- - Friday, August 31, 2012

In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” then-candidate Barack Obama, when talking about his relationship with Big Labor union officials, wrote: “I owe those unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don’t consider this corrupting in any way.”

Fours year later, it’s become clear he did a lot more than just call them. Countless giveaways to organized labor have ensured that Washington union bosses owe the president and will spend more than a billion dollars to ensure President Obama’s return to the White House.

You see, the largest special interest in the upcoming elections is Big Labor.

Every year, union officials collect more than $14 billion from hardworking Americans, many of whom want nothing to do with unions. Union officials routinely funnel union dues and mandatory fees from nonunion workers into political campaigns aimed at defending or expanding their already extensive special privileges.

Recent media reports indicated that Big Labor spends about 4 times more on politics and lobbying than what was previously thought. This money is then used to fund and feed a massive army of union partisans — from holding protests in state capitols like we saw in Wisconsin and Indiana to going door to door supporting Big Labor’s handpicked political candidates across the country.

As a result, union officials have a massive amount of political clout in Washington and state capitals even though private-sector, voluntary union membership continues to decline steadily.

Union bosses certainly use their clout. Mr. Obama has churned out countless political paybacks to his Big Labor allies. Shortly after getting elected, Mr. Obama appointed forced-unionism partisan Hilda L. Solis to run the Department of Labor. Ms. Solis, in combination with numerous Obama executive orders, promptly rolled back the (albeit modest) progress in union-boss financial transparency and disclosure that had been made more worker-friendly under the previous administration. Now it is even more difficult for workers to know where their forced dues are being spent.

Mr. Obama’s first budget even cut funds for the federal agency that enforces union disclosure laws and investigates union corruption.

That was just the beginning. Mr. Obama then appointed Service Employees International Union (SEIU) attorney Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that administers and enforces federal labor law. Mr. Becker, who was never confirmed because of bipartisan opposition, nevertheless was recess-appointed to the board. His was a key vote in striking down protections accorded workers against card-check union-organizing drives despite the fact that he previously had participated as a union lawyer in the very case that established those worker protections.

Right now, the board is pushing new rules to make union-organizing campaigns as one-sided as possible by forcing workers into union membership and requiring job providers to post pro-union organizing notices in their facilities. Tellingly, no new requirement was made for unions to post notices informing workers of their right to refrain from union activities or throw out an unwanted union.

Furthermore, the board’s Obama-appointed acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, used the federal agency to punish airline manufacturer Boeing for locating a production line for some of its new 787 Dreamliner jets in right-to-work South Carolina instead of non-right-to-work Washington state. The frivolous charges disappeared eventually, but only after Boeing guaranteed other new jobs would go only to Washington state, where workers must pay union fees to work.

As if that weren’t enough, Mr. Obama then subverted the U.S. Constitution earlier this year and installed two pro-forced-unionism backers onto the labor board as recess appointments even though Congress was not in recess. Not surprisingly, the board continues to churn out lopsided decisions in favor of forced unionism.

The effects of Mr. Obama’s pro-forced-unionism agenda will be felt long after his stay in office. For example, Obamacare is laden with sweetheart deals intended to pay back union bosses with health care workers’ forced dues and further unionize the health care industry.

The $14 billion flood of forced-dues cash in union coffers breeds a culture of extravagance, abuse and corruption. Union boss spending sprees and forced-dues-funded political activism take precedence over protecting worker rights, creating a vicious cycle of quid pro quo reaching all the way to the White House.

Mark Mix is president of National Right to Work.