Every time I think that I know a lot about politics, something happens that reminds me how much I don't know or don't get.
Recently, the NC House Democratic Caucus debated HB 1583 - collective bargaining for public employees - in their weekly caucus meeting. While a majority of the Democratic caucus stands solidly with their friends in the labor movement, there are more than a few who are not.
Depending on whose headcount you like, there are anywhere from 15-20 Democrats who are not supporting legislation that would let North Carolina join the 49 other states who allow government workers to have the same rights as workers in the private sector and bargain collectively.
Is their opposition to basic workers' rights rooted in some philosophical disagreement on the issue? Nope, by all accounts the House Democrats who don't support overturning the archaic ban are just scared of the issue and how it may impact them politically in the fall election.
In other words, they have no backbone.
Let's be clear - Labor typically supports Democrats because like any other special interest group, labor wants to lend its support to elected officials and candidates who agree with their issues. Were any Republicans to offer similiar support, they could probably get it. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa is fond of saying "We have no permanent allies, only permanent interests."
Most Republicans are proud of being anti-union and as a result, the labor movement helps out many Democratic campaigns across North Carolina with both financial and grassroots support. Labor has been there time and time again when candidates come calling with their hat in hand.
And now, when labor needs to see that support reciprocated, when the movement is as close as it's ever been to righting a nearly 50-year old wrong, there are a handful of House Democrats who say "not now' or, "I can't afford to support this and get re-elected."
Hogwash. Let's review the political landscape of North Carolina in 2008 shall we? There are Democratic winds of change that are strongly blowing after eight years of Republican ineptitude in the White House. Democratic registration of new voters in our state is swamping Republican registration. We've got $4.00 a gallon gas, home foreclosures and a quagmire in Iraq.
Yup, I can see how some direct mail piece trying to scare voters about the union boogeyman is really going to gain traction and impact these NC House races. Give me a break.
If these House Democrats can't stand with labor now, when will they? I guess labor's only hope is to set up a triage unit in the courtyard on Jones Street and start doing backbone transplants on site.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.