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Est. April 5, 2002
September 24, 2015 - Issue 622

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Goodbye Scotty!

"Even working class Americans who are Republicans
 should have been somewhat alarmed when he made
his pronouncement about the similarity between workers
wanting to organize into unions and the Islamic State."

The news early this week that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was dropping out of the running for the Republican nomination for president was a surprise to some, but not those who followed his effort closely.

When you have dropped to one-half of 1 percent in the polls, it should be a good clue that it’s time to go. For a change, Walker made the best decision of recent years by taking himself out of contention, especially since he was next-to-last in the polls, beating out only the man who blathered more than he did, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

The reasons given for his self-elimination were many, at least according to those who were covering his campaign for the press: could not maintain the fast-paced schedule that a candidate needs to maintain; might not have wanted to put his family through the rigors of a campaign (his two sons reportedly are still in college); was one of the least affluent of the 17 Republicans who were arrayed at the opening of the primary race, and other reasons.

One of the reasons that must have helped him plummet in the polls is his threat made just a short time before he withdrew, that he would do the same to workers in the nation as he has done in Wisconsin. He repeated over and over again in his home state that he took on the workers and beat them, by taking away their rights to form effective unions. The formation of unions has been the way workers have been able to bring themselves up the income scale from wage slaves to what is now considered the middle class (although, this class is said to be steadily moving downward in America).

Even working class Americans who are Republicans should have been somewhat alarmed when he made his pronouncement about the similarity between workers wanting to organize into unions and the Islamic State. Remember that? On the campaign trail, he was asked what he would do about ISIS (another name for Islamic State) and he reminded his audience that he has had great experience in that realm, mostly by defeating 100,000 Wisconsin workers who had rallied in Madison, in protest of his removing the right for most public workers to collective bargaining.

The collective bargaining laws adopted by various states over the past 40 years gave public workers the right to negotiate their wages and working conditions and eventually brought them up to the living standards of private sector workers. And, since the relentless attacks by Corporate America and right-wing politicians over so many decades have reduced private sector workers (their unions) to a shadow of their former selves, public sector workers have even surpassed some of them.

That’s where the attack on government workers and their unions gained some traction. Those in power over our politics and economy have become expert in dividing groups of workers from each other. They’re experts at it, and they are assisted by legislative bodies at the state and national levels and in the courts, as well.

Walker, smelling some of that worker alienation, felt that he could take his giant step in his broad-based attack on workers in the Badger State. It didn’t hurt that he was supported by the Koch brothers, David and Charles, inheritors of Koch Industries, one of the nation’s premier polluters and promoters of the great American Right Wing. Their hands are in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group largely funded by the nation’s millionaires and billionaires (like them), which presents model legislation to its legislator members who are members of Congress and many state legislatures, who dutifully present the bills as their own and get lots of them passed. Usually, their model bills are anti-worker (anti-union) or to facilitate further poisoning of the environment, or both. Such is the work of ALEC.

Being inheritors of billions of dollars, the Koch brothers have been very liberal with their money, when they thought they would get much in return. That’s why they or their front groups have supported Walker for some time. They apparently saw that he was self-destructing on the primary trail, so much of that money dried up. Now, David and Charles can look for one of the other political go-fer struggling to be president to carry out their agenda that is so destructive to the democracy that remains in the U.S.

Whenever people like David and Charles or Scotty Walker say they want to curb (destroy) unions, just remember that they are talking about damning workers to ever-lower standards of living. Also, remember that, with the rise of unions in American workplaces after World War II, there came a rise in what is now seen as the dwindling middle class: Rising unionization equals rising of living standards for those who are smart enough to join the union. Any time anyone, rich or poor, says that they just want to curb the power of unions, know that they are referring to slashing the potential power of workers.

The vast funds that have been expended to drive wedges between large groups of workers have been largely successful. ALEC and Koch money are helped in no small measure by the politicians who do their bidding (a majority in most legislative bodies, large and small).

For more than a century, unions have been the way to provide a decent standard of living for workers, their families, and their communities. They have been the way for black workers to gain some equality in the workplace and society, and they have provided a way up for others, as well, including Hispanics and immigrants, in general. It is this upward mobility of the workers that Walker and the billionaire class whose water he carries, who are trying to keep workers down, and when they can shed the effects of the prejudicial propaganda that has been put out there for generations and when they can join together, the result will be a more equitable society and one with less rancor and hatred. When there is solidarity among workers, in general, the Walkers and Kochs of the world will be defeated.

For now, though, it’s good riddance to Walker the candidate. He can go back home and try to undo some of the grave damage he’s done to his state. But, we’re still looking at 15, or so, other GOP candidates and most of them are beauties like Walker. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.

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