Why unions have enemies It's no big secret

It’s possible to have a low opinion of billionaires without ever meeting any personally. Unfolding events — wherein Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s richest person, will get her fond wish of crushing unionism in Wisconsin — is just the latest example.

Does she even have union problems of her own? We’ve never heard of any. It’s hard to imagine how she ever could.  As a billionaire she can buy anything buy-able in this world. So why would she yearn to crush unionism in Wisconsin? Why does she need to fuck with these [financially] ordinary people?

It’s understandable why large business owners don’t welcome unions. Organized workers ask for a share of the pie, and other benefits. Unions cost business owners money. Or they certainly might. If I were a business owner, I see where I might not welcome a union, but I hope I’d learn to live with it, and consider it just another price of operating in a democracy, because that’s what it is. Laws, rules, regulations, taxes… you might not love ’em when they apply to you, but they can’t just be for the other guy. It’s all part of living in a decent society.

It wasn’t so long ago that the ability for workers to organize was considered a marker for democracy. You’d read about someplace in Latin America where half a dozen union organizers had turned up dead, execution-style, in a ditch by the side of the road. And not for the first time had organizers been killed. And you’d say, well, that is the sign of a very immature democracy or no democracy at all. You’d say to yourself that is one, still-backward, effed-up country, and you’d be glad to live here and not there.

Or you’d read about some other spot where a thousand workers had perished when their shoddily-constructed factory building collapsed. And you’d say to yourself, lord, it is amazing what an already-rich business man can allow himself to do just to get even richer.

And then you’d see video of the leader of a foreign textile union beaten within an inch of her life (yeah, the leader’s a woman) with an iron rod just at the factory gate. And you wonder if you would ever have the courage to agitate for a union in that part of the world.

The whole history of organized labor has been battle after battle. What’s going on in Wisconsin now is not new. The nice part is, in Wisconsin nobody gets murdered. It’s all nice and legal.

We humans have our pluses and minuses. We are excellent at convincing ourselves that we are good, and whatever we’re doing needs to be done. So the governor and his backers will have lily-white explanations for why the ability of workers to organize is no longer a marker for democracy. Why, they’re expanding workers’ freedom to choose. Yeah, that’s the ticket. That sounds real nice.

Wisconsin newspapers again urge redistricting reform

They’re asking again, politely but firmly. Can Wisconsinites at least get a public hearing on the bills AB 185 and SB 163 to reform our rotted system for redrawing voting districts? On Sunday the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made the case again, here and here, as they had a month earlier along with 7 other state newspapers and one TV station. Rarely have we been so interested (in a positive way) in the work of our hometown State Journal.

They’re actually trying to effect a change, and a difficult one at that. Actually it’ll be close to impossible.

While we support all this, and hope for the best, we do predict this effort will go nowhere until we get a bunch of new lawmakers. And how difficult will that be? That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it.

When the Republicans achieved total dominance in Wisconsin government, they immediately set themselves to cementing their power. They not only gerrymandered voting districts, but they went to work on voting restrictions and forced through unnecessary new ID requirements. They pushed through Act 10 destroying the most important interest group supporting their opponents. And they’re continuing to fiddle with the rules governing voting and campaign finance — more money to be allowed from big donors, and more anonymity for donors. In short, they have done what they can to rig things in their favor. And redistricting may have been, in their view, the most important and wonderful piece. The Republican majority may have a range of interests, but they certainly took care of self-interest with remarkable speed and determination.

Leaders Vos and Fitzgerald have said clearly they have no interest in revisiting their old accomplishments.

Against this we have 9 Wisconsin newspapers, one TV station, the usual good government groups (Common Cause, Wis. Democracy Campaign), and a generally sleepy, distracted, and not very well-informed citizenry. Well, the good news is… the situation’s better than usual, because of the 9 newspapers and one TV station.

But we’ll see.

Can polite-but-firm editorializing have any effect on people who (probably correctly) believe their best strategy for winning elections involves rigging some rules? Are they supposed to feel suddenly awash with shame, and decide to reverse course? That’s going to take some pretty good editorial writin’….

We’ll see.