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The Democrat's Anti-Union Strategy

By       Message shamus cooke     Permalink
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Major crimes are often committed with multiple accomplices. In a sophisticated bank robbery, behind the vault busters, there stands layers of criminals who act as lookouts, getaway drivers, planners, etc. So, too, in the colossal crime being committed against organized labor across the U.S., the Republicans act as the vault busters while the Democrats have a less direct -- but equally guilty -- role in this historic attack against working people.

The Democrats are spared a lot of blame in this bi-partisan assault due to the Republican's honesty: they are unabashedly anti-union. On the other hand the Democrats will say they are pro-union while constantly stabbing labor in the back.

For example, numerous governors who campaigned as "pro-labor" in the last mid-term elections are now attacking the same unions that supported them. In multiple states across the country unions are forced to hold giant rallies outside -- and inside -- state capitals where Democratic governors sit. In these examples the Democrats are playing an openly anti-union role.

A recent debate in The New York Times discussed the topic, "whose best at cutting state budgets." The article discusses the tactics of Republican and Democratic governors in their drive to cut -- what turns out to be -- the benefits of union workers. One debater, Matthew Mitchell, advocated "reforming" (slashing) state's pension systems, long a target of the right wing in its assault against unions:

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"... governors across the country from California's Jerry Brown (a Democrat) to Florida's Rick Scott (a Republican) are talking about pension reform. Several states are trying to reform pensions by raising the retirement age, increasing contributions, or changing benefit formulas."

The debater goes on to advocate "reforming" (slashing) the state health care system for organized labor too, which Democratic governors across the country are actively pursuing.

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Another debater, Elizabeth McNichol, advocates the always dishonest "shared sacrifice" approach: tiny tax increases for the wealthy or middle class combined with gigantic cuts for labor unions. McNichol's favorite examples are Minnesota and Connecticut, where the latter's Democratic governor is demanding $1.6 billion in cuts to public workers' benefits every two years. Speaking of Minnesota's Democratic Governor, McNichol says:

"His [Governor Dayton] cuts to health care and public employee benefits are deep, but they'd be even deeper without these revenue measures [tax increases]."

Labor leaders are torn between rallying their members against these anti-union politicians,and using language that isn't too harsh, since calling the Democrats by their rightful names would mean a divorce between these long-unhappily married groups. But some labor leaders are speaking more openly about the role of the Democrats, most recently Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. Trumka denounces not only the above directly anti-union Democrats, but the passively anti-union Democrats too:

"It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside -- the outcome is the same either way. If [political] leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them."

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The head of the national Firefighters Union, Harold Schaitberger, also points the finger at the criminally complicit Democrats:

"Mr. Schaitberger complained that Congressional Democrats were doing far too little to combat ongoing efforts to weaken public-sector unions in Florida, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee and elsewhere. In Oklahoma, the Republican-led State Senate sent the governor legislation last week that would prohibit the state's 12 largest cities from bargaining with public-sector unions."

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Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)

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