October 25, 2014

Update on state union-busting efforts

Demonstrations continued in state capitals in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin this week as extreme right-wing legislatures indicated no intention of giving ground in their union-busting efforts.

UTU International President Mike Futhey, meeting with AFL-CIO officials in Washington, D.C., urged UTU members and their families to continue their telephone calls to state Republican lawmakers in opposition to the legislation. “We are not going away. We will not forget. And thanks to the values of the union movement and our members, the UTU and the labor movement is stronger than ever,” Futhey said.

In Ohio, a vote by the Republican-controlled Senate Labor Committee is expected this week on legislation to end collective bargaining and strikes by public employees, and establish stiff fines for public employees who defy the no-strike ban, reports the Columbus Dispatch. A sizeable Republican majority in the House and Senate prevents Democrats from blocking the bill from passage once it exits the Senate Labor Committee.

In Wisconsin, Senate Democrats remained out of state, preventing a quorum to consider union busting legislation in that state. Senate Democrat Tim Cullen told the Madison Captial-Times that Democratic senators remain united by their top priority — preserving key collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin’s public employees.

In coordination with the AFL-CIO, more than 1,000 automated telephone calls were made to UTU members in that state, delivering a message from UTU State Legislative Director Tim Deneen urging them to contact lawmakers in opposition to the leiglsation.

In Indiana, enough House Democrats remain out of state for a second week in their continuing effort to deny Republicans a quorum to consider union-busting legislation in that state.

In Idaho, legislation is pending that would prohibit state employees from joining unions, and would also outlaw public-employee strikes.

In Arizona, Florida and Kansas, legislation is being considered to restrict public-employees from having donations to union political action committees (PACs) deducted from their paychecks. In fact, Arizona State Legislative Director Greg Hynes advises that the Arizona state legislature now is considering 20 different anti-union bills.

Said UTU Assistant President Arty Martin, “In my 45 years as a proud union member and officer, I have never witnessed such blatant attacks on working families.

“The source of the attacks is corporations, financial institutions and wealthy investors who have bankrolled right-wing extremists running for public office. A Supreme Court decision making it easier for corporations to contribute to political campaigns certainly helped the effort.

“If labor-union survival and the economic survival of all working families is going to be assured, we in organized labor must respond to the attacks on our collective bargaining rights. We must maintain our right to join a union and our right to make political donations, if we choose, through payroll deduction to politicians who support labor and our rights.”