It sounds like a proposed union organizing bill was in trouble even before a controversial e-mail killed its chances at the Legislature.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that she would have vetoed the so-called “Worker Privacy Act” anyway, because of its effect on Boeing.
So why did she, House Majority Leader Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown refer the email to the state patrol if she was going to veto it? Good lord.
Gregoire had an entirely different take on things when she spoke to the state labor convention in the midst of her re-election campaign:
Gov. Chris Gregoire, speaking at the WSLC 2008 political endorsement convention in May at the Machinists 751 Hall, says: ““Like you, I believe that employees ought to be able to know they can go to work every single day, they’re not going to be intimidated, they’re not going to be coerced, they’re not going to be shoved around about whether their political rights are intruded, whether their religious rights are intruded, or their right to organize is curtailed. We’re going to make that happen in Washington State. We’re going to lead the nation in that regard.”
Yeah, okay, I get it. Politicians have to be er, flexible. But come on. Regular people call that “lying.” Sure, the economy tanked big time last fall, so if Gregoire thinks a change in circumstances justifies killing the bill, she should just say so.
To make things even more fun, the governor had the following comment at a press conference this morning. From a partial transcription by Kathy Cummings, communications director for the Washington State Labor Council:
One thing is clear, this is not Chicago this is Washington state. I don’t impugn the integrity of the authors of it at all. I simply say that it was an unfortunate email, I don’t regret my actions, Washington state is transparent and clean.
We seem to have a generation of Democratic politicians who have so internalized right wing frames that sometimes they can’t help themselves. I mean, I guess we all do it at times, and maybe the governor was trying to quash the entirely predictable “unions are all criminal” crap the right inevitably resorts to.
Like all human-created institutions, unions had and likely still have their share of problems, but they not only have a legal and moral right to exist, they are also a key part of our coalition, and why any Democrat would bring up “Chicago” like that is beyond me. That is definitely doing the GOP’s work for them.
People didn’t vote for more Third Way neo-liberal triangulation anyhow, they voted to change the goddamn crooked system that favors big business, the wealthy and powerful, over ordinary citizens. The abuse of concentrated economic power is the very reason why we are in a Great Recession right now.
And by clumsily calling off a vote on the Worker Privacy Act, the leaders of the Democratic Party in this state exposed themselves to quite justifiable accusations that they are kow-towing to a large corporation in a way that would make some Republicans blush. It would have been better if they had just killed the bill without the state patrol drama; at least we would know for sure where they stand.
This sorry episode is potentially quite damaging to the Democratic Party in Washington state. Right after the election you heard a lot of concern trolling from traditional media types and Republicans about how “overreaching” cost the Democrats big time in 1994. But what I distinctly remember from that terrible year was a lot of outrage from staunch Democrats, especially labor folks, about NAFTA and other trade deals killing jobs here.
As we’ve seen, the destruction over the last 14 years has been massive. That’s not an argument for protectionism, it’s an argument for making sure trade deals have certain base-line standards on the environment and labor, a demand that was virtually ignored by far too many Democrats for far too many years.
As one long-time organizer I knew put it at the time, the rank and file was just going to sit on their hands. And that’s exactly what they did, as David Sirota pointed out in a column at HuffPo in 2007.
Another troubling aspect is that a vote on the labor bill this year was stopped because it was probably going to pass. I’ll say that again. It was killed because politicians knew they should vote for it, because it’s the right thing to do for workers.
Think about that sad fact for a moment. Your votes, your volunteer time and your small donations don’t mean jack if a corporate lobbyists makes the call, because the bill won’t even see the light of day. Hell of a way to run a democracy.