Hat Tip to The New Republic for pointing out this amazing wayward tale of FEC glory in which the Republican members of the FEC side with union bosses and Democratic members side against them. Here's what happened:
"In a little-noticed ruling last week... the three Republican commissioners on the FEC found that it was acceptable for a union in Hawaii to force its members to campaign on behalf of Colleen Hanabusa, a Democratic candidate in the special congressional election in Hawaii in May 2010. Two members of United Public Workers had filed a complaint stating they had lost their jobs when they refused to hold signs and canvass on behalf of Hanabusa. This might seem like just the sort of thing that Republicans would seize on as proof of union bosses wielding undue power over their minions—but no. The Democratic appointees on the FEC found the coercion illegal, but the Republican appointees did not—instead, they cited the 2010 Citizens United ruling as permitting the union’s compulsion.
Because if the union in this instance is allowed to compel its members to campaign on behalf of a favored candidate, that means that a corporation is allowed to do so, too. And just as the lifting of spending restrictions ends up meaning much more for corporations than for unions—since corporations have a lot more money to spend—any lifting of restrictions on compelled political activity would mean more for corporations as well, since there are a lot more people working at big companies than in the shrinking ranks of unionized workers."
The commission is deadlocked and the case remains unsettled, but the potential implications are harrowing. No one should be forced to campaign on behalf of a candidate by anyone especially her employer. That seems completely contrary to the whole free and fair elections thing. Could you imagine Walmart deciding to make its employees campaign on behalf of Mitt Romney at peril of losing their jobs? That is some Orwellian noise right there.
Happy Labor Day Everybody! (No but seriously, in general you should thank a union member today if you like weekends and safe working conditions.) But still, wow.