Across the nation the attacks on workers is growing, and it’s not just by Republicans, either. The ruling class smells blood and fear and is getting cockier each day. As Walker and others strip away collective bargaining rights and other union protections, the mainstream union leadership has all but given up, telling workers to go back to work and not to make any trouble. This is exactly the kind of message that riles up the rich for further attacks. They can see that their prey is weak and unwilling to resist. They recognize that the time is ripe to go for the jugular.
The Republicans are preparing to destroy unions entirely. They hate unions’ ability to negotiate higher wages, which cuts into profits. They also hate unions’ ability to raise large sums of money for their Democratic allies. The Republican goal is the destruction of unions and the Democratic Party. The Democrats, on the other hand, desperately need unions and their resources and votes, but they, too, want to see a decline in the power at the workplace. The Democrats, after all, are also part of the ruling elite. They too have large investments on Wall Street, successful law partnerships and appointments on boards.
Partial Rundown of State Attacks on Labor
- Arizona has several bills on the table that will lead to a virtual police state for workers. SB 1350 blocks public employees from being a member or officer of any committee of any political party or running for office. HB 2367 bans collective bargaining entirely, including wages and applies to all public workers, including public safety employees (i.e., cops). SB 1363 outlaws all opposition to corporate abuses, including pollution or safety violations, by banning picketing, mass assembly and secondary boycotts. SB 1563 prohibits sickouts, work to rule or any other job actions that could slow down profits or services.
- In California, Republicans are refusing to allow a measure onto the June ballot that would extend regressive taxes unless the legislature slashes public employee pensions. In order to make it onto the ballot, Gov. Brown needs two-thirds of lawmakers to approve it, something that will not occur without some Republican support. Even if the measure does make it onto the ballot and is approved by voters, Brown still plans to slash $500 million each from the UC and CSU university systems, $400 million from community colleges, $1.5 bilion from Cal-Works (welfare-to-work program) and $1.7 billion from Medi-Cal, which will result in a lot of people losing their jobs and health care. (If the tax extensions don’t pass, an additional $5 billion may be cut from K-12 education).
- Connecticut has legislation pending that would block binding arbitration from awarding raises whenever unemployment is more than 7%. A sister bill would tie these raises to the Consumer Price Index. Gov. Molloy is collaborating with unions to freeze wages, add furloughs, and cut health benefits.
- Florida’s SB 830 would prohibit automatic dues check-offs by unions, thus starving them of resources and limiting their ability to organize (which is what they should be doing) as well as lobby (which is what they’re spending most of the money on). HB 7005 slashes unemployment benefits. Gov. Rick Scott also plans to fire 8,100 state employees.
- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal plans to fire 14,000 state workers and slash K-12 spending by 5.6% and university spending by 10%, resulting in additional job losses for teachers and professors.
- Hawaii passed a law preventing unions from negotiating employer contributions to health care. They also have pending bills that would increase employee contributions to health and pensions, and one that would kill Medicare Plan B reimbursements for retired government workers.
- Indiana is trying to pass “right to work (for less)” legislation.
- Michigan is pushing a new law that would allow the governor to dissolve local governments and school boards and rip up existing workers’ contracts when he decides they are in financial trouble.
- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wants to slash state employee pay by 6% and is eliminating subsidized health care for 7,200 poor adults.
- Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman is demanding freezes in state employee pay and education spending. He would also slash Medicaid and punish anyone who tries to use it without being gainfully employed.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to increase state employee contributions to their health plan by 30% and double their contributions to their retirement plans.
- Ohio’s SB 5 would end collective bargaining for public sector workers.
- Pennylvania is cutting $1 billion from K-12 education and $600 million from their university system and freezing state employee pay. Gov. Corbett also wants to freeze teacher pay. 1,500 state workers will lose their jobs, as will countless teachers and university professors. Thousands will also lose health coverage under his budget plan.
- In Tennessee, SB 1033 criminalizes all forms of union or employee opposition to corporations. Another bill prevents workers and their unions from donating to political parties and candidates. SB 1032 bans strikes and all other forms of job actions, including work to rule and other “slow down” tactics. The punishment for those who break this law would be fined $1,000 per day and any union representing those workers would lose its right to collect dues for the entire state. Other pending bills would block teachers from negotiating working conditions.
- Texas plans to slash education spending to 23% below their own state-mandated levels, and fire up to 100,000 teachers.
- Washington has bills pending that would amend their Constitution to allow pay cuts for public officials during an economic crisis. Gov. Gregoire plans to cut $1 billion from education.
- Collective bargaining for public sector workers is being attacked through legislation in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.