Don’t Count Out the Labor Movement

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Almost every conservative political columnist, pundit, commentator, blogger, and bloviator has written about the decline and forthcoming death of the labor movement.

They happily point to Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker shortly after taking office in January 2011 took advantage of a Republican majority in the House and Senate to ram through legislation that stripped numerous collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. Among collective bargaining rights are those that assure decent working conditions and a fair grievance process to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory discipline.

The Republicans point to Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich, with similar legislative support, signed legislation in March 2011 that restricted collective bargaining rights for public sector employees.

They point to state after state where Republican legislators, with the financial support of private industry have brought forth self-serving bills to oppose collective bargaining.  

The conservative mantra is to pander to the middle-class pocketbook by creating a pseudo-populist appeal. The right-wing claims they are the ones who care about the people enough to cut government spending, which will lower all kinds of taxes. They altruistically scream that inflated payrolls and pensions caused economic problems, and the best way to help those who are struggling in a depressed economy is to lower those costs by curtailing the perceived power of unions. It sounds nice; it’s also rhetoric encased in lies.

Numerous economic studies have shown that the pay for public union employees is about the same as for private sector employees in similar jobs. And in some jobs, public sector workers earn significantly less than non-unionized private sector workers, leading to professionals and technical specialists often switching jobs from government to private industry, usually at higher wages and benefits.

So what, exactly, is the problem? Tax cuts. Bill Clinton left office, having given the nation a strong economy. During the Go-Go years in the first part of the 21st century, under the Bush–Cheney administration, states and the federal government created tax cuts for individuals, and held out generous tax cuts, tax waivers, and subsidies to corporations. The Republican theory was that these tax cuts would eventually “trickle down” to the masses by stimulating the economy.

What happened is that instead of benefitting the masses, these forms of wealthfare and corporate welfare, have done little to stimulate an economy that was heading down because the Republican executive and legislative branches, preaching less government, didn’t want government interference in financial institutions, the most politically conservative business. As a result of deregulation or, in many cases minimal regulation oversight, came the twin catastrophes of the Wall Street scandals and the housing mortgage crisis that spun the nation into the deepest recession since the Depression of the 1930s.

But you don’t hear the Republicans tell you they caused it, only that a run-away economy is because of those fictional high government salaries that need to be cut.

Joseph Slater, professor of law at the University of Toledo, says because of the 2008 crisis, states experienced massive budget shortfalls because growing unemployment decreased tax revenue. The problem in the states and the federal government, Slater told NEA Today, isn’t because of collective bargaining, but “because some of the worst state budget problems are in the small handful of states that prohibit public sector collective bargaining, states like Texas and North Carolina.” However, said Slater in an article for the American Constitution Society, “states with strong public sector collective bargaining laws . . . have smaller than average deficits.”

In response to conservative calls to curtail “pension abuse” in the public sector, Slater pointed out that “the vast majority of states don’t allow unions to bargain over public pension benefits,” and that some of the worst pension problems are in the so-called right-to-work states that have no public employee unions.

In contrast to the all-out assault upon the workers by Republicans, Govs. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Jerry Brown of California, both Democrats, have been reducing budget deficits, sometimes with a heavy hand as they slash programs and the number of workers, in consultation with the unions and without curtailing union rights. Unionized  workers in both private and public sectors have taken temporary pay cuts or agreed to taking vacation days without pay. Few corporate executives and no state legislators have willingly matched the sacrifices of the workers.

Now, as for those conservatives who are dancing on what they think are the graves of the working class labor movement. There’s a few stories they aren’t happily reporting.  

In Wisconsin, the recall election of Scott Walker did fail, as out-of-state individuals, PACs, and corporations contributed about two-thirds of his $30 million campaign to keeping him in office, as opposed to his opponent raising only about one-eighth of that amount. However, in subsequent elections, all three Democratic senators survived recall votes, and two of six Republican senators were recalled, leading to a change in Senate membership from 19–14 Republican to 17–16 Republican, but effectively blocking a “super majority” from ramrodding further anti-worker legislation into law.

In Ohio, voters overwhelmingly rejected, 62–38 percent, the new Ohio law that stripped collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In defeat, Gov. Kasich, whose attacks upon collective bargaining were a central part of his campaign, said “It’s clear the people have spoken.”

Monday is Labor Day. It’s more than just picnics and a three-day weekend. It’s a time to honor the working class, and the unions that gave them the rights of collective bargaining. They may be struggling but they are far from dead.

[Walter Brasch is a syndicated social issues columnist and author. His latest book is the critically acclaimed journalistic novel, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, which has an underlying union theme. He is a proud member of several professional and trade unions, including The Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America.]

 

 

How Is Mitt Romney A Politician?

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Mitt Romney did it again.

In a recent remark to voters in Wisconsin, the Republican frontrunner made a joke about closing factories in Michigan. Here’s Mitt in his own words:

One of (the) most humorous stories, I think, relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors…

They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now, later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign…

Now, I recall at one parade where he was going down the streets, he was led by a band, and they had a high school band that was leading each of the candidates, and his band did not know how to play the Michigan fight song…

They only knew how to play the Wisconsin fight song, so every time they would start playing ‘On, Wisconsin,’ ‘On, Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin.

Is this guy for real?

