The struggle for collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin has spilled into other states. The governor of Wisconsin and other supporters of this anti-union worker movement portray government workers as far too cushioned for having the benefits they are given. While state workers actually make less than those in the private sector and make some of the difference with good benefits.
The hypocrisy of the governor runs deeper. Reports keep surfacing about how many tax breaks the government of Wisconsin has granted to major international corporations, and in general, corporations are getting more and more profitable while paying a smaller percent of their earnings in taxes. A report came out Monday about how Wisconsin legislators received hundreds of thousands in agricultural subsidies.
The United States has spent over a trillion dollars in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last ten and a half years. The country also spends billions every year in foreign military aid, most of which goes to countries with bad human rights records, like apartheid in Israel and Mubarak’s Egypt.
The federal government granted hundreds of billions in bailouts to private banks and other companies, some of which have recorded record profits since.
The Wisconsin budget could use some tweaking, but why is the governor only suggesting that it be taken out of the pockets of state workers? Why is this trend taking off across the country? Why are public workers being demonized as the problem of the economy when there are so many other problems?
The decision to take away collective bargaining rights is a move to extinguish democracy in the workplace for Wisconsin workers and taking the problems of a government out on its most vulnerable and least influential members.
The federal government keeps pouring money into militarism instead of helping states pay their workers, and states are looking after private businesses more then resident and state workers. When did teachers become less valuable than bombs?
The decisions to build bombs and to give bailouts, to give tax breaks and to provide government subsidies to major corporations were generally made very undemocratically. These decisions were made by a small group of people, looking out for the interests of a small group of very wealthy and privileged associates.
The decision to pay for pension, provide healthcare, and to provide good wages for state workers were decided by collective bargaining by the body of state workers. These decisions were made to improve conditions of the whole population of state workers and are far more democratic in their nature and their results.
This is a pivotal moment for workers and citizens, and the issue is about fair living conditions and democracy, or autocracy and corporate rule. It is time to stand in solidarity with Wisconsin, and work to maintain and build off of the democracy we still have in this country. If we don’t, things will get much worse before they get better.