And now for the PropagandaPosted: February 18, 2011
The Right Wing Media and John Birch society outlets are pressing hard against the protests happening in Wisconsin and other places where government workers’ rights to collective bargaining are under assault. We’re seeing police state tactics employed by the Republicans in Wisconsin and typical hateful propaganda from the mouthpieces of the plutocracy. Here’s an excellent example of right wing hysteria worthy of a dying despot using State TV to scare people from WSJ.
A seminal showdown between public unions and taxpayers. — For Americans who don’t think the welfare state riots of France or Greece can happen here, we recommend a look at the union and Democratic Party spectacle now unfolding in Wisconsin.
That’s right, Wisconsin is having ‘welfare state’ riots like France or Greece. I’ve missed the fires, but hell, what’s a little purple prose compared to having every one sing ‘The Internationale’ eventually? Is that what they think of Fire Fighters and Teachers? Do the services we provide fall under a ‘welfare state’? Do the years we spend at school or training need to be discounted because we work for the public sector instead of the private? Look at that pejorative word ‘riots’. Isn’t every one in Wisconsin exercising their constitution-given rights to free speech and assembly? Are they really rioting? This reminds me of the characterization in Egypt by the state TV of journalists and protesters as provocateurs of foreign agents. That was the trigger pulled on a gun pointed at the head of journalists among others.
Catch what’s called a ‘modest proposal’ in the second paragraph. Unbelievable. This Op-Ed was unsigned and that in itself is telling. It’s an edict from above.
Mr. Walker’s very modest proposal would take away the ability of most government employees to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index, unless otherwise specified by a voter referendum. The bill would also require union members to contribute 5.8% of salary toward their pensions and chip in 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.
How can you ‘bargain’ for higher wages when you’re currently under a salary freeze? How is it ‘bargaining’ when they start your position with wage increases capped at the CPI? What happens if there’s a shortage of something like Civil Engineers and the going wage for Civil Engineers doubles? Does that mean you have no right to ask that your salary be brought up to the market level so that your only choice is to leave your job and go else where? What is the basic purpose of having the right to collective bargain but to be able to sit down and negotiate from a position of strength to a reasonable, mutually agreed position? What does it say when the state wants to handicap you from the get go and start you from the minimally acceptable position to begin with? How does this do anything but decimate the collective bargaining process?
I need to make a disclosure here. I’ve been a member of the NEA and I worked with the negotiating team at my college in Nebraska. This is something I sorely miss down here in Louisiana because I haven’t had a decent working situation since then. My livelihood was subjected to the capricious whims of both Deans and politicians many times. None of this would have happened if I had a strong bargaining unit. I would have had a vehicle for redress and I imagine they may not have even tried what they’ve gotten away with under different circumstances. An example would be that my last position offered me a job and salary–taking me off the job market–then 10 days before school started, they changed both my salary and job grade to a much lower position when I had no options at that point. I’d have never taken that offer had it been made when I was in a position to do something else. This last teaching job never paid me any of the salaries they offered me for either of the two academic years I worked there. I received two contracts after school had started that were distinctly different from the terms they gave me mid summer. That’s just one example of abuse too. Also, what few benefits we had in the Louisiana public university systems are the result of the collective bargaining power of the clerical and janitor’s unions. That goes for administrators too. If they hadn’t achieved a minimal threshold, the rest of us would never have gotten similar deals. The only employees that have control over the terms of their jobs are the very top administrators and the sports coaches.
But then, I speak now as the new enemy of the people. Just read right wing media sources. Oh, and watch CNN and NPTV. I learned exactly how horrible people like me are on State of the Union and The Nightly News Report last night. I’m the new face of communism and the caliphate. I switched to MSNBC last night because I simply couldn’t take the public bashing of my profession and my colleagues any more. This bashing came via Journalists and Politicians which– last time I checked–were the two least respected professionals in the country.
I won’t even show you some of the more egregious right wing bloggers who basically portray all teachers, policemen, firefighters, janitors, prison guards, and other civil servants as greedy bastards who sit around all day doing nothing and collecting outrageous salaries that they’d never be able to achieve in the private sector. This is all based on bogus assumptions. One blog calls the protests in Wisconsin ‘hate rallies’. This farcical stereotype is being tooted by Republican pols who have premier pension plans and insurance programs immediately and have access to discounted and free services. How many of you have a barber shop or a gym you don’t pay for? I didn’t even have that at either of my University jobs and universities have some pretty nice gym facilities. Faculty and staff have to pay to join. How hypocritical is that?
How far have we sunk when so many elected officials and media figures are trying to make enemies of the very people that are here to serve us? What has a park ranger at a state park done to deserve this kind of vituperative treatment? Why do they so hate the middle class and the very groups of unions that set the tone for wages and benefits in many places? What type of plantation mentality does it take to eagerly seek to force workers into such a hapless position? Better yet, why are so many people duped by these voices of the plutocracy?
Perhaps every one recognizes that we may be crossing the Rubicon. This maybe the threshold of our final chance to stop the Republican and Chamber of Commerce led plot to put us all back on plantations with a debt form of indentured servitude that we can never escape.
