Unions unite. Will union-bashing hurt the GOP?

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UYGUR: Republicans be aware. Today, the backlash inspired by the conservative crackdowns on unions enters a whole new chapter. See those eight people? They‘re the eight republican state senators in Wisconsin whom Democrats have bowed to recall because of their anti-union votes. Well, not that recall effort has officially begun. Democrats say, they‘ve collected the signatures required to recall the first of those state senators, Dan Kapanke. And they‘re filing the petition today. The filing begins a 31-day review period of the signatures. An election could be held this summer. Votes have consequences. Those consequences are on the way for Mr. Kapanke.

By the way, the situation for him is seriously dire. A political scientist at the University of Wisconsin Madison says, Kapanke is the quote, “only one of those Republicans who looks like they‘re situated in a democratic-leaning district.” In a pole last month showed that 57 percent of those in Kapanke‘s own district would vote for a generic someone else. By the way, you should know the move on commissioned that poll but it was done by a professional polling organization. But given all this, hanky panky Kapanke looks like he‘s in a lot of trouble. Yes, I know, I just gave him that nickname. It‘s a vice I share with George Bush. It doesn‘t speak well of me.

All right. Meanwhile, it‘s new ball game in Ohio as well. Governor John Kasich signed an anti-union bill into law yesterday, that‘s even harsher than the one in Wisconsin stripping collective bargaining rights from roughly 350,000 public workers. But if Democrats can collect just over 250,000 signatures in the next 90 days, that bill does not go into effect. Instead it goes to a referendum. And Ohio voters get to vote on it. And guess what? Polls show that Ohio voters definitely do not like the measure. Fifty four percent in favor, 35 percent against. That‘s according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. But the really bad news for Republicans is that the backlash isn‘t just in Wisconsin and Ohio. It‘s everywhere. We‘ve told you about plummeting poll numbers for republican governors who backed anti-union measures including Walker, Kasich and Chris Christie. They‘re all dropping.

Now, a new Gallup poll shows that 48 percent of the Americans side with state employee labor unions in these disputes and only 39 percent agree with the governors. And check this out. As Politico pointed out in November, a Hart Research poll showed 47 percent of the building trade union members describing themselves as Democrats. Twenty five percent as Republicans. In January, 63 percent called themselves Democrats and only 18 percent went to Republicans. Now, that‘s a significant shift. And that was even before the Wisconsin and Ohio bills passed. But the news just keeps getting worse and worse for Republicans.

It now appears that even police and firefighter unions are jumping from the republican ship. Cops and firefighters, remember, those are the two unions, they were actually exempted from the Wisconsin bill. The president of the Ohio Association of professional firefighters says, some republican members have actually apologized for supporting John Kasich. Quote, “they are never voting that way again.” And today, the backlash is spreading the Pennsylvania, a state where anti-union measures are even on the table yet. Almost, 3,000 of union coal mine workers from several states staged a rally today in Pennsylvania, an early warning signal to any and all conservatives bent on taking the fight elsewhere. Look, they get it. This republican attack is against them, the workers in this country, the middle class. And they have decided they‘re going to fight back.

All right. Joining me now is Tim Burga, he‘s president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, and Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Chuck, let me start with you. The cops were exempted in the Wisconsin bill, why are you joining this fight and why are you so animated by it?

CHUCK CANTERBURY, FRATERNAL ORDER POLICE: We‘re joining the fight because Wisconsin was just the first. Ohio‘s bill SP5 that‘s passed this week, it‘s a terrible official legislation that rolls back, the police labor movement 30 years in Ohio. And we‘re not going to stand for it. We‘re going to stand up and let the American public know that we‘re not the evil doers, we‘re the police officers, the firefighters and the teachers that live in their communities. So, we‘re going to continue to stand up, get the numbers up from the people as you‘ve said earlier in your intro, the American public supports us. We‘ve just got to get our message out.

