Sen. Brown: 'Hitler didn't want unions'
March 4th, 2011
09:46 AM ET
3 years ago

Sen. Brown: 'Hitler didn't want unions'

Washington (CNN)-Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio invoked Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin while sounding off on union battles with state lawmakers in his state and in Wisconsin.

"I look back in history, in some of the worst governments that we had, you know the first thing they did, go after unions, Hitler didn't want unions, Stalin didn't want unions, Mubarak didn't want unions, these autocrats don't want independent unions," Brown said Thursday during a speech on the floor of the Senate.

Brown railed against legislative measures proposed in Ohio and Wisconsin that would limit collective bargaining rights for state workers saying "We believe workers should organize and bargain collectively. We believe in worker' compensation. We believe in workers' safety. We believe in human rights."

Attributing problems in the state to people who are "hungry" and "want fairness and a chance to make a living," the first-term senator who's up for re-election next year expressed his frustration but backed away from making a direct comparison to the dictators saying "I'm not comparing what's happened to the workers in Madison or in Columbus to Hitler or Stalin but I am saying that history teaches us that unions are a very positive force in society that create a middle class that protects our freedom. So don't tell me you support unions internationally but you don't' support unions here."

State workers and supporters have traveled to the state capitol in both Madison, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio to protest the controversial measures which were proposed as cost-cutting methods to battle budget deficits in both states.


Filed under: Ohio • Sherrod Brown • Wisconsin
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. sara

    He SAID it clearly, that his reference was NOT about Madison or Columbus. But Hitler and Stalin Didn't Like the gathering of people as a "right". They didn't like unions. History does read that.

    March 4, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. rob

    Sen Brown said: ""We believe workers should organize and bargain collectively. We believe in worker' compensation. We believe in workers' safety. We believe in human rights."
    Gov Walker and his supporters believe in these things too, this is a straw man argument, just like invoking Stalin and Hitler then saying "I'm not comparing what's happened to the workers in Madison or in Columbus to Hitler or Stalin..."

    The issue here is letting Govt workers bargain colletively with the politicians they donate money to. The unions collect dues from workers who are paid from taxes collected from citizens then they use these funds (taxpayer money) to donate to politicians who they believe will give them a better deal. This can be called collusion and it is a big incentive for corruption in State Govt's. I should know , I live in New Jersey

    March 4, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Alex

    It's absolutely true!

    First They came... – Pastor Martin Niemoller
    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    A classic poem in modern history. You think the corporate-money fueled GOP will stop at the Middle-class unions????

    March 4, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Former Republican, but never again!

    Any future attack on liberty in this country will come from the Right, not the Left. In fact, history may show that it has begun already.

    March 4, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Rdepontb

    Ok, that was unnecessary and unthinking, Senator. We love you, and need you to take care of yourself better than this-WE NEED YOU!

    March 4, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  6. Jon

    When politicians bring up Hitler it is always a disgrace. There is NO comparison to be made, and Brown should be ashamed of himself and apologize.

    March 4, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. fayse

    The problem with the GOP/Tea Party is that they want to return to life as it was in the 1700,we can't and They want to yell about the constitution yet, they want to pick and choose the parts that they like and ignore the parts that they don't like. Michele Bachman butchers history and makes it up to suit her talking points. The real truth is that we must pay attention to history because there is a real danger in repeating past mistakes.

    March 4, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. ingrid

    Although Brown is right about dictatorships not wanting unions but that said, I am not a big fan of politicians using Hitler imagery to critique the other side unless death camps are involved or the SS.

    March 4, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Uncle Bully

    "history teaches us that unions are a very positive force in society that create a middle class that protects our freedom. So don't tell me you support unions internationally but you don't' support unions here."

    ^^ that quote from the article gets to the heart of the problem. Conservatives are tell us unions are bad for America.

    If the workers in China wanted to Unionize and fight for higher wages and human/worker rights. Conservatives would say that it would be step toward Democracy. right?

    March 4, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Padraig

    The senator is correct the unions can be a very positive force by ensuring their members are properly and adequaltely paid and provide other benefits. However, they are also can be extremley corrupt, feed off their own ego, and loose sight over the bigger issues. For the union members who can blather on about the positives, I can produce a negative.

    The point needs to be driven – yes you should be paid appropriately, yes you should receive benefits but you should also put in your fair share of contributions. You should not receive back more in your retirement than what you made working as a public employee. You are bleeding your states dry, you are creating deficites that cannot be controlled and the taxpayer, our children, and our children's children will be punished for.

    March 4, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Grundoon

    The GOP has declared WAR on the middle class and the poor. These people defended to the hilt why CEOs should make 300-500 to evey 1 dollar of their lowest paid workers – but back in the 1950, a period of time these fools get so nostalgic about, it was 30 to 1 and we were the most prosperous nation – and the tax breaks for the wealthy. So, now they want teachers and other middle class workers to make sacrifices and "contribute" to the budget solution which is a drop in the bucket. When are they wealthy going to be asked to sacrifice. This is not about the budget, it is all about power and control. Only the wealthy few have see increased in their income and the rest of us a left to fight for the scraps. they only have the most to lose becuase they have the most. It is only they who benenfited from the Bush tax cuts and making the middle class and the poor pay for that, which is exactly what they are doing, is just sickening.

    March 4, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Steven Bannister

    Hitler also didn't want a limited constitutional Republic with democratically elected representatives. And unfortunately for the public unions, we DO have a limited constitutional Republic and we DO have a democratically elected representative in the name of Scott Walker. Everything Scott Walker is doing is completely 100% within the constitutional framework our Founding Fathers laid out for us. To compare his actions to Hitler is any way is despicable.

    March 4, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  13. New Age Independant

    Once again a delusional Democrat and inflammatory rhetoric. Where's the outcry from liberals? Oh, sorry, I forgot about the liberal double standard. It's ok if it suits your extremist agenda.

    March 4, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Jared

    Sen. Brown demonstrates irrefutable logic! Let's try it some more:

    Hitler wanted universal health care. Democrats want universal health care. Therefore, Democrats are Nazis!
    Hitler liked corn beef. I like corn beef. Oh no....Therefore, I am Hitler!
    Mao invaded Tibet. America invaded Iraq. Therefore, America is Communist China!

    This man is a moron.

    March 4, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. unretired05

    How come the people making over $250K didn't have t protest to get their tax break? Oh yeah they paid the politicians and the Tea Party to do it for them.

    March 4, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. willie floyd

    I've heard some criticism on his remarks, but at least he wasn't telling a bold face lie like Huckabie has done repeatedly.

    March 4, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. mattsuave

    Hitler may have been an horrific human being, but didn't he take Germanys depressed economy and turn it into an economic powerhouse.

    March 4, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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