Feb 18, 2011

Michigan Republican’s war on the middle class and labor is priority one


The Michigan Republican’s war on the middle class and labor continues to go at top speed with complete disregard for the consequences.

Less than two weeks after introducing bills in the Michigan House that will repeal Public Act 312 of 1969 that allows binding arbitration of labor disputes for municipal police and fire departments, the bills, House Bills 4205 and 4206, are already headed to committee for action. It is rare that legislation moves that quickly.

Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to go out on strike like other bargaining units can, so this gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.

It is rarely even used and when it is the local municipalities win 71 percent of the time, yet Republicans try to blame the financial difficulties municipalities are facing on PA 312 while ignoring the fact that revenue sharing payments from Lansing have been cut and property values are falling.

They are setting up a trap to first bust public service unions then they will go after private unions. However, they are being stealthier about it instead of being more open like they are in Wisconsin and Ohio, fearing the backlash from working Michiganders.

The new budget proposal introduced yesterday cuts revenue sharing payments and aid to public schools by $420 per pupil, sending many municipalities and school districts into insolvency, and they are expanding the law for emergency financial manger and giving them more power.

The EFM law already takes the power and authority out of the hands of the people legally elected by the voters and places it in the hands of a person appointed by the governor and the Legislature. The new bills will make it easier to appoint an EFM with several more triggers, and the bill also gives the EFM much more broader powers, such as allowing the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.

This is just one more union-busting measure, and if there are less police officers on the streets and firefighters ready to respond, Republicans think it’s worth it as long as they bust the union.

Yesterday Senate Republicans introduced Senate Bill 165 that will kill the prevailing wage law that calls for union wages to be paid on public projects. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, but it is co-sponsored by 20 of the 26 Senate Republicans.

HBs 4205-4206 that will kill PA 312 will be before the House Committee on Government Operations at noon on Wednesday Feb. 23 in room 327 of the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol in Lansing. The meeting, like all committee meetings, is open to the public.

11 comments:

Lorraine said...

I think the agenda goes far beyond union busting. Taking the principled statements of apparently principled conservatives at face value, it could be seen as a campaign to downsize the public sector. But I don't think that's what it is. Many (though not all) of the well-to-do and politically conservative municipalities have a high level of municipal services. Aside from those conservatives who are serious students of laissez-faire or some other principled (if extreme) worldview, 'small government' could be a code word for 'devolution', or small federal government relative to state, or state relative to local, or it could be (and usually is) a code word for 'small civilian public sector,' but gutting the local police force begs the question of whether they believe what they say. No, I think the real agenda is the supplanting of WITT by YOYO. The real estate market is basically an extremely efficient social-economic sorting algorithm. The fact that we do school funding at the local rather than state or federal level, of course, amplifies this effect. The fact that the local funding is specifically through real estate taxes further amplifies it. Revenue sharing is one of few countervailing forces. I think that muscular conservatism would have us believe that revenue sharing fosters dependency and makes local government weak and undisciplined. This may well be true, but the much larger tendency that is weakening communities (the elephant in the room, if you will) is capital flight. Ronald Reagan coined the expression "voting with ones feet." I propose that voting with one's feet, when one is a major employer, constitutes a sort of collective punishment. Punishment for an excessive tax burden? Perhaps. I used to buy into that logic, but it's looking more and more to me like punishment for a community's shared values, in cases where those values happen to be progressive, or egalitarian, or rooted in worker solidarity. How can I not reach this conclusion in times when Republican politicians and pundits are extolling the virtues of what they term 'right to work?' 'Business friendliness' as an organizing principle of policymaking can only lead to a race to the bottom. The movement in response to scorched earth policies animated by public sector abolitionism is not just for civil servants, and not just for union members. It is for anyone who is an economic underdog and/or is a resident of an underdog among communities. And as with the conservative redefinition of 'tax burden,' the safe zone, or socio-economic level (for individuals and communities alike) at which it 'pays' to be Republican is well, well north of the 50th percentile. The tactics of the 'new new right' make heavy use of demonization. As during the McCarthy era, red baiting is par for the course. So is 'memetics' backed up by public relations expertise, and of course money. They effectively turned 'liberal' into a dirty word. Now they are trying to make 'collective' (as in bargaining) a dirty word. One part of the antidote, I believe, is for people on our side to state clearly that we see through their game, and are absolutely unapologetic in our 'anti-anticollectivism.'

