labor movement

PFAW Foundation Statement on Harris v. Quinn

WASHINGTON — In response to today’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn, People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“In yet another 5-4 decision that runs roughshod over the rights of working people, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority today put at risk the ability of many unions to have a strong voice for all workers. 

“But working people have faced attacks before and will face them again. For many years the corporate and Religious Right has tried to undermine the progressive movement by attacking public sector unions. We stand with our friends in the labor movement as they continue to fight for fair treatment and better conditions for all working Americans.”

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Deace And Pratt Attack 'Dirty, Ugly,' Satanist Teachers' Unions

Iowa radio host Steve Deace was on Larry Pratt’s Gun Owner’s News Hour last week to promote his new electoral strategy book, “Rules for Patriots.” The two spent quite a bit of time lavishing praise on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for his crusade to bust his state’s public-sector unions.

Deace shared his theory that that public-sector unions are one of the “four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement,” along with “the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby” and “government education” (which is “how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them”).

He praised Walker for removing “one of the four pillars,” namely “the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions.” Deace apparently thinks that five anonymous teenagers yelling “hail Satan” at a pro-choice protest in Texas means that all public employees are Satanists.

Deace counseled Republicans against supporting any GOP politician who supports any one of the “four pillars.”

Pratt agreed, adding that the public-sector employees, including teachers’ unions, that protested at the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011 were “such ugly, dirty people” that nobody would want teaching their children.

Deace: There are four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement in America: the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby, government education – that’s sort of their youth ministry, that’s how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them. The homosexual lobby and the abortion industry is where they get their mega, mega hundreds of millions to fund their schemes. But the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions. And if you cut them off, that’s like cutting off the recruiting ability of a college football team. That’s the lifeblood of their program is those government-sector employee unions.

And if you do some of the math, I think the average annual union due in Wisconsin is like $1,500 a year for an AFSCME member. And if they truly lost 40,000 members, Larry, 40,000 times 1,500, you can pretty much buy the Wisconsin state government every year for that kind of money. And to have him cut off the head of the snake like that, he removed one of the four pillars. He’s maybe the only elected Republican in my lifetime I can think of who’s actually removed one of their pillars. And now you know why they have done everything they can possibly do to get rid of him.

And I would just say to your audience, if you’re supporting a Republican who doesn’t threaten at least one of those pillars, you’re wasting your time. If you’re supporting a Republican who aids and abets or collaborates with one of those four pillars, I don’t care how good he is on every other issue, he’s actually working for your opponent. Because that’s the infrastructure of the American left, those four facets.

Pratt: When Scott Walker had those union thugs lying all over the lobby of the capitol dome, the capitol building itself, they were such ugly, dirty people. ‘Those were teaching my kids?,’ I think people might have been thinking. They lost so much stature, it was just amazing what was happening.

What Republican 'Soul-Searching'?

On Nov. 6, Americans turned out in massive numbers to reelect President Obama, take away seats from Republicans in the House and the Senate, and pass progressive ballot measures throughout the country. But it seems that Republicans in Washington and in states across the country just didn't get the hint. Despite all the talk of post-election "soul-searching," there doesn't appear to be any self-examination going on among those currently clinging to their seats in Congress and state legislatures.

Just look at Michigan. Just weeks after the state legislature's Republicans took a drubbing from voters, who cut their majority in the state House from 18 to 8 despite recent Republican gerrymandering, the state's GOP leadership went on a right-wing rampage.

First, they passed a package of so-called "right to work" laws that are meant to politically weaken unions and have the side effect of financially weakening the middle class. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder was against "right to work" before he was for it, thanks to some powerful arm-twisting from corporate front groups.

Then, they got to work on some extreme anti-choice measures. One tries to force abortion clinics out of business by regulating them into the ground. It also places unnecessary burdens on women, including requiring them to prove they weren't "coerced" into seeking an abortion; prohibiting them from consulting with their doctor via videoconference; and requiring them to sign a death certificate and hold a funeral for the aborted fetus (this requirement, at least, has just been removed from the bill). Yet another bill would let doctors refuse to provide or employers refuse to cover any procedures they find immoral. This one isn't just about abortion - it could allow employers to refuse their employees insurance coverage for contraception, or even blood transfusions. Sounds familiar? The Blunt Amendment in the U.S. Senate - wildly unpopular except among the Senate GOP - would have done the same thing.

Anybody who was paying the least bit of attention to this year's elections would have noticed that two of the things voters find most repugnant about today's GOP is its blind allegiance to big corporations and its enthusiasm for regulating women's health.

Apparently the Republican Party wasn't paying attention. Or is just too beholden to the interests of the Corporate and Christian Right to care.

