Source: Stanley Aronowitz, New Labor Forum, Vol. 20 no. 2, Spring 2011
In the mad race to the bottom that has gripped American politics, no sector has been more targeted and maligned than the government and its employees. Buffeted by the shellacking the Democrats sustained in 2010–largely because of their failure to make a serious dent in the appalling jobs picture–in January 2011, President Obama announced a two-year federal-employee salary freeze. The policy was barely contested by the weak federal unions, so state and local governments–strapped for funds in the wake of the economic crisis–are massively following suit by instituting layoffs, salary cuts and freezes, and threatened pension and health insurance cuts. Some union leaders have registered words of protest and some public employees’ organizations are furiously lobbying legislators. But contained by many state and federal laws that outlaw strikes by public employees–and also by their own timidity or resignation to the inevitable–public sector union leaders have taken it lying down. That is, until Madison.