There are attacks on labor now underway nationwide that could effectively impose Third World wages, hours and working conditions on American workers, both union and nonunion.
These attacks are primarily aimed at destroying the nation’s union movement, but all working men and women would be affected because unions set wage standards for all workers.
Conservative and not so conservative politicians are zeroing in on both private and public employee unions. Private sector unions are under extreme attack because of the major election victories by anti worker candidates in the 2010 election. Public employee unions loom as huge targets for many states that are plagued by budget deficits, which are products of the nation’s struggling economy.
The National Right-to-Work Committee is expected to lead a concerted effort to either pass right-to-work laws in state legislatures or to place the issue on various state ballots in the 2012 election. The New York Times has reported that right-to-work will be introduced this year into legislatures in Indiana, Missouri, Maine and possibly seven other states, including Montana.
Historically, right-to-work exerts downward pressure on wages and benefits and diminishes working conditions for workers in states where it is passed. Voters overwhelmingly defeated a right-to-work proposal in Colorado in 2008, but at a cost of $22 million to the unions. The cost would be enormous if unions were forced to fight multiple right-to-work ballot issues in the 2012 election.
In addition to right-to-work, labor will face other onerous issues. Paycheck deception bills, which prohibit rank-and-file members from participating in the political process, will probably be introduced 16 states, including Arizona and New Mexico, Anti-prevailing wage proposals are expected to surface in 19 states and bills banning project labor agreements are expected in 18. Such bills, or variations of them, could be introduced in Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming.
Some public sector unions are being targeted ostensibly to help states reduce budget shortfalls caused by the recession.
In Ohio, where both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office are controlled by Republicans, Governor John Kasich has proposed that certain segments of the government be prohibited from unionizing, and he wants to take the right to strike from others. Elimination of binding arbitration for police and fire fighters has also been suggested in Ohio. Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, has proposed to eliminate the right of state employees to form unions.
Politicians, it seems, want to make working men and women the scapegoats for the country’s wretched economic situation, which provides a great opportunity to attack unions.
Corporate America knows organized labor is in a vulnerable position. After the election in November, labor has much less support, not only in Congress but also in numbers of labor friendly governors and state legislatures. Moreover, union density in the nation’s workforce is only eight percent.
The labor movement is the last barrier that Corporate America faces in its quest for a Third World workforce. Right now, the corporations are at the tiller, steering a course that is ideal for billionaires, but devastating for the working class.