By Assistant President Arty Martin
The attack on public-employee collective bargaining rights by right-wing extremists is intended to destroy labor unions.
Union busting is something expected in the private sector; that’s why we have laws to level the playing field, with most differences settled at the bargaining table or in neutral arbitration — not through management dictatorship, as being attempted in Wisconsin and other states.
Should right-wing extremists succeed in destroying public-sector unions, the assault will spread to the federal government workforce and then the private-sector.
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 bankrolling right-wing extremist lawmakers. A Supreme Court decision virtually removing caps on corporate political donations certainly helped the effort.
Many right-wing candidates use emotional words such as gun control, school prayer and abortion to stir the emotions of union members, recruiting many to inadvertently participate in destroying the right of collective bargaining and, eventually, the economic security unions provide working families.
If labor-union survival and the economic survival of all working families is going to be preserved, we in organized labor must respond to the attacks on our collective bargaining rights.
We must maintain our right to join a union, our right to unify and our right to make political donations (if we so choose) through payroll deduction to those politicians supporting workplace democracy.
We cannot match the level of donations of the huge corporations and others financially backing the attacks on labor, but we have something our enemies don’t have — millions and millions of members who can vote for labor-friendly candidates.
The UTU Political Action Committee (UTU PAC) helps identify labor-friendly candidates, helps finance their election campaigns, and helps to get out the vote for labor-friendly candidates on Election Day.
Please consider joining this voluntary effort and contribute to the UTU PAC. If you already are a member, please consider increasing your contribution. Our job security and the economic security of our families hang in the balance.
Let’s not forget that the attacks on labor we are witnessing today have not been seen in generations, and what is happening in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and elsewhere is only the beginning if we don’t stand in solidarity to protect the rights labor fought so long, so hard and at such a great cost to achieve.