The battle in Wisconsin has been publicized frequently and fervently by the media. In fact, we’re still watching, and the latest news is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is threatening even deeper cuts and to lay off those who dare to strike. Here in Ohio, we’re having another labor versus Governor movement of our own.
The question you may be asking is, If I’m not union, should I care?
As a person who has worked in both the public and private sector, union and non-union, my answer is that you should. Regardless of whether you think public sector workers get too many raises, too many days off and can’t be terminated but for hoops and tightrope walking, you should still care. And, for the moment, put aside any queasy feelings you have about the unions being money-making machines and power brokers. First of all, remember why unions were founded and came to power. Unions first began to hold corporations accountable. We can all recount stories in our history wherein the working class was expendable and subject to working in dangerous conditions; we’ve read many true stories about how women were underpaid and underserved at work. It takes integrity for a company to hold itself accountable and this has to happen at all executive and management levels.
Secondly, you’ve heard the accusation: “This isn’t about unions …” and that this sudden focus on busting up labor is about weakening labor rights. Now, I’m not one to say whether there is a big conspiracy to break down the middle class (is there still one out there?) but it is rather interesting that this is suddenly a big topic of discussion. I know many states are in budget crises all over the nation, but did the budget guys in the gray suits not scratch their heads at some point and say, “You know, I’m not sure paying police officers 80% of their salaries with 100% immediate vesting and throwing in free health care in retirement is such a good idea.” You mean to tell me that no one asked whether or not such measures could be afforded?
With all that said, the times we’re in, we all need to share the responsibility of our addiction to debt and credit, our blind eye to deregulation and free trade if we’re to get the bus rolling again. Why is it a crime to ask teachers to pay for more than 10% or so of their health care expense? Why is it such a bad idea to eliminate automatic step-up pay increases on top of a merit raise each year or at some predefined interval?
My point is that we all need to be logical. Not greedy, not selfish but logical. And I’m all for logic as long as it isn’t
Photo Credit: Progress Ohio
taking food out of people’s mouths.