Who’s behind the acts of anti-worker governors?


Take a peek behind the curtain to see who’s behind governors’ attacks on collective bargaining.

by Amanda Litvinov

Efforts to curb the rights of workers are nothing new, but the antics went from sideshow to center stage in 2010 when deep-pocketed patrons helped radical conservative candidates, like Governors Rick Snyder, R-Mich., Scott Walker, R-Wisc., and John Kasich, R-Ohio—shown above, left to right—win elections across the country. After winning, the governors signed anti-worker laws as part of a well-coordinated attempt to undermine collective bargaining—giving the same old song and dance about how their actions would balance budgets. In reality, they harmed the middle class and drove down wages. They sold school reform snake oil with one hand while using the other to weaken or eliminate educators’ ability to speak for their students. But they didn’t act alone. Let’s see who’s really pulling the strings.

Take Action ›

Stay informed on education issues so you can hold elected leaders accountable. Sign up for our weekly activist email! CLICK HERE›

Conservative Think Tanks

What the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) does at the national level, affiliates of the State Policy Network do locally—both aggressively peddle policy recommendations that denigrate unions and pound the anti-taxes drum. These conservative “think tanks” see public schools as perhaps the last untapped frontier of corporate opportunity, so it’s in their interest to reduce local control of schools and go after educator unions. Much of the work is done by courting GOP lawmakers and “advising” new governors. It costs money to have all those private meetings with policymakers nationwide—not to mention the expense of fueling the right-wing media machine.

Deep-Pocketed Funders

Oh, how the money to assault workers’ rights has flowed! ALEC’s allies include the billionaire Koch brothers who are well-known for funding think tanks and foundations that push radical right-wing policies. Thanks to the 2010 Citizens United decision—which made it okay for corporations to spend unlimited funds on advertisements to support or oppose candidates for federal office, as long as those ads are created independent of the campaigns they support—these groups can pump more money into the campaigns of favored candidates. Just look at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. By last summer, his biggest donors were out-of-state billionaires bent on making sure he survived recall elections brought by outraged citizens. Don’t believe it? Diane Hendricks, Walker’s top donor, made her intentions clear. A camera caught her telling Walker to make Wisconsin a red state and “work on these unions.”

CEOs on Corporate Welfare

Hands off my loopholes! That’s this group’s battle cry. Rather than pay their fare share, they’d like to see public school children crammed into overcrowded classrooms and make educators go years without a salary increase. Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s performance is keeping the corporate crowd’s handouts intact, and allowing educaton funding to fall lower than it was when Kasich took office. Kasich has also diverted scarce education dollars to voucher programs and failing charters.

Likeminded Legislators

Overreaching governors need these folks to help push the false choice between protecting workers’ rights and attracting new business. Some state legislators are also looking for a scapegoat to cover up past sins with the budget. (Organized workers come in handy for that.) Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011 budget proposed a $2 billion tax cut for business, while jacking up income tax rates for low-income families by another 1.1 percent. Snyder and Co. have since rammed through a so-called “right-to-work” law without one public hearing, though most of the state’s voters opposed it.

Misinformed voters

Exhausted by decades of anti-worker vitriol, too many citizens have been duped into believing that public unions are to blame for state budget crises and lagging student performance. The real story: The forces behind the curtain have more access to our lawmakers today than ever before, but the collective voice of workers is one of their most powerful checks and balances.

Who can cut the strings?

Well-informed activists who care about workers’ rights, public education, and the middle class are looking forward to 2014, when they will have the chance to speak out with their voice and their vote against these extremist governors and their supporting casts. Become one of them. Sign up for our weekly activist newsletter at EducationVotes.org!


Reader Comments

  1. Its an ALEC grab, for the power stations, the natural resources, and the prime golf course property, just like in Michigan. And when that’s all over, the Wisconsin economy will be as thriving and vibrant as….Nebraska. Kansas. woo. hoo. This is what you get when you vote for Republicans.