This is the third time that one of Mitt Romney’s comments has actually made me cringe inside (something that has never occurred with other politicians). The first was when Romney said that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor, and then followed up with a detailed paragraph explaining why. The second was when Romney tried to woo Michigan by making the ridiculous remark that the trees were the right height there.

This is one of those things which makes you think that it must be a joke. That there’s no way an actual politician actually did something as insensitive as making a joke about closing factories.

But it’s not a joke, and Mitt Romney did actually laugh about his dad closing factories in Michigan.

 

 

PCCC: 300,000+ GOTV calls made in Wisconsin

Progressive Change Campaign Committee, via email:

With less than 48 hours until the Wisconsin recall elections, we wanted to send a Special Report about what Progressive Change Campaign Committee members contributed to this historic effort so far:

  • 316,165 calls to voters made by thousands of national volunteers 
  • 116,755 grassroots donations toward our ads and activism
  • 1,721 local volunteer shifts by Wisconsin PCCC members
  • 5 powerful TV ads airing 17,333 times -- praised as some of the best ads in politics
  • Over $2 million spent in the Wisconsin fight by PCCC and our partners at Democracy for America

If we win Tuesday, this victory will belong to you -- and to all working families who are fighting back against the corporate, Republican machine.

One of the strongests ads running now (PCCC, DFA Wisconsin) features a WI Republican voter declaring we need someone on our side, and internal polling looks promising.  But Kevin Drum stresses this one will be a fight to the final vote:

One of the few available indicators of how the turnout will look [this] week was the re-election victory of Democrat Dave Hansen in mid-July, the first general recall election of the summer. Hansen cruised to victory, and the turnout neared 31,000—a figure suggesting an energized electorate in Hansen's Green Bay-area district. So the big question is: Can Democrats replicate that energy in six districts scattered throughout the state? Their hopes of snatching back the majority in the Wisconsin senate depend on it.

PCCC has launched a final call out the vote campaignActBlue page here.  While national politics have been a disappointment, the fight for families, workers, and the middle class in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and his masters is an opportunity to make history.

The outcome will ripple, setting the stage in every state heading into the 2012 campaigns.

Wisconsin Concealed Carry Confusion

Yahoo News published a wonderful article by Joshua Huffman (not to be confused with Joe Huffman because Joshua sounds quite reasonable).

Fortunately, Lambeau Field officials will have ample time to interpret the law for the new Wisconsin concealed gun law that should be passed this October. Green Bay police aren't aware of how the law impacts their ability to prevent fans from entering the stadium with a handgun.

The NFL prohibits fans from carrying guns into any stadium. However, they could be prohibited from enforcing their own policy on Lambeau Field. The NFL doesn't own the stadium, therefore can't impose their anti-gun policy. Pat Webb, the stadium's executive director, stated, "I don't know enough about Wisconsin's specific law to know if the stadiums are exempt or not or can be exempt."

I wouldn't be comfortable with people carrying guns in an environment of 50,000 people or greater. Post-game driving is hardly safe with the alcohol that's consumed at these sporting events. It only takes one person to create a chaotic scene. I'd be worried about someone trying to pry the gun away from the holder. Some people make irrational decisions when angered. That irrationality is magnified under intoxication.

What's your opinion? How does it work in other states with lax gun laws? Are folks permitted to carry concealed at sporting events in say Florida or Arizona?

I would think the fanaticism of some sports fans is even worse when mixed with guns than your general bar and drinking environment. At huge sporting events some of those sports nuts might also be CCW permit holders and some of them might decide to drink a few beers, you know, bad-rules-be-damned and all that.

What do you think? Good idea or bad idea?

(cross posted at Mikeb302000)


Please leave a comment.

 

 

Wisconsin Concealed Carry Confusion

Yahoo News published a wonderful article by Joshua Huffman (not to be confused with Joe Huffman because Joshua sounds quite reasonable).

Fortunately, Lambeau Field officials will have ample time to interpret the law for the new Wisconsin concealed gun law that should be passed this October. Green Bay police aren't aware of how the law impacts their ability to prevent fans from entering the stadium with a handgun.

The NFL prohibits fans from carrying guns into any stadium. However, they could be prohibited from enforcing their own policy on Lambeau Field. The NFL doesn't own the stadium, therefore can't impose their anti-gun policy. Pat Webb, the stadium's executive director, stated, "I don't know enough about Wisconsin's specific law to know if the stadiums are exempt or not or can be exempt."

I wouldn't be comfortable with people carrying guns in an environment of 50,000 people or greater. Post-game driving is hardly safe with the alcohol that's consumed at these sporting events. It only takes one person to create a chaotic scene. I'd be worried about someone trying to pry the gun away from the holder. Some people make irrational decisions when angered. That irrationality is magnified under intoxication.

What's your opinion? How does it work in other states with lax gun laws? Are folks permitted to carry concealed at sporting events in say Florida or Arizona?

I would think the fanaticism of some sports fans is even worse when mixed with guns than your general bar and drinking environment. At huge sporting events some of those sports nuts might also be CCW permit holders and some of them might decide to drink a few beers, you know, bad-rules-be-damned and all that.

What do you think? Good idea or bad idea?

(cross posted at Mikeb302000)


Please leave a comment.

 

 

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