Hey, let’s just ban those unions!
At the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to say again what I said right here on January 1:
You can decide for yourself after the first session of the legislature, the cabinet selections, the rhetoric and everything else, whether Fighting Bob La Follette would have wanted to be part of the inauguration. I’m guessing Bob wouldn’t feel too slighted and may even prefer to be looking the other way. I’d be happy to be wrong about that, but I just think that instead, folks are going to find out why Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is so happy about the outcome last November and why Fighting Bob would not have been quite so giddy.
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So now, Governor Walker has said he won’t negotiate with the state’s public employee unions, he’s putting the National Guard on standby and he’s trying to ram a bill through the legislature to greatly diminish collective bargaining rights. Some may feel this is okay, since an environment of “us vs. them” has been successfully cultivated during the recession.
Before jumping on board with something they don’t really understand very well and which is not likely to have enough time for a thoughtful discussion, I would caution folks to think about something that Martin Luther King said in his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Make no mistake: this is an injustice.
There may well be reason to thoughtfully re-evaluate of the current collective bargaining scenario with public employees and create the conditions for some near-term sacrifice, too. But the case for permanently stacking the deck is something that Walker’s approach would never be required to make. Instead, the guv and his camp just want people to shut up and live under their rule on the matter, with no time wasted dispassionately looking for facts or impacts. Welcome to Red State Wisconsin. Go Big Red.
As reported in Isthmus, we can expect some real pushback, as well there should be:
“We’re going after where the power actually is, and that’s Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce,” says Ben Manski of the Liberty Tree Foundation in Madison. This campaign will begin with actions on Wednesday, February 23, at WMC’s statewide conference to be held at Monona Terrace, and will include a lunch-hour picket and a late-afternoon rally. “These individuals have no understanding of labor law,” declares Manski, referencing Walker and his allies in and out of government. “It’s been interesting to me to hear them talk about how they’re going to eliminate public sector unions, as if this is not going to energize them.”
“I really think it shows the governor has allowed himself to get carried away with delusions of his own authority,” says Manski. “It will be important for all of us, meaning those who want to protect the Wisconsin tradition, that we act with discipline, that we not hold back, and that we not be provoked. I think it’s clear the regime in the state Capitol is looking for trouble, and I think those statements about the National Guard were an incitement.”
Both Peter Rickman of the AFT Wisconsin professionals union and Manski note that organizing against Walker’s proposal is ongoing concurrently in Milwaukee and elsewhere around Wisconsin.
“I think Gov. Walker hopes working people in general don’t get word about this,” says Rickman. “But people are smart, and know that after they come for public sector unions, they’re going to try to drag down working standards for everyone else in the state.”
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I talked with Reps. Donna Seidel, Louis Molepske and Amy Sue Vruwink Friday at a press conference they hastily put together in Wausau. They’re doing their very best to sound the alarm on this sweeping fast-tracked legislation that could easily fly through the GOP-controlled legislature and be signed by the governor within the next week. The Republicans appear to be hoping that most Wisconsin citizens will be asleep at the wheel and all will be done before anyone really has time to figure out what is actually happening.
Keep in mind that this is all being done in the context of a “budget repair bill” and it is not even completely clear that such legislation is needed at all. You can view greater detail on Walker’s move here:
Of course, we will have to wait for the tortured logic about how this, like everything else, is really all about producing more jobs. That’s what Walker campaigned on, wasn’t it? And has anybody seen Russ Decker?