to go. But at the same time, union members may turn away in drovers due to the higher taxes and more statist agenda coming from O’Malley and the Administration.

And if you read the rest of Pagnucco’s post along with what FSP’s Eric Luedtke has to say about the Democratic base, then the Governor’s re-election could be quite a minefield before he even has to worry about the return of Governor Ehrlich. I’ve talked before (and Isaac Smith so helpfully points out) about how the fringe left does not find O’Malley fringe left enough, and because of that it looks like that Governor is certainly going to be living in interesting times between now and November 2010.


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