Why The Union Fight in Wisconsin Matters

Governor Scott Walker
Governor Scott Walker

The legislation proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans is important to all workers because it is an assault on the collective bargaining rights of all workers.  When the government strips away the rights of workers to unionize, it robs them of their leverage to get fair wages and working conditions.  They’ve started with the public sector workers because of the abuses of past union contracts, both real and perceived, that have long angered the average citizen.

As with most political battles, both sides have some valid points.  But this bill uses the power of government to neuter the public sector unions by limiting their ability to bargain only to wages, and even then, only to a maximum of the cost of living.  Simply put, it means that the best the unions could hope for would be to keep wages even with inflation with no say in promotions, hiring and firing practices, health care, and retirement benefits.  Work rules would be subject to the whims of local politics and politicians.

As citizens, we should want public sector jobs to be great jobs that would attract intelligent, hard-working people who are inspired to give their best every day.  When we make public sector employment a matter of political patronage and retribution, we lose important checks and balances in who gets those jobs and ultimately, how well those jobs are performed.  As workers, when one sector loses their rights, it lowers the baseline of the benefits and protections offered in the jobs market to all workers.

Governor Walker has refused to negotiate on this bill at all, even though the unions have made offers to accept the changes in wages and benefit contributions.  In an interview this morning on MSNBC, he said he had heard that the unions had made such offers to the media, but not to him.  Well, Governor, when you refuse to speak with someone, it’s pretty much impossible for you to hear what they have to say.  So this boycott is aimed at letting you hear from people you apparently do listen to; business owners.

It’s time to put political pressure on the Governor of Wisconsin to come to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith.  In the current political climate, the only pressure that matters is economic pressure.  So if you care about the rights of workers to organize; if you care about the quality of public schools; if you care about reasonable governance; if you care about basic fairness; boycott Wisconsin until the Governor accepts reasonable compromise.  Stop buying Wisconsin cheese now.  Stop buying Wisconsin beer now.  Cancel your fishing trip to Wisconsin today.  Cancel your vacation trip to the Wisconsin Dells today.  Cancel your convention in Wisconsin hotels today.

This legislation is going to pass soon unless there is immediate political pressure brought to bear on the Governor and the Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature.  Even worse, this terrible idea is spreading.  The governor of Ohio has proposed a nearly identical bill.  So time is of the essence.  Please help spread the word.  Boycott Wisconsin!

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