Despite his laughable photo ops trumpeting workers, President Bush has built up a long record that shows his antipathy for the American labor force. Along with his executive orders aimed at weakening unions, he has packed the National Labor Relations Board with anti-worker ideologues, threatened to veto the creation of the Department of Homeland Security if employees were given union rights, and continues his effort to restrict workers from seeking legal redress against abusive employers.
Now, the crusade against American workers is hitting the heartland. While here in Montana, the state government is close to finalizing a laudable pay raise package with the state employees union, in other states, governors are expanding conservatives’ war against workers.
In Missouri and Indiana, Governors Matt Blunt and Mitch Daniels issued executive orders eliminating collective bargaining rights for some 50,000 total employees. The moves, within the governors’ first week in office, terminated workers’ rights to negotiate negotiate wages, health care and working conditions.
In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling unions “evil” and trying to privatize the state employees’ pension system. Earlier this year, Schwarzenegger helped engineer the removal of a top labor leader from the board of the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) after the official won praise for using Calpers financial power to push progressive causes on behalf of workers.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised: the fact is, many of America’s most prominent right-wingers are limousine conservatives, with almost no experience getting their hands dirty doing any real labor. Daniels’ career was marked by his time as a wealthy pharmaceutical industry executive. Blunt’s only claim to fame is being the son of a powerful, anti-union congressman. Schwarzenegger is a millionaire Hollywood movie star. And Bush is one of America’s foremost aristocrats – a classic blueblood who has been surrounded by money, priviledge and the corresponding cultural disdain for hard work his entire life. But now these limousine conservatives are waging a war to transform their own disdain for workers into sweeping public policy – and the ramifications are ugly.