Tag: union busting

Wisconsin Democrats and progressives, I’m proud of you all

Sadly, the Wisconsin wage theft (i.e., right-to-work) bill has passed both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

However, I’m proud of how Wisconsin Democrats and progressives spoke out and fought against the wage theft legislation.

I’m proud of Scott Wittkopf, Julie Wells, and the rest of the team at the Forward Institute, Wisconsin’s progressive think tank, for encouraging progressives to use better messaging against horrible wage theft legislation. You have been wonderful advisers of the Wisconsin progressive movement, and I hope that more progressives take your group’s advice.

I’m proud of Lori Compas of the Wisconsin Business Alliance, Wisconsin’s progressive business group, for exposing the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the main right-wing business group in Wisconsin that supported the wage theft legislation, as an organization that represents very few of its own members. You are truly the heart, soul, and brains of the progressive movement in Wisconsin, I wish there were more people on the face of this Earth that are as cool as you are.

I’m proud of Rebecca Kemble of The Progressive magazine for filming testimony and state legislative speeches in opposition to the wage theft legislation. You have truly been the eyes and ears of the progressive movement in Wisconsin, and I hope you win your election to the Madison Common Council next month.

I’m proud of those who protested, testified, blogged, posted on social media, and/or otherwise spoke out against the wage theft legislation in Wisconsin. Those who spoke out against wage theft include Heather DuBois Bourenane, Lisa Mux, Cheri Goetz, Jeff Smith, Randy Bryce, Jennifer Epps-Addison, Phil Neuenfeldt, John “Sly” Sylvester, John Nichols, Jenni Dye, Zach Wisniewski, Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, Meg Gorski, and countless others. Thank you all!

Last, but certainly not least, I’m proud of Wisconsin State Legislative Democrats for strongly opposing wage theft legislation from the moment Republicans signaled their intent to enact the legislation until the final vote was cast in the state assembly. Your opposition to the wage theft bill in Wisconsin is some of the strongest opposition to anything I’ve seen from Democrats in a long time.

I’ve never been prouder of a group of people than I am of Wisconsin Democrats and progressives who strongly opposed the wage theft legislation. To use a phrase that the odious Joe McCarthy turned into an epithet many decades ago, I’ve been a fellow traveler of the Wisconsin progressive movement despite being a lifelong Illinoisan who has never been to Wisconsin. I would love nothing more than to be able to visit Wisconsin someday in order to meet those wonderful Wisconsinites who stand for progressive values.

Only 6.4% of members of a pro-wage theft business group in Wisconsin support wage theft legislation

Scott Manley, an official with the right-wing, pro-wage theft business group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, claimed in a public hearing held by a Wisconsin State Senate committee that 300 of the WMC’s 3,800 members responded to some sort of inquiry by the group as to whether or not they support right-to-work-for-less legislation, also known as wage theft legislation, and that 81% of them support the legislation.

81% of 300 members in a group that has 3,800 total members is, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, only 6.4% of the total membership of the group. Yes, you’re reading that correctly…only 6.4% of the total membership of the main right-wing business organization in Wisconsin support the Wisconsin Republicans’ wage theft bill.

In case you’re wondering how I came up with that figure, I didn’t pull it out of my rear end. Instead, I made two calculations with Windows Calculator:

  • 0.81*300 = 243, meaning that 81% of 300 is 243.
  • 243/3800 = 0.0639473684210526, meaning that 243 of 3,800 is 6.4%, when converted to a percentage and rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.

