Never in the modern history of the Republican Party has a field of GOP presidential candidates been so united and so aggressive in opposing collective bargaining rights for workers. More than a century and a half has passed since a young Republican Party positioned itself as a tribune of the working class; but until recent years, savvy Republicans continued to compete with Democrats for labor endorsements and the votes of union members in industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Even Ronald Reagan—who justifiably earned the enmity of labor with his summary firing of air traffic controllers in 1981—made a big deal about his Teamsters endorsement in 1984. Even if his actions did not match his rhetoric, Reagan showed up at union conventions during his presidency, telling a 1981 carpenters union convention that he respected “the sacred right of American workers to negotiate their wages,” adding that “collective bargaining…has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.” And Reagan wasn’t the last Republican to try to connect with labor. As recently as 2007, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appeared at the International Association of Machinists convention and received its endorsement in that year’s GOP primaries.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment