The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.Here is what Lane says about the letter:
In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company.
Now, this would not be a contemptible letter if it were signed by members of private sector unions. Private sector unions work in trades, and they have the right to make informed business choices (and even uninformed ones). But public sector union members are supposedly public servants - and they are expected to avoid even the hint of impropriety in their labor disputes. This is a barely-veiled threat from the cops and the firemen that organizations subject to the anti-labor reform boycott cannot expect a prompt and effective response from them in case of emergency. Simply put, there are different standards of behavior for emergency responders. Stricter ones, because being a repository of the public trust carries with it an expectation of behavior that is appropriate for that trust. This letter harms that trust.I am inclined to interpret Lane's post as uncharitably as he has interpreted the letter he's moaning about. Rather than take the high road, I will emulate the behavior exemplified by those conservative bloggers who also happen to be assholes such as Lane and pay Lane back in his own coin.
Stop. Let me explicitly say that I do not believe any pious excuses along the lines of “That’s not what they meant!” This is precisely the kind of let’s-imply-without-saying, sneak behavior that we’ve all come to expect from union ‘negotiators.’ Let me also explicitly say that the cops and firemen have nobody but themselves to blame for making anybody trust them less as a result of this letter: if they don’t want people to have legitimate concerns about public ’servants’ taking partisan sides, then public ’servants’ shouldn’t take partisan sides.
According to Lane, the members of private sector unions have the right to make business choices. The implication is that members of public sector unions do not have the right to make business choices. Is Lane seriously suggesting that once a person joins a public sector union that that person surrenders her right to make business choices? Is Lane seriously suggesting that the members of public sector unions can be forced to do business with M&I Bank? Is Lane seriously suggesting that persons cannot collectively choose not to do business with this or that corporation? How free can a market be when persons cannot make free choices within that market? Conservatives claim that they are in favor of free markets, but many of them (including Lane, evidently) really aren't (which is something that I have known for some time).
The threat being made in the letter is a potential boycott of goods and services provided by M&I Bank, and that's it. It is clear to anyone who has a command of the English language that the people signing the letter and the members of the groups they represent are threatening to not do business with M&I Bank. That's what a boycott is. And it is abundantly clear that that is all that is being threatened in the letter. If Lane thinks that he can tell people who they can and cannot do business with, then he can go fuck himself.
Lane, however, claims that he has detected an implication in the letter that emergency responders will not respond as promptly and effectively to emergencies involving M&I Bank if M&I Bank does not express opposition to Scott Walker's union-killing bill. I detect no such implication whatsoever, either in the passage Lane quoted or in the rest of the letter. Lane insists that it's there: remember, he says, "I do not believe any pious excuses along the lines of 'That’s not what they meant!' This is precisely the kind of let’s-imply-without-saying, sneak behavior that we’ve all come to expect from union 'negotiators.'" It doesn't matter, then, what the letter says: if the letter contains the threat, it's in there, and if the letter does not contain the threat, it's still in there. That is why, in the final analysis, Lane's post is a miserable, worthless piece of shit.
Did you know that Scott Walker's union-killing bill does not apply to police and firefighter unions? According to the New York Times,
The new law weakens unions representing public sector employees by limiting bargaining to wages, restricting raises to inflation, increasing the amount employees pay for health insurance and pensions, and giving union members the right not to pay dues. It also requires unions to hold annual votes to determine if workers still want to belong. The law exempts firefighters and law enforcement personnel.Why would it exempt firefighters and police officers? Because they tend to vote Republican, while teachers tend to vote Democratic. The bill targets teachers' unions because the bill is an attempt to weaken the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and make the Republican Party more powerful as a result. Funny, then, that Lane would claim that public servants should be politically neutral, when the political views of cops and firefighters were obviously a consideration in the design of Walker's union-killing bill.
Think about what Lane is alleging. Does he seriously mean to suggest that if there is a fire at a branch of M&I Bank, that firefighters won't respond as quickly as they otherwise would and subsequently endanger innocent human lives? Is Lane seriously suggesting that in the event of a bank robbery at a branch of M&I Bank, police officers will lollygag on their way to the scene and again put innocent human lives at risk? Seriously?
Lane's insane post tells us virtually nothing about labor relations in Wisconsin, but it speaks volumes about Lane himself, and this is what it tells us: even if you tend to be conservative and vote Republican, if you cross Lane on an issue like this, he will plunge the knife in and twist it. Lane's post ends with the following words:
If I lived in Wisconsin, I would be pounding the table right now and demanding that every signatory to that letter hand in their badges. Since I don’t, it’s incumbent on Wisconsin citizens to make an answer to this.Indeed you would, Moe, indeed you would. Because you are a prick.