UYGUR: You know, of course, a lot of people supported the Republicans before, Chuck, I want to stay with you for a second, what made you change your mind here? What woke you up, if you will?

CANTERBURY: Well, this isn‘t about bipartisan issue or a republican or democrat issue. This is an issue of the police officers in this country standing up for those that stand up for us. Right now, the republican governors around the country have decided to point an X on us as a target. And we‘re going to have to use our voices on our votes to answer back.

That‘s going to cause us to lean towards people that support our causes.

UYGUR: All right. Tim, talk to me about how much these republican governors might have ironically helped the AFL-CIO by showing people, how against the workers they really are.

TIM BURGA, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: All right. Good evening, Cenk. And President Canterbury is right. There is a tremendous outpouring of opposition against Senate bill 5, because it‘s being seen as a politically motivated attempt to scapegoat police officers, nurses, firefighters and teachers for the economic challenges of the day. And what Senate bill 5 will do, and Ohioans are seeing this, is going to punish all working families, and to take away worker rights. And not only is a galvanized union men and women, but it also has all working families, and the general public up and arms, and we‘re very confident that we‘re going to get this issue on a ballot, and there will be a citizens veto of Senate bill 5 in November.

UYGUR: But I want to ask you about that. First, I just kind of say, well, it really drives me crazy. And I think I‘m hearing it from both of you guys, that they seem to be blaming you guys for the budget problems. You didn‘t cause the budget problems. And then they could turn around and say, oh, no, no, it‘s not the taxes, it‘s not anything else, it‘s not our give-aways, you guys and we‘ve got to cut your pay. But Tim, I want to focus on what you guys are you‘re going to do about it in Ohio. What is the plan of action and how it will work?

BURGA: Well, the process is Ohioans from every corner and all walks of life, will be circulating petitions to get the necessary signatures, to get the citizens veto on the ballot in November. So, the end of April, all of May and all of June, we‘ll be gathering signatures and that will be campaigning the issue in November. And I can tell you that there‘s been an outpouring of opposition against Senate bill 5 because it‘s being seen as a stream, politically motivated overreach and an attack on workers‘ rights. And Ohioans are up in arms and they want to do something about it. And fortunate for us here in Ohio, we have the ability to go to the ballot for a citizens veto and I believe we‘ll be successful.

UYGUR: You know, Chuck, you know, in Wisconsin, at some point, Governor Walker gave an order to clear out the protesters from the state house and the cops there said, we‘re not going to do it. We‘re going to do the right thing. And some of the cops even shouted out, we‘re going to join you guys, right? It was an amazing moment, a really interesting moment. But, you know, a lot of politicians after 9/11 has said, oh, we‘re with the cops, we‘re with the cops. I mean, there‘s a lot of empty talk. When it came to action, what are you seeing on the ground lately? In all these states, I mean, it seems like, particularly in the Midwest, but it seems like they‘re coming after you. Do you feel particularly betrayed by that?

CANTERBURY: We feel extremely betrayed because these are the people that have brought our country into this economic problem. They‘re the ones that underfunded pensions. They‘re the ones that negotiated contracts, they don‘t want to keep, it wasn‘t the police officers, the firefighters, the teachers, it was them. And now, we‘ve become their scapegoat, so we‘re extremely annoyed by it. And the over one million police officers in this country are going to stand up.

UYGUR: You know, last thing for the viewers at home, look, the banks, whenever they run into trouble they say oh, the bankers contract, we can‘t violate those. No, no, no, those are contracts. But when it comes to Chuck‘s contractors, guys have the four as well, those contracts well, they‘re not quite good enough. We can cut your pay. When it comes to working guys that Tim is representing, well, we can cut that pay, we didn‘t mean that contract, we meant rich people‘s contracts. I think that what drives people crazy. But look, Tim Burger and Chuck Canterbury, we really appreciate you guys coming out here and talking about it tonight. Thank you both so much.

BURGA: Thank you.

CANTERBURY: Thanks for having us.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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