To put that another way, one of the largest organizations that is pushing the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature to allow non-union workers to effectively steal wages and other benefits negotiated by a labor union without paying for those benefits in the form of union dues or fair-share fees with support from only 6.4% of its members. This is not lost on many Wisconsinites, in fact, Lori Compas, the executive director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance (WBA), the main progressive business organization in Wisconsin, called local chambers of commerce in seven Wisconsin State Senate districts that are represented by Republican state senators, the 1st (Frank Lasee), 2nd (Robert Cowles), 10th (Sheila Harsdorf), 11th (Stephen Nass, who ended the public hearing early over rumors that an Hispanic group in Wisconsin was going to exercise the group’s First Amendment right to free speech in a public place), 13th (Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald), 23rd (Terry Moulton), and 29th (Jerry Petrowski, currently the only Republican state senator who intends to vote against the wage theft bill), and Compas could not find a single local chamber of commerce in those seven Wisconsin State Senate districts that was publicly willing to support the Wisconsin wage theft bill. Compas’s piece on her findings, which she published to the WBA’s website, is a fine example of investigative journalism. In fact, Compas’s piece has been republished in full by Steve Hanson of the progressive blog Uppity Wisconsin and featured in an online article published by the Milwaukee-area alternative newspaper Shepherd Express.

Let me make this point 100% clear: Very few people and groups in the Wisconsin business community are advocating for wages to be driven down and unions to be busted, in fact, it appears to me that the only individuals and groups in the Wisconsin business community that are advocating for wages to be driven down and unions to be busted are those individuals and groups who have a considerable amount of political influence over the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government.

A tale of three Wisconsin Democrats on economic messaging, part two

You may remember a blog post I wrote late last year on here in which I compared the political messaging of three Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature, State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, and State Representative Melissa Sargent, when it comes to so-called “right-to-work” legislation, which is actually wage theft legislation since it allows non-union employees at a shop in which wages and other benefits are determined by a collective bargaining agreement between organized labor and management to effectively steal wages and other benefits without paying for them in the form of union dues.

Now, that Wisconsin Republicans are formally pushing to implement wage theft legislation in Wisconsin, I’d figure I’d analyse the press releases that Barca, Shilling, and Sargent sent out earlier today.

Here’s the key part Barca’s press release:

“Governor Walker has called so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation a distraction and apparently that’s exactly what he wants. By rushing to pass Right to Work in less than a week, clearly the governor and Republican legislators want to distract from how destructive their budget is for Wisconsin’s workers, students and middle-class families.

“Wisconsin is already lagging behind most of the nation in jobs and wage growth and ‘Right to Work’ would only make things worse. In fact, the average worker in Right to Work states makes between $5,000 and $6,000 less than the average worker in other states. And calling an extraordinary session will make the budget disaster Republicans have created worse since we’re already scheduled to be in session the following week anyway. What’s the emergency?

Here’s the key part of Shilling’s press release:

Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling released the following statement regarding the call for an extraordinary session of the Legislature to take up so-called “Right to Work” legislation:

“It is absurd that Republicans would fast-track legislation to interfere with private business contracts and lower wages for all Wisconsin workers at a time when our state is facing a massive $2.2 billion budget crisis.

Here’s the key part of Sargent’s press release:

“Let’s call this what it really is. Plain and simple, this is a wage theft bill,” stated Rep. Sargent.

[…]

“It is important that the treatment of our workers reflects the challenges and dangers that they face on a daily basis. This proposal would also suppress wages for the true profit creators, the workers, which are already growing at a slower rate than the national average, and further polarize our state,” continued Rep. Sargent.

“People struggling to find work and stay in the middle class do not need this divisive legislation. Instead, we should be supporting workers’ rights and helping to build the economy. I know that workers deserve the freedoms that unions provide. The freedom to take a sick day if they need to get well or help take care of a family member, the freedom to earn a family sustaining wage, and the freedom to work in a safe environment are things that I will always fight for.”

While Barca and Shilling are talking about the negative effects of wage theft legislation, such as driving down wages and interfering with negotiated contracts, they’re still primarily referring to the legislation as “so-called right-to-work” legislation, which does nothing more than reinforce the right’s absurd talking point about union busting and wage theft. Sargent, on the other hand, is referring to right-to-work legislation as “wage theft” legislation, which reinforces the notion that such legislation allows non-union workers to effectively steal union-negotiated wages and benefits without paying for them, is referring to workers and consumers as “profit creators” (after all, without people earning salaries, there’d be nobody to buy goods and services and help businesses prosper), and is talking about the various freedoms that unions and workers’ rights provide. I find Sargent’s messaging, which is recommended by the Forward Institute, a Wisconsin-based progressive think tank, to be far more effective than the messaging that most other Democrats use.

