When Unions are Used as Political Weapons

March 28, 2014 Updated: March 28, 2014

Sometimes a Student is just a Student

Last week when Gov Chris Christie declared that anyone opposing him at his carefully crafted town hall meetings was sent by CWA, the union representing State Employees, his favorite punching bag, it seemed to me to be the largest case of transference I had ever seen.

As a former state employee and former member of said union I was struck by how quickly – within mere seconds – he declared the protesters as all CWA members.  They were not. Some were residents of NJ and students.  But Christie’s instantaneous conclusion leap was telling.

The Amazing Race

You see, just recently, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who had relieved the traffic congestion in Fort Lee by reopening the 2 closed entrance lanes, remarked on the undemocratic way hearings had been held on the Port Authority of NY & NJ toll hikes.  Ordinary citizens and commuters were forced to do the Amazing Race. They had to find one of the hearing locations which were hidden at ridiculously hard to find locations – and all on the same day.  What is really an incredible coincidence is that the Labor Unions were able to get there no problem. They all showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed.  And loud.

Police Unions

Not only the labor unions – but also the Port Authority Police Union. The one with Chris Christie’s childhood friend “Chip” Michaels, brother to Trenton Power broker Jeff Michaels. The police union, who mysteriously kept all their benefits and added 500 new members to police the new World Trade Center at  a more expensive rate than the New York City Police Department who could handle the job.  All this at the very same time NJ police unions were lied to by Christie – told they were safe to get their endorsement before the election – then immediately betrayed once Christie got into office so he could look like he was cracking the financial whip.

Labor Tools

The labor unions are also used as tools by Democrats in NJ, like Senator Paul Sarlo, who injected himself into the debate about the height of the new LG Electronics headquarters when the controversy is only and simply about the height of the building.  What do jobs have to do with whether the building is 143 ft tall or 50 ft tall and wider?  Absolutely nothing.  Again, the labor unions are again being used as tools for shallow political purposes – to the detriment of all Americans who treasure our National Natural Landmark – the Palisades.   The LG building has absolutely nothing, NOTHING to do with jobs, simply one design feature, and yet union members were bussed in to rally rally rally, simply because Paul Sarlo, who happens to be CEO for the biggest construction firm in the state, wanted to look like a political hero – in a  district he does  not even represent, when jobs are not even at stake in the debate.

Dinner Bell

It is depressing that some of the unions that were created to bargain for and protect the rights of existing workers have morphed into tools, thanks to the knee-jerk reaction of unions who respond like Pavlov’s dogs whenever a politician rings the dinner bell.  Union members, often clueless about the actual issues at stake show up to these events and get their frustrations out on the wrong people.  Christie also likes to play one union against another.  Such as getting the highly paid private labor unions all riled up and angry at the public sector unions who work for much less money because they get better benefits. 

Think First, Then Rally

I wish these folks would take a step back and think before rallying whenever a politician wants to use them. It sets a bad example and enables Christie to have it both ways – using them to enact obscene toll hikes he can come in and lower like a hero, just so he can demonize the public sector unions and accuse them of behaving like the labor unions and Port Authority Police Unions of friends of his, he hypocritically uses politically for his own ends. 

Unions were created to help workers, not politicians.


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.