February 22, 2011
-- by Dave Johnson
The attack on public-employee unions in Wisconsin is in the news because of the large Egypt-style turnout of supporters at the state capital (70,000 on Saturday!), and the dramatic theater effect of Democratic Senators leaving the state to delay a vote on the measure, and give the public time to rally.
Today the rallies are spreading to other states where public employees are under attack.
After "ginning up" a budget deficit with tax cuts and breaks for corporations, Governor Scott Walker introduced a "Budget Repair" bill that strips public employees of collective bargaining rights. The bill, however, exempts firefighters and police, whose unions supported Walker's candidacy.
Over the weekend 70,000 people flooded the capital in Madison to protest the governor's plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights. The State's Democratic Senators remain out of the state, continuing to delay a vote on the bill.
Power Plant No-Bid Sale: On another front it came to light that the "Budget Repair" bill also contains a provision allowing the sale of the state's power plants on a no-bid basis. The most likely beneficiary would be Koch Industries, which already has pipelines and coal operations in Wisconsin. Control of power plants gives them an in-state, top-to-bottom vertical chain. Koch was a major supporters of Governor Walker's candidacy as well as being the group that is promoting the budget hysteria, busing the Tea Party supprters to the state capital for counter protests. The Koch Brothers are also a primary funder of ALEC, the organization that wrote the budget bill the outlaws collective bargaining and enables the sale of the state power plants on a no-bid basis to ... Koch Industries.
This appearance of a quid-pro-quo raises the question whether this is a deal to repay Repubican backers, quietly giving huge wealth public assets to the Koch Brothers.
See also: Top 5: Why Wisconsin Matters To You
In Ohio Gov. John Kasich introduced a bill to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights. Unlike Wisconsin this bill strips right from all public employees.
NY Times: Thousands Gather to Protest Bill in Ohio
Protestors packed into Ohio’s State Capitol building and several thousand more gathered outside on Tuesday, as its legislature planned new hearings on a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for state workers and dramatically reduce its power for local workers, like police officers and firefighters.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels introduced anti-union "Right To Work" legislation to strip public and private unions from being able to collect dues from members. Other bills remove collective bargaining rights from teachers, as well as implementing a voucher program in opposition to public schools.
Indiana Democrats are reportedly joining their Wisconsin counterparts in staging an exodus from their state to protest a new union-busting Republican measure.
Only two of Indiana's 40 House Democrats showed up for a session Tuesday morning, precluding Republicans from attaining the votes needed to proceed on motions. The rest are fleeing to Illinois to stage a walkout...
Only 58 lawmakers were present, falling short of the 67 required for a quorum.
In Michigan the Republican legislature introduced anti-union measures allowing cities and schools to terminate labor union contracts, eliminate required binding arbitration for police and fire departments and repealing "prevailing wage" laws.
In Tennessee Republicans in the legislature are finalizing a bill to remove collective bargaining rights from teachers. A march is planned for Saturday in the state capital.
In Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says the state's labor laws are too friendly to unions and is asking for,
“veto power” over state worker pay and benefit agreements, giving the governor and legislators authority to reject negotiated union contracts which legislators or the governor find unacceptable.
Branstad also wants health care benefits for state workers to be set by the governor and legislators and no longer be part of contract negotiations.
In Florida the legislature is considering a bill, SB 830, that prevents union dues from being deducted from paychecks, and prohibiting dues from being used for political activity without written consent. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, however, sides with labor on this one,
"My belief is as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine," Scott said in an interview with Tallahassee's WFLA FM radio station.
Join With Labor
The AFL-CIO has an action page up:
Stop Attacks on Working Families
Corporate CEOs spent more than $1 billion to elect politicians and now they want pay back. Recently elected politicians in many states are already saying “thank you” by pushing dangerous legislation that attacks workers.
Please add your name to our petition urging state legislators to stop attacks on workers—we’ll deliver your signature to your state legislators.
March 10 Summit on Jobs and America's Future
On March 10, 2011, the Summit on Jobs and America’s Future will bring together leaders and activists who understand that America faces a jobs crisis – and who are committed to building a political movement for sustainable economic growth, dynamic job creation, and a revival of the American economy.
Posted by Dave Johnson at February 22, 2011 2:41 PM
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