What’s Up With That Wednesday: Union Busting

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford du...
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Unions have existed in the United States for almost 200 years and represent a collective voice for skilled tradespeople. Unions are the way that America’s workforce bands together and negotiate for better pay, better working conditions, and a better way of life. Historically, the Federal government has put protections in place for these groups, effectively drawing a ‘line in the sand’ saying you can’t go past this point. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has introduced legislation that would cripple the power of Unions to fulfill their main purpose; to advocate for worker’s rights.

Wisconsin is in a deep financial hole with a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the FY12 budget and its legislators are frantically looking for a way to stop the state’s financial losses. Killing Unions is their plan. Don’t even consider saying “But Romel, he’s not taking away Unions, he’s just regulating their power” because that’s just not true. He’s advocating for stripping Unions of their collective bargaining power and forcing government workers to pay more money toward their health benefits. Taking away a Union’s power to negotiate on behalf of a group of people is like cutting off someone’s legs and saying “Oh well. They can still get around right?” Don’t fool yourself.

Arguments over legislation often happen in a vacuum of sorts, a place where the public is often excluded from the discussion but forced to comply with the outcome. Wisconsinites are making sure that this time is different. Protestors have turned out in record numbers to show their whole-hearted disapproval of this measure, making a public spectacle of the power of a group of people committed to action. Scott Walker says, “For us, this is about balancing the budget…” but I must return to a guiding principle held by the organization I serve with We must NEVER lose the human aspect of what we do. When we’re talking about cutting Unions we’re not only talking about dollars and how to save them. We’re also talking about thousands of people, their families, and Wisconsin’s future to name just a few. Also, wouldn’t you think that he would think about other creative ways to increase state revenue such as *gasp* increasing taxes? He’s in fact doing the opposite by offering tax-cuts that will cost the state another $17 million…what sir, are you thinking? To add insult to injury, when asked if he would allow these groups to keep their collective bargaining rights in exchange for conceeding on the money issue he replied with a resounding “No.” What is this fight really about then?

Whenever I think about the Republican Party’s takeover of the House back in November I grimace, but even when that happened I sought understanding. I read about their platform and the topic that resounded for a lot of voters was the creation of new jobs but I’ve still yet

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t entirely agree with all Unions. Their overall mission was created with good intentions but in some cases there is evidence they have at times abused these protections at the cost of the recipients of their labor (think: Education). With all that said, I’ll never agree to a Union-less America; especially under the guise of ‘cutting costs’. Put simply, I believe that cutting Unions is only a band-aid for a severed limb.

What are your thoughts?

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