by Jeremy Leaming
Earlier today the House Education & the Workforce Committee approved a bill aimed at limiting the ability of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enforce federal law protecting workers’ rights.
As noted here, the House measure is being pushed by right-wing policymakers bent on punishing the NLRB for its complaint against Boeing Corp., which alleges that the giant aerospace company moved jobs from its Washington State facility to punish workers there for striking, an activity protected by federal law.
On the state level, governors in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio have enacted laws greatly undermining the ability of public sector workers to engage in activity to protect their rights. Kerry Korpi, director of research and collective bargaining services for AFSCME, talked with ACSblog about the Right’s efforts to advance corporate interests, while hobbling the rights of workers.
The governors of those states say they are facing out-of-control deficits and therefore public sector workers’ benefits and rights must be slashed. Korpi said that’s a smokescreen for an ideological agenda.
“There are budget problems in all of these states,” Korpi said. “All the governors you mention are making them worse by cutting taxes further on corporations and the rich, and then using that as justification for cutting middle-class jobs, cutting programs to the elderly and the poor. In Wisconsin, for example, Scott Walker said he had to cut collective bargaining rights to get costs in control … he wanted to increase our members’ contributions to pensions and health insurance. Our union there agreed to both of these things, but we are not going to give up our right to bargain, and he said ‘thanks, but no thanks;’ he has not sat down with us once.
“So it is not about the budget,” Korpi continued. “It’s about an ideological effort to get rid of folks who oppose them. And it’s not just unions they are going after, it’s young voters, it’s minority voters, it’s an effort to crystallize power in a way that other people can never take it back again.”