Union-busting battle spreads to more US states

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 22:06 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

CHICAGO – The battle against Republican attempts to undermine trade union rights is spreading with Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state of Indiana in a bid to block anti-union legislation, and workers’ rights protests swelling in the US Midwest.

Trade unions are the biggest sources of financial and grass roots organizational support for Democrats and have long been a target of business-backed Republicans.

They have seen their power and membership rolls shrink as the manufacturing sector declined and as many operations shifted to anti-union southern states, and now just 12 percent of US workers are unionised.

Republicans are using their victories in November’s mid-term election to “pretty much destroy the last vestiges of labor in the Midwest,” said Jeffrey Keefe, a professor of labor economics at Rutgers University.

“They want to establish a permanent majority by destroying unions,” Keefe told AFP.

“They very well may be able to do that if they’re successful in getting through both the repeal of public sector collective bargaining rights and the ‘right-to-work’ legislation.”

Republicans have already been successful in blocking state employees from forming unions in 12 states.

Some 22 states have undermined unions with so-called “right-to-work” legislation which allow workers to collect union-won wages and benefits without having to join the union and pay dues.

These latest attempts in traditionally union-friendly states have met with stiff opposition and do not seem to have garnered widespread public support even though they are being implemented under the guise of necessary cuts in the face of steep deficits.

A Gallup poll published Wednesday found that 61 percent of Americans said they would oppose a bill taking away collective bargaining rights of public workers in order to balance the budget while 33 percent would support it.

Thousands of protesters have occupied the state Capitol in Wisconsin for eight days now in an attempt to block a bill that would strip public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights.

Governor Scott Walker insists he is unbowed by the protest — which reached a peak of 65,000 people on Saturday — but the bill’s passage was stalled by 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Illinois Thursday to deny the necessary legislative quorum.

Indiana Democrats followed suit on Tuesday in order to block a right-to-work bill, prompting a legislative shutdown, the Indy Star reported.

Governor Mitch Daniels — who eliminated collective bargaining rights for state employees unions in 2005 and has aspirations for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 — said he, unlike Walker, would not send state troopers out to round up the lawmakers.

He also told reporters that he believes this is not the right time “to have this very important and legitimate issue raised” but said he cannot force Republican lawmakers to drop the bill.

Thousands of protesters returned to the statehouse in Columbus, Ohio Thursday to protest a bill which would eliminate most collective bargaining rights for public employees.

But the state’s Democrats will not be fleeing Ohio to prevent the bill’s passage, senate Minority leader Capri Cafaro told CNN.

“That really isn’t possible for us,” she said as protesters held up signs demanding “stop the war on workers.”

“I commend my colleagues in other states, but right here, now we stand to try to continue this dialogue.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
  • Anonymous

    Republicans aren’t even hiding it anymore because they know they’ll get backing from rich corporations for elections. The question is, Will American workers realize it before it’s too late?

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Well, good. Let every single state deal with a nightmare. It’s about time. And another thing, nobody should settle and negotiate away whatever little they’ve got left. Why should they? Haven’t we already given enough? We’ve lost our jobs, our retirement, children’s education and life savings have been whipped, our homes have been foreclosed on and even those who manage to keep them, have seen them go down in value to half of the purchase price, we’re paying more for sickcare insurance than we pay for a brand new car or have none. In the meantime, the motherfuckers who caused this mess have been bailed out with our money, give themselves million dollar bonuses on top of the multi-million dollar bonuses, pay no taxes and continue to fuck us royally while turning their nose up at us. Fuck them! To the gallows with the bums!

    Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?

    Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy — but the feds are doing more to protect them than to prosecute them


  • Anonymous

    “Will American workers realize it before it’s too late?”


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RT3XX4DFKZ2AD7JHO3D3PZ7G4M ChrisK


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FONW6K3ZWV4BU4ZTCDCSZHHH6E Mick Jagger

    Hitler broke the unions in 1933.

  • enorceht

    it’s time to wake up from that “corporate toys” induced sleep and look around to what’s actually been taking place right in front of you … if you don’t want to believe it’s been happening for the last 30 years then just look at the last decade — and put down that glass of red koolaid

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5XKDORJ6HIVIZ6V5OTK76KTEY Immortal

    And the average middle class American says, “Okay, I’ve dug the grave, and now I’m laying in it. Would you please just throw the dirt on top of me, pretty please with sugar on top?”

