Power, Baby, Power
This shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone, but Andy Kroll notes another provision of the anti-union bill that Wisconsin Republicans finally managed to pass last night. It removes the unions' right to collective bargaining, of course:
But there's another explosive provision in the bill that's received little attention: The bill authorizes state officials to fire any state employee who joins a strike, walk-out, sit-in, or coordinated effort to call in sick.
According to an analysis (PDF) of the Senate bill by Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), the legislation gives state officials the power to fire workers during a "state of emergency" declared by the governor under several conditions. If a state employee misses three working days without an approved leave of absence, that's grounds for being fired. State workers can also be dumped if, according to the LFB's analysis, they participate in a "strike, work stoppage, sit-down, stay-in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government, including mass resignations or sick calls."
A union that loses most of its collective bargaining rights and its right to strike is essentially powerless and useless. Add to that the provision that allows workers to withhold union dues and it basically strikes a death knell for the unions. And just in case you still thought this was really about the state budget, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald set everyone straight last night:
If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
It's all about power, baby, power.