Will Unions Join The Mortgage Debate?

by Peter G. Miller
November 7th, 2007

Here’s a bet. Unions are about to become a lot more active in the mortgage debate.

Unions in the U.S. represent 12 percent of the workforce. That’s some 15 million people, a big number but a lot fewer people than in the past. Union members, of course, impact even-larger numbers of household members, friends and neighbors.

The mortgage meltdown plainly impacts a lot of union workers, and yet there’s been little comment by union leaders. One can easily picture a situation where this will change, where unions will begin to use their political power to off-set the lending community.

How could this be done?

Imagine if unions and their natural allies such as consumer groups and student organizations came together. The result would be a massive political force, one representing borrowers.

Unions traditionally have had strong affiliations with the Democratic Party, the party now in power in both houses of Congress. Thus the import of a visible union position would have a substantial impact on the current mortgage debate. Democrats not inclined to support real mortgage reform could face problems next November because mortgages are an issue which, forgive the expression, hits close to home.

Unions would want protections for member borrowers — which means all borrowers. Given that borrowers have no PAC to offset lender lobbyists, the impact of union involvement could be significant.

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