Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Since They're Being Led To The Slaughter Anyway, Why Don't Unions Fight Back Against The Conservative Consensus?


Kasich is no laughing matter for Ohio working families.

I was surprised at the number of e-mails and phone calls I got after my short post Sunday looking at how society rewards teachers as compared with dangerous Wall Street criminals. Several elected officials, ones I had never met before, called to tell me I was on to something and should keep digging. 

I will, but yesterday I didn't have to dig too far. Gawker is the latest to sniff around and come to the conclusion that the Conservative Consensus has every intention of blaming unions, particularly public service unions, for everything. American transpartisanship has its scapegoat-- the same one conservatives in the U.K., France, Italy and Holland are targeting.
Why is our economy in the predicament that it's in today? High unemployment, sluggish growth...who's to blame? The unions, of course. The unions are the enemies of the working man. The working class must destroy unions for their own good.

...[B]laming unions for unemployment is a brilliant stroke of political jujitsu, because it appeals to the very people that would naturally be allies of organized labor: the working class. The New York Times today details the plans from (mostly Republican) governors across the nation to enact new laws that would kneecap public and even private sector unions, targeting both unions' bank accounts and their basic legal rights. For example:
Of all the new governors, John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, appears to be planning the most comprehensive assault against unions. He is proposing to take away the right of 14,000 state-financed child care and home care workers to unionize. He also wants to ban strikes by teachers, much the way some states bar strikes by the police and firefighters.

"If they want to strike, they should be fired," Mr. Kasich said in a speech. "They've got good jobs, they've got high pay, they get good benefits, a great retirement. What are they striking for?"

Kasich is hardly the only conservative following this approach. We mentioned Cuomo (D-NY) on Sunday and how he's on the way to tearing apart the Democratic Party by demonizing his state's unions. But as usual, Republicans are substantially worse, the way an "F" is worse than a "D," even if that doesn't look like a big deal for someone striving for an "A." As the Times pointed out, "Republican lawmakers in Indiana, Maine, Missouri and seven other states plan to introduce legislation that would bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees, reducing the flow of funds into union treasuries."

The sociopath now running Wisconsin, far right Republican Scott Walker, is going so far as to actually threaten to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain collectively for contracts. Republicans in his state emulate China in so many ways. He's quoted in the Times piece saying in a speech: “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-not. The bottom line is that we are going to look at every legal means we have to try to put that balance more on the side of taxpayers.”

Schoolteachers and firefighters, policemen and garbage collectors are "the haves"? And multimillionaire social parasites like newly elected Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and Governor Walker are the "have-nots"?

I'm wondering why unions aren't fighting back. What do they have to lose? Maybe they could start by electing proactive and even-- dare I say it-- militant leadership, leaders who realize that when push comes to shove, Obama is playing on the same team as Walker, Cuomo and Kasich.
“I see this as payback for the role we played in the 2010 elections,” said Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the main union of state employees. Mr. McEntee said in October that his union was spending more than $90 million on the campaign, largely to help Democrats.

“Now there’s a bull’s-eye on our back, and they’re out to inflict pain,” he said.

In an internal memorandum, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. warned that in 16 states, Republican lawmakers would seek to starve public sector unions of money by requiring each government worker to “opt in” before that person’s dues money could be used for political activities.

“In the long run, if these measures deprive unions of resources, it will cut them off at their knees. They’ll melt away,” said Charles E. Wilson, a law professor at Ohio State University.

...Labor leaders, who argue that government employees are not overpaid, worry that many of these measures have a much better chance of enactment than in previous years because of Republican electoral gains and recession-ravaged taxpayers’ reduced sympathy toward government workers.

The A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s internal memo warned labor leaders, “With the enormous losses in state legislatures around the country, we will face not only more attacks on working families and their unions-- we will face more serious attacks, particularly in the formerly blue or purple states that are now controlled by a Republican trifecta.”

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At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Jim Crittenden said...

Why don't we fight back? Because we have forgotten who we are fighting it for: Not for ourselves, but for future generations of simple, God-fearing people like we like to believe we are. When we remember who it is for, we will fight with the same fury as earlier generations did. And hopefully we will fight with an updated version of past visions of what a free society is. We will have a better sense of calling BS on the powerful who lie, cheat, defraud, and murder to sate their greed. Yet even those who lie awake at night are stuck in fear that the powerful will open the gates of hell and lead us to another all-consuming world war. Looks like we have to call their bluff, and remind them that this time we will mop the bloody streets with their heads if it comes to pass.

However, I think in this scenario that most people can find themselves somewhere on the above political continuum. In the end, we all share the guilt. Logically, it feels like checkmate, but emotionally it feels like time to rumble. That's what injustice is like- it is the poisoning of the planet we all must take responsibility for. Any union fight must address pollution, poverty, global warming, general hatred, and other sub-species of these evils. Are the blues up for all this? That's what I keep wondering.


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