May 18, 2011

IN THE WAR ON LABOR, THEY'RE FRANCE:

Laboring Under a New World: Unions are taking a big hit this year, and their influence with it. (Josh Kraushaar, May 17, 2011, National Journal)

Labor was on the losing end of the first major referendum on Walker’s policies in Wisconsin, spending millions of dollars on behalf of a liberal challenger to Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, a conservative aligned with the governor.

They thought the public was squarely with them, and they got a split verdict instead—Prosser leads by about 7,000 votes, with final results from the recount pending.

They lost in Connecticut, where a Democratic governor who was elected on the efforts of labor, Dan Malloy, abruptly issued pink slips to about 10 percent of the unionized public workforce this month after negotiations hit a standstill—with threats of more to come. His approach worked: Labor leaders conceded to $1.6 billion of givebacks of wage and pension benefits, with concessions in collective bargaining. This from the governor who has framed himself as “the anti-Christie”—someone who would run counter to the way New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie antagonized public unions.

They lost in Illinois, where the Legislature last week passed an education package making it easier to fire ineffective teachers and lengthening the school day—even with three of the state’s teacher unions pulling their support.

The bill was championed by new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and will be signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, despite his close relationship with labor.

This is the type of bill unions would have been screaming bloody murder about several years ago, but enough lawmakers thought the tide has shifted enough to make the change.

They lost in Massachusetts, where the Democratic-dominated House last month passed a bill in the dead of night to dramatically weaken unions’ collective bargaining powers. The bill won the support of a clear majority of Democrats, despite labor’s vigorous opposition. After the vote, labor groups protested en masse at the state House, to little avail.

And they’re losing in the Republican presidential field, increasingly being defined by candidates who will be running on challenging labor’s influence.


Posted by at May 18, 2011 6:26 AM
  

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