In Nevada, two traditional pillars of the Democratic Party are about to turn on each other over a tax hike. The state teachers’ union is pushing a ballot initiative that will raise an estimated $700 million for education spending by way of a tax on business revenue. But blocking the bill is the AFL-CIO. According to Steve Malanga:
The AFL-CIO originally supported the tax but reversed course after a study determined that it would seriously undermine the state’s competitiveness as a business location, and some firms that had targeted the state as a relocation site said they would reconsider if the tax passed. The AFL-CIO, which helped collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot also balked when the teachers’ union got greedy and raised the proposed rate on the tax to 2 percent, up from 0.8 percent.
Even though the combatants in this case are both unions, private sector unions like the AFL-CIO have substantially different interests than do public sector unions. When times are good, the differences aren’t as sharp, so it costs a lot less for them to link arms on measures like these. But in lean budgetary times, private sector unions’ interests often align more closely with the consumers of government services (in this case, private employers) than they do with the producers of those services.Malanga also notes that the AFL-CIO has one advantage going into this fight: “Nevada is still a state where there are more private sector workers in unions than government union workers (unlike, for instance, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island).”