The Cap Times misrepresents Peter Barca press release on Wisconsin right-to-work-for-less legislation

In a blog post which I have since deleted, The Cap Times, a left-leaning newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, published this article, which made it sound like Peter Barca, the Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, wasn’t even talking about the negative effects of so-called “right-to-work” legislation that is actually wage theft legislation.

In reality, Barca’s full press release, which The Cap Times did not bother to link to on their online article, did mention that wage theft legislation drives down wages:

Wisconsin is already lagging behind most of the nation in jobs and wage growth and ‘Right to Work’ would only make things worse. In fact, the average worker in Right to Work states makes between $5,000 and $6,000 less than the average worker in other states…

Even though the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and other far-right news media outlets in Wisconsin are more notorious for this kind of garbage journalism, even left-leaning news media outlets in Wisconsin, like The Cap Times, have been known to publish garbage journalism as well from time to time.

I apologize to Representative Barca for the misguided outrage I directed towards him earlier today.

Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked comptroller stabs Rauner in the back and refuses to go along with his union-busting scheme

Republican Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, who was appointed by Illinois Governor and fellow Republican Bruce Rauner to the comptroller’s office after the winner of the 2014 comptroller’s election, Judy Baar Topinka, died after the election but before she could be sworn-in for a new term, stabbed Rauner in the back by refusing to go along with Rauner’s union-busting scheme of attempting to eliminate fair share fees paid by non-union workers in unionized state offices here in Illinois as part of an national, multi-pronged effort to bust public employee unions across the entire country, and the office of Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is siding with Munger and the unions:

On Monday, (Illinois Governor Bruce) Rauner drew fury from organized labor when he signed an executive order regarding union fees, saying its aim was to allow state workers to avoid paying so-called “fair-share” fees if they had opted out of joining a union.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger, a Republican recently appointed by Rauner, initially did not abide, raising the question of whether it’s constitutional — without a court order — to withhold those fees and place them in an escrow account as Rauner had ordered.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office said it wasn’t constitutional.

The governor’s executive order does not apply to other constitutional officers, according to Illinois Attorney General office chief of staff Ann Spillane.

Rauner has since circumvented the comptroller’s office and is implementing the executive order through various state agencies that Rauner appoints the heads of.

While it’s obvious to me that the only reason Munger is opposing Rauner’s union-busting scheme is because she’s up for election next year, and I’d never vote for a Republican for state comptroller, I’m glad to see Comptroller Munger opposing Governor Rauner’s union-busting scheme and standing up for Illinois workers. Sadly, I’m 100% certain that Rauner is not done trying to crater an already weak Illinois economy.

The Progressive Response to the State of the State of Illinois Address

Earlier today, Bruce Rauner, the Republican governor of our state that we instinctively know as Illinois, outlined his plan to drive down wages, infringe on the rights of Illinois workers, and destroy an already weak Illinois economy.

Prior to giving his State of the State address, Rauner went around the state using PowerPoint slides to publicly bash our state’s public employees, whine about public employees being, in his view, overpaid, spread lies about worker’s rights and public employee pay, and blame public employees for our state’s fiscal problems. Additionally, it was reported yesterday that Rauner strongly hinted that he wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights for our state’s public employees. Given that Rauner has given his top administration officials pay raises and appointed a $100,000/year chief of staff to his wife despite the fact that his wife has no official duties whatsoever, for Rauner to give his cronies pay raises while wanting to drive down public employee salaries is blatantly hypocritical.

In his State of the State address, Rauner called for gutting our state’s workers’ compensation system, lowering property taxes while our state and local governments have billions of dollars in unpaid bills, allowing local governments and/or voters to bust unions at the local level, prohibiting project labor agreements, eliminating prevailing wage laws, and privatizing public education to benefit his political cronies. Rauner did have a few good ideas that he talked about in his address to the people of Illinois, such as banning trial lawyer donations to judicial campaigns, merging the offices of state comptroller and state treasurer, and increasing funding for early childhood education.

