Organized Labor

Serious Republican Presidential Contenders: Part I–Scott Walker Of Wisconsin

Having looked at 12 Republican Presidential contenders who, together, make up a clown bus, it is time to analyze now the four serious Presidential contenders, and today we will look at Scott Walker.

The Governor of Wisconsin has won three elections for Governor, including a recall vote in 2012. That in itself makes him a formidable candidate.

He is backed by the Koch Brothers, Charles and David Koch, and that means he will have whatever financing is needed for a Presidential campaign.

But in league with the Koch Brothers, Walker has declared war on organized labor, and dramatically weakened the public labor unions in Wisconsin, leading to the recall vote in 2012, which, surprisingly, he won.

Walker has said he hopes to destroy the labor union movement nationally if he is elected President.

He has also presided over widespread corruption and cronyism, which is starting to be investigated by news media and prosecutors, and he could face an indictment anytime, similar to what has happened to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and might happen to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Already, there are accusations that he gave corporate supporters and campaign donors $124 million in taxpayer money.

The question of why Walker never finished college has not been answered, with the belief he might have been expelled. The idea that he did not have time to return to finish one semester of college is lame, and he would be the first non college graduate in the Presidency since Harry Truman. And Truman was well read and thoughtful, while Walker has shown no signs of such, but only of promoting his own ambitions at the expense of average working Americans in Wisconsin. He has worked to destroy the Wisconsin progressive tradition of Robert La Follette, Sr., Robert La Follette, Jr., William Proxmire, Gaylord Nelson, Patrick Lucey, Russ Feingold and others of both parties in the Badger state!

And considering that such politicians as Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann, and many others who are not exactly brilliant, DID finish college makes one wonder about Walker and why he did not make it a goal to finish a four year degree!

Yes, it is true that only about one third of adults have finished a four year degree, but the President of the United States is supposed to be better than most of us in his educational attainments.

This does not mean that finishing a college degree guarantees success in life, or even great intellect, but still it seems like it should be a basic requirement that a President and his top advisers, and members of Congress and state legislatures SHOULD have finished a four year degree, at the least, if such person wishes to govern us.

Walker’s anti labor stance; his connection to the Koch Brothers; and his lack of a college four year degree are just the tip of the iceberg, and with corruption charges seemingly likely soon, Scott Walker should NOT be permitted to be the 45th President of the Unites States!

Labor Day: Too Many Americans Do Not Realize How Much Labor Unions Have Done!

We are living in a time of labor union decline, and attacks on organized labor itself, beginning with the Presidency of Ronald Reagan!

Too many people have no idea or regard for the importance of labor unions in American history, and the struggle for decent working conditions in our nation!

Without the labor struggles of the past, we would not have:

Minimum Wage and Maximum Hours
Eight Hour Work Day
Five Day Work Week
End of Child Labor
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Sick Leave
Vacation Pay
Paid Holidays
Right of Labor to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Progress toward Equal Pay for Women
Retirement Pensions and Health Care Coverage

There has been backtracking and attacks on organized labor by Republicans on the national and state level, and particularly in the South, labor continues to be under strong attack, as it has always been.

But to imagine an America where workers have no rights is, sadly, much of what American workers see today, including a new revelation—wage theft becoming a problem for millions of workers being exploited by their employers.

So those who fight for labor rights, led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, need the support of all of us, even if we are not members of organized labor unions. Too much is at stake to remain silent!

The Recall Effort Against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Begins

After success in a recall effort against two Republican state senators in Wisconsin earlier, the move is on to recall Governor Scott Walker, who has seen his public opinion ratings collapse, and his national image rapidly decline.

The labor movement and progressives in the state of Robert La Follette Sr., the state of progressivism, has begun the gathering of signatures to put the question on the ballot. A total of 540, 208 signatures are necessary by mid January to set up a special election at the end of February.

