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PORTSIDELABOR  January 2012, Week 2

PORTSIDELABOR January 2012, Week 2

Subject:

It's Scott Walker's Party: How Anti-Union Zealotry Defines the GOP Race

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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Wed, 11 Jan 2012 21:31:08 -0500

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It's Scott Walker's Party: How Anti-Union Zealotry
Defines the GOP Race
John Nichols on January 9, 2012 - 1:09am ET
http://www.thenation.com/blog/165514/its-scott-walkers-party-how-anti-union-zealotry-defines-gop-race

Manchester, NH--When I asked Newt Gingrich if he planned
to campaign for Scott Walker in the recall election the
labor-bashing governor of Wisconsin will almost
certainly face, Newt answered, "Sure!"

"Scott Walker's fight in Wisconsin has made him a
national leader on issues [that are] important to
Republicans," said the former Speaker of the House. "Of
course I would campaign for him."

The Republicans who would be president disagree on some
issues. But they are pretty much united in their
affection for the nation's most embattled governor.

After Walker attacked public-employee unions last
February, Mitt Romney announced that he was donating
$5,000 to support the Wisconsinite. And Rick Santorum
hails Walker's "tremendous courage."

What is it about Walker--who is so unpopular that
hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites are petitioning
for his recall and removal--that makes him so appealing
to the leading figures in the national Republican Party?

That's simple. Scott Walker is an anti-union zealot. And
anti-union zealotry has become a core premise of the
twenty-first-century Republican Party.

Attacks by Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich on
public-employee unions may have gotten the most
publicity. But other governors, most notably Indiana's
Mitch Daniels, are striving to undermine the collective
bargaining rights of private-sector workers.

But nowhere is the disdain for organized labor more
evident than on the Republican presidential campaign
trail. Never in the modern history of the Republican
Party, which once made a serious effort to compete with
Democrats for labor endorsements and the votes of union
members, has a field of GOP presidential candidates been
so united and so aggressive in opposing
collective-bargaining rights for public-sector and
private-sector workers. As recently as 2008, former
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appeared at the annual
convention of the International Association of
Machinists and received the industrial union's
endorsement in the Republican primaries. Today, just
four years later, the Republican contenders are not just
refusing union invitations. They are using every
opportunity to explain their opposition to labor's
agenda, along with their support for legislative
initiatives that are designed to undermine
collective-bargaining rights.

At Sunday's final debate before the New Hampshire
primary, a question about efforts to enact antilabor
laws unleashed a furious bout of union bashing. Passing
laws that make it harder for unions to organize workers
and bargain on their behalf "makes a lot of sense,"
chirped Romney, while Texas Governor Rick Perry argued
that erecting structural barriers to union organizing
can make a state a "powerful magnet" for job creation.

Here in New Hampshire, Romney has endorsed efforts to
pass so-called "right-to-work" legislation, which would
legally bar unions from collecting dues from all the
workers they serve, and which would make
collective-bargaining virtually impossible in many
workplaces. Gingrich is an enthusiastic proponent of
right-to-work laws. Even the supposed "moderate" among
the GOP contenders, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman,
is urging New Hampshire legislators to gain a
"competitive advantage over your neighbors" by passing
anti-union legislation.

But the Republicans candidates don't stop there.

Gingrich says: "One of the things the Congress should do
immediately is defund the National Labor Relations
Board." Not to be outdone, Romney is airing a new ad in
South Carolina that declares: "The National Labor
Relations Board [is] now stacked with union stooges
selected by the president."

Santorum, who has tried to present himself as an ally of
working Americans with talk of renewing our
manufacturing base, is as militant as Walker when it
comes to attacking the collective bargaining rights of
public employees. "I do not believe that state, federal
or local workers...should be involved in unions," says
Santorum. "I would actually support a bill that says
that we should not have public-employee unions for the
purposes of wages and benefits to be negotiated."

Aren't there any prominent Republicans who think unions
make a positive contribution to society?

I found one. This guy says: "Collective bargaining...has
played a major role in America's economic miracle.
Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this
land. There are few finer examples of participatory
democracy to be found anywhere. Too often, discussion
about the labor movement concentrates on disputes,
corruption and strikes. But while these things are
headlines, there are thousands of good agreements
reached and put into practice every year without a
hitch."

Who is this Republican outlier who spoke about "the
sacred right of American workers to negotiate their
wages"?

A fellow named Ronald Reagan. Some people used to think
he was quite a Republican. But Reagan's no Scott Walker.

____________________________________________

PortsideLabor aims to provide material of interest to
people on the left that will help them to interpret the
world and to change it.

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