Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anti-worker agenda advances in North Carolina

Extremists in North Carolina, ignoring the turmoil caused by their anti-worker agenda, pushed forward yesterday with bills to empower corporations and savage the middle class. The House and Senate approved a budget that raises taxes on middle-class families and slashes public education funding, while the Senate approved a voter suppression bill that targets minorities, low-income residents, senior citizens and the disabled.

This is a photo of demonstrators who were protesting voter suppression legislation in the office of N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Protesters gather in Speaker Tillis' office.
The Legislature is set to adjourn today with its anti-worker agenda likely to pass. The voter suppression bill and the budget will head to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk, and he is expected to sign both.
They are fulfilling the anti-worker agenda pushed by greedy billionaire Art Pope, an ALEC disciple and Benedict Arnold Koch brothers buddy who got himself appointed state budget director after financing a number of radical politicians’ campaigns.

The Legislature’s ALEC-inspired attacks on workers inspired a popular uprising that takes the form of weekly Moral Monday protests at the Statehouse. The demonstrations have resulted in 925 arrests for civil disobedience over the last 12 weeks. Organizers of the Moral Monday rallies are already promising to make their voices heard on Monday, during the next planned protest of the Legislature’s extreme anti-worker agenda.
The budget bill cuts $260 million from North Carolina’s public education budget, hampering teachers who are already among the nation’s lowest paid. It also ends tenure and will lead to more crowded classrooms.  The Raleigh News-Observer took the GOP to task for the cuts in an editorial, saying its own leaders don’t even understand the implications:
Take Phil Berger, Republican senator from Eden and that chamber’s president pro-tem. When pressed for the reasons he has crusaded for ending teacher tenure in North Carolina’s public schools, Berger just says he heard about a lot of incompetent teachers hanging on thanks to tenure.
… Teachers are the heart of the most noble thing this state and this nation do: provide an education to all. And yet Berger and other Republicans speak of public schools as if they were more a nuisance than a monument to enlightenment. They also seem to believe they can continue to make teachers a target of petty criticism, pay them poorly, offer them few benefits and still maintain a quality school system.
Six opponents of a voter suppression bill were arrested after entering the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis last night. They refused to leave until they spoke with him and he agreed to halt the legislation. They may have hope: The U.S. Justice Department could challenge North Carolina’s voter law, as it announced today it will take new restrictive state measures to court.