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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“GOP’s war with unions to consolidate power, enrich big business”

Republican lawmakers, under the guise of “”budget cutting,”” have declared war on America’s unionized workers.

At the National Tea Party convention held in Phoenix last week, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, railed against the country’s labor unions in front of a cheering crowd of tea-baggers. The mention of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s name led to standing ovation.

In an attempt to repair a $137 million budget shortfall, Walker has introduced a budget plan that would prevent labor unions from collectively bargaining. Unionized public workers would be stripped of the right to negotiate with their employers over benefits, hours, working conditions and rules of the workplace.

Employers would also be prohibited from collecting union dues, which are used to fund many of the activities unions engage in on behalf of their members.

The labor unions that supported the governor’s election bid last fall, the Milwaukee Police Association and the Wisconsin Troopers Association, to name a few, would be exempt from these changes.

In terms of budgetary policy, there is no rhyme or reason to Walker’s proposed cutbacks. Public workers aren’t responsible for the state’s budget disaster, and the $300 million that would supposedly be saved over two years by stripping them of their collective bargaining rights would amount to a mere 1/12 of the state’s projected $3.6 billion 2011-13 budget deficit.

And newly elected Republicans aren’t at the root of the state’s budget crisis either, as those on the left have suggested. Former Gov. Jim Doyle and the Democrats that controlled the Legislature, prior to their shellacking last fall, created much of Wisconsin’s current problems.  

Walker and his comrades in the Wisconsin Assembly claim their “”budget repair bill”” would save the state from a fiscal meltdown, but its true objective is purely political.

The Republican Party has always been intolerant of organized labor and beholden to big business. Last fall, the Koch brothers, billionaire energy tycoons and owners of the largest privately owned company in America, donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, money that was then funneled into Republican gubernatorial campaigns around the country. Walker and other newly elected Republican governors are returning the favor by threatening to bust the labor unions, the Democratic Party’s primary fundraising arm.

Depriving unionized workers of their collective bargaining rights and preventing employers from collecting union dues would stem the flow of contributions made by labor unions to Democratic candidates, which would give Republicans a huge advantage in future elections. This would make for more pro-business politicians like Walker who seem more concerned with pleasing corporate bigwigs than doing what’s best for their constituencies.

Walker has threatened to lay off 6,000 public employees if his budget plan isn’t approved, but has signed-off on $120 million in corporate tax cuts.

This anti-union craze has even spread to Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana, where the Republican governors in each state have also threatened strip union members of their right to collectively bargain.

The GOP’s war with organized labor is clearly an effort to consolidate political power and enrich big business. The party’s ideal world, one where corporations rule and politicians live to serve them, will be built on the backs of America’s union workers.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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