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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Florida legislatures union busting plan

From the Miami Herald

By Myriam Marquez

Why would lawmakers who ran on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs, be so fixated on wrecking havoc with public workers’ lives?

Union busting, that’s why. Unions donate to Democrats because they’re friendly to their cause. Business lobbies give globs of campaign cash to Republicans because they’re friendly to anti-union causes. Not complicated and nothing new.

From Washington to Tallahassee the assault on public labor unions is on fast drive. Ronald Reagan, rest in peace, at least tried to get it right. He courted labor leaders. Most didn’t dance to his song, but he got the burly truckers to cha-cha with him even as he busted the air traffic controllers’ union in the 1980s.

Not sure if that helped our Shining City on the Hill, though. Lately, those non-union controllers have been found sleeping on the job from coast to coast. So much for quality control.

Anyone who reads my columns regularly knows I have plenty of concerns about out-of-control local union contracts with unsustainable perks on the backs of taxpayers who are still struggling in a tough economy. But the ones responsible are the politicians who give away our money, even when it’s unsustainable, to court unions’ support to get out the vote when they seek re-election.

Somewhere between quarter-million-dollar-a-year firefighters and barely surviving teachers working in struggling schools that suburbanites liken to war zones there’s this fundamental truth: in a democracy every worker has rights, and organizing a union is each individual’s right.

Individual rights. Talk about a Republican notion, though you wouldn’t know that from hearing some GOP lawmakers talk about labor unions as if they are commies in disguise bent on destroying America.

Fortunately, some Republicans in Tallahassee are showing spunk and standing up for democratic principles. On Friday, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, was forced to compromise on his bill that sought to end the practice of union members having their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. Why meddle in people’s paychecks?

Thrasher’s amendment allows the dues but limits them to “non-political” purposes. This after Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, joined seven other GOP senators in publicly opposing Thrasher’s initial bill. Jones still doesn’t buy the compromise, and he’s right.

If you want to be a union member and have part of your paycheck go to your union, and have that union spend some of that money to help a candidate that the union backs, that’s your business. After all, Florida is a “right to work” state, which means workers don’t even have to belong to a union to benefit from a public union contract.

Fair is fair. Hundreds of companies already use payroll deductions to collect dues for political purposes in Florida, among them insurance companies. Gosh, could that have any connection to Florida’s out-of-control windstorm insurance rates?

Sen. Anitere Flores didn’t like Thrasher’s original bill but she gave the nod to the compromise in committee to move it to the next stage. Nevertheless, she told the Herald’s Tallahassee Bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas that she still has “concerns.” You would think.

Every Cuban-American Republican in Tallahassee should not only be concerned, but incensed at this assault on basic individual rights. Every one of them, when talking about Cuba’s dictatorship, will list “independent labor unions” and an independent press and legalization of all political parties as among their demands before bargaining with the dictatorship.

In Cuba, there are no union dues, no paycheck deductions (barely a paycheck when you live on $20 a month), but, of course, that’s because unions are run by the regime.

South Florida’s Cuban-American Republicans know that truth. It’s past time they spread the word and get their GOP colleagues to stop meddling with union workers’ paychecks.

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  1. And so, with Medicare and medicaid fraud heavily lowering the availability of jobs and revenue (that overflows into the economy), and now state workers have a shift in expenditures for the worst, with South Fla water district unable to pay for improvements that secure your clean drinking water,and sewer costs and taxes for new system DEP demanded for increase in water for your county...let me ask a question, WHEN do you see your economy turning around?

  2. Have we reached a tipping point? Not quite but unless the middle class decides they want things to be different it soon will..