Aug 10, 2007
The Republicans all out assault on unions and the middle class with the deceptive name of so-called “right to work laws” has a new front with the establishment of a Facbook group created by an Oakland County rightwing extremist connected with racist and extreme causes and well-known to liberal bloggers is pushing a petition drive to place it on the ballot.
The site was created by Chet Zarko, who was the communications director for the California group headed by Ward Connerly that came to the state to push the racist Michigan Civil Rights Initiative on the November 2006 ballot that did away with affirmative action. The group illegally lied to people and misrepresented themselves to get signatures, and because this is Zarko’s MO, coupled with the other people who are involved with the Facebook group, we can expect the same tactics this time around.
Zarko said the purpose of “this board is to be able tell investors that there are hundreds of motivated folks out there ready to work for the right to work.” Investors seems like a good choice of words because the result of this union-busting proposition is to maximize profits for management at the cost of employees. This bill will force unions to give the protections and benefits they won with hard work and determination to those workers who do not contribute to the union via union dues, enjoy the benefits won by collective bargaining by union leaders and receive the same physical protections won by the hard work and sacrifice of union members.
This petition drive seems really premature. Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi, Rep. Jack Hookendyk, R-Kalamazoo, and Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, have introduced so-called “right to work bills, and Senate Majority “Leader” Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, has included passage of the bills among his list of hostage demands before he will release the hostage, state government. No ballot question committee has been formed that will allow them to actually raise the money Zarko apparently is already illegally soliciting. It would seem logical to let the legislation run its course before a petition drive is launched.
This is not the first anti-union endeavor Zarko has been involved in, and here in Howell we felt the first salvo. In May he submitted a massive Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to get emails from the Howell Public Schools teachers union, Howell Education Association. After getting the emails, he alleged the HEA leaders have "conducted a large amount of union business on public time, including trying to “retain MEA (Michigan Education Association) affiliated MESSA health-insurance, and using parent-teacher conferences to recruit parents (to) their side of a collective-bargaining debate.” He based his ridiculous claims on union leaders' e-mails that he received through the FOIA.
After school district officials admitted union leaders have a "recognized right" to use the district e-mail server for union business, Zarko clung to the ridiculous claim that they may have used a district copier to copy union material. Zarko also has ties to the anti-gay hate group known as the LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) that embarrassed the community and tried to ban books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors from Howell High School classrooms.
Despite describing himself as a “metro-Detroit, Michigan-based, political and marketing research consultant, focusing on conservative and “moderate” candidates and other clients,” Zarko has steadfastly refused to say who is paying him and who is financing this witch-hunt against public school teachers and teacher’s unions.