Jerry Brown could not have been elected Governor of California without the financial and political support of the California State Employees Association (an affiliate of the national Service Employees International Union). He most particularly could not have defeated a Republican candidate, Meg Whitman (former CEO of EBay), who poured more than $140 million of her own money into her campaign
No wonder unions, particularly public employees unions, are being blamed for state budget deficits. And no wonder, Republican governors and Republican legislatures are now trying not only to cut their state workers’ salaries and benefits…they are also trying to take away their workers’ collective bargaining rights.
In other words…the Republicans are trying to bust public sector unions wherever they can.
It’s not just Wisconsin…though because of the current protests of the affected union members, Wisconsin is presently getting the most attention. The Republican governor of Ohio is trying to do the same thing, as is the Republican governor of Michigan. And that’s just the beginning. Ten other states are contemplating busting their public sector unions.
Republicans have lots of reasons to hate unions. But the main reason is simple…unions support Democrats. Unions finance Democratic campaigns. Union members turn out and work for Democratic candidates. In fact, no one works harder or more enthusiastically for Democratic candidates than do union members who know as do almost no other constituency which side their bread is buttered on. As things stand right now, unions are the single constituency that can be reliably counted on to support Democrats pretty much across the board. In fact, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, Governor Walker of Wisconsin exempted the three public sector unions (local police, fire fighters and the Wisconsin State Patrol) who supported his campaign in 2010. If THAT isn’t nakedly political, it’s hard to say what is!
This fight has nothing to do with deficits or balancing budgets. It has everything to do with wrecking the political power of one’s political opponents. And, at the moment, it would appear that the Republicans are so morally and politically bankrupt of ideas that the only thing they can think of to do to improve their chances in 2012 is to strip the rights of their own citizens.
This isn’t happening in California…yet. Governor Brown is securely in the governor’s chair. The Assembly and State Senate are reliably in the hands of Democratic majorities. But one wonders…what might have happened had the billionaire actually been able to buy the election…and Governor Whitman was in the state house?