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Labor unions and Trojan horses

Several states are trying to bust unions out in the open under the full scrutiny of the media. And in several of those states the people have risen up, demanded recalls of elected officials who have somewhat naively committed political hara-kiri while publically carrying the banner of the way-far-right. How at risk are these governors, state senators and state legislators? In Wisconsin, for example, the degree of separation between every public service worker (firemen, police, educators, sewage workers, etc.) and every voter in that state is nil, zip, nada. With about a quarter of a million public workers in a working population ofmore than 2 million, it is easy to see how a ratio of one in eight means everybody knows somebody affected by the union and civil servants pay busting. At voting time those anti-votes will count.So, are you all watching? Is the media focused? While you do that, you’ll miss some other really nasty goodies Congress has been sneaking by. Let’s look at just one, for example, just this little one.The (new) House passed a bill called H. R. 658. That’s the FAA reauthorization bill. These sorts of bills are automatic and hardly anybody ever reads them or has time to read them. In a gentlemanly and lady-like world of Congress of old (not this new vicious one) such reauthorization bills are automatic unless someone really wants to close down a branch of government. So far, not one politician has suggested shutting down the FAA. That would shutdown all air travel more effectively than the 9/11 bombers.Ah, but this time there is Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) to the rescue. You know the one: She’s the bright spark who said, “For every 33 pregnant women that walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, 32 receive an abortion.” Oh, and she also whispered to a birther “I agree with you …”in 2009. Well, Ms. Schmidt slipped in a little earmark, a little addition to H. R. 658 that changes all the airline’s unions’ voting systems (yes, big government tells unions how they may hold elections).The union voting system — both to form a union and to govern one — has gone through many changes. In the old days there was a show of hands, but this was felt to exert pressure peer to peer. Then 75 years ago the airline and railway unions went to secret ballot as long as every vote not cast would count as a “no” vote. This worked OK except that employees spread across the country and sometimes the world could not cast votes in time or perhaps at all. So the unions asked, and 24,962 employees wrote overwhelmingly in support of, and Bush’s administration reluctantly agreed with the National Mediation Board (NMB), that airline and railway unions could cast votes as we all do for general elections: one man, one vote. If you do not vote, your vote is not counted (as a “no” or a “yes”). Finally, last summer the NMB adopted the ruling with the approval of Congress and the new administration. The airlines immediately sought to overturn that ruling in long and costly lawsuits — which they lost, big time. This is a democracy, was the verdict.Ms. Schmidt sprang into action. With campaign funds from, you guessed it, the airlines, she decided (or was coached) to change the voting law. She wants the old voting system back. If you do not vote, your vote is a “no.” Why? Because if every employee at, say, Southwest, is asked to vote on joining a union … you guessed it, many of them would not or could not vote, thereby assuring no union at Southwest.Now, I’m not surprised that politicians are partisan and the load the dice for their own party. All sides do this. What I am saying is that there is a very clever, carefully orchestrated, secret war strategy going on. While the media — and the public — are focused on the Trojan horse anti-union spectacles in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Idaho, the members of a Republican House are sneaking out of the belly and doing what some Congressmen and women do best — doing the bidding of big donors and slipping in one-line deadly additions to otherwise benign bills. Union busting is good for Wall Street, big donors, big business, short term.Business is definitely not “as usual” in Washington. There is a very real war going on there. You just don’t get to hear about it unless someone stumbles on a three-sentence addition to a 65-page otherwise boring, routine, standard reauthorization document. Where is Homer when we need him? This is developing into a Greek tragedy of American proportions. Peter Riva, formerly of Amenia Union, lives in New Mexico.

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