State of Maine Union Blue

Posted March 25, 2011 on 2:29 pm | In the category Collective Bargaining, Politics, Tea Party, Wisconsin Governor | by Jeff

Yesterday’s NY Times reports that Maine governor Paul LePage has determined that a large mural in the state’s Labor Dept. Headquarters has too many depictions of workers – some of whom are – gasp – union workers.  A spokesperson for LePage claimed that the mural reminded him of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses,” and LePage has ordered the mural removed. Furthermore, the governor referenced anonymous complaints from business leaders that may or may not actually have been made to justify his action on the grounds that the Labor Dept. building needed to represent both employers and employees.

This is of course one more attempt to punish the middle class for the sins of the country’s investment banks, health insurers and outsourcing corporations. LePage is one more example – along with Governor Walker of Wisconsin  – of a small group of new right-wing, tea party-supported politicians intent on using unions as a whipping boy to cover up and shift responsibility for the country’s dire economic situation from the people whose greed is leading America towards becoming a banana republic oligarchy.

Maine’s reputation as a fair-minded, moderate state is at risk and its citizens are looking at a nasty, fruitless three and a half years of bombastic posturing by the man they elected on what must have been a very foggy day.

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Unions, Politics and the Press

Posted February 28, 2011 on 3:37 pm | In the category Collective Bargaining, Economy, Politics, Press, U.S. Domestic Policy, Wisconsin Governor | by Jeff

Oligarchy: a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

The moves by Republican governors to eliminate collective bargaining rights by public employee unions represent an attack on what had become a basic human right and goes far beyond any attempt to address states’ deficits. Issues related to costs of pensions and health insurance have been successfully addressed by some cities and states via negotiations; the new strategy of simply eliminating unions’ bargaining rights is a callous affront to the public employees who teach our  children, patrol our streets, fight our fires, treat the mentally ill, etc. The fact that corporate America is running away from providing health insurance and pensions does not make it right.

America’s financial elites managed to take the country to  the  edge of the abyss and then feathered their nests with taxpayer bailouts to save the country from the results of their near criminal behavior.  Add to that the idiocy of choosing an unnecessary war that will cost the country upwards of $3 trillion (according to Nobel prize economist Joseph Stiglitz) and we have the need to find a scapegoat. Could it be that it is the thieves and cheats of corporate America? the “too big to fail” investment banks? the bailed out auto executives? the hedge fund manipulators? the mortgage crooks? No. It is determined in Wisconsin and Indiana and New Jersey and throughout the country that it is the teachers, the school custodians, the librarians, the police and  firefighters, the mental health workers, the hospital scrubbers, the prison guards, the snow plowers, the bus drivers, etc.   They are the unionized public workers with living wages, health care benefits and pensions. They are the ones to punish for having gained those benefits in honest, open negotiations.  Welcome to the new America – the country run increasingly by big money, Ayn Rand greed and – alas – a major dose of ignorance fostered by a weak or complicit press, a  simple-minded tea party and a fully aware, manipulative Republican party leadership.

And just where is the press in all of this? In an apparent intent to present divergent views, it too frequently ends up a tool for information manipulators, promulgating, for instance, the big lie of the Wisconsin governor that unions are responsible for the deficit and that they have some mysterious power to bring the state to its knees. The fact that the Wisconsin unions have offered to make the concessions asked for by the governor has gotten lost in the lack of honest coverage of the governor’s plan to cripple unions as a reward to his corporate sponsors.

Whether workers are entitled to paid vacations, health insurance, retirement pay, paid sick leave etc. are issues of concern to all workers – unionized or not – but having the right to negotiate for those benefits is a human right that needs to be defended.

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