  2. So, we are all angry and we are up against a huge pile of talking money….what does anyone propose we can actually do about it? We cannot seem to get rid of the Republican majority in these states’ houses and THAT is as important as dumping the governors. Worse, what Democrat in his/her right mind would take on the challenge? I know in my district my dog has a better chance to elected to state legislator than I do as long as he files as a Republican. The gerrymandering is the biggest of all problems on the state level.

  3. In Wisconsin it is appauling where the state has slipped in the rank and order of other states. 49th in job creation – perhaps that’s gone up now, maybe.
    We’ve slid backwards in many other areas as well. Some GOP Representatives and Senators think we should go back to the 1950’s model of women staying home, children should never be born to single mothers and beyond all situations, men and women should stay married – because it worked in the past it can work again as the true nature of things.
    Neighboring school districts have been hit hard, really hard. 30 staff members in a small district near us are leaving their jobs at the end of this school year: quitting, retiring, vacating their positions, getting out to pursue other degrees and job retraining. It is not all older people leaving education to retire, many younger teachers are discouraged and leaving before things go from bad to really BAD. So the theory that younger, less paid individuals will be attracted to teaching . . . . NOT!
    What really breaks my heart are former students who went into teaching with passion and enthusiasm, leaving their jobs, uncertain of any future in education. One is having a rummage sale printed in the newspaper as: all education materials on sale. classroom props, books, story books, felt boards, etc. She taught for 11 years and is DONE with education. Oh yes, in high school and college she was a high achieving, high honor, Dean’s list, individual, you know the kind of person we REALLY need to hang onto in the field of Education.
    Some teachers are on leaves of absence for a semester to think things through and find another path to career success.
    These so called ‘tools’ our Governor has imposed, these so called ‘reforms’ he’s brags about in my estimation are NOT WORKING.
    I agree with the responder who said if it’s not effecting you at the moment, it’s not important to you, it doesn’t matter and worst of all some people don’t bellieve it’s even happening and to me that’s really scary.
    Oh sleepers wake up, education going down to the abyss will affect EVERYONE.

    1. As an educator for 36 years, my experience has been that it is the best scenario for students to have both parents together and married to each other. People with children should try to remain married except in cases of abuse. Divorce should be more of the exception than the rule. It is not just a throwback to the 50’s that unmarried women should not have children on such a regular basis as we have today. The largest cause of poverty today is single motherhood. I believe marriage is only about children and not the happiness of the adults. It is a civil right of children to have both parents together if at all possible.

  4. One sided views create narrow minded people. Look at the over-all success & economic strengths of the states with Republican Governors, then look at the over-all success & current economic strength of the states with Democrats in charge. Be honest. If people would start thinking for themselves and stop relying on biased organizations to do their thinking for them, we might just get somewhere positive in this country.

  5. The Republican Party has prostituted itself to big business, so the only way their diabolical behavior can be brought to an end is to vote as many Republicans out of office in 2014 as you can, especially members of the Congressional House. Until this is down, they will continue to batter the middle class in anyway they can.

  6. Has anyone given a thought to what the world of the above mentioned Republicans would look like, given a future? Hint; check your history books and look over what America was in , say, 1870 !

    1. If this is meant in the positive – then it is a most ridiculous comment, that is so short-sighted (as if one can relate history to current world-views and actions) that it almost wasn’t even worth my time to do this on a Sunday morning.

  7. A man was sitting on his porch, and as he looked out he perceived a tiny black speck on the horizon. Another man came running up to him and cried ,” Help me, Help me. A fire is about to burn my house down. The first man replied, ” Not to worry. My house is safe. I don’t see any fire. Why should I help you?
    The second man went away and the fire burned his house down. Now the fire came up over the hill and was about to burn the first man’s house down also. He came running up the the second man and cried,”Help me. Help me. My house is about to be burned down.
    The second man replied, ” Why should I help you? My house is already burned down.
    Neither man would help the other because the matter did not effect him directly at the time. That is the same for all of these issues that effect the other guy. No one will stick together to defeat an evil issue that effects the other guy.

  8. ANother reason why I have been paying NEA dues since 1960!! (now retired!)

    THANKS for this witness in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *