As Ed Schultz noted tonight, the GOP governors appearing on the Sunday bobblehead shows all had their talking points ready and were on the same page with their defense of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker -- Wisconsin is broke, Democratic Senators are cowards and public employees have it way too good.
But as Ed noted, one Republican governor in Maine let the cat out of the bag with what their real agenda is: enacting so-called 'Right to Work' laws and busting unions.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Saturday he would push forcefully ahead with right-to-work legislation in his state, even if it means a Wisconsin-style fight with unions.
In an interview at the National Governors Association, the Republican praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and couched his own proposal in the language of liberty loved by tea partiers.
"He's got a big challenge, and quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they're going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine because we're going after right to work," LePage told POLITICO.
"I believe that the Declaration of Independence says 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,'" he said. "Whenever someone forces me to do something against my will, they're infringing upon my freedoms and my liberties. And that's what I think we're doing in Maine when we have fair share, which means that you are required to belong to a union, you're required to pay dues but you don't want to participate. I find that to be against everything the United States of America stands for." [...]
LePage said he's "never inspired by a fight," but that Wisconsin is unquestionably an impetus behind a renewed GOP push to demand concessions from public-sector employees and to go after union power. [...]
LePage said people who want to join unions have that right, but stressed that no one should be forced into the decision.
"I believe if an individual wants to join organized labor and work under a union contract, they should have the legal right to do so," he said. "At the same token, a person who does not want to work under organized labor and wants to work should have the ability to do so without the threat of having to join and having to pay dues to organized labor."
"It's that simple," he said. "It's all about freedom and liberty."
"Freedom and liberty" huh? I don't think so, Governor LePage.
As Ed pointed out, Maine workers cannot be forced to join a union already:
LePage’s comment that Maine workers are forced to join a union has sparked debate.
Private sector workers cannot be forced to join a union under the freedom of association clause in the First Amendment, a finding backed by several court decisions.
State laws differ on public employees. According to Marc Ayotte, the executive director of the Maine Labor Relations Board, Maine law follows the guidelines of the association clause in prohibiting public workers from being forced to join a union. However, most collective bargaining agreements in the public sector require workers opting out of the union to pay a “service fee” to unions.
Ayotte said the fee is less than full union dues. It’s required because Maine law currently obligates public employee unions to represent nonunion workers during grievances and other matters.
The service fee obligation for public employees is at the heart of the legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Winsor, R-Norway. Winsor said last week that his right-to-work bill would eliminate the service fee requirement, as well as the provision requiring unions to represent nonunion employees.
The article by the Sun Journal also had a statement from someone from The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation claiming that those workers do not actually have that freedom because they're forced to pay a fee if they opt out of the joining the union. You've got to love the names these organizations give themselves.
Right to Work is nothing more than the right to bust a union financially. Unions are still forced to represent workers that opt out of union membership, so they force those workers to pay a fine in states like Maine. If they really weren't just about breaking the unions, they would change the laws so the unions are no longer forced to represent anyone who opts out of joining. Let them come in and bargain for their own wages, not have any recourse other than hiring their own attorney if they get fired or hurt on the job and if a company decides to pay them less than their union counterparts, so be it. You're on your own. Given those choices most workers would not opt out of joining a union. Right to work advocates want to allow "free riders" who enjoy the benefits of union membership, without having to pay for them. Then when enough people opt out, the union goes bust and voila', no more union. Mission accomplished.
We're going to be fighting this battle across all fifty states for years to come. We'd better get out there and make people aware of what's going on before we all find ourselves in the same position Wisconsin and now Maine are already in. Republicans and Right to Work advocates have been itching for this fight for years and it looks like they're finally ready to bring it. We'd better be ready to bring it right back.
As Ed noted in the end of the clip where he showed Karl Rove, this is also about decimating the core of what's left of the Democratic base. If we don't want what's left of the middle class decimated, we need to be following Wisconsin's model and getting out there on the streets and making our voices heard in whatever way we can.