It is not often that we focus on the happenings of another state’s Capitol and their legislation but the protests and the power grab by Governor Scott Walker matters greatly for the rest of the country. The struggle is between middle class working families. Most of them provide every day services that we take for granted. They teach Wisconsin’s children, they do the day to day work in state run offices and they plow Wisconsin’s roads. Basic services that Wisconsinites depend upon are done by workers who are lucky enough to enter into a union are being demonized.
Now before some of you scoff and think of the word union as a negative thing just try to get the picture of Jimmy Hoffa out of your mind. Do away with the movie-esque version of mobs and union thugs beating people down. Instead take a look at the people protesting in these two videos here and here. Do they look like thugs? Do they look like Tony Soprano or his goons that go out and break legs? Or do they look like your neighbor, your friend or even yourself?
Now consider the ramifications of Walker’s proposal. In an email from PFAW, Wisconsin State Senator writes:
If this bill moves forward in Wisconsin, rights in all America we have grown to take for granted will no longer be so reliable. Workers will no longer be able to work as a group to negotiate anything besides wages. Republicans here have already passed a “tort reform” law that makes it much harder to seek justice in Wisconsin. But this new move by Walker is much worse. It is an unprecedented attack on workers, their communities and our tradition of working with labor to move our state forward.
If this passes here, it will pass in other states.
To be clear, Walker is seeking to scapegoat unions as the cause of the fiscal crisis in an effort to divide the middle class against itself. This, while he is opening tax loopholes for the richest in the country.
Two key things stand out and should force us to take notice. The legislation pending in Madison is a two-fold test:
1. Scapegoating unions
2. Wisconsin is a battleground state
By blaming a budget crisis on taxpayers is the most ridiculous claim ever. The idea that we can have our cake and eat it too is to blame. We need to raise revenue to pay for the basic necessities of life. Roads, police, firefighters, and schools cost money. You know that as a taxpayer – but the politicians that run on cutting taxes seem to think money grows on trees. The people to blame are the decision makers that cannot understand the concept of sustainability.
Furthermore, collective bargaining is all about bringing democracy into the workforce. It gives workers a voice. For those of you in the private sector and not in a union. Don’t you wish that you yourself or a representative for you had a seat at the table with the bosses. They could air grievances, negotiate wages and benefits and stand up for you. This is the concept of a union and it works hard to achieve that. The only leverage a worker has though is by striking. Both sides are contractually obligated to each other and thus a strike prevents the work from getting done. The only leverage but ultimately a powerful one that levels the playing field for employees and employers.
Wisconsin is an incredible state. They claim the birth of the Republican Party as well as some of the greatest achievements in worker’s rights (8 hour workday anyone?!?). During Presidential elections it is often a hard fought state and can tilt in either direction. If a bill like this can pass in Wisconsin it will be tried in other states. Possibly your state.
It matters to each one of us not lucky enough to be born into wealth or to strike it rich with the lotto or some flash in the pan idea. It matters to those of us who wake up in the morning, work hard during the day, go home to a family and really just want to earn enough to support a loving household.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.