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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The GOP War On Unions, cont...

Feb 1st, 2012
UPDATED 2:46pm CST - Original story below the fold

CBS reports:

"Indiana has become the first Rust Belt state to enact the contentious right-to-work labor law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill Wednesday after it passed the Senate following weeks of discord that saw House Democrats boycott the Legislature and thousands of protesters gather at the Statehouse.

Indiana is the first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law."

This bill is a blow to every working man and woman in the country.

It's a bad for labor here in Indiana...again. Today, the state Senate is poised to pass Mitch Daniels' Right-To-Work (for less) bill which has already cleared the state House. Large protests are planned and I certainly encourage anyone who can get to the capital to do so (HERE are directions). Other resources can found HERE.

I wrote at length about this fight a month ago. The simple fact is that the only kind of employment expansion this sort of legislation might encourage is at the bottom. Wages will fall. Many employees who once had recourse for unjust terminations will now have no right to challenge unfair management practices.

That Daniels is now championing this dreadful legislation represents quite an evolution on the subject. Speaking to the Teamsters 135 Union Stewards Dinner in 2006, he said he was opposed to the concept in no uncertain terms:

"We cannot afford to have civil wars over issues that might divide us and divert us from that path. I have said over and over, I'll say it again tonight: I'm a supporter of the labor laws we have in the state of Indiana. I'm not interested in changing any of it. Not the prevailing wage laws, and certainly not the right to work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor, and fair and free competition for everybody." EMPHASIS OURS

Oh well. I guess Daniels' designs on higher office and the subsequent demands of the GOP establishment outweigh his former convictions. When the legislation now likely headed for his signature was first proposed following the Tea Party ascension in 2010, Daniels started changing his tune. The Herald Bulletin reported at the time:

"It's a very legitimate issue," Daniels said. "But I think it's too big to do without having discussed it out in the open first. And I'll also say I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do." 

This past December, Daniels announced, "after a year of study and reflection, I have come to agree that it is time for Indiana to join the 22 states which have enacted right to work laws."

It probably helped him secure the rebuttal to the latest State of the Union address. The irony that he had to promise to undermine the state of the union to clinch it is rich.

The AP reports on just how much impact the passage of this bill could have nationally:

"Indiana would be the first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees. The Indiana victory is expected to embolden national right-to-work advocates, who have unsuccessfully pushed the measure in other states following a Republican sweep of statehouses in 2010. But few right-to-work states boast Indiana’s union clout, borne of a long manufacturing legacy."

While this is bad, it's nothing compared to recent developments in Arizona. Nick R. Martin writes for TPM:

"With a sweeping series of bills introduced Monday night in the state Senate, Republicans in Arizona hoped to make Wisconsin’s battle against public unions last year look like a lightweight sparring match.

The bills include a total ban on collective bargaining for Arizona’s public employees, including at the city and county levels. The move would outpace even the tough bargaining restrictions enacted in Wisconsin in 2011 that led to massive union protests and a Democratic effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“At first glance, it looks like an all out assault on the right of workers to organize,” Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D) told TPM on Tuesday. “And to me, that’s a serious problem.”

The bills were crafted with the help of the Goldwater Institute, a powerful conservative think tank in Phoenix that flew Walker to the state for an event in November. Nick Dranias, director of the institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, told TPM he sees Walker as a “hero” but that Wisconsin’s laws were “modest” compared to Arizona’s measures."

The sheer level of venom directed against people who work for a living and wish to stand up for their rights is unlike anything we've seen since the 1930s. This is why elections matter. One can but hope that the millions who stayed away from the polls in 2010 are beginning to realize what their inaction is costing us.

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