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Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Ohio Voters Offer A Cautionary Tale for Gov. Susana Martinez About Workers’ Rights in New Mexico
Tuesday, November 8th, voters in Ohio issued a definitive statement to their union-busting Governor, John Kasich (R) that should cause New Mexico’s own Governor Susana Martinez (R) to think twice about her plans to eliminate workers’ basic rights in our state.
After muscling through a law that stripped Ohio public sector unions of collective bargaining rights earlier this year, Gov. Kasich saw voters overwhelmingly reject his vision for eliminating workers’ voices, as Ohio voters on Tuesday repealed a law that severely limited collective bargaining by a 61% to 39% margin. From a policy perspective, Tuesday’s results are a victory for sensible legislation that doesn’t seek to use fiscal crises as an excuse for stripping workers’ rights. From a political perspective, Tuesday’s results are a resounding defeat for Gov. Kasich, as well as a cautionary tale for other politicians pursuing extreme, anti-worker agendas – like New Mexico’s own Gov. Martinez.
Here in New Mexico, some have speculated that the setback to Gov. Kasich and the results in Ohio have little bearing on Gov. Martinez and our state’s ongoing bargaining process because Gov. Martinez hasn’t tried to eliminate public workers’ unions in the fashion of Ohio and Kasich’s ideological brother-in-extremism in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R). However, this is largely because Gov. Martinez doesn’t have the same control over the state legislature, so she’s attempting through backdoor means to achieve the same extreme outcome – eliminating workers’ rights and voices.
“They might not be identical twins, but John Kasich’s SB5 bill in Ohio and Susana Martinez’s union-busting attempts in New Mexico nonetheless bear a strong familial resemblance,” said CWA Representative and Lead Contract Negotiator, Robin Gould, “Both Governors and both attempts to silence workers’ voices are built on the myth that eliminating the rights and voices of public sector workers will somehow aid the state’s economic recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth or more distracting to the work we need our policymakers to focus on – creating policies that strengthen jobs and move our state back in the right direction.”
In New Mexico, where state employees already are greatly restricted in what they are allowed to negotiate for, a successful Martinez power grab in eviscerating workers’ rights would be devastating for many middle class workers and communities. Earlier this year, Gov. Martinez attempted to eliminate the Labor Board, which did not work. Now, she’s set her sights on trying to strip state workers’ rights further through negotiations, remaining insistent in efforts to eliminate three decades of worker gains (including basic rights like breaks).
Like much of the far right conservative movement, Gov. Kasich included, Gov. Martinez seems intent on pursuing a policy vision that would shrink public services in favor of privatization schemes. This is the wrong direction for New Mexico’s families and communities – and wrong for any political future that Gov. Martinez envisions for herself.
See this fact sheet for an overview on what Gov. Martinez is proposing for New Mexico workers: 11.15.11Bargaining Background on SEA-CWA.ORG