So the decades-long assault on unions has gotten a morale boost, a validation for all the money the Koch brothers and Walmart heirs have sunk into this fight. But the fact that they bothered to spend all that money shows that they still think unions have power. Hamilton Nolan gets down to why that is:
There is a simple reason why all those huge employers of retail and service workers—Target, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and countless others—are so emphatically anti-union: fear. These companies know that unions represent a sort of power for their workers that their workers will otherwise never have. That power translates to better working conditions and higher wages. That, in turn, eats into a company's profits, as all expenses do. For some companies, this is merely a nuisance, a potential hit to the stock price. For others—like Wal-Mart, which has built the world's largest retail chain by squeezing every last cent out of its costs—it is a potential existential threat.So big corporate money and the Republican politicians in its sway have real reasons to fear unions. And Josh Eidelson suggests that Wisconsin, even after the failed recall, gives us some reasons for optimism:
This is only the end of the argument if you believe that Wal-Mart's is the most desirable business model for all the world. It is a particularly cutthroat evolution of capitalism, in which all human interests are secondary to the cause of cost-cutting and price-dropping. It is the belief that saving fifteen cents on a package of Pringles is more important than your neighbors being able to pay for health care.
But even as Wisconsin highlights labor’s vulnerability, it shows how dynamic a true labor movement can become. The recall effort itself offers one measure of what labor and its allies accomplished: triggering the third such election in U.S. history, fighting Walker to a close race despite marked asymmetry in cash (and national party support), and seizing control of the state Senate. While Walker’s survival will embolden other anti-union politicians, they’d be far bolder already if labor had just rolled over as rights were stripped away last year."Don't mourn. Organize" is the classic thing we on the left, and perhaps particularly in labor, say after losses. By that we don't mean "don't be sad." We mean don't stop fighting while you mourn. Turn your grief into action. Reach out to others now and get ready for the next fight, making victory more likely then.
But the uprising in Wisconsin has accomplished far more than instigating an election. It has pushed state senators to meet a higher bar: fleeing the state to slow the bill. It’s muscled class and labor back into our culture and media. It’s forged a new wave of activists, and it’s moved working people all over the place.