RICH JAMES: GOP's political football trips up working man

2013-02-13T00:00:00Z 2013-02-13T20:04:15Z RICH JAMES: GOP's political football trips up working manBy Rich James
February 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Remember how Charlie Brown comes running to kick the football and Lucy pulls it away at the last second. And plop, there goes Charlie Brown.

That’s pretty much how it is with Republicans and the working man.

The GOP asks the unions for their trust but in the end makes it clear that its word isn’t good.

Especially during presidential years, Republicans bemoan the fact that unions won’t give them the time of day.

That’s why Republicans bluster about the need for prayer in schools, the evils of being gay and opposing Democrats if you want to keep your guns. But all the while, the GOP is pushing an agenda that essentially will render unions powerless.

Indiana Republicans have a leg up on most of the nation.

Remember the Republican attack on unions last year with the passage of the right-to-work law under Gov. Mitch Daniels. It would be more appropriate to call it the right-to-work-for-less law.

Republicans are back this year looking to kick the unions a little farther down the road.

The Senate has approved a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a secret ballot be used in union organizing elections.

Republicans seem to think the state constitution is one of those Etch-a-Sketch boards, subject to the whim of the week.

This latest anti-union move is designed to block a proposed federal law known as “card check” that would allow a workplace union to form without an election if more than half the employees signed union authorization cards.

So Republicans want to change the Indiana Constitution based on a federal proposal. That’s playing pretty loose with a sacred document.

I agree with state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, who said the state has no business telling private organizations how to conduct elections.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, it’s clear that Republicans don’t like unions. Why that is doesn’t matter. What does matter is all this Republican hyperbole about how the party is good for the working man. Republicans ought to come clean and admit they like unions about as much as Lucy likes Charlie Brown.

One thing that has been lost in all this union-busting is the lawsuit filed by Operating Engineers Local 150, which has about 4,000 members in northern Indiana.

The lawsuit, which was an effort to block the right-to-work law, argues that the law interferes with the union’s free speech rights by stifling the collection of dues that help pay for its political speech. A judge dismissed the suit.

Then I had to chuckle. What’s that adage about getting what you pay for?

Yeah, the Operating Engineers endorsed Daniels in both of his runs for governor.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at The opinions are the writer's.

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