Since Feb. when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed state laws, decimating collective bargaining for working people to “balance his budget,” it has become more and more clear that the root cause of this move impacts way more than what occurs in Wisconsin. Traditionally, unions are a major source of support for Democrats and Walker’s actions are widely seen as a move to slam unions and reduce their support for Democrats in 2012 elections.
But there is reverse psychology in action here. CNN’s Money section, Mar. 11, proclaims Walker “Union Man of the Year” adding labor unions can thank Gov. Walker for re-energizing the worker’s movement. Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at UC Berkeley says many Americans see (Walker) as running roughshod over the democratic process. “He has sparked the most energized labor movement in decades,” Shaiken said. “He’s recruited many people who are angry at what they view as a power grab.”
In Sonoma County as across the country, Mon. April 4, the anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s slaying while attending a rally supporting a sanitation workers’ strike, brought hundreds, some say a thousand union members and friends together, creating an overflow crowd on the Carquinez Bridge between Vallejo and Crockett. Sonoma Valley Democratic Club President, Ben Boyce, known to Petalumans for his work in passing a Living Wage ordinance here, was on the bridge.
Ben had a statement for me: “The progressive movement has thought of politics as a parade ground where we lined up our solidarity in groups, while our opposition regards it as a battleground in which they are prepared to defeat us and prevent us from rising again. We tend to think of politics to say we’re in favor or the earth…good things; they want to deprive us of the oxygen to survive. (Are we on) the verge of the renaissance of the labor movement or looking at its last stance? The situation is dire; a combination of a right-wing program and weak-kneed progressives incapable of understanding, a liberal movement which decoupled themselves from the labor movement. Anyplace in the world where you see a government’s liberal left-coalition, the money and muscle is a labor union movement – without that is why we are so weakened.”
As a follow-up, a MoveOn action is planned at Sonoma Plaza on TAX DAY, April 18th.
In the Bay Area, April 4 rallies were held in Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told a crowd her city faces heavy layoffs – but those will be handled with collaboration of Oakland’s unions.
SFGate blogger Joe Garofoli in his post at SFGate Political Blog featured a video with AFL-CIO leader, Liz Shuler, about “where unions go next,” especially in President Obama’s just announced run for a 2nd presidential term. Yup; those two are linked.
“Organized labor has got fire in their pants after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature stripped public employee unions there of much of their collective bargain power,’ says Garofoli.