Could Republican’s war on unions backfire?

3.13 geary.indd

Indy Week covers the war on unions and Liz Shuler’s visit

Bob Geary wrote about North Carolina Republicans’ war on unions for his column in the Triangle-area publication Indy Week, in which he asks if Republican leaders really want to remind working-class voters what their party has been doing to them since assuming power.

The rich get richer, the middle class is squeezed and union membership is plummeting. The question arises whether a healthy economy is possible when unions are so weak.

It’s a complicated issue, so let me pose a simpler one: Should North Carolina, dead last in the nation with 2.9 percent of our workers represented by unions, welcome a debate about the role of organized labor in a 21st-century economy?

That’s a trick question, because Republican leaders in the General Assembly seem determined to grind labor under their wingtips by offering a trio of anti-union amendments to the state constitution. Voters would decide on those amendments in November 2014. — Bob Geary, Indy Week, 3/13/13

House Bill 6 and House Bill 53, both introduced by state House Speaker Thom Tillis within hours of convening the current legislative session, would add three anti-union amendments to North Carolina’s constitution, making permanent “right to work” for less and the ban on public employee bargaining while attempting to mandate only so called secret-ballot elections for union representation.

Geary points out in his column that the amendments are in keeping with Speaker Tillis promise to be a union buster:

The point of these measures isn’t to change anything in our state’s long and vehemently anti-union law book. Rather, Tillis said, they’re designed “to send the very clear message … that North Carolina will continue to be the least unionized state in the United States.”

To put it another way, they’re like the anti-gay amendment the Republicans championed in 2012. Their purpose is to show who’s in charge and who isn’t.

The Republicans think that by putting these anti-union amendments to referendum, they’ll align themselves with popular sentiment and force Democratic candidates to take an unpopular stand.

Perhaps the GOP should be careful what it asks for. Crushing unions may sound like an easy path to victory, but what if the campaign becomes a referendum on what the rich and big business—and their Republican allies—are doing to working-class North Carolinians? That is, kicking them when they’re down. — Bob Geary, Indy Week, 3/13/13

Click here to read more of Bob Geary’s excellent column, “It’s time to induce labor.”