Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made it a point to attend a rowdy protest outside the Statehouse put on by over 1,000 union members. His public statement to the angry mob:
“I’m here to deliver one very simple message, which is we don’t need to attack public sector workers to make change for the people of the Commonwealth." Link to Source: Boston Globe
This reminds us of a previous incident from 2009, when Governor Patrick hosted a meeting with fired Hyatt Hotel workers and union leaders, and threatened Hyatt Hotels with a state boycott if it refused to hire back housekeeping staff.
“But surely there is some way to retain the jobs for your housekeeping staffs, as other hotels have done, and to work with them to help the company meet its current challenges, rather than tossing them out unceremoniously to fend for themselves while the people they trained take their jobs at barely livable wages.’’ Link to Source: Boston Globe
Meanwhile, the Patrick administration is delivering a much different message to the Massachusetts private sector. For example, on efforts to increase tax collections from Massachusetts businesses next year, Department of Revenue spokesman Robert Bliss reportedly said, "You hunt where the ducks are." Link to Source: Boston Globe
This isn't just a Massachusetts phenomenon. It's also playing out on the national stage.
President Obama's political machine and Democratic party officials are reportedly working to help organize union protests around the country in unity with public labor marches in Wisconsin. Link to Source: Washington Post
AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka recently made comments claiming that he speaks with officials in the White House daily and visits the White House several times a week, while at the same time it's reported that President Obama hasn't spoken with some members of his own cabinet in years. Check out the videos in this link.
Then, there are Obama's recent comments to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he challenged the business community to "get in the game" and spend some of their money to create jobs. Link to Source: Boston Herald
It's abundantly clear to us that leaders in Washington and Massachusetts are firmly taking the side of organized labor in economic matters at the same time they are siding against business interests. Can there be any doubt why? Check out the latest report of independent expenditures in the most recent round of Massachusetts state elections. The list is filled with unions.
We happen to disagree with Obama and Patrick's one-sided support of unions. But, we think that what makes it so wrong isn't necessarily that they are making the wrong choice, it's that they are choosing sides in the first place.
The proper role of a chief executive isn't to pick sides. It's to promote the advancement of everyone. Obama and Patrick would do well to remember that they have a responsibility to help all Americans get ahead, not just those who carry union cards in their wallets.