Attacks on Unions Barking up the Wrong Money Tree

Michael Winship – President, Writers Guild of America, East;  Former senior writer, Bill Moyers Journal  – Posted: February 25, 2011 03:07 PM


“More cheese, less sleaze!”

That was the funniest group chant at Tuesday’s rally of several hundred union and other progressive activists outside the Manhattan headquarters of Fox News.

Several “cheeseheads” were in attendance, their noggins topped by the now familiar wedge-shaped, orange hatwear made popular by Green Bay Packer fans. On Tuesday they were out in the twilight chill expressing their opposition not to lactose intolerance but Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s intolerance of organized labor. (Unadorned by cheddar, I briefly spoke at the gathering as president of an AFL-CIO affiliated union, the Writers Guild of America, East.)

Governor Walker continues his obdurate opposition to the state’s public employee unions’ right to collective bargaining, despite a willingness on their part to concede pension and health givebacks he claims would help close Wisconsin’s alleged deficit. Meanwhile, there has been a decided increase on the sleaze end of the cheese vs. sleaze quotient, as evidenced in part by the prank phone call to the governor in which an online newspaper editor impersonating right wing billionaire David Koch elicited from Walker a proposed scheme to lure back, then double cross Democratic state senators who have prevented a quorum by retreating to Illinois. Further, when asked about planting troublemakers amongst the protesters, Walker told the trickster that he and his team had “thought about that” but decided not to. Apparently, all the really good disrupters are tied up in the Middle East.

But of course, this isn’t really about saving taxpayers money but consolidating political power. Walker and such leading lights of the GOP leadership as Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Ohio Governor John Kasich, among others, have decided that public employee unions make great punching bags, effective scapegoats for an outraged electorate and a satisfactory diversion from the real culprits of this grim, economic melodrama — the Simon Legrees of banking and finance who got us into this meltdown mess in the first place.

As Josh Dorner reported on the progressive ThinkProgress website this week:

“Instead of making the tough choices necessary to help their states weat