While there is no disputing the fact that our state is in a fiscal mess for a large number of reasons, the primary reason why our state is in such a fiscal mess is because the wealthiest Illinoisans, such as Rauner himself, don’t pay enough state income taxes thanks to an ridiculous provision in the Illinois Constitution that prohibits the General Assembly from passing legislation to tax the incomes of wealthier Illinoisans at a higher rate than the incomes of poorer Illinoisans. The flat tax requirement in the Illinois Constitution prohibits our state from raising the revenues that would be needed to pay off our state’s unpaid bills and put our state on solid financial footing. I would strongly support a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution to allow the General Assembly to levy a progressive state income tax in order to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Illinoisans, cut income taxes for the poorest Illinoisans, and put our state’s finances back on track. Additionally, I would strongly support eliminating all tax breaks for businesses, such as the ridiculous tax break that Sears and CME Group received a few years ago, as this would also bring in more revenue to the state that can be used to pay off unpaid bills.

Regarding public employee pensions, another reason why our state is in a fiscal mess, I would strongly support a pension reform proposal that would phase out the current public employee pension systems in our state, but still allow public employees who have paid into the current pension systems to still receive the benefits they’ve earned once they retire, and require all new state and local elected officials, appointed officials, and hired public employees who receive a full-time salary but had not previously paid anything into the current public employee pension systems in our state to pay into a newly-created public employee pension system that is designed to be fully-funded and provide our state’s future elected officials, political appointees, and public employees with a steady retirement income once they retire. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose any pension reform proposal that cuts benefits for those who have currently paid into the pension systems, creates a 401(k) system for public employees, and/or turns an existing pension system into a 401(k) system.

Regarding cutting spending, I would support an audit of the entire state government and every single county, township, city, town, village, and other type of local government entity in our state in order to find actual wasteful spending and propose common-sense solutions to cut actual wasteful spending and help save the state money in both the short term and the long term. Make no mistake about it, I will strongly oppose cuts to public education, social services, and other government services that reduce the quality of service by our state and local government agencies.

Regarding strengthening our state’s economy, I strongly support raising the state minimum wage here in Illinois to $15/hour and indexing automatic, annual minimum wage increases to productivity. Additionally, I strongly support creating a North Dakota-style economic development bank here in Illinois to issue and/our guarantee loans to factories, farms, small businesses, and other types of businesses that have to be repaid in full with interest. These two proposals would lift thousands of Illinoisans out of poverty, establish a minimum wage that values work, and help entrepreneurs start up new businesses and create jobs without pocketing government benefits to simply pad profits. Busting unions and driving down wages is something I strongly oppose because those policies would do absolutely nothing to strengthen our state’s economy or empower Illinoisans.

Regarding campaign finance, ethics, and government reform, while a federal constitutional amendment to repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision that helped Rauner and his cronies buy the last gubernatorial election would be required to allow Illinois to enact meaningful campaign finance reform, I strongly support eliminating the conflicts of interest that are currently allowed by our state’s campaign finance system, such as a couple of conflicts of interest that Rauner mentioned, prohibiting unions from donating to candidates for public office that they’d have to collectively bargain with if said candidates are elected and prohibiting trial lawyers from donating to judicial candidates, and one that Rauner did not mention because he’s effectively opposed to it, prohibiting business owners and managers from donating to candidates for public office that could use the public office in question to directly benefit said business owners and managers if elected. Additionally, I would support setting the maximum campaign contribution for a statewide office here in Illinois at $250 and enacting even lower limits for state legislative and local offices. Additionally, I strongly support implementing a pair of public campaign finance systems, one for judicial elections and one for other non-federal elections. The judicial public campaign finance system would prohibit judicial candidates from receiving campaign contributions from other people and/or funding their own campaigns, require that all judicial candidates receive a set amount of campaign funds from the state, and require that judicial candidates receive the same amount of campaign funds from the state that their opponents receive. The public campaign finance system for other offices would allow candidates for those offices to receive $4 of state funding for every $1 they receive in contributions and/or self-fund their campaigns with. Additionally, I would support enacting what I like to call the Bruce Rauner Rule, which would outright prohibit candidates for statewide office here in Illinois from donating or loaning more than $100,000 of their own wealth to their campaign, and set even lower self-funding limits for other offices. On term limits, I would support limiting the offices of governor and lieutenant governor to one elected term, limiting the other state executive offices to two elected terms, limiting state senators to five elected terms, and limiting state representatives to eight elected terms, and anything stricter than that would receive my opposition. Some other government reform ideas I support include allowing Illinois voters to recall all non-federal elected officials, converting the Illinois General Assembly into an unicameral legislature with at least 177 members via a state constitutional amendment, and amending the Illinois Constitution to establish a truly non-partisan redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts.

