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Labor & Economy

Excuse Me, But Your Animus Is Showing




Right to work states shown in turquoise.

We’re currently riding a serious wave of attacks on labor unions from politicians. (Generally, but not exclusively, this has come from the GOP.) We all know about the assaults on public employee unions that started last year in Wisconsin, and have spread across the country, with proposed or enacted legislation in states such as Michigan, Ohio (subsequently repealed by voters), Indiana, and most egregiously, Arizona.

And then there’s the resurgence of so-called Right to Work legislation, which was just signed into law in Indiana, which became the first state to go RTW since Oklahoma in 2001. (That makes 23 right to work states overall.)  Similar legislation is pending elsewhere, including Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, and New Hampshire.  Even states that are already right to work, like South Carolina, just want to get a little right to workier.

With Romney needing to establish more conservative cred, it was only a matter of time before this nudged into the Presidential race, too. Given the dramatic flexibility shown by the UAW in rebuilding the auto industry, and the fact that Romney’s sharpest critique of labor took place in Michigan, this belies a certain amount of chutzpah, but when you need to throw some red meat, you need to throw some red meat.

But I have to give the award for Most Over the Top Attack to Florida. (Always a strong showing of crazy out of that place.) The GOP-dominated state legislature is crafting a bill to give out tax breaks to businesses. Democrats in the legislature attempted to add some amendments—conditions that businesses would have to meet to get the tax breaks. Things like providing health care for the same-sex partners of employees, or not discriminating against veterans in employment. Not only did the state GOP defeat every such proposal, but they one-upped the Dems, by adding conditions that businesses could only claim the tax breaks if they have no union employees.

Forget the high-minded (if disingenuous) rhetoric about saving money for taxpayers (attacks on public workers) or about economic competitiveness (right to work). Let’s just take off the gloves and show what we’re really about — right, Florida?

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