Perhaps Georgia's House Industrial Relations Committee staged Monday's surprise vote on S.B. 469—the draconian bill that would infringe upon the rights of Georgians to speak out for economic justice or choose whether to support a union—as an apt welcome for Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker as he came to Atlanta for a Republican fundraiser.
The Republican-led committee held the sudden vote on Monday morning with little notice, posting the hearing on the calendar less than an hour prior—and waiting until just 10 minutes beforehand to post a note on the hearing room door. Not surprisingly, the measure easily sailed out of the committee without any legislators present to represent Georgia's working families. The committee also voted to pass S.B. 447, which would gut unemployment insurance down to the fewest number of weeks in the country.
The surprise tactic was eerily similar to the maneuver employed by Wisconsin Republican state senators in 2011 as they sought to shove through a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin's teachers, social workers and other public service employees. The Georgia State AFL-CIO took notice and condemned the partisan power grab:
Democracy doesn’t happen in secret...just as S.B. 469 is designed to silence dissent, the committee leadership intentionally posted as little notice as possible to ensure that a minimum amount of opponents would be present.
But just as in Wisconsin, the attack on working families has helped mobilize a broad, energized coalition of Georgians. Working families, jobless workers, students, faith leaders, sheriffs and, yes, even the tea party are uniting together to protest the General Assembly's extreme agenda and, instead, press politicians to get to work creating jobs.
Georgia's legislative session ends this Thursday. Will Georgia's state legislators use the last remaining days of the session to stop this undemocratic bill? Will they vote to preserve unemployment insurance, the lifeline that is helping to keep Georgia's jobless families—and the local businesses they support—afloat? Or will legislators instead bow down to special interests like the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the author of S.B. 469?