Union rights worth the fight
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 14:03
It's not just our friends abroad who are suffering at the hands of their political leaders in the Middle East and Africa.
Recently, protesters have been storming the capitols in Wisconsin and Ohio to take a stand against their governors' attempts to cut collective bargaining rights for union workers.
This means state employees will lose their ability to negotiate with their employers regarding working conditions such as salary and health care. This extends to some of the most important people in our community: teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker claims the proposed bill is meant to help get rid of the state's deficit, but we don't believe that argument for a minute.
As Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein pointed out, we really can't blame the unions for deficit, not in Wisconsin or any of the other states facing similar issues.
There were no major changes in the way unions operated during the time the recession started; the cause of our current economic state is mostly due to failure in the bank system.
The real reason behind Walker's actions is to disband unions entirely because they are one of the major supporters of Walker's political opponent: the Democrats.
Unions are one of the major financial supporters of the Democratic Party, without their funding it will be harder for the Democrats to find financial resources, but not impossible.
Blogger Andy Kroll from MotherJones.com breaks Walker's proposal down into three parts: union members' ability to negotiate conditions with their employers will be greatly reduced; they will no longer be able to collect dues, which consequently means they'll lose their ability to organize members or lobby the legislature; and each year the union members will have to vote to decide whether or not the union should continue to exist.
With their power entirely stripped, however, it's highly unlikely that members would continue to vote the union back into existence.
Proposals like this aren't just limited to Wisconsin and Ohio; Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and even Florida are currently struggling with anti-union legislation.
We value our state workers far too much to see them abused and neglected in such a way. They did not cause our current budget crisis and their sacrifices won't save us from it.
It's extremely petty that these governors would sacrifice the union rights of teachers, police officers and other public servants — who are already underpaid, overworked and often have to worry about whether or not they'll have a job next year — in a foolish attempt to eliminate the competition.
It's not just union members who are unhappy about all this. A New York Times/CBS poll found that 60 percent of Americans are against weakening bargaining rights for unions, whereas only 33 percent favor it.
The fate of these bills is uncertain. In Wisconsin all the Senate Democrats left the state, because without them the Senate does not have enough members necessary to conduct a vote.
We hope to see these bills killed in all the states currently struggling with this issue. We can only imagine the repercussions otherwise.