Colorado’s union leaders should be prepared f0r a barrage of anti-worker legislation to be introduced in the 2012 session of the state legislature, which begins on January 11.
After all, 2012 is an election year and that is prime time for posturing by both Democrats and Republicans. With a divided legislature in Colorado it is doubtful that legislation seriously offensive to either party’s base will be passed.
But one has to be careful.
Lawmakers from both parties will be introducing all sorts of goofy proposals to prove to their bases they are doing something for the cause — and the campaign contributions.
And in election years, strange things sometimes happen. Some Democrats in swing districts might decide it’s in their best interest to vote like Republicans. Less likely, but possible nonetheless, a few Republicans might vote with Democrats.
An indication of what might face Colorado workers in the 2012 legislature came late in the 2011 session when 26 House Republicans enlisted in the war against workers by introducing a proposal that would have prohibited collective bargaining by state employees, even though Colorado State employees don’t have collective bargaining rights.
They didn’t care; they wanted to send a message to state workers, the same message that Governors Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio tried to send to workers in their states last year: We don’t care about workers’ rights; we’re out to gut their wages, hours and working conditions.
Of course, Walker and Kasich so far have paid a steep price for putting some kick back into a lethargic labor movement.
In Wisconsin, two Republican senators were successfully recalled resulting in a deadlocked state senate, and the governor is fighting his own political life in a recall effort which will soon qualify for the ballot. In Ohio, Kasich’s union-busting law was repealed overwhelmingly by a vote of the people.
But the fight for workers’ rights is not over.
In Indiana, labor expects that a so-called “right-to-work” proposal, which lowers workers’ wages and benefits, will be introduced in the 2012 legislature. Because both houses of the legislature are controlled by anti-worker lawmakers, union leaders are concerned it will pass and be signed by Governor Mitch Daniels.
So the fight isn’t over.
It will continue right on in the New Year and beyond. The union busters never tire of waging war against workers. They want to make it illegal for workers to belong to a union. Their goal is a Third World workforce for the nation.
Fortunately, though, working men and women in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states that were under siege last year mobilized and fought back. Through their hard work, solidarity and spirit of unionism, they have provided a textbook on getting the job done for the rank-and-file in other states.