Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Obama defends public employee unions

Responds to pressure from below

It shows what happens when the base starts holding politicians accountable. A half-million union workers and supporters marched around the country last weekend to defend their rights to organize and bargain collectively. Their main targets were Republican and T-Party governors and billionaire backers like the Koch brothers who thought the time was right to pull a Reagan/PATCO-style union-busting move. But the protests, along with polls showing increasing support for the protesters, also pushed an embarrassingly quiet Obama to finally come out strongly in support for union rights yesterday at the National Governors' Assoc. conference.
"I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it. We're not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We're not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don't properly reward that bravery."
That followed weekend remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who fired up the crowd at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee by shouting that the “fight is on” for "our brothers and sisters in public employee unions."

Lots of lessons here. 

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