The assault against collective bargaining

Metafilter has a good thread this evening on the current assault against collective bargaining in America, which is being led by state governments beset by debt. Here’s the post that kicked off the conversation. I’d encourage you, though, to check out the original, posted by a fellow calling himself Saul Goodman, which is chock full of links.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the National Guard is prepared to respond to unrest among state workers: “Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.” NY Times offers more reporting on Walker’s proposals here. Notably, Walker is reportedly refusing even to negotiate with the public employee unions. Though Walker’s carefully worded announcement avoided any specific commitments about how guard troops might be used much beyond noting the Wisconsin Governor’s concern that “some union leaders will try to incite their members,” a look back at the history of the labor movement in the US reveals that this wouldn’t be the first time in US history the National Guard has been called upon to respond to labor unrest, and that the results haven’t always been pretty.

These latest developments come at a time when many observers have been warning of a major assault on the labor movement for some time, both in the US and internationally. Commenters in the UK and US warn: “An assault on unions is an assault on democracy itself,” and “As go the unions, so goes the nation.” The New York Times, meanwhile, reports that states across the nation are taking steps to curtail collective bargaining rights in response to a nationwide state budget crisis. It remains to be seen if states are also prepared to renege on their contractual obligations to state bond holders, although politicians have quietly begun discussing the possibility of allowing states to declare bankruptcy for the first time in the nation’s history, a move which critics have also cautioned might be used to provide anti-labor proponents further political ammunition against labor, alleging that current state budget shortfalls (which appear to be due more to poor state financial management than the recent economic downturn) have been part of a deliberate Republican strategy to force the politics of the situation to a crisis in order to justify its union busting efforts.

Some are accusing the fellow who posted this of hyperbole, stating that Scott “Wisconsin is open for business” Walker is likely only readying the National Guard in case they’re needed to step in and take over critical state functions now performed by unionized employees, like prison guards. Regardless, however, I think it’s hard to deny that there’s a strong anti-union sentiment brewing among the Tea Party set, and that there will likely be clashes in the near future, as hard-won gains made by the unions over these past several decades are rolled back for the stated goal of balancing budgets.

In related news, the film version of Ayn “I’m a hypocrite who depended on Medicare like the worthless, filthy ‘parasites’ I wrote about in my books” Rand’s seminal work of pro-business deregulation porn, Atlas Shrugged, will be coming to theaters soon. Here, for those of you with strong stomachs, is the trailer.

[Today’s post is brought to you by Ann “I think there should be more jailed journalists” Coulter.]

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16 Comments

  1. Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    alleging that current state budget shortfalls (which appear to be due more to poor state financial management than the recent economic downturn)

    I’m confused. By “poor state financial management”, do you mean, “cutting taxes while promising people that everything we care about can be provided for free”? Because sometimes the dialogue anymore seems to be between the “stuff costs money” folks, who are okay with taxes, and the “bread and circuses – FOR FREE ZOMG!!!1” tea party types. If that latter view is what you(r quoted source) mean by “poor state financial management”, then I’m cool with it.

  2. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    The anti-union sentiment in this country never fails to amaze and discourage me. I’m sure some of it stems from pure jealousy…people who are unionized often have much better pay & benefits than non-unionized folks. Now my solution to that is to hey, organize motherfuckers! But it’s apparently much easier to talk shit about us on annarbor.com.
    I’m not one of those “I’ve got mine now you get yours” kinda people and I personally would LOVE to see most folks unionized. It makes me sick to read about the obnoxious salaries of the few folks at the top (yes, including those at the top in A2 and at UM), almost always defended with, “We need to offer high salaries if we want top talent”. Why don’t people rail against THAT? Why are they railing against unionized employees? I would wager a guess that unionized TeacherPatti has a lot more in common with the ranters than the chief head dean of the top lubbityloo school at UM or the GM Exec. Why direct your ire at me instead of at that asshole making 7 figures for doing…what exactly?

  3. Billy LaLonde
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Our President is also proposing, as part of his budget plan to slash 100 billion from Pell Grants. Hmmm…Less access to education, and the breaking of unions…Welcome to the machine, wage slaves. It is now truly being oiled with your blood… And the operator’s air conditioned cockpits are kept cool and comfortable with your sweat and tears as well. With no dependable, affordable healthcare to boot, I guess the people of this country have become as disposable as every other product manufactured today.

  4. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    love you teacher Patti, you made v day for me :)
    yah we now must cut to pay for their dirty wars, but some pay more than others…

  5. Glen S.
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    @ TeacherPatti

    I couldn’t agree with you more — especially about so many of the comments on AnnArbor.com (or the Detroit News, Freep, etc.).