The said...

What?

Not Anonymous said...

The government does not earn money. It does nothing to produce a good. The government gets money from the people by taking money away from the people. However, the government does have a function. Protect the borders from foreign invasion. That's their primary function. This must be paid for hence the need for taxes.

The people must earn a living. They start a business and create a job for themselves or go to a businee and get a job. From their job, they pay for their needs and for their wants. Needs come first. Wants come when the needs are taken care of.

People must educate their children. It used to be done at home, through apprenticeships and universities. The people banded together to create schools and they ran the schools. Government expanded and eventually, started confiscating taxes on property to pay for the education, but they taxed even those without children to pay for other people's childrens education by adding a tax on property.

Unions work in the same manner. You can refuse to join a union, but you must still pay for the union if you're in a "union shop". The union then takes that money and applies to the political party that they choose. Not based on their memberships desires, but based on their own desires.

Unions were necessary and likely will be again. Businesses took advantage of the workers. The workers needed a job, the businesses needed workers and if the workers didn't like the conditions, or if the conditions were unsafe, the worker must decide how hungry he and his family are.

But the pendulum has swung to the complete opposite. Now the unions try to dictate to the business how to run the business beyond the safety issue and others.

Put in place politicians, who don't generate a product, unions that entice politicians with money and other perks, and now you have a system where the unions are dictating to businesses and government how to conduct business and policy. The money ran out.

As a small businessman, I pay my own meals, my own health care, and my own retirement. As a government worker, the taxpayers pay for the bulk of retirement and health packages, which creates the need for more economic activity. One side says lower taxes, to bring in more economic activity creating more revenue, the other side says take more taxes from the workers despite the lack of increase in the workers pay.

Unions have already begun to falter and dwindle. They now make up a very small percentage of the work force. Businesses are finding that they can create jobs and keep their workers happy and safe and treated fairly, and they are looking for lower tax zones, to increase their profits, as well as increase their working conditions for employees. Union states are losing population and right to work states are gaining population. Union states feel they must raise taxes on the remaining workers to keep the states viable, where right to work states don't need to raise taxes because their economic activity is growing and causing their revenue to grow through economic activity. Unions are demanding, the people are leaving and going where the demands are less and the fruits of their labor benefit them and not unions and politicians.

Most of what Lorraine said was to justify liberalism, which yes, is a well earned deragatory term. Even they realize it as they try to change their description to "progressive". You can call a jackass a donkey, but that doesn't make it any less the jackass.

Communications guru said...

We get it; you don’t like government, which in the U.S. are the people. However, it has nothing to do with union busting. The government/AKA the people, ban together to get things done. The only function of government is to “protect the borders from foreign invasion? “ Then your position seems to be that the only government we need is the federal government. I’m glad the majority of Americans don’t believe that ridiculous view. You should read the Constitution.

So, in your world only the rich are educated. Education is the great equalizer and it gives everyone the opportunity to better themselves. We all continue to contribute to paying to educate our children because we all benefit from an educated society. Paying taxes is not confiscating anything because the people- AKA the government, have a say on how much is paid and how it’ spent.

Yes, you can refuse to join a union, but you benefit from what a union gives you. If you are treated unfairly on the job or have a grievance, the union will defend you. Unlike you, I don’t believe you should get something for nothing. Not only that, there is nothing more democratic in the workplace than a union. After a union is voted in by the workers, if you don’t like how it’s being run, you can run for a leadership position. As for politics, typically candidates are interviewed by an endorsement committee and they vote to endorse or they recommend to the membership they endorse. It’s the Republicans’ fault, not the unions, that the grand oil party is anti-worker. Just about every single profession and group endorses candidates, from the chamber to the hundreds of trade associations, like the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association.

The huge gap between the rich and the shrinking middle class shows unions are needed more than ever before. As union membership falls, more wealth is consolidated in fewer people, just like it was before unions. No, unions do not “try to dictate to the business how to run the business.” For years GM put out gas guzzlers no one wanted. Management, not unions, made the decision on what cars to sell. But the UAW made huge concessions to help make them profitable again.

Unions have already begun to falter and dwindle because there is an all out assault on them, like this post confirms. Businesses did not improve conditions, give better pay, benefits, the 40-hour week, overtime and the weekend out of the goodness of their benefits. Union members fought for them and won, and many workers died and were injured in the process. Non-union shops followed suit to attract the best workers. With unions gone, those hard fought for benefits will bring to erode. Workers earn less and have fewer benefits in right to work for less states.

Only in your small brain is liberalism a derogatory term. Liberal polices have made this a better place to live. The U.S. form of government was a pretty liberal idea in 1787, and liberalism has continued to make this a great country.

Once again, anonymous coward, I am still waiting for you to back up your outrageous lie that we were “nearly shoulder to shoulder once.”

Not Anonymous said...

Normally, I'll read what you write on your page, read the comments of others, make my comment and not come back until you do another. But I'm doing taxes this weekend, so I guess I'm just a glutton for punishment today by coming back and reading your drivel.

You have this uncanny ability to manipulate words and lie to suit your myopic warped view.

First of all, you claim that I don't like government. You're wrong, or a liar. You pick between those two. Government is a necessary evil. Excessive government, I don't like.

Second, I didn't say that the government's ONLY function is to protect the borders. I said it's "PRIMARY" function. Primary. Most important. First. Main. Not one of those words means "only". If you were really a writer, I would think that you'd know the difference between those definitions.

The government is not the people. It's elected representatives put in place and loan the power of the people to represent us. They fail. You admit it (although not directly) and I admit it.

If you truly believed that government is the people, then you have no business complaining about anything that government does. Not when it's run by Democrats and not when it's run by Republicans. If you truly believe that government is the people, then you must agree that the "people" want what's happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, and the other states it's about to take place.

If I believed as you believe that the government is the people, then I'd have to agree that Obamacare was the right thing to do last year even though the only bi-partisanship in it was against Obamacare. By the same token, you would also have to believe that the repeal of Obamacare is the right thing to do because the people elected the people to dismantle Obamacare.

The idea behind unions is correct. The application of unions is not correct. It never will be. Nobody had a "right" to benefits. Nobody has a "right" to collective bargaining. What they have a "right" to is to pursue happiness. If benefits make you happy, then you have the "right" to pursue it, but you do not have the "right" to it.

You're very clear that you're only for the working man and woman. You aren't for Americans of all stripes. If the rich were a race and the middle class were a race and the poor were a race, you'd be a racist because you're only for the middle class.

Striving to increase the middle class is not a lofty goal. Sriving to increase the wealthy is a lofty goal. It would be ideal if everyone was wealthy and able to care for themselves. But it will never happen. Too many want to live off the backs of others. Imagine if a guy that creates a business says "screw it" and shuts the doors. Those workers get no benefits, no pay because there is no job for them to have.

Not Anonymous said...

People don't deserve to be wealthy because someone else is. They deserve to work for what they want. If you're happy being in the middle class, good for you. But most people want to better themselves. Unfortunately, too many, like you, want to better yourselves by taking away from those that have already bettered themselves. Are there greedy rich people that take advantage? Yes. But by the same token, there are greedy poor and middle class that want to take from those that have achieved without trying to achieve themselves.

Unions are corrupt, greedy and are ONE of the reasons that states are broke and this country is so deep in debt. They are not the only reason, but they are a big reason.

