Sunday, May 13, 2012

The O'Rourke and Scott Walker Link: The Rights of Public Employees to Organize - Breaking the Police Union

Pictured above, Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency was hired to break the miner's union and strike

The O'Rourke and Gov. Scott Walker Link: The Rights of Public Employees to Organize -
Breaking the Police Union


Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

One of the areas where workers join to form unions in El Paso has been in the public sector. For example, the firefighters have a union, and this union represents the employees in getting a contract with the City of El Paso.

On August 3, 2010, the El Paso City Council “voted 6 to 2 to furlough police officers for up to three days in the next fiscal year to make up for the shortfall in the budget.” (see “Council votes to Furlough Police
In the debate, the conversation focused on the police academy. Then city council representative, Beto O'Rourke commented on how he feared adding new police officers from the academy because it would add “union members to the police force.” (See Video Play of August 3, 2010 meeting of the El PasoCity Council).

It was at this meeting that O'Rourke asked the City Attorney about the possibility of breaking the police union: “What are the provision and opportunities for the voters of El Paso to go back to some other form of representation.” (see Video Play)  

The city attorney said El Paso is under a collective bargaining statute and that the voters would have to vote it out under state law. 

O'Rourke then asked the City Attorney to “update him” on that issues. (see Video Play)

It was just a simple question but does not mean O'Rourke wanted to break the union, he was just asking questions, right?

What happened next opens up O'Rourke's stance on public employee's organizing. He let his views be know about the right of employees to organize. O'Rourke told KTSM Channel 9, "I think the police union is out of control, and it makes me question the need and wisdom of having a police union in El Paso.” (see “Council votes to Furlough Police” above).

Ron Martin, president of the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association, recently brought this up in his web message to member: “I didn’t try to remove 20 years of Collective Bargaining because you now think it’s not fair for both sides, but when officers were getting no pay raises you thought it was fair and brushed us off!” (see PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

After the union put out a satirical ad attacking spoofing the El Paso City Council, “O'Rourke later told ABC-7, “"I think the police union -- not the police force, and not the police officers -- but the union is out of control," he said. (see Police Association's Radio Ad Targets El Paso City Council, By ABC-7 Reporter Ken Molestina, POSTED: 10:18 pm MDT August 6, 2010, UPDATED: 3:09 am MDT August 7, 2010).

This is a disturbing view. Sure the police force may have it issues, including budget ones, but does that mean that the union should be broken. The point is to negotiate, but some think employees should have have the right to negotiate.

Though it seems long ago, many gave their lives for the right of workers to unionize. Many employers, including government entities abuse workers, then and still.

As you know, almost every Republic president makes the decision that his administration will not negotiate with the unions that represent government employees. This is not unlike O'Rourke's view. If I'm correct, the Democratic Party's platform always includes a stance supporting the right of workers, including public employees, to organize.

The recent ruckus in Wisconsin over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's campaign to take away the right of public employees to organize is not far from what O'Rourke's stance.

Why question the “need and wisdom” of having a union. Having a union -- as well as the right to organize -- is a universal human right.

Worker rights are civil rights, except according to some politicians.
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