  • ghostof911

    Thanks for the Taibbi link

    Financial crooks brought down the world’s economy, but the DOJ is preoccupied with prosecuting Julian Assange for a busted rubber.

  • ghostof911

    The Journal Sentinel finds your statement correct.

    Reviewing a transcript of the opening statement of the chief U.S. counsel in the Nuremberg Trials, we found the Nazis:

    Seized all funds of labor unions and arrested union leaders, sending them to concentration camps.
    Ordered that no workers organizations, except ones created by Hitler, would exist.

    Replaced collective bargaining with Hitler-appointed “trustees” to regulate the conditions of all labor contracts.

    So, Hitler abolished all unions and collective bargaining by decree, not with legislation. And he used force to liquidate the unions that did exist.

  • ghostof911

    Make that, Union-busting battle spreads to ALL 50 STATES.

    A collection of prominent progressive groups and unions, including MoveOn.org and the Service Employees International Union, are working to organize rallies in every state capital at noon local time on Saturday.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    He’s a threat. Heavens knows why, it’s not as if anybody cares or they’re doing anything about it.

  • ghostof911

    Going after someone who’s revealing the truth is a sign of how desperate the warlords have become.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yep. Look at Qaddafi. Are you following that at all? Just like Mubarak, it gets more bizarre by the day.

    Coincidentally, I got an e-mail today telling me that the shit is starting up in Cuba too. For two days now, they’ve been trying to assemble and they’re being hauled away to jail en masse including the media. We tried to do some of that in the late 70s but not very successfully, unfortunately. The repression was worse than that in Libya.

    And, here’s something else you’ll be interested in:


  • Jaimie11
  • Johnny Warbucks

    I don’t buy it, Jamie. I just commented to someone else that saying that is great disrespect to those who have risen and put everything on the line to get their freedom and their country back and, in particular, to those who have died on the attempt. The US has done a lot of bad shit in its day but attributing this to them is an injustice to the cause of those people who have finally found their voice and the courage to fight their oppressors.

  • Jaimie11

    I agree that the people’s spirit and courage are extraordinary – but that does not preclude manipulation behind the scenes. I am just concerned that the powers of influence and money are stronger. Why would the world banksters and oligarchs allow such a revolution if they had not already prearranged a soft subversion. I mean it’s worked here – hasn’t it? Why wouldn’t they want to give the ME the semblance of the freedom the people have not known in a century, all the while letting the money flow in freely, exerting control on their leaders, and – whoops, the noose tightens and the ME is up to its ears in debt, just like us.

    What do you envision – realistically?

  • Anonymous

    On May 2nd, 1933, the day after Labor day (May Day in the US), Nazi groups occupied union halls and labor leaders were arrested. Trade Unions were outlawed by Adolf Hitler, while collective bargaining and the right to strike was abolished. This was the beginning of a consolidation of power by the fascist regime which systematically wiped out all opposition groups, starting with unions, liberals, socialists, and communists using Himmler’s state police.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Sadly, I have to agree that there is manipulation; however, it’s not the one everybody is screaming about but the one that will earn me in tinfoil hat in certain circles and among a few whackjobs around RS. Fidel Castro is behind it. He’s the mastermind, I got my proof today. He published some crap a few days ago claiming that NATO was getting ready to invade Libya and blah blah blah. Today, he published another diatribe fully supporting Qaddafi and his tune had changed. This time, he accuses the Western media of maligning Qaddafi (the same Western media, mind you, that he had praised generously in Egypt) while claiming that there is a civil war in Libya and that it is not known who the elements behind it are. Oh, he also blames Israel. Ha ha! Keep in mind that this is following Qaddafi’s own line, the first misinformation/threat he put out there. Hours after that was published, Qaddafi takes to the airwaves and (are you ready for this?) accuses Al Qaeda of doing it. I had to laugh, really! He had also accused the Muslim Brotherhood before but recanted that today. He also mentioned Osama bin Laden, drug-crazed teenagers being influenced by Egypt (he doesn’t seem concerned with the effects of the drugs on their hearts) and blah blah blah.

