By Matthew T. Hall, 2/23/11
The unrest in Wisconsin over limiting government workers’ collective-bargaining rights has spread to Indiana, Ohio and a growing list of other states.
But will the protests and power struggles in the Midwest erupt here?
Conventional wisdom says no because California’s Democratic governor and Legislature were largely elected with labor’s help, which means bills like one proposed Tuesday by an Orange County legislator to end collective bargaining for pension benefits are likely to be dead on arrival.
But Richard Rider, chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters, said if voters reject higher taxes as a way to balance the state budget this summer, protests will be inevitable.
At a news conference in Kearny Mesa on Wednesday to support the conservative movement afoot in Madison, Wis., Rider said Sacramento’s protests could come by fall and be even larger than those in the Midwest.
“This is all about government labor union power, and it’s time we curbed them,” he said. “That’s what this effort is Wisconsin is about. Hopefully, it will be coming to a city near you.”
Susan Duerksen, a spokeswoman for the local Center on Policy Initiatives, which advocates for workers, takes the view that the effort to limit labor rights could work against Republicans while uniting a middle class besieged by years of economic stuggle.
“I think this is such a flagrant attack on working people, I think it is going to backfire,” she said. “I think it is opening up people’s eyes to the importance of unions because unions are a way to give ordinary, working people a strong voice in politics and in the workplace and in economics.”