(By Mark Ayers, President, AFL-CIO Building Trades Dept.)
As a military veteran, I have always bemoaned the casual use of war metaphors when it comes to public policy debates. But today, as I look at what is happening across America, I can only come to one unmistakable conclusion: America’s building trades unions, and all of labor for that matter, are at war.
This week, in states such as Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire and Florida, building trades local unions and rank and file members are joining with members of other unions to stand up in opposition to the unrelenting attacks being launched upon unions by radical conservative governors and legislators, not to mention the U.S. Congress.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Walker (R) is seeking to outright eliminate collective bargaining for public employees. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich (R) is seeking to ram through similar measures. In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and his conservative cohorts in the legislature are pushing legislation that would eliminate prevailing wage statutes and outlaw public-sector project labor agreements (anti-PLA measures are anticipated in upwards of 30 states).
In New Hampshire, Missouri, Michigan and several other states, “right-to-work” legislation is advancing. And in the United States Congress this week, conservative members in the House of Representatives are proposing an amendment to an omnibus “continuing resolution” spending bill that would repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and prohibit federal funding for any projects that include a project labor agreement.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) this week declined $2 billion in federal money for a Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail project that would have provided jobs for tens of thousands of Florida construction workers.
In each of these instances, these attacks on our unions, and the callous disregard for the welfare of American workers, are being couched as “fiscally responsible” solutions to the budget misfortunes affecting government at the federal, state and local levels.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What these radical conservative charlatans are attempting to do is use these fiscal crises as a phony pretense for their true aim; which is the eradication of ALL unions from the American landscape. In this environment, no member of any union can be considered safe from these attacks.
And that, brothers and sisters, begs the question: Do our members know what is happening?
Certainly they do in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana, where these events are playing out on the front pages of the newspapers and on the nightly news. But, do our members in other states understand that what is happening elsewhere will soon become a reality for them?
To that end, I would encourage all building trades councils across the United States to do everything that they can to keep their members abreast of what is happening to their brothers and sisters in other states.
Don’t forget that the WE Party Patriots blog (www.wepartypatriots.com) is devoting extensive time and coverage to these events.
The 2012 elections are only 20 months away. The gloves are already off, and the radical conservatives have offered up their game plan. Now it is time for us to begin educating our members and reminding them of who is doing what to whom!