CLEVELAND - The right of a worker to assemble with his or her colleagues to form a bargaining unit is engrained in the United States Bill of Rights. The economy is in the tank. And, the Radical Republicans who call themselves "the tea party" are duping the American people.
It's no secret that Koch Industries and a slew of other multi-billion-dollar conglomerates have shelled out billions of dollars into the coffers of these freshman politicians, who have a lot to learn about ethical legislative procedures. Over the course of a few weeks they attempted to railroad a Wisconsin Senate bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for public Wisconsin workers. Here in Ohio, more draconian measures have been introduced into our state Senate where collective bargaining rights would be stripped for all public workers. New Jersey is attempting to strip away collective bargaining rights for their public workers. Florida is following, and so is Michigan. Last week, a bill was introduced in Tennessee that aims at teachers' collective bargaining rights.
While Radical Republicans are chanting "reform," working people from all over the USA have been challenging them, saying that these tea party bills are nothing more than attempts at busting unions, nothing more, nothing less.
An attempt at changing law in statehouses usually follows a federal mandate, like with speed limits, drinking ages, drug limitations, etc.
This attempt at busting unions at the state level is an act of collusion by freshman Radical Republicans and their corporate backers. It can't only be me who sees what is going on and says, "There's something fishy about this."
It all seems like a set-up that has been happening for a few years now. It's not a secret that, because of the recent Supreme Court decision ending a decade-long ban on how much corporations and unions are allowed to donate to political campaigns, corporations are behind the tea party. Their avid play at manipulating voters' prejudices and fear swayed a desperate public last year to launch Radical Republicans into office in many state governments.
A recent MSNBC report told a tale about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his backers at a Super Bowl party. After the Packers won the Super Bowl, Walker held up a photograph of Ronald Reagan and described to his backers how Reagan's firing of striking PATCO workers was the first step at ending Communism in the world. He described how this action that took place in 1981 had a direct effect on the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1986. This is delusional history if you ask this writer.
His speech about Reagan's influence on the labor movement was not as much history as admitting to a plan that has been in place since before statehouses fell to Radical Republicans.
Tea party candidates told police and fire unions that they supported them, and would not attack them with their "job creating" plan. This writer even called the office of John Boehner and asked his aide if he supports collective bargaining, and he told me, "Yes." Despite the lies, my vote went with labor. But what about those who love collective bargaining and voted for tea party candidates under the illusion that they would lower taxes and keep basic rights for workers?
They were duped. Now they have been showing up at rallies to support labor and tell these tea partiers that they are liars. That's what happens when somebody is duped. They challenge the one who duped them. "Fool me once, shame on you," the old adage says. Public workers are the ones doing the shaming these days.
Mike McNeely is a member of Plumbers Local 55, Cleveland.
Photo: Parma Heights firefighters and a couple of union plumbers from Cleveland stand outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on February 17, with thousands of other Ohioans, to protest a state Senate bill, SB 5, that would strip collective bargaining rights from government workers. (Mike McNeely)