What's happening in Michigan is just a microcosm of the whole. In Ohio, immediately after an election shaped in part by the GOP's toxic attacks on women's health, Republican legislators got to work trying to defund Planned Parenthood. And in Washington, DC, Republican leaders are approaching fiscal cliff negotiations with the sole goal of protecting George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

This isn't what I'd call "soul-searching."

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

PFAW

Michigan Pastors Speak Out Against Anti-Labor Law

Michigan members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council spoke out today against so-called “Right to Work” legislation that was signed today by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

Rev. Frank Raines III of Farmington Hills, a member of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, said:

“Our state has a long and proud history of a strong middle class backed by a strong labor movement. This so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation is nothing but a politically-motivated attempt to weaken the labor movement at the expense of working people. As faith leaders, we feel it is our duty to stand up for those who are the most vulnerable, those who work hard to care for their families, those who band together for fair wages and fair treatment. We’re disappointed that our legislature and governor have chosen to stand instead with big corporate interests out for political gain.”
 

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Rebecca Kleefisch Appears on Show Whose Host Compared Unions to Terrorists, Called for Ellen DeGeneres to Be Fired for Being Gay

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch appeared Monday on the American Family Association (AFA) radio network with host Sandy Rios. AFA, which has been classified a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, recently added Rios to its lineup. 

Rios gained notoriety early last month when an incredulous Bill O’Reilly suggested she was engaging in McCarthyism for calling on J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres because she’s gay. Earlier she wrote that accepting Ellen would lead to “the complete eradication of the traditional family and the acceptance of any sexual choice anyone wants to make.” This month she lamented that “the Jewish vote in this country is so confused” and said that secular Jews have been some of “the worst enemies of the country.”
 
This kind of thing is nothing new for Rios, as Kleefisch had to know. Last year, debating the Obama administration contraceptives mandate, Rios equated birth control and abuse counseling with pedicures and manicures. She also compared unions and the Obama campaign to a terrorist group, writing that “Organizing for America, the SEIU, the NEA and many of America’s labor unions have … more in common with the violence and intimidation of Hamas than with protecting ‘workers.’”
 
Rios, introducing Kleefisch, spoke of her Chicago roots and fondness for Wisconsin. Then, wasting no time, she began attacking Wisconsin workers and students:
You probably saw it every night on your television. You saw union members holding out in the state capitol. You actually saw them trash the state capitol. It was just an amazing thing. Playing music, there’s nothing wrong with music. It was just strange behavior. They even got out from school to do this. […]
 
They were furious. As a matter of fact, they took some steps. They threatened State Senator Dan Kapanke with recall, they did recall him. They staged protests outside of his home. They issued death threats. They sent his wife disgusting letters in the mail. They spread nails and glass all over his driveway, and they managed to get him out of office.
Following that introduction, Kleefisch gave an update on the recall effort and echoed Rios on how mean and nasty the union supporters were. Both used the despicable actions of a few to tarnish a broad-based citizen movement:
Folks spent their entire winters collecting these signatures in hopes of recalling us, essentially trying to remake a decision that the majority of voters in Wisconsin just made in fall of 2010. And voters overwhelmingly elected the governor and me because we said we’d do a budget without raising taxes. And in 2008, the Great Recession hit Wisconsin hard. People are still being pinched by it, and that’s why there was this desperate need to do a budget without raising taxes.
 
Well, the result of that is what you’ve spent the last couple minutes describing. We all got death threats, and our capitol was trashed. People were intimidated right and left. It was scary times. Even my little kids were scared to go to the capitol. People would shout at them, and you know, it’s kinda creepy when you work in a situation like that.
Kleefisch mostly let Rios do the dirty work for her, like in this exchange:
Rios: I’ll try to be clearer now about what this means. Basically unions in all of the states have been able to, through their union leadership, have been able to raise their salaries, their pensions just on and on, and their benefits without any kind of restraint.
 
Kleefisch: Well, that’s what’s called collective bargaining. And so we’ve put some restrictions on collective bargaining.
Rios sounded the alarm that “union folk from Chicago are flooding” into Wisconsin, with the backing of the Obama administration, to throw the election. Kleefisch, however, expressed confidence in her prospects, saying “I think we’re gonna win. I think we’re gonna win because if you go to the ballot box, and you vote on the facts, then you vote for us every time. Because the facts are, it worked.”
 
As Kleefisch noted repeatedly during the interview, Wisconsin is very purple state. It’s unclear, then, why she thinks appearing on a right-wing show with a notorious host will help her prospects.
 
Listen to excerpts from the show:
 
 
Listen to the entire interview here (starting at 18 minutes).

 

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