Walker, Wisconsin’s ultra-corporate-friendly governor, has decided to publish the anti-labor law he illegally pushed through the state senate. The law strips most public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights.
Legislative Reference Bureau director Steve Miller said publishing the law in the Internet doesn’t mean the law takes effect Saturday. He says that won’t actually happen until Secretary of State Doug La Follette orders the law published in a newspaper, and a judge ordered last week that La Follette not do anything.
But Walker says the act of publishing the law online makes it effective, and he intends to enforce it before the state’s Supreme Court decides on the lawsuit facing it. He apparently is above the power of the court that issued the restraining order. He can play with the rules and not have to answer for it.
The law is possibly the most blatant attack on labor since Ronald Reagan began the law against working Americans by firing the air traffic controllers, and seeing Walker’s success, other states are following suit.
By the mid-1980s, when I was working as a newspaper reporter, a business could be sold and the new owner come in and settle with the strongest union and then screw the rest of the employees. I watched it happen at the Herald News, when the Drucker family sold the paper to Dean Singleton’s Media General.
Singleton came in and promised a rosy future for the paper, settled with the Teamsters, and nine days after taking over, laid off a third of the newsroom staff and reduced benefits for those who remained.
He told the union members that if they didn’t negotiate “in good faith,” he would cut off their health benefits.
That’s how he broke the union in Passaic, NJ. He went on to become notorious for buying up newspapers and slashing staff and benefits — and quality.
As unions lost power under constant attack from big business — including the media — people began to believe all unions were corrupt and all their members greedy.
Only now, when private sector unions are all but gone, are working people beginning to see what has been done to them.
It may be too late to save public sector unions and build the private sector back up.
Or maybe arrogant people like Walker will awaken the working public in time to stop their progress.