    Especially in Michigan, it seems as if a generation of workers whose salaries, benefits and job security have been steadily eroded (along with a new generation who realize they will *never* achieve this “historical” standard of living) feel that the best way to rectify their situation is to rail against the few remaining workers (mostly in the public sector) who still have a “middle class” standard of living.

    As TeacherPatti suggests — instead of joining their public-sector peers to organize and campaign for better wages and working conditions for EVERYBODY, they gleefully cheer on the depressing race-to-the-bottom that is the unfortunate result of “Crab Mentality” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality).

    I predict that by the time Gov. Snyder and his Republican pals (along with some Democratic collaborators) get done with their upcoming two-year budget cycle, we’ll ALL be feeling the Randian, supply-side, trickle-down love …

    “Michissippi” here we come!

  6. Knox
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    This is a nation of want-to-be rugged individuals. Unionism flies in the face of that. Collective bargaining implies the weakness of the individual.

  7. Edward
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Why is it OK for corporations to band together by sector to lobby in Washington in hopes of getting treatment, but the workers of said companies can’t band together to do the same thing?

  8. John Galt
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    That trailer made me ejaculate a little, in my mouth.

  9. Kim
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    The social safety net is becoming a “hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.” -Republican Paul Ryan

    http://my.firedoglake.com/ericlaursene/2011/01/27/paul-ryans-hammock/

    It’s also worth noting that our taxes are lower now than they have been since the 1950’s.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41482116#41482116

  10. Ted
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Real Americans were watching the Grammies last night, not creeping around sites like Metafilter, looking for new ways to hate their country.

  11. Larry Seven Larry
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, a real American would have posted about Lady Gaga and the egg in which she travels, not about something as trivial as the dismantling of the middle class.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/13/lady-gaga-egg-grammy-arrival_n_822625.html

  12. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey thanx for the kind words! And yeah, the freep.com website makes the annarbor.com commentators look like they are walking in the park with grammaw.

  13. stupiditasstupiddoes
    Posted February 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I remember when a local university was on strike a few years back. Laid-off former auto-industry, minority folks catcalled as they drove past the faculty near my store. Few unions honored the picket lines. The irony of this did not escape me.

    Funny how it turned eventually out that (at that time) the university administration had no idea how to keep their own books, and that while the admins had been saying for years that the university was _losing_ money by the millions: when actual, trained accountants went over the books the university had been making many millions all that time. No need for layoffs, cutbacks, and the like.

    Fast forward a few years: auto has been in the dumps, Ford has thus paid people to go quit their jobs and back to school. 3 years after _that_, Ford is picking up steam, and people who had been making about incredible wages for gluing silver strips on car doors — some of them are getting their jobs back. And: the guy coming to my store – 3 years into a degree that actually will let him drive his own future instead of pushing on a silvered glue strip– he is feeling like the one that made a bad decision.

    I’m glad I sell all involved alcohol. Keep up the good work.

  14. Posted February 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Here’s what the great Russ Feingold, whom the people of Minnesota just voted out of office, had to say about Governor Walker’s request that collective bargaining rights be suspended for public employees.

    “Governor Walker’s request to the State Legislature to eliminate nearly all of the collective-bargaining rights for thousands of Wisconsin workers is big government at its worst. No private employer can do what the governor proposes, nor should it. For decades, Wisconsin has protected the rights of workers to collectively bargain with their employer on wages, benefits, workplace rules, and many other aspects of their employment. The governor is wrong to suggest that public workers are responsible for the state’s budget woes, and he is wrong to use that bogus excuse to strip them of rights that millions of other American workers have.”

    I still can’t accept the fact that the people of Wisconsin voted out Feingold and voted in the likes of Walker.

  15. Posted February 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I can, that’s what people want.

    They hate unions and they hate public employees. Sounds logical to me.

  16. AR
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Wisconsin is rapidly becoming a disturbing showcase of where America as a whole is headed, as Tea Party political ideas takeover the Republican party. What began as a ragtag scattering of conservative activists two years ago is now starting to have real political power and putting its anti-government, slash-and-burn ideas into practice in ways that impact millions of Americans.

One Trackback

  1. By Wisconsin’s public employee unions fight back on February 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    […] but the protests in Wisconsin are growing in the wake of Governor Scott Walker’s demand that public employees no longer be allowed to negotiate collectively. Here’s footage of thousands of people taking over the state capitol building […]

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