Regarding reforming the criminal justice system, I strongly support legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational marijuana, which would reduce the incarceration rate in our state and provide our state with much-needed tax revenue. Additionally, I’m open to various ideas to reform the criminal justice system in order to make our prison system more about rehabilitating convicted criminals instead of simply punishing them and make our criminal justice system more fair. For example, one idea that I strongly support would be requiring independent investigations of deaths that occur in the hands of state and local police here in Illinois.

Regarding education, I strongly oppose implementing school voucher programs here in Illinois, expanding charter schools, or any other school privatization scheme. I strongly support repealing Common Core State Standards and replacing them well-rounded, developmentally appropriate K-12 academic standards developed by the state and are held accountable by measures other than assessments and standardized tests. Additionally, I strongly support getting rid of the emphasis on career preparation in K-12 education, since I believe that career preparation should be the responsibility of higher education institutions, not the K-12 system. Also, I strongly support increasing funding for public schools in our state and making our state’s K-12 school funding system fairer to poorer school districts.

Illinoisans are worth more than speeches, political buzzwords, and PowerPoint presentations about driving down wages, busting unions, and making our state’s economy even weaker than it currently is, and Illinoisans are certainly worth more than Bruce Rauner’s far-right policies to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy our state’s economy. It’s time for Illinoisans to push for progressive policies to protect workers’ rights, strengthen our state’s economy, put more money into the pockets of poor and working-class Illinoisans, provide a world-class education system for our state’s K-12 and college students, and provide for a more perfect Illinois.

Bruce Rauner’s plan to allow Illinois communities to enact employee wage and benefit theft zones would crater the Illinois economy

Bruce Rauner is touting right-wing lies about wages, unionization, and the economy in his crusade to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy the already weak economy in Illinois.

A key part of Rauner’s plan to bust unions in Illinois is to divide and conquer the state by allowing local communities in Illinois to vote on whether or not to enact local versions of so-called “right-to-work” laws, which allow non-union workers to benefit from wages, health insurance, retirement plans, safer working conditions, and other benefits of union contracts without either joining or paying dues to the union that negotiated the contracts. While Rauner would call areas in Illinois that vote to implement so-called “right-to-work” laws on a local basis “employee empowerment zones”, in reality, so-called “right-to-work” laws don’t empower employees, instead, they allow non-union employees to effectively steal wages and benefits from union-negotiated contracts. If Rauner were honest about his scheme to bust unions at the local level in Illinois, he’d call areas of the state that approved of his scheme “employee wage and benefit theft zones”, and I strongly encourage Illinois Democrats and progressives to refer to Rauner’s scheme as such.

Another claim that Rauner has made about his scheme to bust unions in Illinois at the local level is that, if one were to drive down wages and other costs that businesses incur, more jobs and businesses would be created. That’s simply not true. In fact, when wages are driven down and unions are busted, the overall economy craters because workers who lose pay and benefits as a result of lower wages and no union representation aren’t able to spend as much money on groceries, gasoline, household goods, and other types of goods and services. This results in businesses losing customers and revenue, and, in many cases, forced to close and leave their employees without a job, which starts a vicious cycle of economic loss. Additionally, very few people who couldn’t afford to start a new business with current labor costs would be able to afford to start a new business with lower labor costs, so any economic gains wouldn’t even come close to offsetting the massive economic loss that driving down wages and busting unions would cause.

