When I became a union member in 1998, it was common to hear that in the area of political contributions, “corporations outspend unions by 10 to 1.” What wasn’t made clear is that, in many cases, it’s the same politician collecting from both sides. When we look at where the democrats get the majority of their money, we get a clearer picture of why they aren’t standing up for working people.
Democrats failed to enact the Employee Free Choice Act when they had control of the White House, the Senate, and the House, although they promised to do so. Since then they have done little to nothing to stop the attacks on collective bargaining at the state level in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio and New Hampshire. And now the hammer is coming down in the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts.
On April 26, Massachusetts House Democrats passed a bill that would curb collective bargaining rights for public employees. Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo lead the latest charge against workers, pushing his agenda through at 11:30 at night. The bill, which would take health care out of collective bargaining for public employees, passed 111 to 42.
Massachusetts is a one party state. Many of the democrats, including the governor, rely on the resources of labor unions to get elected. For decades, they have taken our money and our time, and this last election was no different.
Massachusetts AFL-CIO president Robert Haynes told the Boston Globe, “These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions… . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber."
DeLeo claims the measure would save $100 million, and there is no doubt that the state needs money. It certainly wasn’t the public employees who drove the global economy of a cliff, yet they are expected to fill the gap. Maybe instead of attacking workers, corporations should start paying taxes...but you won’t hear that on Beacon Hill or Capitol Hill. In fact, you’re more likely to hear the same crap about giving corporations even more breaks in order to spur growth; they are literally taking from the poor to give to the wealthy. All this is despite the fact that there is no evidence that corporate tax breaks create jobs. After all, they’ve been getting breaks for years and we’re still losing jobs.
Massachusetts gave $136 million in tax breaks for mutual funds last year alone, and for that Fidelity announced that it will be shipping 1,100 jobs out of state! If Speaker DeLeo and the Democrats want to take $100 million from the backs of working people without even looking at the $136 million given to multi-million dollar mutual funds, then there is no question where they stand. This is a clear signal to big business that the Democrats are reliable servants, and it should be a wake up call for us.
Many are outraged over this, but what are we supposed to do? The fire fighters are leading the way. The International Association of Fire Fighters announced that it would indefinitely cut off all federal contributions to congressional candidates. This is an important first step in the fight for working people, but we need to go further.
It’s time for the labor movement to break with the politicians of big business and start running our own candidates. This would be a concrete step towards forming a workers’ party that would truly represent our interests.