Wisconsin, unions, and defunding the left


Mother Jones mag this month has a GREAT story about the battle in Wisconsin, the history of unions and the Democratic Party, and the real aim of the move to bust public-sector unions. Writer Kevin Drum notes:

In the past, after all, liberal politicians did make it their business to advocate for the working and middle classes, and they worked that advocacy through the Democratic Party. But they largely stopped doing this in the '70s, leaving the interests of corporations and the wealthy nearly unopposed. The story of how this happened is the key to understanding why the Obama era lasted less than two years.

He describes the history of the post-War era and the rise of the New Left, explains how the rift between big labor and the hippie/radical/antiwar folks culminated in the AFL-CIO refusing to endorse George McGovern in 1972, the decline of private-sector union membership and power and thed shift rightward of the Democratic Party.

At one point, he explains, unions were the only organized force with the resources to act as a counterforce to corporate America in political campaigns. Once that went away, the Dems had no choice:

In the real world, political parties need an institutional base. Parties need money. And parties need organizational muscle. The Republican Party gets the former from corporate sponsors and the latter from highly organized church-based groups. The Democratic Party, conversely, relied heavily on organized labor for both in the postwar era. So as unions increasingly withered beginning in the '70s, the Democratic Party turned to the only other source of money and influence available in large-enough quantities to replace big labor: the business community.

You can blame the Sixties radicals for not understanding the importance of labor (and you'd be right). you can blame George Meany and the AFL-CIO folks for not realizing that those acid-abortion-gay rights folks were their real allies (and you'd be right). But in the end, the bad guys took advantage of the split, and of sweeping changes in the economy, and now we live in the most economically unequal society in the Western world. (Remember: Unions bring up wages and improve working conditions not just for their own members but for everyone else, too.)

So now the only major sector where organized labor is healthy and growing is the public sector -- and that's why the Republicans want to get rid of public-sector unions. In San Francisco, it's often the case that the city employee unions (excluding police and fire) are the major donors to progressive causes -- and are often the only institutional base with the kind of money to counter the Chamber of Commerce/Committee on JOBS/downtown developer bloc. Bust that up and you get corporate hegemony.



being one of the affordability of current PS contracts?

Didn't the voters vote for Walker et al last November precisely because they're concerned about the unaffordable structure of PS pay and bennies?

You see this all as some ideological battles between left and right, right and wrong.

But it's better viewed through the lens of economic sanity.

Posted by Wally on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

yes, it appears that his plan has completely worked! The ammount of pizzas being ordered to feed 60,000 Wisconsonian protesters every day alone should soon run the State into the black.

Posted by marke on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

those pizza's is probably from WI and given that they're spending their own money on making one of the fattest States in the Union even fatter, while furnishing excellent Sales Tax revenue, then . . .

. . why would any reasonable observor object?

But this isn't really about WI. It's going on in all 50 States, because it's the issue voters are clearly most agitated about. They're mad as hell and aren't gonna take it any more.

Posted by Wally on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

WI is one of the fattest states? Well, CA is one of the gayest states.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

Better get used to it.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

Contrary to what many Californians seem to believe, most Americans live in the real world. Once Cali goes bust, you folks will have to move to states which aren't broke. I can't imagine the people I see in some of your 'parades' would survive in anarchy. Ever killed anything to eat it? I didn't think so. Tofu doesn't grow wild. Hey, I know: Have a parade in the Deep South! That would be fun.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2011 @ 7:32 am

everyone in Ca seems happy in general

Posted by matllock on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

Please cite Walker's "precise" statement before his election where he said he would end collective bargaining (as the unions have already agreed to cuts, but that isn't what he wants).


Posted by Matty on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

you wish to re-assess Walker historic victory in Wisconsin as somehow a vote for organized labor and not for the Tea Party ideal of smaller government?

I'd be fascinated to see that analysis fleshed out. Feel free to develop your arguments further.

