Bruce Rauner, the millionaire financier seeking the Republican nomination for governor next year, plans to be the hard hand against organized labor. On his campaign website, he claims that “government union bosses and trial lawyers run this state.” Just how hard a hand he wants to wield is indicated by this excerpt from an interview with Chicago magazine’s Carol Felsenthal:
What do you think of Chicago Teacher’s Union president Karen Lewis?
I don’t have a problem with Karen personally. She’s doing her job well—too well. We have to understand that the agenda of union bosses is not the agenda of taxpayers. When the union has the nuclear weapon of a strike—when they hold that threat over the community—that’s untenable.
In other words, Rauner does not believe in the right to strike. And without the right to strike, unions have no rights at all. This would no doubt be fine with Rauner, who elsewhere in the interview expresses his admiration for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who stripped his state’s public employees of their right to bargain collectively.
Calling a strike a union’s “nuclear weapon” implies that it will destroy its target completely. That’s not only hyperbole, it exaggerates the fact that a strike is a union’s only weapon. Unions bargain for their members’ labor. Withholding that labor is not a union’s “nuclear” weapon. It’s a union’s only weapon. Saying its existence is untenable is telling teachers “you’ll work under the conditions and for the wages we dictate -- or you won’t work at all.”
Even if Rauner is elected, the Democratic Party has a lock on the General Assembly, guaranteed to last until at least 2023. He’ll never be able to pass a law curtailing teachers’ right to strike. But he’s telling his big-business campaign contributors what they want to hear.