D-Day For Public Employees

wisconsin teachersCollective Bargaining Under Attack – Unions Threatened

What we are witnessing right now in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states is the final battle against the last bastion of union strength in this country. With the aggressive onslaught aimed at public employees and their unions that Republican governors have unleashed in recent weeks, it’s long past time for politicians calling themselves “Democrats” to push aside the anti-labor elements inside their party and stand up for basic worker protections.
The share of private sector workers who belonged to unions fell from close to 20 percent in 1980 to 12.1 percent in 1990. By the 2000s it had dropped to only 7 percent. This decrease in private sector unionization is often attributed to changing attitudes among the workers themselves, but public employee unions grew steadily during this period and accounted for most of the new unionization. It was far more difficult for governmental institutions to practice the kind of aggressive anti-union tactics that have become the norm in the private sector since the 1980s.

Not anymore.

Now, using Wall Street’s toxic waste dump of 2008 that produced high unemployment and budget deficits as their excuse, Republican governors and other puppets of big business are deploying the same underhanded, union-busting tactics to gut public sector unions that business has long leveled against private sector unions. This systematic destruction of public-sector unions must be fought as if the Democratic Party’s life depended on it — because it does.

It’s time for politicians and public officials who call themselves “Democrats” to stop ceding the debate on deficits and taxes (and therefore public-sector unions) to the Republicans. It’s all just rehashed Reaganomics: Give capital everything it wants and then prosperity will trickle down. But George W. Bush already put those policies into practice, and it was an unmitigated disaster. Now there’s a concerted “bipartisan” project to take the deficits out of the hides of public workers, be they teachers, engineers, child protective services counselors, social workers, and in some cases, even police and firefighters.

“Democrats” who have been bashing public school teachers (and especially their unions) in the name of “reform” in recent years have done a gross disservice to all unionized public workers and to the labor movement as a whole. Now they find themselves on the same side as the anti-union Republicans who want to turn the whole country into a “right-to-work” free enterprise zone.

In Wisconsin right now, Democratic legislators have taken the extraordinary step of holing up in a hotel in Illinois to block a quorum for a vote on what would be the most anti-worker piece of legislation to come out of any state house in a generation. But they can’t hide forever.

It’s time to start acting like the labor party Democrats pretend to be when it’s election time. A good start would be to stand unequivocally against any attack on public workers — and that includes teachers and their unions too! Stand firm and in the streets if you have to — but it’s time to fight, not to compromise.

Voters who make up the progressive/labor base of the Democratic Party should ask the simple question of Democratic politicians: If you insist on going along with the long-term Republican project of dismantling the public sector and bringing down the working middle class in this country, then why should we vote for you?


  1. pigdog67 says

    Frankly I am a little confused. Big corporations pay low taxes. They have no reason to hate public educators. Why? Because the public schools are funded through property taxes. Essentially paid by the taxpayers (homeowners). And who gets any produced benefits. Big corporations. Why. Because capitalists need three feed stocks these being raw materials, labor (educated hopefully) and capital. So they are getting the labor educated for free (this being paid by the taxpayer). The taxpayer pays to raise there children and pays for the schools. And the capitalists reap the harvest.
    So why would capitalists want to break labor unions in the education sector. Sorry I do not get it. Perhaps the Repubicans are crappy representatives of the capitalists and do not have a clue what they are doing.
    If anyone can explain it from a rational standpoint please go ahead.

  2. George A. Crackuh says

    Unions were necessary at first, and then useful for a while, but their time is in the past. The teachers in Wisconsin are overpaid, overfed, underworked, self-centered freeloaders.

    A much better solution, instead of the old adversary system, where fat-cat union bosses do battle with fat-cat executives, is to share the wealth, and the risk, liberally and cooperatively.

    Have every worker in a public company receive 1/3 of their pay in dividend-paying common stock, with full voting rights attached. Pretty soon those all workers will have strong board representation, and they’ll be voting on executive pay levels, among other things. And, they’ll be working together toward making the company more profitable, because that will show up in their dividend payments and in their stock price appreciation. They’ll be saving strongly for their retirements, and they’ll have a real measure of control in how well they do.

    In other words, structure the system so that the workers are not dispossessed, but so that they are owners, too.

    This idea would work well with charter schools and the voucher system, too.

    The U.S. public school system is a failure; like our health-care system, it has been corrupted by heavy-handed, small-minded government involvement. Like the DMV, like the Post Office, like everything the government tries to run, it’s too expensive, it’s oppressive, unresponsive and choice-restricting, and it offers a truly crummy product to its’ captive consumers.

    The handwriting is on the wall. The public-sector unions are going down; and the sooner, the better for the whole country. It’s time for the workers to unite in cooperation, rather than to sick-out like stupid adversaries.

  3. Nate says

    It’s about time someone stood up and said this… allowing the republicans to go on union busting & de regulating will make America like Poland or Russia in jig time , then they won’t have Obama to blame

    Hoover did this too and look what happened .

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