Thursday, January 21, 2010

Solidarity Now and (Forever?)

Today Governor Jack Markell gave his State of the State address before the Senate and House and a packed crowd of visitors. There were a number of encouraging and complimentary things said about educators in Delaware, including a special recognition given to DSEA state president, Diane Donohue.

However, the affair was clouded by reference in the speech that the Governor would seek to reduce health benefits for new hires.

Although this would not impact current members, it would impact all future members and generally weaken both the profession and the union in the long run.

Educators should think of two principles that are a part of their work life, solidarity and collaboration. As union members can you truly say you believe in solidarity and yet trade the welfare of all your future brothers and sisters for your own security? As an educator who will be working side by side, collaborating with a young colleague, can you look that person in the eye if you have traded away their benefits?

A two tiered benefit proposal will be a tough issue for DSEA membership and for the coalition of state workers known as State Workers United for a Better Delaware.

The United States Supreme Court dealt a blow to democracy today in a 5 to 4 decision that will allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaign adds. This does not mean corporate PACs. It means right out of the ol' corporate checkbook, purchasing millions of dollars in TV and radio.

You may hear a counter spin that says, "unions will be allowed to do the same thing". Don't for a minute believe that this is anything like a level playing field. Unions simply do not have the money to compete with global corporations.

Many years ago when I worked for the AFL-CIO we were out-spent by business at a twelve to one ratio in campaigns; except when the campaign involved a candidate in a leadership position or chairmanship, in which case the gap widened to thirty to one. That was almost twenty years ago when unions had more power and money. The giving gap is probably even larger today.

A few years ago, economist David Korten wrote a book called, "When Corporations Rule the World", how prophetic.

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