    How do I read all this? Classic Castro-style blame the enemy (yes, he too is afflicted by the Israel Syndrome). Qaddafi set up the tone today to be invaded by the US. The message was clear. He said that Libya had been overtaken by Al Qaeda and then he went on to mention the invasion of Iraq and blah blah blah. Truly bizarre. See, those of us who have lived under the grasp of these mad men just know. It’s in certain words, certain tone, the gestures. You can just predict what’s coming down the pipeline. In the interim, Castro has kicked CNN out of Cuba and is rounding up all the journalists. There have been a couple of small worker protests and he quashed a demonstration that was scheduled for today which is a historical holiday in Cuba. He’s not letting anybody celebrate. I also got an e-mail from Cuba telling me that they have busted the beginnings of protests at the beginning of the week. The dogs at the Minister of the Interior hauled everybody to jail.

  • Jaimie11

    Read this JW, from Maximillian Forte – a pretty good perspective on it.


  • Johnny Warbucks

    I did not see that one. There are so many good articles on the AJ blog, I can’t possibly read them all. PressTV also have a bunch of good ones.

    PS: NYT had this today: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/world/middleeast/24saudis.html?_r=1&hp

  • Jaimie11

    Johnny, be good and give me the headline of the NYT article. Thanks.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Here you go, dear:

    Arab Unrest Propels Iran as Saudi Influence Declines


  • Jaimie11

    Thanks so.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Yes, m’am. Here’s another one you may enjoy. A lot shorter with a different approach:

    ‘Awakening tightens noose around Israel’

  • Jaimie11

    There’s not a little irony here – I heard that 60 to 70 percent of Arab Israelis do not want a Palestinian state.
    They believe it will not be well run, and that social services will be non-existent. Arabs are anxious to get Israeli citizenship ASAP.

    There are Israeli Jews who are not right wing Zionist, who are marrying Arabs – what will become of them and their families?

  • Jaimie11

    Great site! Thanks JW.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I’ve got bad news now. Look at this:


    This is the worst possible outcome for those poor people. It would be another disastrous bloody mess with another 1+ million dead civilians. I hope that bastard goes fast!

  • Jaimie11

    I never thought I would say something like this – but this is a special ops job – just go in take out Gaddafi – problem solved – if they actually start talking strongly about a military solution I hope there’s a huge outcry against it, enough to stop it. African freedom will be killed before it can begin if the US goes in.

    Can you believe the courage of the Libyan people – coming on again and again and again without arms against mercenary thugs, an army and airforce? We have so much to look up to, to live up to.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    Sorry, RS is not allowing me to reply on the proper spot.

    Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “a special ops job – just go in take out Gaddafi – problem solved” and you know that. Every time the US had tried that, they have failed miserably. They are only good at invasion, destruction, massacre and decimation, Iraq style. And that’s exactly what Qaddafi and his pal Castro are trying to do. They’re temping and manipulating the US (which doesn’t need any tempting and manipulating) to flatten Libya just like they did Iran. Every time that mad dog opens his mouth, he sends a clear message and yesterday’s was an invitation, a dare actually, to invade. I think I told you that Castro published an identical piece before Qaddafi went on the air with his speech. Then, Hugo Chavez did exactly the same thing today. They’re all in cahoots, all 3 of them. And they’re all equally sick and equally genocidal. Qaddafi has already decided that he’s going down like Saddam, hence, his “I’ll die a martyr” and “I’ll die in Libya” and “I’ll fight to the last drop of blood” (his people’s blood that is, not his). The stage for disaster has been set.

    Having said that, the Libyan people are making head waves. The fight for Tripoli is today. If they can take the city and kill that mother fucker, the US can’t possibly justify an invasion and the poor Libyans are spared. As they free cities, they are setting up their own committees to help people withe medical supplies and care, food, etc. They know what they’re doing. They have a plan. The tribal elders and the high ranking officials that have defected are also meeting, setting up an interim government. Things are under control the chaos and bloodshed not withstanding but that is part of the price of winning their freedom and taking control of their country. I hope for the best for them. I truly do! They are brave, determined people who deserve nothing but the best in the world. They have earned it.