Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crusade against Union Bargaining Rights in Republican Led State Capitols: the new challenge for American Middle-class?

Keywords or Terms: Union Bargaining Rights; Crusade; Republican Governors; State Assemblies; Workers' Rights; Union Power; Budget Deficits; Wisconsin; Ohio; November 2012 Elections;

Are Budgets in Republican led State Capitols necessarily more on the edge than those in Democratic Party led states? Are State workers in Republican led governor’s offices necessarily worse-off in terms of budget deficits than those in States with Democratic Party governors? What is it about the new movement and changes in Wisconsin and Ohio, and probably other Republican states, regarding restriction on Union bargaining rights or power? Will this new crusade set union member rights or power backwards, or will it enhance Republican Party chances come the next election cycle? These questions came out of the mouth of a bewildered union leader. For all the underpinnings in state budget deficits, why are Republicans so committed to turning back the clock of progress in about half a century in public employee unionism at State levels?

These questions should not be surprising, considering the new development from the State of Ohio today. Like Wisconsin about a month ago, the State of Ohio, one of the states in the federation with a huge public service or probably state workers, and a huge Republican led assembly, voted to restrain union negotiation rights of state workers. And baring any schism, the Republican Governor in the State of Ohio will likely sign this new dispensation into law, soon. Most states assemblies seem to be acting unilaterally regarding bills introduced to restrain public employee union negotiation rights in their various states; however, with the union bursting bills designed to restrain negotiating rights of states' workers surfacing mostly in Republican led state houses, one is tempted to perceive that there are some multilateral-isms or collectives going on in States with Republican majority assemblies. The larger the state budget deficit, the greater is the temptation, if you call the new crusade against public employees union negotiation right a temptation. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this new temptation for republican governors, are designed shuffle public workers that are supposed to help implement public policies in various state agencies into disarray of constituencies in the name of saving money and repairing budget deficits. Further, the temptation that is now permeating into many states’ assemblies, is more of an effort to engage in union bursting exercises to drive drive in subjective dispensation that Democratic party led state capitols are not frugal and not making efforts to address the issue of state budget deficits, a few of which have been grinding down business and enterprise expansion, hence, jobs creation.

Republican governors are releasing a momentum of discuss that shatters and probably will damage the standard and quality of life of many state employees; and, may probably muscle families that are already under stress due to the challenging economic environment. Even as this new reality of austerity in state budgets are playing out, the role of the state workers cannot be undermined for political ends; and, this seems to be what is happening in many states with Republican governors. Is there a justification for the new crusade? Are Republican led state capitols establishing a norm, designed to undermine the workers who are expected to make government work? Are Republicans advancing a new credo, meant to ignite a new public discuss on government budgets or is this just values or principles associated with being Republican?

While Democratic and Republican led governorship may learn from historical mistakes of prior budget management, it seems that current Republican governors have largely ignored the reason for the huge budget deficits: poor revenue base due to the recession and misinformed budget management practices found in virtually all states in the union. Why then are the Republican governors attacking state workers' salaries and benefits in order to close the gaps in their states' budgets? Politics?; Personal Preferences?; Changing nature of labor union power?; or making a statement that Republicans are better deficit hawks than Democrats? Democrats, for all their imperfections – real or perceived – reflect mostly a preference for bills and public policies that are geared towards safety nets for the poor and middle class. Are Republicans not ordered in this fashion; or are they so totally against any idea that affords a soft landing, even for State workers expected to implement state public policies?

That Republicans have often used politics to achieve their over national objective, even in state houses, is not often surprising. After all, acting in the name of their national political party interests is always preferably than condescending to public policies or bills that will make life easier for the working poor. Everyone within a state has some stakes in the budget of that state. When States with republican majority assemblymen and women or governors seems to be driven by myopic national political party's interest, even if it makes state employees worse off, it becomes clear that in contrast to Democratic led state houses, Republicans are threading on a direction to encapsulate their state workers. The ability of a state to attract and keep competent hands to ensure that the state can save money or manage its budget appropriately to prevent wastes, depends on its ability to retain efficient and effective workers. When states adopt policies that annihilate their public workers, why of course should they get the type of workers that can help them dig out of the current state budget mess? Rather than adopt reflective policies on good budget management practices, Republicans are relying on their dissuasive or coercive hard power to burst union negotiated agreements with their state workers.

