This week, the right-to-work debate moves front and center in Wisconsin.
With Republicans in the Legislature aiming to fast-track a bill to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk, they’re following a playbook that has been executed in other GOP-led states in the upper Midwest.
In early 2012, just before the Super Bowl came to Indianapolis, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a right-to-work law in Indiana.
Later that year, it was Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s turn to hand a stinging defeat to organized labor.
And now, it’s on to Wisconsin, where the labor battle has come full circle.
Walker, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has said he’ll sign a right-to-work bill once it is pushed through Legislature. Compared with the struggle over Act 10, when Walker was front-and-center in taking on public-sector unions, the governor is now in the background responding to lawmakers.
But Walker’s peekaboo style on right-to-work would have the same effect: unleashing a big blow to big labor.
Because it’s not enough to gut the University of Wisconsin system or screw over teachers or set state workers who pay taxes against other taxpayers or sell off the DNR. It’s not enough to slowly grind down everything that makes the place worth living in.
He’s got to dig deep and show the people who pay his presidential campaign’s bills that he can be just as big an asshole as everybody thinks he is.
What struck me in the story linked above, however, was that as usual things are just happening.
Unions are losing power.
Labor is declining.
All by itself:
“In some ways it’s the end of a very long decline of the strength of unions and a weakening of protections both at the federal and state level for unions,” said William P. Jones, a University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor.
Jones said unions have been losing power since the late 1970s, with a renewed push against organized labor in the wake of the 2007-’09 Great Recession.
It’s just, like, the times, man. Or something. Things happen. Unions just … lose.
A renewed push against organized labor. From whom?
Even with right-to-work laws implemented in Michigan and Indiana, and also surviving court challenges, unions haven’t gone away. But they have been hard pressed.
Who has pressed them?
Do you see what I’m getting at here? We talk about outsourcing and the decline of the middle class and the decimation of American manufacturing and the push against unions without ever using a subject in our sentences.
That way we can make it seem like nobody’s to blame. That way we can avoid “controversial” and/or opinionated or non-objective views of reality like:
Republicans, backed by wealthy business owners, attacked unions because those unions threatened their interests which are, in order: Making enough money to roll around in like Scrooge McDuck, making enough money to afford to buy Barbados, and making enough money to stack up all that money higher than Everest.
Those unions served as vehicles for political opposition to those interests, and so those unions had to go.
Why can’t we just say that? Because it makes Republicans like Scott Walker look like mean bullies who want to step on the American worker?
Better to just act like this all appeared out of thin air, conjured by the passage of time.