The Republican War on Unions

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court just overthrew a ruling stopping the Republican assault on collective bargaining. It was a 4:3 decision and unions are livid.



Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Gov. Scott Walker's plan to all but end collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.

The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state's open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had struck down the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.

The majority opinion was by Justices Michael Gableman, David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. The other three justices - Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks - concurred in part and dissented in part.

The opinion voided all orders in the case from the lower court. It came just before 5 p.m., sparing Republicans who control the Legislature from taking up the contentious issue of collective bargaining again.

The actions of Governor Walker and his Republican cohorts has led to the largest recall elections in history, 6 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

Robert Reich says this assault on unions is literally underminding the economy:

This war on workers’ rights is an assault on the middle class, and it is undermining the American economy.

The American economy can’t get out of neutral until American workers have more money in their pockets to buy what they produce. And unions are the best way to give them the bargaining power to get better pay.

For three decades after World War II – I call it the “Great Prosperity” – wages rose in tandem with productivity. Americans shared the gains of growth, and had enough money to buy what they produced.

That’s largely due to the role of labor unions. In 1955, over a third of American workers in the private sector were unionized. Today, fewer than 7 percent are.

With the decline of unions came the stagnation of American wages. More and more of the total income and wealth of America has gone to the very top. Middle-class purchasing power depended on mothers going into paid work, everyone working longer hours, and, finally, the middle class going deep into debt, using their homes as collateral.

This world is upside down. We have a jobs and middle class income crisis, yet instead of getting the real economy humming and the United States having stable, career oriented high pay jobs, we get attacks on workers.



Sniff test for a smoking gun

"The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state's open meetings law." -- Robert Oak

Without knowing the details, I am nonetheless astounded that Wisconsin's open-meeting law could be given such short shrift. My impression is that Wisconsin's laws on legislative and related proceedings, as in many states, goes back to progressive populism. The whole idea of these laws has always been to strictly subject anything substantial to public observation and prior notice.

It's as though some court had said in a homicide case: "The smoking gun is irrelevant and inadmissible."

Maybe someone here who has studied the record in this case can make some other judgment, but the sniff test says that this decision is as wholly partisan (and therefore corrupt) as was Bush v. Gore (2000).

Regardless of your view of Bush, of Gore and of the Florida results and ballot practices, the Bush v. Gore decision of December 2000 -- in the (5-4) part of the decision where the SCOTUS usurped powers given by the Constitution to the people and state of Florida -- was nothing but pure partisan politics. It now appears that far from being the exceptional practice claimed by the 5-4 majority, partisan judicial activism is becoming an accepted norm for the U.S..

How long can habitually partisan activist courts be credible within a political environment within which the people are polarized? When courts lose their credibility, are we on the verge of a constitutional crisis?

But EP is about economics. From the point of view of economics and investment, are we tumbling down the slippery slope of rampant political corruption toward a chaotic business/financial environment? Will investors hesitate to invest in the U.S. until, according to the Nathan Rothschild rule, "blood flows in the streets"?


Socio-economic stability -- including something like full employment policy -- must become a goal accepted as a consensus of the people and their elected leaders. We cannot afford to be distracted by delusions of partisan ideologies.

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.

Bush V. Gore

Oh my, I'm pretty sure Michael Collins would have a whole lot to say about that. It sure does reek of partisan politics on the court.

Ever notice GOP rhetoric often is accusing the left of precisely what they are doing? (Activist judges)

You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.