Cutting bargaining rights is a raw deal
Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 16:06
Let's rewind back to February, when thousands of people camped out in front of Wisconsin's state capitol, shouting at Gov. Scott Walker that it was unacceptable to strip away collective bargaining rights for unions. These were the words of Wisconsin's people, telling the Governor that taking workers' rights away was not a way to thank the hard working employees in the state.
Last week, the Wisconsin law that struck down collective bargaining rights in unions was declared void by County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi. It was not the subject matter of the law made it void, but the way in which it was passed. The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law (WOML) states that all meetings that are held in order to conduct official business must be held in an accessible public place, and that lawmakers must give public notice of the meeting. The way in which the collective bargaining law was passed had violated these mandatory policies, according to Sumi.
However, this means that Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature could easily strike down collective bargaining rights by passing the law a second time in accordance to the WOML.
I don't believe that they should.
Collective bargaining gives union workers the right to protect themselves and fellow employees in the workplace, and it ensures that employees have basic working rights such as safe working environments, fair pay, and compensation for injuries on the job. Collective bargaining also gives these workers the right to use any bargaining tactics that are necessary in order to demonstrate their need for better working conditions, such as picketing, striking and lock-outs.
If these workers did not have these rights, how would we be sure that they actually had a say in resisting harmful policies that affect their everyday work environment? How would we know that they were protected by their workplace so that they would not be financially responsible for accidents on the job?
According to the Guardian, this legislation affects the collective bargaining rights of an estimated 300,000 workers in Wisconsin, which includes thousands of teachers that taught us the skills we needed to better ourselves. These employees need these rights as much as they need their jobs—if workers are operating in hazardous conditions, or if they are not making enough money to provide for their families, going to work each day might be more harmful than not working at all. These employees are hard workers who deserve to have the right to control the conditions of their safety and well-being through the act of collective bargaining.
This law was created in response to Wisconsin's budget crisis; however, taking away union workers' rights is not the way to trim down a state budget. Our own president said that this law looks like "an assault on unions," instead of a reasonable way to cut costs. Additionally, if the Wisconsin state legislature is successful in striking down collective bargaining rights for Unions, then it would set a precedent for other states with budget crises to do the same. These states could include Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and even Florida.
I sincerely hope that the Wisconsin state legislature thinks twice before attempting to strike down collective bargaining rights again. These rights protect Wisconsin's hard-working employees, and taking those rights away will cause them to step right in front of danger's way.