Based on Gov. Dayton’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Harris v. Quinn lawsuit, there’s little doubt but that he’s got quite a temper. Check out his reaction to the ruling:
“By a 5-4 vote the court has voted to roll back the cause of civil rights in America,” he said. “For decades the right to organize has been an accepted mainstream principle in American society. If people can’t vote for themselves to decide if they want to join a union or not, that’s just not democracy.”
First, it’s stunning that Gov. Dayton doesn’t know the Constitution better than this. I’m including the text of the First Amendment for Gov. Dayton’s peronal edification:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Specifically, when the First Amendment say that “Congress shall make no law” that infringes on the people’ right to peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning “Government for a redress of grievances”, it means that the people get to decide who will represent them.
Second, the government, whether at the local, state or federal level, has the right to tell private sector employers that they’re really public sector employees. How dare Gov. Dayton assume that a legislature has the right to reclassify these small businesses as public sector employees. That’s the business owners’ right. Period.
Ken Martin got more than a little upset, too:
But Ken Martin, the chair of Minnesota’s DFL Party, said the decision was devastating.
“The Harris v. Quinn decision diminishes the ability of unions to work with American workers. It’s devastating to think that the gains for wages, benefits and working conditions made by unions during the last century will be jeopardized,” Martin said.
There’s no question that this is a stinging defeat for AFSCME and the SEIU. That being said, it isn’t the end of collective bargaining, which is what Martin is hinting at. Harris v. Quinn simply says that the government can’t tell business owners that they’re public employees.
AFSCME definitely didn’t lose the right to negotiate collective bargaining agreements for correction officers, EMTs or sanitation workers. SEIU Local 26 definitely didn’t lose the right to negotiate on behalf of Minnesota’s Property Services Union.
I strongly suspect that Gov. Dayton’s and Chairman Martin’s statements are meant more to distract union workers from the DFL’s division on mining. By highlighting this, the DFL is hoping Iron Rangers will forget about mining and focus on union solidarity.