Another reason is corrupt politicians. Politicians that are not in position to serve the people that they represent but are in a position to make a name for themselves. Stature. Too many want to impose their will on the people that they are supposed to represent. In the mean time, they can't keep their pants up, their skirts down, their words true and their actions for the people they are supposed to represent.

You are not a tolerant person. You are not an honest person. You are stuck on one position. You call Reagan a saint, but only when describing what a certain group thinks. You call the Tea Party members a vulgar name but they are Americans just like the rest of us. You call certain representatives "bat shit" but ignore the assinine things said by those who have the same (D) afer their name that you have.

YOu're not a thinking person and certainly aren't very intelligent as has been pointed out numerous times by numerous commenters on here.

But you have gotten my curiousity up. You say you're still waiting for me to prove we were once shoulder to shoulder. Have you been saying that each time you answer my comments? I'll have to look. That's just hilarious because that happened back last year in Lansing at some event at the Capitol. I was pretty sure it was you based on things you've said that I heard you saying there. But you need proof? That's hilarious. Especially if you've been saying that to each post I put here. I'd say that you have a mental problem, but if you took it seriously, you'd go to a doctor and expect my taxes to pay for your appointments while you lay on some shrinks couch whining about all of the injustices in your world.

If you want to better yourself, get off your ass and get a job. Otherwise, continue to sit there and whine about how someone else may have more than you do. But you have always been wrong when trying to define what I think about anything.

Communications guru said...

Right. No, I don’t claim you don't like government; I read the BS you post and draw a logical conclusion. If government is a necessary evil then so are the people because they are one in the same.

The primary function of the government is more than to protect the borders; like the Preamble to the Constitution says, “to promote the general Welfare.”

Sorry, the government is the people. I certainly don’t agree with every single person in the U.S.., but I don’t hate them like you do. I don’t hate government and people the way you do you, and I will continue to point out GOP lies and polices that I don’t agree with.

Sorry, the people did not elect anyone to dismantle health care insurance reform.

They sure do have a right to benefits. They have a right to band together and collectively negotiate a contract.

Of course I’m for all Americans, but how much more help do the rich and powerful need? You just need to look at the numbers to see they are getting richer while the middle class and poor lose more ground.

Striving to increase the middle class is a lofty goal. When there is a healthy middle class, everyone does better.

Once again, anonymous coward, I am still waiting for you to back up your outrageous lie that we were “nearly shoulder to shoulder once.”

Communications guru said...

Who said “people deserve to be wealthy because someone else is?” Not me. The fact is most of the rich in this country didn’t work for it, they inherited it.

How do I “want to better myself by taking away from those that have already bettered themselves?” I want a decent wage for my labor in a job where I think I’m making a difference in society.

Sorry, unions are the most democratic institution in the workplace, and if you are a member who thinks it’s corrupt, then run for a leadership role and change it. What they are is not corrupt. Public employees are not the reason states are broke and this country is so deep in debt.

I’m a tolerant person, but not of cowardly people who personally attack me and my family and hides behind an anonymous name. If I wasn’t an honest person, why is that you can’t you catch me in a lie? I don’t call Reagan a saint, revisionist Republicans do. I don’t call tea baggers vulgar names, they do.

I got your curiosity up?” You are the one that put out the lie that “we were once shoulder to shoulder.” I’m asking you to prove it. Like I said when you put out that lie, it never happened, so you can’t prove it.

I have a job; in fact, I have two and a pension, and I‘m very happy with my life, thank you. Your cowardly, anonymous attacks will not deter me from pointing out the lies and true intentions of the Republicans.

Once again, anonymous coward, I am still waiting for you to back up your outrageous lie that we were “nearly shoulder to shoulder once.”

Lorraine said...

The conservative attack on the idea that the government is the people has been around for generations. You see it in the writings of James Burnham, for one. It is part and parcel of their campaign to make 'collective' a dirty word. During the mid-20th century a major project of the conservative community was the formulation of an ideology 180° opposite to Marxism. That is why there it is no exaggeration to describe as reactionary the particular flavor of conservative whose central premise is 'anti-collectivism.' The weak have no recourse against the strong without collective action of some kind. Checks and balances, even the narrow restricted-domain version known as 'small government conservatism,' is essentially a question of how one goes about belling the cat. The total rejection of collective action can only serve the cause of aristocracy.

