My first experience with a union rep was in a swamp. I'd been working to build a major sewer system through the boondocks: my summer construction job in college. The man had slogged out there to tell me that I had to join the union or quit working. Since I'd spent most of the summer there already (and all of the previous one), and the amount I'd have had to pay was more than I'd earn in the remaining couple of weeks, I quit.
.... Wisconsin is indeed facing a budget crunch, although its difficulties are less severe than those facing many other states. Revenue has fallen in the face of a weak economy, while stimulus funds, which helped close the gap in 2009 and 2010, have faded away.
In this situation, it makes sense to call for shared sacrifice, including monetary concessions from state workers. And union leaders have signaled that they are, in fact, willing to make such concessions.
But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain. ...
... it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.
In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). [Bloggers note: the Koch brothers are the main money behind teabaggers, as well.] ...
... Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.
You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. ...
.... There’s a bitter irony here. The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.
So will the attack on unions succeed? I don’t know. But anyone who cares about retaining government of the people by the people should hope that it doesn’t.
Predictably, teabaggers have showed up in Wisconsin right on cue, unknowingly (one would hope) doing the bidding of those who would complete the coup against their own power. And every time I allow myself the glimmer of hope that they'll wake up to see how they've been used, I get another comment here from the Jersey shores that convinces me I'm wrong. There's no getting through to these people.
Never have so many been so deceived by so few, so easily, into doing so much so clearly against their own interests.