As angry teachers in the Midwest shut down more than a dozen school districts in protest Thursday, Republican officials across the nation have made teachers' unions "public enemy No. 1" in a battle to trim budgets and rewrite the rules on how unions and states work together.

In Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, governors are taking on the unions — who they see as guilty of demanding excessive benefits and causing out-of-control waste — in their quest to cut spending and regain control over the educational system.

This is a guess (and I really mean that), but what's happening in Wisconsin can be seen as the final neoliberalization of the middle class. Unions in this class were considered for the most part to be safe and stable. But then came the crash of 2008. What happened when the smoke cleared? Working-class labor could not be blamed for the mess. The unions in that class had been decimated and its political teeth and claws filed to the flesh. If the powerless working class could not be blamed for "busting [post-crash] budgets" (all of this talk of about budgets is, of course, pure nonsense), it was time to turn on (and blame) the class right above them, which due to homeownership has enjoyed some distance from ground-zero neoliberalism. Now that homes are worth shit, all that's left of worth for this class is the base of its superstructure (employment and expertise). It is this that is now under full attack.
"I'm attacking the leadership of the union because they're greedy, and they're selfish and they're self-interested," New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie told a conservative conference Wednesday.
Most of my guessing was inspired by Christian Marazzi's newish book The Violence of Financial Capitalism.