Spring 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 75 of 83

74 CINEMONTAGE / SPRING 2015 LABOR MAT TERS isn't picking up. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who had long opposed unions as groups that only enrich their members, publicly declared he had changed his mind. WALKER SEES UNION- BUSTING AS FOREIGN POLICY Before he signed "right to work" legislation, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) appeared in New York City in February for the Conservative Political Action Conference at the same time that former mayor Rudy Giuliani questioned President Barack Obama's affection for America, writes Steve Benen for MSNBC. Walker argued that when President Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike in 1981, he was sending a message to Democrats and unions at home as well as to our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, adds Benen, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The next day, Walker took his comments to the morning chat shows. "When [Reagan] fired the air-traffic controllers early in his presidency, there's not a person, not just an American, but around the world, that as an ally didn't know we were serious and would stand with them," said Walker on CNBC. "But equally, if not more importantly, in USSR at that time and the Soviet Union — now Russia — and Iran and elsewhere, they knew not to mess with us." WISCONSIN PREPS MORE ANTI-WORKER ATTACKS After Governor Walker made Wisconsin the 25th state to enact "right to work" legislation, state Republicans were far from finished with Wisconsin workers, writes Alan Pyke in Think Progress. Three lower- profile measures are still on their way. Walker's budget includes significant changes to how Wisconsin's workers compensation system works. Republicans are also reportedly planning attacks on two other significant statutes that help keep wages high and keep state dollars from going to out-of-state firms that do public works on the cheap. Wisconsin is one of 32 states that has a prevailing wage law on the books to "prevent low- ball bids from depressing wages." The state GOP has also indicated that it will target "project labor agreements," a close cousin of prevailing wage laws. "Right to work" laws do damage to middle-class families whether or not they include a union member or anyone who works in a unionized shop, adds Pyke. They reduce annual pay for all workers by about $1,500 and make it less likely that employers will offer pension benefits or health care to employees. And "because the earning power of a given state's middle class is directly correlated with the strength of labor unions in the state, the law's gradual chokehold on union resources creates a kind of economic sinkhole beneath all middle-income households," concludes Pyke. According to Alex Bradshaw and Richard Becker writing in LEO Naked, the term "right to work" was coined by Vance Muse, a Texas businessman and white supremacist who founded the Christian American Association (CAA) in the 1940s. The CAA was a well-known collection of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, as well as far-right businessmen and political lobbyists. The organization also worked against women's suffrage, New Deal reforms and even child labor laws. Its origins are now conveniently forgotten. f Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs a so-called "right to work" bill into law on March 9, 2015. The new law makes Wisconsin the 25th "right to work" state. Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal- Sentinel

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of CineMontage - Spring 2015