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Would Tim Kaine protect the right to work?
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Exactly. But it's a fair question to ask whether Mr. Kaine's loyalty to Democrat-friendly unions will override his experience with right-to-work should he reach the Senate. Could we have a crystal-clear statement, sir, about your stance on right-to-work?
The bad blood between the Republican Party and private-sector unions is unfortunate and, we hope, not permanent. At many points in American history, the two institutions have been on the same side. A few examples:
During the 1930s, communist infiltration of America's trade unions drew fierce reaction from patriotic labor leaders. Walter Reuther (United Auto Workers) lashed out at the Reds for not giving "a tinker's damn what happens to the American labor movement," while John L. Lewis (United Mine Workers) excoriated "bug-house Commie finks."
After World War II, the American Federation of Labor created the international Free Trade Union Committee, making the federation, in the words of Cold War historian Richard Gid Powers, "the most effective [postwar] instrument for promoting anti-communism in Europe and the rest of the world."
When the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave his "Warning to the West" speech about the consequences of failing to confront the Soviet Union, it was at an AFL-CIO gathering.
Poland's Solidarity labor movement, the success of which began turning the Iron Curtain into scrap, received crucial support from the AFL-CIO under President Ronald Reagan.
"[T]he most consequential anti-communist organization of the late Cold War"--Mr. Powers' description of the Committee on the Present Danger--included Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO, Albert Shanker of the United Federation of Teachers, and other liberal anti-communist union leaders.
Speaker Bill Howell's House Republicans ignored this history--if they knew it--when in a historic first they refused to certify Gov. Kaine's 2006 appointment of Daniel LeBlanc, a former Virginia AFL-CIO chief, as secretary of the commonwealth. Such small-minded stunts go a long way to explain the current antipathy of organized labor for the GOP.