There have been death threats against some people collecting signatures, and one can be sure that Walker’s patrons, the Koch brothers, will use all the money they have to attempt to prevent the gathering of enough signatures, and/or the success of the recall process at a special election.

IF this movement succeeds, it would be a great victory and lead to attempts at similar action against other “Bully Governors” who have taken a stand against organized labor and the progressive movement.

Let us hope for its success as a true example of democracy in America!

From “Give Them Hell Harry” To “Give Them Hell Barry”!

In 1948, President Harry Truman was in deep trouble on the economy, had organized labor and many liberals against him, and had a Republican Congress majority in both houses, dedicated to destroying the New Deal and making Truman less than a one term President, an accidental President.

But the GOP turned against organized labor, alienated the masses by trying to repeal the New Deal, and Truman gained support of those who had been critical of him, and waged an active campaign against the 80th Congress as a “do nothing” Congress, and went out to the country and gained the nickname “Give Them Hell Harry”!

Now it is time for Barack Obama to do the same with the 112th Congress House Republicans and the reactionary Tea Party Movement that has taken over the party and its Presidential nominees, with the exception of Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney.

He needs to end the cooperative nature he has been promoting, and wage “war” on the GOP as a party which has no concern for the average American! He needs to go out to the country and gain the nickname “Give Them Hell Barry”!

With such a campaign, pointing out that the Republicans wish to destroy Medicare and Social Security, the backbones of the Great Society and New Deal, respectively, Barack Obama has the potential for a major victory against the Right Wing Republicans and bring back a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and maintain a Democratic majority in the US Senate!

The Collapse Of The “Bully Governors” In Public Opinion Polls

The “Bully” Governors, Republicans in six states, have seen a total collapse of public opinion toward their hard line, mean spirited governing method of arrogance, anti labor, anti education, anti health care, anti elderly, anti poor, anti children initiatives, and sense of entitlement to do whatever the hell they want without consideration of its effect on their states! The Quinnipiac polls show tremendous declines by all six in ratings!

Governor Chris Christie is down to 44 percent support, and yet, there are those who want him to run for President! And he had the gall to tell a constituent in a public meeting that it was none of her business why he sent his children to private schools while cutting funding for public schools in New Jersey!

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, out to destroy public workers rights and social needs of the state’s population, has a public opinion rating of 39 percent!

Ohio Governor John Kasich is down to 37 percent, while Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is down to 35 percent!

Maine Governor Paul LePage has a public opinion rating of 31 percent, and has alienated many tourists by eliminating a painting portraying the struggle of organized labor historically in the Labor Department Building in Portland. He has an attitude of being in your face constantly, and has upset more than two thirds of the state by his arrogance and lack of diplomacy and tact in dealing with the news media and citizens!

And the all time low rating goes to the disgraceful Governor Rick Scott of Florida, with 29 percent rating, undermining education and health care in the state, and convincing those college professors who can leave the state, along with other talented people, that the pastures are better elsewhere, and that their children will not be able to get a decent education in the Sunshine State after he has destroyed it! The author personally knows two colleagues with young children who have decided to go elsewhere, and get out before the state totally collapses in regards to social services!

The only good thing about all this is the following:

All six states–New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Maine and Florida–went Democratic for Barack Obama, and with the kind of misgoverning of these “Bully” Governors, and the alienation being shown in public opinion polls in all six states, the likelihood is that all six states should remain Democratic, and hopefully, reverse their mistakes on the Governorships in New Jersey in 2013 and the other five states in 2014!

The only question is how the unfortunate citizenry of these states will survive the assaults on them by the “Bully” Governors!

Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage And Labor History

Maine’s new Republican Governor, Paul LePage, may not be noticed nationally very much, but he is now drawing attention as another GOP state executive who is a disgrace in so many ways, and anyone who voted for him should be ashamed at what they have wrought by putting him into the Governorship!

