BARONE: Obama acts as shop steward in chief | Campaign 2012
By Michael Barone
President Barack Obama shakes hands with auto worker Michael McCullough, right, as Carlo Bishop, left, UAW President Local 551, looks on at left, during a tour of the Ford Motor Company Chicago Assembly Plant, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Obama has been at pains to convince voters that he cares about jobs. It seems to be a hard sell.
But he certainly can demonstrate that he cares about certain jobs — the 7 percent of private-sector jobs and 36 percent of public-sector jobs held by union members.
During his two years and nine months as president, he has worked time and again to increase the number of unionized jobs. As for nonunion jobs, who wants them?
Some pro-union moves have a certain ritual quality. Democratic presidents on taking office seek to strengthen federal employee unions, just as Republican presidents on taking office seek to weaken them.
Other steps are more important. Fully one-third of the $820 billion stimulus package passed almost entirely with Democratic votes in 2009 was aid to state and local governments.
This was intended to keep state and local public employee union members — much more numerous than federal employees — on the job and to keep taxpayer-funded union dues pouring into public employee union treasuries.