Outrage: Union Workers Revolt Across Country
Written by Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra Wednesday, 23 February 2011 06:34
Workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are showing their outrage at bills introduced to strip public sector workers of their right to collective bargaining.
What these states have in common is that in 2010 they voted in Republican governors and state legislatures.
The firestorm began in Wisconsin when 14 Democratic state senators fled the state to prevent a quorum in the chamber, refusing the GOP the chance to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's "budget repair" bill.
Excluded from the measure are Walker's political allies, the police and firefighters unions, both of which endorsed the Republican candidate last year, although the head of the state trooper union now says he regrets that decision. Gov Walker claims that the exemption is not quid pro quo, but that the state couldn't afford to have its emergency services workers walk out along with teachers and other affected state employees.
The rationale for denying public employees collective bargaining rights is to save money and reduce deficits, however, there is no evidence to suggest that to be the case, especially in the wake of concessions that labor unions are willing to make in order to protect the rights of their members.
In many ways, unionized forces act as a check and balance on the budget, being forced to vote on either pay increases or healthcare. With the rising cost of healthcare premiums in this country, most union workers have gone years without seeing raises in order to keep their medical costs under control.
Unionization also means humane treatment of employees. As a former state employee in a right-to-work state, I can personally testify basic civil rights are relentlessly trampled on, which would not be possible with a strong union presence.
For example, in an interview with a former State of Arizona employee called "Allen," he tells The Rev. Rob Times, "In my first meeting with a new director I was told that by being a single parent put my job in jeopardy because he really doesn't like single parents." Allen continues, "The culture was so corrupt that most promotions could only be earned by attending weekly Bible study classes, which occurred on the clock, on the tax payer's dime, and with the use of government equipment and resources. Yes, the organization has its own rules against such behavior in the workplace, but a trip to human resources is far more likely to result in retaliation than assistance, as was my case."
That is merely an example of what state employees will face across the United States if they lose the right to unionize.
For as many shots that unions take as a targets by conservatives, the new Gallop poll shows that a stunning 61% of Americans are against revoking collective bargaining rights for public employees. Other Tea Party Republicans, like Florida's Scott Sink, have apparently seen the turmoil and want nothing to do with it. Gov. Sink expressly stated that public workers have a right to collective bargaining. Indiana's governor, Republican Mitch Daniels, asked his fellow party members to withdraw the right-to-work proposal in his state which caused 37 Democratic lawmakers to flee, leaving the government effectively shut down.
With union membership down to just seven person nationally, this is a cross roads for organized labor. If the unions in Wisconsin are broken, then it could be the first of several dominoes to fall, ultimately resulting in the dismantling of organized labor as a functional force. However, if they prevent the bill's passage, then the domino could fall the other way, representing a long overdue renaissance in union membership.