I’m actually on a posting hiatus—work is busy, as is life in general. But I had to post this. If you’re wondering what’s at stake in Wisconsin and elsewhere, even beyond the attempted smashing of collective bargaining (and, of course, this smashing is deeply related to the overall current attack on long-fought-for freedoms), check this out. A recent bill has been passed already in Michigan in the House. From Democracy Now!, of course:
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I just found out about this last night, and like I said, there’s so much going on that these extraordinary measures are just getting lost in the shuffle. But in Michigan, there is a bill that’s already passed the House. It’s on the verge of passing the Senate. And I’ll just read you some excerpts from it. It says that in the case of an economic crisis, that the governor has the authority to authorize the emergency manager—this is somebody who would be appointed—to reject, modify or terminate the terms of an existing contract or collective bargaining agreement, authorize the emergency manager for a municipal government—OK, so we’re not—we’re talking about towns, municipalities across the state—to disincorporate. So, an appointed official with the ability to dissolve an elected body, when they want to.
AMY GOODMAN: A municipal government.
NAOMI KLEIN: A municipal government. And it says specifically, “or dissolve the municipal government.” So we’ve seen this happening with school boards, saying, “OK, this is a failing school board. We’re taking over. We’re dissolving it. We’re canceling the contracts.” You know, what this reminds me of is New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, when the teachers were fired en masse and then it became a laboratory for charter schools. You know, people in New Orleans—and you know this, Amy—warned us. They said, “What’s happening to us is going to happen to you.” And I included in the book a quote saying, “Every city has their Lower Ninth Ward.” And what we’re seeing with the pretext of the flood is going to be used with the pretext of an economic crisis. And this is precisely what’s happening. So it starts with the school boards, and then it’s whole towns, whole cities, that could be subject to just being dissolved because there’s an economic crisis breaking collective bargaining agreements. It also specifies that—this bill specifies that an emergency manager can be an individual or a firm. Or a firm. So, the person who would be put in charge of this so-called failing town or municipality could actually be a corporation.
AMY GOODMAN: Whose government they dissolve, a company takes over.
NAOMI KLEIN: A company takes over. So, they have created, if this passes, the possibility for privatization of a whole town by fiat. And this is actually a trend in the contracting out of public services, where you do now have whole towns, like Sandy Springs in Georgia, run by private companies. It’s very lucrative. Why not? You start with just the water contract or the electricity contract, but eventually, why not privatize the whole town? So—
AMY GOODMAN: And what happens then? Where does democracy fit into that picture?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, this is an assault on democracy. It’s a frontal assault on democracy. It’s a kind of a corporate coup d’état at the municipal level.
And I’ll post this again: A Chinese man, Han Dongfang, living under tyranny in 1989, lets us know how utterly essential and vital collective bargaining is to workers’ rights and dignities. We should hear the irony of his fight for collective bargaining in conjunction with the current U.S. attempt to smash collective bargaining—collective bargaining, in a sense, being the right to be equal before one’s employer.
Stay strong, expand community, love more,