Two years ago almost to the day, I was thrilled to meet with union members at the Alaska AFL-CIO Convention in Anchorage to sign important job-creation legislation related to the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. As a former card-carrying IBEW sister married to a proud former IBEW and later USW member, it was a great moment for all of us. Our Alaska union brothers and sisters helped build our state! Many of them risked their lives to complete our infrastructure, including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that stretches over treacherous mountain ranges from the North Slope oil fields to Valdez. By signing that job-creation bill surrounded by union members, I was paying tribute to them and acknowledging that they would be valued partners in the construction of Alaska’s long awaited natural gas pipeline. I was honored that day to receive a standing ovation from them for signing a bill that provided a Project Labor Agreement to bring good jobs to these good men and women.
Today, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka came to Alaska (on a trip paid for with union dues) to preach the usual Beltway nonsense. There was a bit of the politics of personal destruction thrown around, and he mixed it in with the same old big government agenda that has been rejected in union halls, town halls, and voting booths all over our country.
I’m not sure why he’s attacking my record when I’m not the one responsible for the policies resulting in continued mass unemployment and a weak economy (that would be the man in the large white house on Pennsylvania Avenue). Among my “crimes,” the union boss cited the fact that I sometimes write notes on my hand (guilty as charged!); that I appear on cable television every once in a while to comment on the news (it’s called the First Amendment, Rich); and that my commonsense conservatism makes him laugh. Well, I guess that’s better than the failed leftwing big government policies of “his friend” Barack Obama, which makes the rest of us cry.
Trumka’s even worried I’m going to get violent against him. It’s kind of ironic that a union boss has the gall to accuse anyone of threatening violence. After all, we remember the violent attempts by SEIU to intimidate those who wanted to make their voices heard in last year’s town halls. And unlike Trumka, I never threatened that any effort to break a picket line would lead to violence. Come to think of it, neither did I ever hide behind the Fifth Amendment during a federal investigation about union corruption. Then again, I was just an ordinary, card-carrying union member, not one of the big shots who ended up, unfortunately, giving unions a bad name.
Trumka’s attempts to put himself on the side of the working man and woman would be more convincing if he weren’t a career union boss who’s spent most of his life in DC. No surprise then that his priorities aren’t the priorities of the average working man or woman, but of the Beltway power player. My fellow union brothers and sisters have had their union dues squandered for far too long by a few of the union bosses who work for partisan politics and not the good blue collar Americans who have to fund their cushy salaries.
Trumka purposely misquoted something I said in a speech I gave in Texas a few months ago. Let me clarify things for him: I never called union members “thugs.” You lie. I called some union leaders “thugs.” And I refuse to apologize for that because they have acted like thugs – at least in this day and age.
In the past there were many great union leaders who courageously defended the rights of workers. Unions were founded for all the right reasons! They were to give working men and women the clout to negotiate fairly with their employers and to fight for decent pay and working conditions. The unions of old would often end up fighting big government on behalf of the little guy. Today’s unions seem to be big government’s most enthusiastic supporters. It’s turned into some nonsense when union bosses back the government takeover of the car industry, and the mortgage industry, and the entire health care sector. And with the help of big government they aim to push through card check legislation that some characterize as being unfair to workers, and even un-American, because of its insistence on stripping workers of their right to privacy with a secret ballot. And that’s not just me voicing concern over card check – ask current union members how comfortable they are with what some of their leaders are saying about the legislation.
To my hardworking, patriotic brothers and sisters in the labor movement: you don’t have to put up with the scare tactics and the big government agenda of the union bosses. There is a different home for you: the commonsense conservative movement. It cares about the same things you and I care about: a government that doesn’t spend beyond its means, an economy focused on creating good jobs with good wages, and a leadership that is proud of America’s achievements and doesn’t go around apologizing to everyone for who we are.
This November, you have a choice. You can go with the flow and merely pull the lever the way they tell you to. Or you can join millions of others, and take a stand for freedom and independence and dignity, while still being part of a greater working community.
Join us. I promise you, you won’t regret it, and Americans who want good jobs for our families will be better off for it!