BTW, Unions are the ONLY democratic institution in the workplace. The non-union workplace is 0% democratic. Of course the more strident Bircher varieties of conservative are also anti-democracy.

Not Anonymous said...

Once again, you ignore the words by stating something differently. I did not say that public employees are the reason that states are in financial trouble. In fact, I made a point to highlight in caps to try to make it clear that I don't believe that the unions are the sole cause. I never mentioned public employees. What I said was unions are ONE (again, notice the emphasis by typing in all caps) of the reasons that the states are in financial trouble.

I'd like to see the proof that the majority of the rich inherited their wealth rather than earned it. You should really back up that claim. But then, whether you're able to back it up or not, what difference does it make if someone inherited their money? It's THEIR money. You're not entitled to it. They inherited it. Not you.

The workplace is not meant to be democratic. If I own a business, I want my goods produced so that I can make more money. I took the risk in investing into that business that I opened up. Not the workers. The workers were hired to produce the product, sell the product and distribute the product. If I get good employees that generate more income for me, I'm going to reward them with better wages so that they will continue to work for me. If they don't do a good job, and don't add a value to my business, I don't want them around. A democratic workplace? My concern is earning a living and trying to make a better living. Their concern should be to earn a living and make a better living. They can make a better living by doing a good job and being rewarded for their labors. Bonuses, pay raises, promotions, benefits, etc.

Unions just make everyone get the same pay whether they earn it or not.

Run for an office within a union to better it? You really do believe it works that way, so I won't ruin that fantasy world you live in.

Proof we were at the same place at the same time standing next to each other? Do you really think you're that important? I'll tell you what, I'll just agree that I was mistaken and that it was someone that looked/sounded like you. I actually prefer that because I'd hate to think that I was that close to someone that I consider on the wrong side of a sanity.

As for my being anonymous, whine all you like. I read what you did to someone a couple of years ago. You put someone's personal information out in public without his/her permission. It seems you got it wrong if I remember correctly, but you still attempted to put someone's personal information out there. If I want my personal information out there, I'll do it myself. If it bugs you that I prefer to remain as Not Anonymous, you have choices. Ban me, or get used to it. I've seen what you've done, seen you threaten others physically, and I think you've even threatened me (but I may be wrong about that). Those threats, and your actions in putting someone's personal information out there only shows how much of an unstable person you are. So, get used to it or censor me. It's your blog, your choice. But you're not getting my cell phone number and all you've gotten here is an E-mail address that does not have my real name, where I live, the ages and sexes of my children, my wife's name, my mothers name, nor even the name of my dog. I know how frustrating that is for you to not have control over someone, but that's your problem, not mine.

Lorraine said...

The structural trends in the labor market since about 1980 have been from full time to part time, from permanent to temporary, from jobs with group bennies to jobs whose holders have to fend for themselves in the insurance market, and of course from jobs with union protections to so-called at-will employment. In today's labor market, workers are expected to assume more and more of the risks inherent in enterprise. It is not so simple as employers take risks and employees do not. One may argue that the post-war period (or pre-Reagan period, or golden age of bennies) was a time when workers had it too good, or an anomalous moment in economic history that should not be interpreted as permanent progress or a level of expectations commensurate with a developed economy, or even will tell us that we have the *&^%$#@! war to thank for that period of relatively bountiful opportunity. Arguing to that effect, of course, one is saying that workers today, except for the already-marginalized 'contingent' workforce, and perhaps the tiny portion of the population with highly in-demand skills, have it too good. To say that the post-war period was a fluke is to say that the rightful place of workers in society is one of even more insolvency and precarity than is currently the case. No one running for office can afford to insult the majority of the population, so of course grass-roots conservatives have been trained to parrot the "America's a republic not a democracy" mantra.