Most Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives have joined the gang of right wing, anti-worker zealots led by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who is at the forefront of a national assault on the nation’s middle class.
Some 26 GOP House members sponsored a bill (HB 1320) in the waning days of the 2011 legislative session that would have prohibited collective bargaining by state employees.
The fact there is no collective bargaining now among state employees was apparently of no concern to the legislators, including Frank McNulty, speaker of the House. They wanted to send a message to the working men and women of this state: They intend to come after your wages, hours and working conditions.
So, although HB 1320 died before a final vote could be taken in the legislature, it should scare hell out of every worker, union and nonunion alike, in this state. Because unions set wage standards for all workers, nonunion workers are also prime targets of the war on workers.
This is the first overt action taken by Colorado Republicans in the ongoing nationwide campaign to destroy, not only the labor movement, but also the middle class, which it helped to create. It is hard to understand why the 26 Colorado representatives decided at this time to jump on Governor Walker’s bus, which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Polling in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine shows the GOP is suffering a tremendous erosion of support from independents and nominal Democrats that they enjoyed in the 2010 election. And, lest Colorado Republicans forget, a right-to-work (for less) initiative was defeated in Colorado in 2008 by an overwhelming margin.
So far, of the14 states that have tried this year to pass right-to-work (for less) laws — which sap labor’s strength in collective bargaining for workers’ wages, hours and working conditions — only New Hampshire has come close to succeeding.
Public opinion has shifted in favor of collective bargaining rights as unions took center stage in many state capitols. A Gallup poll in April showed almost half of Americans agree with workers and their unions. Only 39 percent agree with the governors who attacked working people.
In Wisconsin, six of the most vulnerable Republican senators will face a recall election on July 12. After Governor Walker and the GOP-controlled Senate voted to abolish collective bargaining in the state, union members quickly gathered enough signatures to put the recall elections on the ballot.
Even though they may have overreached after their massive election victory in 2010, it doesn’t appear Republicans will soon retreat from their war on workers. Their corporate contributors have for years sought to impose Third World conditions on the American workforce. There is no reason to believe they will ever abandon that goal.
That’s why they have targeted the unions. Unions are the protector of the middle class. When the unions are defeated, the middle class ceases to exist. To all those nonunion workers who think they have no dog in this fight; think again.
Get smart. Fight back.