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!
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!
We live in crazy times, where states such as Arizona claim the right to nullification of federal laws and the Constitution of the United States, if they disagree with what the federal government is promoting.
Now we can add to that sad reality the declaration of the Tea Party Senate caucus, and others who have signed on this week, that they will block any bill they deem wasteful or unconstitutional, and prevent any new spending with equivalent fund cuts, but of course continue to promote special interest tax breaks.
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina gained the backing of Utah Senator Mike Lee, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, all elected with the help of the Tea Party Movement.
But also joining them were Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a new Senator who defeated a Tea Party candidate in the primary; Tom Coburn of Oklahoma; John Ensign of Nevada; and again, in a surprise move, making him ever inscrutable, John McCain of Arizona, who seemed to be moving back to the mainstream for a while after his election victory in November.
It is interesting that two other Tea Party backed candidates for the Senate who won–Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania–chose not to sign the obstruction pledge.
Constitutional scholars point out that it is the Supreme Court which determines whether or not legislation passed by Congress is unconstitutional, not the US Senate.
So again, the Senate minority, even a small part of it, are determined to obstruct and block action and progress and continue the reputation of the Senate as a legislative body out of control and in need of basic reform!