The composition of state assemblies that pass bills designed to dump public employee negotiated benefits, roll back salaries and disadvantage state workers as against their counterparts in the private sector, is currently Republican. The relevancy of the Republican memberships of state assemblies may change come November 2012. Even though there are more democratic governor’s office in play come November 2012, the reality is, legislation implemented to destroy good harmony between the governor’s offices and the various state agencies may end up being the waterloo for majority of the Republican governors that retain or ascend into offices, as is the wishes of the National Republican Party. The apprehension regarding the republican led state houses’ crusade against state workers is about as universal as it can get; and, the impending changes expected to help some republican led states house cut down on their deficits, may actually not materialize because of the assault on the people who are expected to make the change come to fruition. The legitimacy of public union bursting or negotiated benefits rollback is probably in question; and no one must anticipate that all state unions will roll over and allow their respective governors to annihilate them without fighting back.

The separation of power also allow aggrieved state workers on their retracted benefits to bring up their grievances before the courts. Even if Republican governors and republicans dominated states assemblies are able to roll back negotiated benefits and salaries, are they going to be able to entrenched their myopic crusade forever? The inadmissible reality that poor budget management practices associated with various passed bills that have sometimes given tax brakes to private corporations without thinking about the consequences, in many state capitols, will probably end up interfering with the expected end result of the new aggression from republican led assemblies and governor houses. It is probably and practically impossible to balance all state budgets on the backs of the working state employees, who in many cases, hardly have anything to do with the cause of the state budget's deficits. This is precisely the reason why the ongoing crusade is not going to achieve the objective of the Republican governors in all cases or in some cases. When a Republican governor annihilates workers expected to serve the state and the interests of the public with respect to implementing public policies, no one should be surprised if some of the state workers intentionally sabotage the state governors who have chosen to come after their benefits and welfare. Only an unwise republican governor will assume that the words and chanting of Shame! Shame!! and Shame!!!, coming out of those state workers vehemently against the crusade on their benefits and salaries from Republicans governors, will only be for nothing; or, that they will soon subside. When governors act in defiance of the welfare of their employees, they must not be surprised, if the workers exhibit traits of non-committals to the goals and objectives of the State agencies. In addition, Republican governors must appreciate that these state workers are both humans and voters and can actually flex their muscle if they are able to get the sympathies of more of their state voters come the next election.

To suggest – as do some critics of the current crusade from Republican led states’ capitols against state employees- is irrelevant due to current budgetary shortfalls or state budget deficits, is to be overlooking the message of the handicapped employees, who have shown a lot of disdain for the new crusade moving across many states’ assemblies with republican majority. In calling on Republican Sate governors to be cautious, or to seize and desist, some of the soon to be impacted state workers, are sending a message that they know who has their back during these challenging times, and they know who they would hold responsible come election time. In deed, the current crusade against public employees' negotiation rights is at the heart of probably many deliberations in states’ employees union headquarters. Had it been possible to recall some governors or had the state employees had the votes to recall some Republican governors today, many of them would have done so. The fact that many of the state employees, including teachers, fire fighter, police officers, had taken some time off to carry placards in many state assemblies and capitols, says a lot about the current imbroglio.

Bills do not completely serve to correct for budget deficits; sometimes, a bill that disadvantages public employees' union may lead to a movement to actually change the future of state governors or assembly members. In fact, several states’ assemblies alumni can tell you that part of the reasons why they lost their office, was because they voted for a bill that became too over-burdening for a segment of the voters who decided to do something about it. The fact that many state workers do not agree with the current restrictions on that negotiated salaries and benefits, must mean something to this voters, and no one should expect that some of them will let it lie low come election time. The refusal of the republican governors leading the current crusade to appreciate where the public sector employees in some states are coming from, gives away any future support that these governors may expect, even if the budget of the states turn blue as the crusading governors expect. The current disaffection among many state employees is probably a recipe for a very active and participatory election exercise, especially from state employees, come the election of November 2012.

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