Private Sector Unions Stand in Solidarity With Wisconsin Protesters
Mike Elk has another fine report from Wisconsin that brings up an important point:
Last Friday, two van loads of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669 members, who have been locked out of the Honeywell uranium facility in Metropolis, Ill., for nine months, traveled through the night to join the ongoing protest in the Wisconsin State Capitol.
“After all the support we have seen from around the country, it would be a disservice not to join our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and give some of that support back,” said Darrell Lillie, president of the USW local. “Without collective bargaining rights, workers in both the public and private sector would be devastated and lose their voice in the workplace.”
The 228 union workers in Metropolis have waged what labor historian Joe Burns called the most high-profile labor struggle, as Honeywell's CEO attempts to bust unions throughout the corporation. They have been at the forefront of defending the right to collective bargaining in the private sector, facing an adversary in the private sector as ideologically fanatical as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—Honeywell CEO David Cote.
The anti-union plutocrats have been doing a very good job of separating "unions" from public employees and trying to convince people that there is some sort of fundamental difference between them. Recallthis blather
from Gloria Borger on CNN:
One of the most level-headed public officials in all of this budget frenzy is Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. He's a grownup, having served both outside and inside Washington. Yes he also dealt with the public employee union issue, by signing an executive order ending collective bargaining for Indiana state workers, which cost him politically early on in his tenure.
Yet when state Republicans called for a vote on a proposal to weaken unions in the private sector -- and Democratic members started heading for the hills -- Daniels decided to lower the temperature and shelve the bill.
He's not the only one who's made this distinction. Many Republicans have been trying to hedge their bets on this (probably recognizing a teensy vulnerability with the white working class) by saying that the private sector unions are clearly legitimate (even though they try to break them every chance they get.)
The best way to disabuse people of that notion is for the private sector unions to stand in solidarity, which they are. Every time we hear one of these slippery right wingers try to make a distinction between them, the other side should stop them in their tracks and set them straight.
This is an interesting labor fight and different than what's happened before. It's a middle class fight this time. I'm not sure the Republicans fully grasp what that means.