GOP Governors Conceal Animus Toward Labor Unions

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder share a profoundly anti-democratic trait: all three concealed their animus toward labor unions while running for office. Of the three, Governor Snyder is the most culpable, as he made public statements after being elected that he didn’t want to divide the state, as Wisconsin and Ohio became divided after their legislatures and governors took action to cripple collective bargaining. Moreover, Snyder had assured labor union leaders that he would not support any legal assaults on organized labor. Whereas Walker and Kasich approved legislation to destroy collective bargaining for public employee unions, Snyder approved bills to make illegal the dues structure of both public employee and private sector unions. Governor Snyder would almost certainly not approve a bill allowing businesses to join a Chamber of Commerce without paying required dues.

Governor Snyder has defended his assault on labor unions by contending that the new legislation will bring more business to Michigan; in adddition, he has argued that he will help labor unions by giving every worker the right to refuse to pay union dues. Every worker has the choice of joining a union or a non-union shop. If the worker joins a union shop and has the right to refuse to pay union dues, or participate in any way in union activities, he is nothing but a freeloader.

As for bringing in non-union business, the 23 right-to-work states have lower family incomes — $8,000 less on average, according to the New York Times — have less safe working conditions; and have higher poverty rates. Ironically, the right-to-work states, by and large, pay less in federal income tax than the dollar value they receive in federal government servies.

It is extremely unwise to gut labor unions at a time when the U.S. income gap is growing.

The Michigan legislature is not done with considering measures that are toxic to society. Bills in the hopper include: a bill to give tax credits to fetuses; a bill to let people carry concealed weapons in public schools; and a bill to fight Sharia law — a non-existant threat. Other bills will shut down health providers through burdensome licensing rules; ban all insurance coverage for abortions; allow health providers to refuse to provide medical services — from birth control to blood transfusions — schools legislation to allow vouchers; and legislation to allow the state to take over whole school districts.

In both Wisconsin and Michigan, any claim to purity of motive is tainted by the fact that firefighter and police unions are exempted from the respective legislative actions. These action elevate firefighter and police unions over other public service unions — a questionable assumption — and their exemptions are probably based on the fear that enlarging the circle of animosity could be fatal to GOP election and reelection prospects.

Another strike against purity of motive is the attempt of a GOP legislator to carve out an exemption for corrections officer unions. It may or may not be a motivsting factor that the legislator’s husband is a corrections officer.

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