Regarding the areas of Illinois that would likely enact employee wage and benefit theft zones if a state law allowing local areas of the state to do so were enacted, if the legislation allowed counties to make entire counties employee wage and benefit theft zones and allowed local municipalities (cities, towns, villages, and townships) to make their jurisdictions employee wage and benefit theft zones in counties that haven’t enacted an ordinance or passed a referendum to make the entire county an employee wage and benefit theft zone, most, if not all, of the collar counties and downstate counties would probably become employee wage and benefit theft zones, as well as a few suburban areas of Cook County. The amount of economic damage that this would cause would be massive, and this would badly divide the state.

The truth of the matter is that Bruce Rauner’s plan to allow local communities to enact employee wage and benefit theft zones here in Illinois would probably cause just as much economic damage as enacting a bill to turn the entire state into an employee wage and benefit theft zone (i.e., a statewide “right-to-work” bill) would.

Scott Walker compares immigration reform to union busting, has no immigration reform plan of his own

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who will likely run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, attacked President Barack Obama, who is legally prohibited from seeking a third term in the White House, over, among other things, Obama issuing a lawful executive order on immigration:

Gov. Scott Walker criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of a range of national and international issues, including immigration and foreign policy, in his annual end-of-the-year interview with the Wisconsin State Journal at the Governor’s Mansion Monday.

Walker, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, joined a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to block Obama’s executive action sparing as many as 5 million people living illegally in the United States from deportation. Obama announced the action in November, saying it was an important step to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

Perhaps the most moronic comment that Walker made in his interview with the Madison, Wisconsin-based Wisconsin State Journal newspaper was his bizarre comparison of immigration reform and union busting:

Citing his controversial 2011 measure to all but end collective bargaining for most of the state’s public workers, Walker likened Obama’s executive action on immigration to trying to “invoke Act 10 without the Legislature.”

For those of you who are not familiar with Wisconsin politics, “Act 10” refers to 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, a state law that was enacted by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature in violation of the state’s open meetings law, signed into law by Walker, upheld by courts controlled by far-right supporters of Walker and his destructive agenda, and stripped Wisconsin’s public employee unions (except for what few public employee unions supported Walker in his 2010 gubernatorial campaign) of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. Walker is a total moron for comparing immigration reform to stripping collective bargaining rights from public employees.

Furthermore, Walker has no plan whatsoever to reform the broken immigration system in this country:

On how he would resolve the problem of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, he said he’d “leave that up to the people who are running for federal office or in federal office to decipher.”

I find it hypocritical and downright asinine that Walker, who is considering running for federal office, has no plan to reform the immigration system in this country, and then turns around and says that he’d leave the issue of immigration to those “who are running for federal office or in federal office”. He’s already passing the buck on immigration, and he hasn’t even officially entered the presidential race yet!

In addition to immigration, Walker also criticized Obama over the fact that Obama hasn’t (yet) started a full-scale war with the Islamic fundamentalist terror group ISIS and over Obama’s plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. In other words, Walker wants to return to the failed George W. Bush-era hawkish/neoconservative foreign policy of fighting multiple full-scale wars at the same time that drive up the national debt and is whining about a lack of democracy in Cuba while, at the same time, he’s trying to destroy democracy in Wisconsin and the rest of America.

Make no mistake about it, America can’t afford four years of the Hillary Clinton-Jeb Bush-Scott Walker police, surveillance, and military state. America needs Bernie Sanders to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, because he’ll bring real progressive leadership to the White House.

A tale of three Wisconsin Democrats on economic messaging

Most, if not all, Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Legislature are opposed to so-called “right-to-work” legislation that allows non-union members to benefit from union contracts without paying union dues, but, when it comes to conveying their opposition to right-to-work legislation that Republicans intend to propose in Wisconsin sometime after the new state legislature is sworn in, some Democrats are using different messaging than others.

