From Rightwing alliance plots assault to ‘defund and defang’ America’s unions by Ed Pilkington:
“The author of the letter, SPN’s president and CEO Tracie Sharp,describes the $8m “breakthrough” campaign as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse the failed policies of the American left … We are primed, right now, to deliver the mortal blow to permanently break its stranglehold on our society.”
Sharp pitches the battle against unions as the start of a war on progressive politics, with the ultimate goal of winning elections for rightwing candidates. “Big government unions are the biggest sources of funding and political muscle for the left – and a major obstacle to the ability of voters to reclaim control of American government. To win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state.”
The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”. The long-term objective is to “deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle” (emphasis in original).
SPN will be discussing its anti-union and anti-left agenda on Wednesday at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Its morning session will look at how “labor reform” can be pursued with renewed vigor under the Trump administration.
The discussion will feature some of the key architects of SPN’s political strategy, including Vincent Vernuccio who pioneered anti-union legislation in Michigan, and Tom McCabe of the Freedom Foundation, who has sent his foot soldiers on an aggressive offensive against collective bargaining in the US north-west.
Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) which tracks the rise of rightwing groups in America, said the fundraising letter and other SPN documents published by the Guardian cast light on the conservative game plan. “It’s very rare to catch conservative thinktanks talking so openly and blatantly about their long-term political aims. These documents reveal to us that SPN’s goals are entirely political – they have no concern for workers or union members, their only goal is winning elections to advance rightwing causes.”
Bottari added: “An $80m campaign to ‘defund and defang’ public sector unions is remarkable, both in its size and in its ambition.”
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