Wednesday, February 8, 2012

State lawmakers unleash a whole lot of crazy

Jim Hoffa in Madison last year.
It's becoming an annual ritual when state Legislatures convene in January. The corporate quislings who somehow got elected file anti-worker bill after anti-worker bill. The explanations are always lame. In Florida, for example, Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander offered the head-spinner that privatizing correctional facilities was good because a lack of competition destroyed the Soviet Union. Say what?

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels said right-to-work for less would improve the state's business climate. As if making Indiana more like Mississippi would somehow generate lots of jobs, albeit low-wage ones. Doesn't Mitch know the crappy jobs are going to China and India these days?

Just today we learn that a New Hampshire lawmaker wants to eliminate workers' lunch breaks. ThinkProgress tells us,
The bill’s sponsor, state representative J.R. Hoell, argued that companies failing to provide lunch breaks would be shamed over social media, thus rendering the law unnecessary. “If they are not letting people have lunch, they could put it out though the news media, though social media. I don’t think that abusive behavior would continue, the way communications are today,” he said.
Of course, not every employer can be counted to to follow even the easiest of requirements to look after workers’ health and rights. Back in 2005, Walmart was forced to pay $172 million for denying workers their lunch breaks. Pyramid Breweries Inc. settled a case in 2008 for $1.5 million. Just a few months ago, California ordered Embassy Suites to pay workers tens of thousands of dollars for forcing them to skip breaks.
Jim Hoffa warns that politicians who attack workers -- who, after all, represent the vast majority of the electorate -- will ultimately fail. Today in the Detroit News he writes,
Michigan politicians contemplating similar anti-union legislation should proceed at their own electoral peril. Michigan's working families are mobilizing right now and will certainly remember in November.
We may not win battles in every state this fall. It may take years, but in the end, I'm confident we'll win the war on workers.