Posted by Wally on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

Nice try, really--however, in two different threads, you used the words "exactly" and "precisely" to describe what Walker said before being elected governor, as per ending collective bargaining.

See, this is how it works, kid: When you make a claim (Walker explicitly said he'd end collective bargaining with public employees before he was elected) and produce no cite to back up said claim, you cannot shift the onus onto the questioner with the straw-man statement, "so, was this somehow a vote for organized labor", when no one anywhere claimed Walker's victory was that at all.

You're really quite awful at this debating thing. See, you make a claim, you back it up. When you can't, you lose. Not putting statements in other people's mouths or posts that they never made or wrote.

One thing you may consider--researching your supposed set of facts--before you post them in a public place where anyone with access to Google or Yahoo can easily refute them.

Posted by Matty on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

A Republican/Teat Party candidate stood on a pro-labor, pro-Union ticket then you've already conceded the point.


Posted by Wally on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

You lose again.

At no point did anyone other than you make a statement like that. You claimed Walker campaigned on ending collective bargaining and when asked to produce evidence of same, couldn't. When called on it, you pulled the standard issue asshole move--to simply pretend that what happened never happened.

By the way--let's use the "what would happen if you pulled this crap in real life" test out, shall we? Were this pulled on a boss--fired. A wife or girlfriend--divorce or breakup. In a barroom discussion--holding broken jaw and teeth in hand, assuming you were still awake.

Stick to the internet, little man--otherwise, your lies will only bring you a lot of pain.

Posted by Matty on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

laughable implications of violence, rather than address the issue?

If you insist in arguing that Walker stood on a pro-Labor stance, then I'm just going to let you wallow in your own putrid, fetid, rancid ignorance.

And BTW, I'm not going to do research to prove that the earth is round either. DYOR.

Posted by Wally on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

I again commend you for in general using a screen name matty

Posted by meatlock on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

If you're paying attention: the workers don't want cuts, but they've accepted (as have SF workers over the past five years) that some cuts are necessary. The real big deal here is eliminating collective bargaining for public-sector workers. That's what this is about.

Posted by tim on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

This is the beginning of the end for the tea party. The citizens of Wisconsin have realized that the TRUE purpose of the tea party is to destroy what's left of the middle class. Walker is simply a puppet of the Koch brothers and their ilk in an attempt to make working people bear the brunt of the economic mess that men like them caused.

And actually Wally - the pizzas are being ordered for them by people out of state -- from all over the country and all over the world. Why? Because the inspiring fight in Wisconsin has captured the hearts and minds of millions. I think I'll go send a pizza now! :-)


Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

This scheme by the Gov and the republican's in Wisconsin is terrible.

The idealized version of history is a bit off though. In the USA all those jobs got outsourced, not much a ad-hoc mix of college leftists and actual working class types could have done about that. Those industry jobs went to Japan, then South Korea and Taiwan and now Mainland China. They will be heading to Indonesia, Brazil or Vietnam soon.

Also it's odd, the Guardian is complaining that some extremists got elected someplace and are running rough shod? It's democracy when one group does that, and it's a travesty when another does.

Posted by matllock on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

What am I missing - can someone explain to me how Brown's plan to bridge the deficit is so noble relative to the Wisconsin governor?

So Brown is not asking state employees to pay more for their health care (gigantic expense) nor is he reforming pensions in any meaningful way; yet he does have the temerity to tax the unemployed and the poorest among us without health care or any pension with increased sales taxes and car reg fees in the middle of a major recession...??

It's appalling.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

Has anyone asked how much of a cut in wages and benefits the governor and the rest of the Republicans are going to take.

Posted by Guest mjj on Feb. 27, 2011 @ 11:32 am

Music video for Scott Walker and anyone who thinks they prefer a world without unions...


Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2011 @ 11:36 am

Music video for Scott Walker and anyone who thinks they prefer a world without unions...


Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2011 @ 11:37 am