Riding a wave or bitterness and resentment by the Tea Party Movement, LePage was elected Governor, much like Rick Scott in Florida, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Snyder in Michigan, and Chris Christie in New Jersey.

All of the above, and LePage, have declared war on organized labor and working people in general, and have shown how they do not understand the history of this nation, and the long, hard fought battles of the labor movement over the past 150 years to better the conditions of workers, with millions of workers in all fields who never were members of labor unions, but benefiting from the labor struggles and rising to the middle class from poverty because of the sacrifices of others!

Now the wealthy corporate world has declared war on working people, both in unions and outside, setting out to add to their wealth and power while impoverishing every day working people, and they have had willing allies on Capitol Hill from House and Senate Republicans, as well as from Republican Governors, and have succeeded in destroying a century and a half of progress in a very short time!

If what has been happening just since this year began does not cause average, every day working people to rise in protest and to demand an end to the further aggrandizement of power by the wealthy and corporations, then we have truly and, likely, permanently, lost our concept of democracy, and have become a plutocracy, and that plants the seeds for eventual disintegration of our society and potential threat of civil war in the future, on a scale far greater than the event of 150 years ago, which will be commemorated on its opening day tragedy at Fort Sumter on April 12, and over the next four years to follow!

Paul LePage has proved himself totally insensitive to labor history, and he and the other GOP Governors need to be given lessons in the greatness of labor struggle to create better lives for the masses, to educate them in the history they apparently never studied or ignored in their earlier lives!

For LePage to order the withdrawal of a labor mural at the offices of the Maine Labor Department, depicting the triumphs and struggles of labor over the history of the state and nation, is an absolute outrage that needs a prompt response calling for a reversal of his ignorant, insensitive executive order, and a move to demand a recall election for the removal of this incompetent, stupid man who gives not a damn about the average Maine resident!

And for this outrage by LePage to occur on the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911, causing the death of 146 men and women, and leading to the fight for greater labor reform in New York City and elsewhere, is indeed a sacrilege!

The Anti Obama “Birthers” And The Suicide Of Republican Legitimacy For The Presidency In 2012

Here we are in the third year of the Obama Presidency, and the “Birther” conspiracy theory about Obama still survives, and has led to ridiculous assertions by potential GOP candidates about Obama and Kenya, which is having the effect of creating a shortened list of legitimate Presidential possibilities.

George Will, the conservative commentator, remarked this past weekend on this issue, and he said that comments and events have narrowed the legitimate field to just FIVE candidates–Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and Jon Huntsman.

The author would say that he agrees with Will, except he would eliminate two of these five–Daniels because he is connected to the anti labor movement in Wisconsin and other states, and has already eliminated collective bargaining rights in Indiana years ago, plus he has strongly hinted he will not be running; and Barbour, because he has no sensitivity on the race problem in Mississippi in the 1960s and promotes Confederate propaganda as we come on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

So it comes down to THREE candidates who are truly legitimate, all of whom the author has already said so in earlier entries, and are serious possibilities for the nomination–Romney, Pawlenty, and Huntsman!

Will was highly critical of Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich for promoting the Kenya connection to Obama, both saying that his dad and grandfather being anti British in the 1950s is somehow evil, although any reasonable person could understand the desire of Kenya and other African countries to be free of British or other nations’ “imperialism”, which certainly was reality. After all, was not the American Revolution based on British “imperialism” against the 13 colonies as we saw it?

So Huckabee and Gingrich have self destructed by their comments about Obama, and when you add the craziness of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum, and the arrogance and egotism of Donald Trump, it really comes down to only THREE candidates that have any true validity for the GOP Presidential nomination!

If anyone else ends up as the nominee, the 2012 Presidential race will be an easy victory for Barack Obama!

Support In Poll For Public Sector Workers As Republican Governors Work To Destroy Unions

As Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Rick Scott, among other Republican Governors, make clear their campaign to undermine labor unions and strip public service workers of their benefits, a New York Times-CBS News Poll shows the American people oppose efforts to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, and are against the cutting of pay and benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits.

