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2012 legislative session was about coercion, not ‘bipartisanship’


The 2012 Legislative Session limped weary eyed to a close last week. It was a bittersweet ending to a bittersweet session. There were great highs: the passage of the Marriage Equality Act and the eventual passage of the infrastructure jobs bill. There were also great lows: eliminating the early retirement pension factors for new public employees who have put in 30 years or more of public service and the way in which school employee health benefits was dispatched.

The thing that might be the most disconcerting, however, is the claim by many legislators and the governor that the grand finale shows what can be achieved through the spirit of bipartisanship. What a load of hooey!

Bipartisanship connotes working cooperatively across the aisle, having a clear understanding of the issue at hand and the problem to be solved, and if consensus can be reached putting forth a solution that can be viewed by most at least as fair.

Bipartisanship is not holding the budget and job creation hostage to an ideological wish list. That is called coercion not cooperation. Now, coercion has always been a part of politics. But let’s have the intellectual honesty to call it what it is. It is not bipartisanship.

Jeff Johnson is President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the Evergreen State, representing the interests of more than 500 local unions and 400,000 rank-and-file union members.

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