How to divide and conquer the labor movement

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got private-sector workers to resent the pay of public workers.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got private-sector workers to resent the pay of public workers. AP file photo
Connect the dots between two columns in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer and you’ll see how apologists for the wealthy and powerful have conned private-sector workers into voting against their own best interests.

In “Lending Tree CEO at top of pay list,” the Observer’s Rick Rothacker and Ely Portillo reported that Lending Tree’s Doug Lebda had a $57 million pay package for 2017. Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan made $21.3 million. On average, CEOs at companies with more than $1 billion in revenue received pay packages of $6.9 million in 2017.

In “Overpaid public workers are bilking taxpayers of millions,” Ross Marchand and Donald Bryson argued that public workers make more money than private-sector workers. Marchand is director of policy for the conservative Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Donald Bryson is president of the libertarian Civitas Institute. They concluded that, not only are taxpayers having to pay too much for “highly paid” public workers, but government has an unfair advantage over private-sector employers in attracting the best workers.

We have here a classic example of how to increase corporate profits by pitting workers against each other. When private-sector workers are convinced that the taxes they pay are going to public workers making much more money, yet doing the same kinds of jobs they’re doing, they decide to vote for politicians who say they will lower the pay of public-sector workers.

It’s the same technique Republican Gov. Scott Walker used to get Wisconsin’s private-sector workers to resent the higher wages of public-sector workers. Walker was videotaped talking to a major political donor who asked him how he was going to “turn Wisconsin into a completely red state.” He responded by saying that “The first step is, we are going to begin with, collectively bargaining for our public employees, divide and conquer.”

Gov. Walker also was later conned into believing he was in a phone conversation with David Koch, another major donor to his political campaign. He was recorded saying that his attack on unions was part of his ideological battle and it had nothing to do with his publicly stated reason for balancing the state budget. Walker even said he had considered planting troublemakers to disrupt the protesters in his state capitol.

Let’s face it. Today, the highest paid “workers” who are making far too much money are the CEOs and their subordinates. Because of the inflation they cause when they consume increasing amounts of our nation’s resources, products and services, no workers — especially those in the private sector — are making enough.

Chuck Kelly is a Charlotte author. Email: