Tuesday's vote in favor of Big Labor reminds us just how much weight unions bear on politics. Too often the narrative makes unions – both private and public – out to be a small, counterweight to big business, and efforts like Issue 2 in Ohio are framed as an assault on “workers rights.” But Issue 2 reminds us that even though (in this case) we’re talking about public school teachers and firemen, unions are no small player. Public sector unions manage to negotiate tremendous benefit packages for their members, and these public employees often end up making far more than their private sector counterparts.
More significantly, unions have tremendous muscle. The results of yesterday’s election should reinforce the fact that unions are still way ahead on important political activities like GOTV efforts. As I’ve written here before, unions may present themselves as representing the “common man,” but they’ve adapted very sophisticated, elite social science techniques, including the use of randomized controlled experiments, into their turnout efforts, which has gone largely unnoticed on the right. Hopefully yesterday’s results will remind Republicans just how much influence unions really have when it comes to winning elections.
One final thought, let’s not forget that the same voters who aligned themselves with Big Labor on Issue 2 also voted against Issue 3 and government-run health care. And that’s no small victory against big government.