You Can Help to Turn the Tide
By Dave Andrusko
Editor, National Right to Life News
In the ongoing abortion battle, few people on either side would ever thought that pro-abortion forces would make inroads into organized labor. For years, the two most fertile recruiting grounds for pro-life forces have been members of faith communities and labor. The members of both are disproportionately committed to protecting the unborn.
Alas, the 14.1 million member AFL-CIO now stands poised on the brink of adopting a resolution supporting abortion, unless pro-life members of union households, and other concerned citizens, immediately =write to President Lane Kirkland. A stacked “Ad Hoc Committee on Reproductive Issues” is about to hold its second meeting and there is every reason to believe the committee will recommend that the AFL’s Executive Committee lend its authority, political muscle, and influence to the cause of the anti-life forces.
Some background: Last November, six pro-abortion resolutions were discussed at the AFL-CIO’s biennial national convention held in Washington, D.C. In a move billed as a “compromise,” the resolutions were forwarded to the AFL-CIO’s 35 member Executive Council for further consideration. Then, at a press conference on February 19th, Kirkland announced the formation of a 14 member committee comprised of members of the Executive Council to consider whether the AFL-CIO should take a position on abortion.
Kirkland’s comments at the press conference encapsulated much of the history of the events between November and February 19. He readily conceded that he had been “flooded with mail.” He added that, “There is evidently a campaign going on to write me and other members of the council.”
Unfortunately, having first correctly noted that most of the mail was “anti-abortion,” Kirkland then commented that “I’ve been around a long time, and I think I can tell grassroots from Astroturf.”
But there is no question that there is intense opposition from all sectors of the labor movement, including state and local leaders. They have flooded the national headquarters with letters, pleading with the Federation to avoid taking a position on abortion.
And the grassroots opposition is, if possible, even more pervasive, as evidenced by the responses to two questions asked in a nationwide poll conducted in march by the prestigious Wirthlin Group, a national public opinion research organization. The company asked 1000 respondents whether they wanted the AFL-CIO to take a position on abortion, “or should it concentrate on issues such as wages and workplace safety?” An incredible 77% of members of union households said concentrate in the latter, while only 12% favored taking a position on abortion.
The polster then asked that if the AFL-CIO did take a position on abortion, should it it be in support of or opposed to abortion? Again, pro-life sentiment prevailed: 43% to 31% among members of union households, with almost identical split between non-union households.
But most revealing of all, female union members wanted the position to be opposed to abortion by nearly a 2 to 1 margin – 52% to 28%.
Neil Newhouse, senior vice president of the Wirthlin Group, summarized the results by saying that the “AFL-CIO is out of step with its membership in two respects. First, members of union households overwhelmingly do not want the Federation to take a position on abortion. Second, if the AFL-CIO does take a position, its members want it to be anti-abortion.”
Just how crazy it would be for the AFL-CIO to take a position – any position – on abortion was made clear in a column that appeared recently in the Washington Post. Written by Nat Hentoff, it showed that two recent court decisions make it clear that it would border on organizational suicide for the Federation to be co-opted by the abortion establishment.
One case out of Baltimore (Kidwell) seems to have extended to earlier Beck decision – which means that the Kidwell case appealed to the Supreme Court and upheld, no union employee could be forced to have any of his/hers dues go to political or other purposes not related to collective bargaining. And recent Supreme Court decisions having to do with limitations on political contributions by corporations would seem to make it abundantly clear that the Supreme Court would hold that no union may compel an employee to financially support union activities that ‘infringe on their First Amendment rights” (to quote Hentoff).
But it’s not too late … if people write today. If you want the AFL-CIO to stay neutral on abortion, please write today to:
Lane Kirkland, President
815 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
It would be a minimal expenditure of time with the promise of maximum payoff for the babies.