Workers of Wisconsin, Unite! You Have Everything to Lose, Beginning with Your Collective Bargaining Rights

WI_Solidarity.PNGNewly-elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has submitted a so-called “budget repair bill” to the state legislature to address a budget crisis that he claims the state is facing. In fact, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau indicates that Wisconsin is in relative fiscal health, projecting a $121.4 million surplus for the fiscal year; however, in the great words of Zionist visionary, Theodore Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream.” Despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, Governor Walker continues to insist that the state faces a $137 million budget deficit, and his “budget repair bill” addresses this fictitious problem by permanently eliminating the right of state employees to collectively bargain for benefits or pensions and limits wage increases to cost of living adjustments, among other deeply anti-labor provisions.

This is not about fiscal discipline. It is a wanton attempt to parlay a contrived budget crisis into an erosion of workers’ rights and an attack on working families. Labor rights, once diminished, are notoriously difficult to reassert. The Taft-Hartley Act permits states to pass “right-to-work” laws that prevent unionized worksites from making union membership a condition for employment. It has been on the books for nearly 64 years, and labor, especially in the South, has never recovered its strength. Deuteronomy commands, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow Israelite or a stranger in one of the communities of your land. You must pay out the wages due on the same day, before the sun sets, for the worker is needy and urgently depends on it.” Because workers’ rights are so tenuous, the Union for Reform Judaism supports the rights of workers to collectively bargain and opposes attempts by states to adopt “right-to-work” laws.

If labor rights advocates are unable to defeat this legislation in a state with such a strong tradition of workers’ rights, then workers are not safe in any state. If you live in Wisconsin, call your State Assemblyperson and your Senator and voice your opposition to the effort to decimate workers’ rights. If you live elsewhere, then email anyone you know in Wisconsin and ask them to take action. Wisconsin needs our help.

P.S. On a personal note, let me note that the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, including star cornerback Charles Woodson, are firmly on the side of the workers on this one.

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Jonathan Backer

About Jonathan Backer

Jonathan Backer is a 2010-2011 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Kenosha, WI, and is a member of Beth Hillel Temple.


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