Ronald Reagan’s handling of the air controllers strike may be his only decision of consequence with which I agreed. I had forgotten the reason but was reminded of it recently by one of those MSNBC types who are in the habit of throwing around facts. The controllers were striking in violation of a contract they had signed. If this bit of “trivia” were widely known it would put an end to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to draw a parallel between his action and Reagan’s in 1981.
Governor Walker, along with several other Republican governors, is simply trying to kill the already declining labor movement. Since the administration of the first President Roosevelt it has been pretty well accepted that, like it or not, unions are here to stay. Having dealt with musician’s unions, both as a member and employer, I’d say they are something less than perfect. But we read almost daily of abuse by police and have seen filmed evidence of inhumane action by our military, yet few of us question the need for these institutions. The need for the right of workers to organize in their common interest was proved over a century ago by the abuses suffered during the Gilded Age, sweat shops and child workers to name two. People are still people.
The argument that government services are essential and therefore should be immune from strikes is not without a degree of credibility, but none in the case of Governor Walker. Police and firefighter unions who had supported him for governor were exempt from his edict.
The governor’s story took an interesting turn yesterday when a man, who somehow was able to pass as one of the Koch brothers, got him on tape in what sounds like a politically compromising situation. This may be considered dirty pool. But it’s been meat and potatoes to the right for some time. Remember the “pimp and hooker” who did in Acorn dressed for the occasion and filmed most of the “evidence” outside the building? These events are almost mirror images except that this guy didn’t go to all that trouble. He just called the governor on his phone.
The possible demise of union labor is frightening to contemplate. But if there’s a silver lining in the cloud it’s that the guy leading the charge appears to be a bit of a bumbler.