The political left has a complicated relationship with its black supporters. When blacks vote to vote Joe Biden, they are celebrated. If they vote to undermine the progressive agenda, they are in the way.
Smarter Democratic strategists have been warning for some time that the party is steadily moving to the left of the average black voter on everything from crime and gay rights to school voting and immigration. Progressive politicians and liberal activists may want to ban charter schools, reduce law enforcement resources and empty prisons – “No more policing, detention and militarization,” tweeted Democratic MP Rashida Tlaib this week – but Polling shows that such ideas find little support in the black base.
This growing divide between political elites and ordinary blacks was seen again last week when the Big Labor attempt to organize an Amazon facility in Alabama with an estimated 85% black workforce was rejected by a margin of more than 2 to 1 71% of workers who cast ballots voted against joining the retail, wholesale and department stores union. The union’s president, Stuart Appelbaum, responded by saying that the workers were somehow deceived. “Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to light its own employees with gas,” he told reporters after the vote.
The employees themselves offered a different setting. They said they were satisfied with the pay, benefits and working conditions at Amazon and said it was unnecessary to pay a union to deal with any complaints. Organized workers have been working for years to gain a foothold at Amazon, the second largest private employer in the country after Walmart. These efforts have repeatedly failed, and it’s no wonder. Amazon offers relatively high wages and good benefits. Blacks and Hispanics make up 49.3% of hourly workers and 20% of managers. And Walmart, which has also been fighting union formation for years, offers competitive salaries and benefits to a similarly diverse workforce.
Nationwide, union rates among blacks are slightly higher than those of whites. This is partly because a higher percentage of blacks work in the public sector, where union formation is generally more prevalent than in the private sector. However, black union formation among private sector workers has declined steadily over the decades, as has other groups. And contrary to the suggestion of labor officials like Mr. Applebaum, it’s not because black workers are confused or cheated on. Rather, they act in their own economic interests and just happen to be in good historical company.