By 60-33, Americans oppose taking away the bargaining rights of workers, and by 56-37 they are against cutting of pay or benefits to reduce deficits, with larger majorities of Democrats and Independents, and slight plurality favoritism among Republicans of what these governors are attempting to do.
By a slight margin, the poll also supports ability to retire early for police officers and firefighters, and even teachers.

A plurality of 40 percent supported raising taxes to deal with the deficit, and 71 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Independents opposed weakening collective bargaining rights of public employees.

The only group that had a substantial support for cutting pay and benefits, but even then not a majority (45 percent), were those earning more than $100,000 per year.

A Wisconsin poll also shows nearly 60 percent oppose what Governor Scott Walker is trying to do to destroy collective bargaining, and a recall movement is developing against him and many leaders of the GOP in the legislature. And a poll shows if Walker was running now for Governor, four months after he was elected, he would easily lose!

So with strong Independent support for labor rights, and polls showing great anger against GOP Governors, the Democrats may be able to utilize the anti labor fight in a productive way in 2012!

Organized Labor: The Promoter And Protector Of The Middle Class!

In the midst of the attack on organized labor going on in Republican governed state governments, many fail to understand how significant a role labor unions have played historically in promoting and protecting the middle class.

When unions flourished in the years after 1945 to 1980, the middle class grew dramatically in size and in prosperity. Labor supported civil rights, social security, medicare, and promotion of organizing rights for workers. They became the counterweight to corporations and Wall Street in the political battles that made America a nation in which gaps in income and wealth narrowed.

Since Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, union membership has declined from one third to about 7 percent, and with it, the working conditions of non union workers has worsened dramatically. What many people did not and do not understand is that when unions prosper, non union workers benefit as well, and when unions decline, all middle class workers lose out.

So we are seeing the middle class slipping in poverty, and with the decline of organized labor, the American Dream of a middle class life is fast disappearing!

This is why the labor battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey and elsewhere are not just over state public service workers in those states. It is also the future of American workers who never have and never will be members of labor unions, but do not appreciate how much labor power did for them as they moved up the economic ladder, and now do not fully realize yet the growing power of the elite rich and corporations which care not a whit about their workers’ long term future decline, in their mad dash for maximum profits, minimal regulation, and insane passion for never ending concentration of wealth in their own hands!

The Plight Of Organized Labor From The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Of 1911 To Wisconsin In 2011

One hundred years ago, on March 25, 1911, 146 workers, mostly female, were killed in the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City, spurring the beginning of labor reforms.

Promotion of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and other unions moved ahead after this tragedy, and finally, in the 1930s under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, organized labor finally received recognition as an equal in collective bargaining.

By the 1960s and 1970s, about one third of all workers were in labor unions, and the middle class grew in size and prosperity as never before.

But starting with the 1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike under President Ronald Reagan, where all the strikers were fired, leaving the nation in a dangerous, reckless situation regarding air safety, unions rapidly declined, and now are as low as 6-9 percent of the population, much of it public workers unions. Many states have become “right to work” states, or states that have worked against unionization, particularly in the South and Mountain West.

Now Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rick Scott in Florida, and other Republican Governors are declaring war on public service unions, and this may be the turning point where the collective bargaining rights of 1935 are lost in 2011 and beyond, and just on the centennial of the horrible tragedy of the Triangle fire coming up in a few weeks.

Before that complete collapse of labor rights occurs, one can watch a documentary on PBS on Monday night, relating the terrible events of the Triangle Fire, and that event’s centennial should make us reflect on how far we have come and how far backward we seem to be headed!

Have we learned from history, or are we again ignoring history in the name of “bully” Governors who speak for the Koch Brothers and other extremely wealthy corporate interests, who do not give a damn about the rest of America in their mad dash to obscene profits and greed?