December 27, 2011
Time magazine has named “The Protester” its person of the year, and we are honored by this distinction. Wherever people stood arm-in-arm to speak out for the working middle class this year, AFSCME members and their sisters and brothers from across the labor movement stood, too.
But we really should give some of the credit to the governors who made our protesting possible. By trying to take away our collective bargaining rights, our pensions, our union — our very foothold in the middle class — these governors galvanized a Main Street movement. So now we’d like to give one of them their own special distinction: “Worst Governor of the Year.”
There’s only one problem — we can’t decide. So, please help us by casting your vote for the worst governor of 2011. We’ve listed who we think are the worst 10 below, but feel free to write in your own.
Click here to vote on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/questions/10150447989658061
In no particular order, here are the nominees:
Gov. Scott Walker (WI)
In the dark of night, Scott Walker passed a sweeping anti-union law, wiping out the collective bargaining rights of teachers, librarians, nurses and other public service workers. Tens of thousands of working middle class folks, students and retirees protested for weeks at the state capitol. Walker not only ignored them, he shut them out of the process.
Gov. Rick Scott (FL)
That Governor Scott has the lowest approval ratings currently of any governor in America should come as no surprise. He rejected high-speed rail funding, attacked public employee and teacher unions, increased retirement costs for state workers and ordered $4 billion in cuts to programs designed to help the middle class — all while enacting tax breaks for corporations and the rich in Florida.
Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
Governor Snyder rammed through an Emergency Financial Manager law this year that strips struggling cities of any right to govern themselves and eliminates local collective bargaining agreements. He ordered a 15 percent cut in higher education, tried to cut the earned income tax credit that helps the working poor and raised taxes on senior citizens on fixed incomes.
Gov. John Kasich (OH)
Governor Kasich forced through a deeply unpopular bill that would have eliminated collective bargaining for all Ohio public employees. However, voters rejected it by more than 20 points with a people’s veto at the ballot box. He cut $1 billion in aid to local governments while giving his own staff massive pay raises. He locked protesters out of the state capitol building last winter and even called one of his own state troopers an “idiot” for giving him a ticket.
Gov. Paul LePage (ME)
Governor LePage gutted Maine’s environmental protection laws, which will reduce air quality standards, destroy wildlife habitat and allow more pollution and toxic chemical usage. He continues to attack organized labor by pushing a right-to-work-for-less law and bills making the collection of union dues more difficult. Earlier this year, he even removed a mural from the Department of Labor because he deemed it too pro-labor.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY)
Governor Cuomo capped local property taxes and slashed state aid to municipalities, which is leading to layoffs, threats to public safety and cuts to public services. Meanwhile, he’s thinking about using public pension funds to rebuild and privatize public infrastructure, like bridges and turnpikes.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Governor Chafee broke his pro-worker campaign promises by passing unpopular legislation that raised the state retirement age to 67, froze cost-of-living adjustments for retirees and created 401(k) packages that jeopardize workers’ retirement security.
Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN)
Even Republican state representatives turned their backs (literally) on Governor Daniels when he proposed a bill to make Indiana a so-called right-to-work state. After overstating job creation numbers by as much as 40 percent, the governor now claims the key to job growth is ‘right to work for less.’ Tens of thousands of union members organized rallies to “Ditch Mitch!”
Gov. Terry Branstad (IA)
Governor Branstad’s idea for bringing good paying jobs to workers in Iowa is taking away healthcare, cutting salaries and stripping collective bargaining rights from public service workers. As Iowa contends with 95,000 unemployed, Governor Branstad closed the very workforce development offices jobless workers need to get back on their feet.
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ)
Although 325,000 people are out of work in his state, Governor Christie rallied to fire 1,459 employees at a housing center for people with disabilities and turned his back on an opportunity to build a tunnel between New York and New Jersey, which would have created 6,000 new jobs. He has cut funding for social services, public schools, public health facilities and libraries; all while cutting taxes for the rich.