The stories are apocryphal, but true. In Wisconsin, during the height of the protests against Scott Walker’s attack on collective bargaining, the cops who policed the protestors would leave at the end of their shift, go home for dinner and a change of clothes, and come right back to the Capitol grounds to pick up a sign and stand with their union brothers. The police union in Wisconsin had been exempt from the collective bargaining ban, but they saw the writing on the wall.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire, the National Police Union’s president, Chuck Canterbury, met with the Republican nominee, Willard M. Romney back in June. In a statement, he said “the real issues in public safety, and the problems that our criminal justice system is facing are not the focus of either campaign.” And while there is no endorsement for President Obama either, the snub of the Republican Party has got to sting. It may hurt all the more, since the 330,000-member Fraternal Order of Police is especially well-represented in three key swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Evidently, when you spend two years pushing a radical agenda written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), people who belong to unions notice. They remember, and they vote. Both Scott Walker and John Kasich of Ohio went after collective bargaining. Walker also denied women in his state the right to sue for equal pay. Thankfully, in Ohio, the voters overwhelmingly rejected the Kasich proposals.
Down in the swing state of Florida, Rick Scott targeted union members who police the prison population. Mayor Mike Bloomberg followed in the footsteps of Willard M. Romney and just outsourced jobs. When New York City had a job to do, he hired contractors, instead of using public sector employees, thereby decimating union membership. The governors of Pennsylvania and Louisiana both took on teachers and their unions, by pushing voucher systems and charter schools to compete with the teacher’s union and starve the public education system of funds.
An article in The New Republic tells the story of Ohio’s union fight – and might serve as a bellwether for the coming national election. Sergeant T.J. Assion, a Marine vet, said: “I myself have been a registered Republican my entire life, but that changed this time.” … “Some of my members have flat-out said, ‘I will never again vote for someone who has an R next to their name because of what John Kasich did.’ I will not be voting for Mitt Romney, because he was with the Senate Bill Five people, congratulating them, and has the belief that America should be a right-to-work country. In my opinion, he has no respect for the working man, and, for that alone, I will not vote for him.”
There are 24,181 members of the Fraternal Order of Police in Ohio. And “as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”
Tom Joad is a fictional character who resides on Facebook.
Follow him there for daily conversations with today’s political leaders.