Just as the Bush Syndicate went after the rights of public unions following Bush’s re-election in 2004, several republican state governors are now going after the collective bargaining rights of public unions following the November 2010 elections, when many states’ governments turned more republican.
Their strategy is clear (though their mission is more covert): State public unions are primarily governed by state law, while private sector unions are primarily subject to federal law. If the conservative Tea-Bagger governors can decimate the public sector unions state by state, then private sector unions are easier to challenge. They’ll simply claim that their actions are solely directed at stopping the financial bleeding in their states. They’ll insist that the public sector unions, with their collective bargaining rights, have caused their state budget deficits.
Only those who have no knowledge of union-management interaction could believe such utter tripe. Unions sit across the negotiating table from management/owners/state negotiators whenever negotiations are conducted. If the management/owners/state negotiators give away too much during the give and take of robust negotiations (which they sometimes do), the fault lies with the management/owners/state negotiators, not of the union negotiators, whose known role is to achieve the best possible deal for the union membership they represent. Conversely,the state negotiators’ role is to yield as little as possible and to take back whatever they can.
One exception to this basic union-management axiom is when the company/state/economic entity is in severe economic distress. At those times it is incumbent upon the company/state/economic entity to reveal the true data about the economic situation. Then it is incumbent upon the union to agree to give back whatever previously-won benefits are required to ensure the survival of the company/state/economic entity. This is exactly what occurred between the airline industry and the unions representing pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, baggage handlers, etc., after the post-9-11 airline passenger downturn. Pensions, benefits, salaries and so forth were all subject to union “give-backs” because the unions understood that economic failure of the the airline companies meant lose of their memberships’ employment.
Unfortunately for the public sector state unions such as those in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, the switch to republican-dominated legislatures and governorships has resulted in plans that are far more ominous, insidious and ulterior than simple budget-deficit-reduction.
The brutal reality is that these states are the test sites for a more coordinated Tea-Bagger effort to defund the Democratic party. How, you may ask…?
It’s simple, really. Conservatives receive the bulk of their political campaign funding from big business, corporate American, Wall Street players, millionaires and billionaires, and others with a vested interest in being allowed to do whatever they want to whomever they want whenever they want, without government interference, oversight or intervention. For instance, the billionaire Koch brothers, who seem to fancy the republican party as they own “hit team”, have bankrolled the republican party to the tune of billions of dollars. They would like nothing more than for every union and every government regulation on business to disappear. They generously fund the campaigns of those who see what they see and believe what they believe.
The democratic party is the antithesis of that. Democrats support the middle class over big business and Wall Street’s corporate America. As a result, a large part of their political funding comes from the nation’s unions.
Tea-Baggers figure: If we should down the unions, we shut down a major political funding source for those liberal democrats. And what better way to shut down unions than to take away their reason for existence: To negotiate benefits for the workers? After all, who’s going to join a union that has no purpose?
To that end, Tea-Bagger Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has become the GOP point-man in the effort to bankrupt the democratic campaign treasury. Walker and his newly republican-controlled state legislature want to eliminate the Wisconsin budget deficit by having the unionized state employees pay more into their pension funds and health insurance. That’s pretty fair, and in fact the union has already agreed to that. But Walker wants much more. He want to render the state union impotent by eliminating their collective bargaining rights in perpetuity. If he can make this happen, he’ll be the darling of the ultra-extreme-right wing of the GOP, and possibly GOP presidential nominee someday.
In response, Wisconsin’s democratic legislators have left the state, preventing the state senate from achieving a quorum required for business. So Walker has threatened a state-wide public employee. And this scenario is now repeating in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. The showdown is coming, folks.
A bit of perspective: Unions stopped child labor, sweat shops, unsafe working conditions, 16-hour work days and 7-day workweeks, abusive owner/management/state/entity practices against employees, and caused establishment of the minimum wage. Without unions, greed is the only motivator.
If the issue is money, then owner/management/state/entity should come to the table in good faith and provide data to back their positions. And if the union agrees to a give-back, how does management still insist upon destroying all future collective bargaining?
Where’s the good faith in that?