Unions dream big for Obama’s 2nd term

Michigan speech lifted hopes

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With the House in Republican control for the next two years, Mr. Trumka indicated that unions will push aggressively for Democrats to win back the chamber in 2014 and then to pursue card-check legislation in Mr. Obama’s final two years in office. But Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said Big Labor and its allies think they could achieve the same goal administratively through an NLRB ruling.

“Even during the card-check fight when it was a legitimate threat, back prior to 2010, folks at the NLRB and the intellectual class said the NLRB had all the authority they needed to do it administratively as a remedy,” said Mr. Mix, whose organization is dedicated to combating “compulsory unionism abuses,” according to its website. He said the risk of such an agency ruling is “theoretical at this point.”

Mr. Mix said he expects the president to be “more engaged” with labor’s efforts to fight right-to-work legislation at the state level, with potential battles in the next three years in states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Montana, Alaska and Pennsylvania. He said Mr. Obama’s vocal stance in Michigan was a stark contrast to his muted response in 2010 to Wisconsin’s effort to roll back collective-bargaining rights of public employees.

“If you recall Wisconsin, when he was still looking forward to re-election, he kind of decided to take a powder on that battle,” Mr. Mix said. “Now he’s safely elected. I suspect we’ll see more activism by this president on these issues.”

Labor leaders say the onus is on them to work harder at the grass-roots level to reverse setbacks for Big Labor, and they are confident that Mr. Obama has their backs.

“The challenge is on us to be more aggressive working with our allies in the community-based organizations, faith organizations to spread the message that workers’ rights are human rights,” said Mr. Mason of the Maryland and D.C. AFL-CIO. “We have to capitalize on what was demonstrated in the election on Nov. 6. That election showed the best of the American people. They were not bound by the rhetoric of anti-women, anti-minority, anti-worker leaders out there. They went in, and they voted for basic American values, that I am my brother and my sister’s keeper.”

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