Peter Barca, the Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Kenosha, is mostly railing against political polarization in his opposition to right-to-work legislation:

After (Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald) indicated the Senate would move quickly on right-to-work, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca called on Gov. Scott Walker to bring discussions to a halt.

Barca, a Kenosha Democrat whose district includes a portion of Racine County, said the issue would be too polarizing when the parties should focus on working together.

“I call on Gov. Walker to put the brakes on this divisive issue that clearly will damage Wisconsin’s middle class,” Barca said in a statement. “As the governor himself previously indicated, this would be an extremely polarizing policy at a time when we should be working together to improve Wisconsin’s economy.”

Jennifer Shilling, the Minority Leader-designate of the Wisconsin State Senate from La Crosse, is trying to play the “Republicans in disarray” card in her opposition to right-to-work legislation:

Both Barca and Shilling are using the wrong kind of messaging when it comes to opposing so-called “right-to-work” legislation, since they’re mostly talking about things like political polarization and division (or perceived division) within the Republican Party of Wisconsin and not talking about how terrible the legislation would be for Wisconsin. In fact, I’ve seen far too many Democrats try to duck certain economic issues entirely in their messaging.

One state legislator in Wisconsin who is using messaging that actually attacks right-to-work legislation is Melissa Sargent, a very progressive Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Madison. Earlier this month, Sargent slammed right-to-work legislation by calling it “wage theft” legislation and referred to consumers, who, by spending money on goods and services, are responsible for the vast majority of economic activity in this country, as “profit creators”:

By referring to so-called “right-to-work” legislation as “wage theft”, Sargent is criticizing right-to-work legislation itself for what it really is: a right-wing plot to drive down the wages and benefits of workers. By referring to consumers as “profit creators”, Sargent is emphasizing that, when workers earn money at their jobs, they stimulate the economy by spending it on groceries, gasoline, and other goods and services. Sargent is using the recommended messaging of the Forward Institute, a Wisconsin-based progressive think tank led by, among others, Scott Wittkopf and Julie Wells, when it comes to opposing right-to-work legislation, and Sargent is the only Democratic state legislator in Wisconsin that I know of who has used at least some of the Forward Institute’s economic messaging.

There are both right ways and wrong ways to oppose right-to-work legislation, which is the moral equivalent of legalizing shoplifting because it allows non-union workers at any given workplace to benefit from the wages, benefits, etc. negotiated by a labor union without paying for the wages, benefits, and so on in the form of union dues.

Wisconsin Republican state legislator plans to introduce right-to-work-for-less bill, calls for general strike begin

Chris Kapenga, a far-right Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Delafield, intends to officially propose a right-to-work-for-less bill sometime after the new Wisconsin State Legislature is sworn into office next month, although Kapenga hasn’t set a timetable for when he’ll introduce the legislation in the state assembly. Furthermore, Republican leaders in both chambers the Wisconsin Legislature have signaled that they’re open to making passing a right-to-work bill a priority in the 2015-2016 legislature.

Let me make this absolutely clear: Right-to-work-for-less legislation would do absolutely nothing to help Wisconsin’s economy and business climate. As I’ve stated before, right-to-work-for-less legislation, if enacted, would drive down wages, put thousands of Wisconsin families into poverty, decrease the amount of revenue that Wisconsin receives from taxpayers, drive an even bigger hole into the Wisconsin state budget (which already has a huge budget deficit), hurt economic growth in Wisconsin, and cost Wisconsin thousands of jobs.

Already, there’s calls from supporters of worker’s rights in Wisconsin for a general strike if and when right-to-work-for-less legislation is enacted:

Make no mistake about it, Wisconsin Republicans want to bust unions even further as part of their plan to enact every bit of their destructive far-right agenda. This isn’t a time for compromise for Wisconsin Democrats and progressives, this is a time for fighting for progressive, pro-worker, and pro-middle class values!