What’s happening in Wisconsin is more threatening to unions because it’s not just giving back money–something that’s become a mainstay in the auto industry for years. It’s giving back hard-won rights. By going after collective-bargaining rules, Walker has taken on public-employee unions in a way that’s more fundamental, profound, and threatening to unions than New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s wielding of the budget axe. Christie has become the darling of the GOP circles because of his administration’s fiscal austerity.
By taking aim at the ability of public employees to strike, Walker has found a tool that may well cut the state’s budget deficit. In doing so, however, he has lit a fire under Democrats and a chastened labor movement that has gotten used to givebacks.
Collective bargaining is the infrastructure–the essential core of labor’s rights and power–and so attacks on that right go to the heart of the union movement. That is why the president weighed in on what is at first glance a local issue. If the battle of Madison spreads beyond Columbus and Des Moines to the rest of the country, we’ll be hearing a lot more on this topic from the president.
It isn’t far fetched to say that the fascist elements in this country are using police state tactics to squelch dissent. The plutocracy that funds the so-called tea party is deep in the trenches on this one. Here’s one such group of little fascists in training bragging they chased the 14 Democratic senators out of Rockford, Illinois. How many of these idiots realize that their being used by folks like the trust fund baby Koch brothers to suppress people who they have a lot more in common with than difference? Why are they being used to attack others fighting for the few scraps left to those outside the bonus and inherited wealth class?
The NYT has also put a no-name editorial up signifying the force of the board of editors.
Like many governors, he wants to cut the benefits of state workers. But he also decided a budget crisis was a good time to advance an ideological goal dear to his fellow Republicans: eliminating most collective bargaining rights for public employees.
Not surprisingly, thousands of workers descended on the Capitol building, pounding on windows and blocking doors, yelling “shut it down.” So many teachers called in sick that public schools in Madison and more than a dozen other districts had to be closed. On Thursday, the Democrats in the State Senate refused to show up, vowing to prevent any action until the governor drops his plan. The state police were sent to find them.
Mr. Walker has decried the chaos, but it was entirely self-inflicted. His plan to undermine the unions, which would have no direct impact on the budget, would take away nearly all of their rights to negotiate.
They would be barred from bargaining about anything except wages, and any pay increase they win would be limited by the consumer price index. Contracts would be limited to a year, and union dues could no longer be deducted from paychecks. As President Obama correctly put it on Wednesday, that “seems like an assault on unions.” (The archbishop of Milwaukee and players for the Green Bay Packers have also come out in support of the workers.)
I personally hope this is the moment of plutocratic overreach that puts people in the streets to protest. We have public goods for many reasons. Some times, it is the only way a good–like public transportation–will be provided. Some times it’s the only way that a good–like education–will be provided to any one but the rich. Other times, public provision is necessary because the social costs of private provision are huge. Examples of these are processes that cause security risks and crime, pollution, or other public health risks.
Bringing Public workers down is not a way to lift every one else up. Traditionally, unions have provided the benchmark for every right we have including five day work weeks, overtime pay, holidays, child labor laws, worker safety initiatives, and benefits. Much like public plans for insurance, they provide an anchor of the minimally acceptable contract in markets that are so lop-sided. In other words, its a way to fight off monopoly on the other side of the market. If you’re a teacher or you want to go into law enforcement or fire fighting or civil engineering, then you’re going to have to work for a municipality or state. They are the sole employers. They are monopolies.
Collective bargaining is necessary when the other side of the equation in a market is a monopoly. It is the only offset to the overwhelming power of the monopoly. It is frequently why you still see unions in private markets where the company is also either a monopoly or oligopoly like the steel industry or the automobile industry. Monopolies take advantage of customers and they take advantage of the factors they use in their production process if they can. Collective bargaining is an important offset to this power. Without out, all of us would be much worse off.
So, you can want your MTV and Super Bowl and tacky Chinese made jeans. Give me my union.
“The NFL Players Association will always support efforts protecting a worker’s right to join a union and collectively bargain. Today, the NFLPA stands in solidarity with its organized labor brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.”
The support of the Packers players hasn’t been lost on those marching in the streets. Aisha Robertson, a public school teacher from Madison, told me, “It’s great to see Packers join the fight against Walker. Their statement of support shows they stand with us. It gives us inspiration and courage to go and fight peacefully for our most basic rights.”
and from the same source:
Yes, in advance of any debate over his proposal, Governor Walker put the National Guard on alert by saying that the guard is “prepared” for “whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for.” Considering that the state of Wisconsin hasn’t called in the National Guard since 1886, these bizarre threats did more than raise eyebrows. They provoked rage.
Robin Eckstein, a former Wisconsin National Guard member, told the Huffington Post, “Maybe the new governor doesn’t understand yet—but the National Guard is not his own personal intimidation force to be mobilized to quash political dissent. The Guard is to be used in case of true emergencies and disasters, to help the people of Wisconsin, not to bully political opponents.”
Already this week, as many as 100,000 people have marched at various protests around the state with signs that reflect the current moment like “If Egypt Can Have Democracy, Why Can’t Wisconsin?” “We Want Governors Not Dictators,” and the pithy “Hosni Walker.”