One could legitimately argue that Bill Clinton (the Liberal) sounded the death knell for American Labor with NAFTA.
While large labor unions like the AFL-CIO protested the North American Free Trade Agreement, they continued to endorse the same Democrats who created and voted to enact the US job-killing legislation: Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc. The irony continued into the Obama Administration with AFL-CIO's President Richard Trumka issuing a statement against the proposed "NAFTA-Style" US-Korea Trade Deal, accusing the deal of being the latest in a long line of government trade deals that "sap economic growth and domestic job creation." Yet, the union's endorsement of Obama remains as strong as ever.
Perhaps the hypocrisy of these unions - that continue to endorse candidates who propose job-killing legislation - is the source of their own demise. A Harris Poll conducted in 1994, right as the dust was settling in the ugly NAFTA battle, indicated that "nearly half (44%) of members of union families rate the labor unions negatively." And this was after the unions lost their battle against NAFTA.
Why would union members rate their labor orgs so negatively after these orgs had gone to battle against the most anti-worker legislation in modern American history?
The poll goes on to cite that "...substantial majorities criticize [Unions] for being too involved in politics (70%), being more concerned fighting change than bringing it about (65%), and stifiling individual intitative (59%)." 54% criticized unions for "not giving them their money's worth" and "not working for legislation that would help all working people."
The bottom line: Workers weren't getting enough bang for their buck. In fact, workers felt that the unions harmed, not helped their careers. So, when push came to shove, they chose to back Clinton in the battle. After all, he was the guy the unions told them to vote for in the first place.
The Harris Poll ended with a suggestion: Unions needed "new leadership, fresh thinking and new strategies." If a hypocritical attitude isn't enough, unions desperately suffer from a complete cultural disconnect, clearly evidenced by their need to defend themselves on long-dead battles fought at the dawn of the 20th century. (In case you hadn't heard, now it's the 21st.) Yes, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was horrible ...which is why we now have workplace safety regulations. Yes, our ancestors used to work 20 hour days... which is why we now have anti-sweatshop labor laws. Do you ever get the feeling that it is time to give labor unions a gold watch, a pat on the back, and a room in a retirement home?
Labor unions fight the Marxist fight to standardize humanity, totally ignorant of the fact that they're "stifiling individual initiative" in the process. In other words, while people may need people, they don't want to be like other people. Socialism has continued to fail in America because, unlike Europe, once we've achieved our goal as a collective we're happy to go our separate ways.
Labor's larger ideological failure can be summed up using one great American axiom: We aren't out to re-shape the nation because, well, if something isn't broken, why fix it? The great notion that we can be socially engineered into perfection can only be upheld so long as those touting that notion are perfect in and of themselves. When all you can manage to be is a hypocrite out to stifle individual freedoms, you've become the political equivalent of a modern-day televangelist. No wonder common liberals are often referred to as "Kool Aid Drinkers" - you'd need to be drugged to bow to that kind of taskmaster.
Walker won the recall in Wisconsin because he enacted legislation that gave union employees the freedoms the union had taken away. The proof is in the pudding: If the union had been worth a damn, they'd have retained their membership and Walker would have been out the door. Labor has lost the fight in America, but it isn't because of government, or big business, or any other faceless, nameless target on the union bar's dart board. Labor has failed because Labor is an ideology that tells the individual, "You aren't good enough."
And, as any capitalist can tell you, that's not a good slogan for business.