In a speech that at times took on an overtly political tone, Patrick said the national debate over collective bargaining rights was more about politics than cost-cutting.
“That environment has become precarious for the labor movement in America. In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, over the unprecedented protest of his own legislature, has brought the fight against working people to new heights. Republican counterparts in Ohio and Indiana are playing the same game. The assault on your rights has been carried out in the name of emergency budget cutting. But you know that’s a sham,” Patrick said.
Not to quibble, but only a minority of Governor Walker’s “own legislature” protested the move – and the only thing “unprecedented” about that protest was that minority’s willingness literally to flee the state to avoid a vote. But why get bogged down in details?
What really gets me about the Governor’s comments is the ludicrous underlying proposition that “politics” ought properly to be separated from government policy concerning public sector unions, at least when Republicans are in charge. In truth, Governor Walker’s efforts in Wisconsin are about both cost-cutting and politics. And there is nothing wrong with that.
After all, much of what public sector union bosses do on a day-to-day basis is all about politics – 99.99999% of it politics of the most partisan variety. Each cycle, the unions spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political efforts, almost all of it on behalf of Democrats. Last time around the largest public sector union (AFSCME) was the cycle’s most significant outside spender, with $87M in expenditures on behalf of Democrats. “We’re the big dog,” in the words of that union’s political chief. In Wisconsin, the public sector unions spent heavily against then-candidate Walker.
In fact, as pointed out in this excellent piece by Daniel diSalvo in a recent edition of the Weekly Standard, the fight in Wisconsin has much more to do with preservation of the unions’ ability to be “the big dog” in election campaigns than with collective bargaining. Bargaining “rights” play better in the press than “coerced political spending.”
Here’s the key part of the DiSalvo piece (but you should read it all):