Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Big BUT...

I have a hard confession to make.

I don't know that I'm much of a union gal.

Feel free to change my mind, because the truth is, I just don't know that much about it. Do unions have too much power? Do they increase the cost of doing business?

I don't know. I don't own a business.

However, workers should have the right to organize and collectively bargain for living wages and better benefits if corporations begin to abuse their power. We've seen this happen before, America. I think we'd be naive to think it won't happen again.

Fun Fact: Did you know total compensation - which includes those "awesome" benes - for the public sector is still less than that for private sector?

Regardless, what I do know is that unions represent people.

And I'm 100% sure that those people (and thereby the unions) are more than willing to negotiate benefit and retirement contributions.

The problem is they were never asked to negotiate.

They know it's a tough economic time. They know there's a budget deficit to be accounted for, and everyone must do their part. They have been doing their part.

Or did you think furlough days were the same as paid vacations?

Now, I do criticize those folks who think paying 12% toward their healthcare premium is too much. Especially when that healthcare is a Cadillac compared to my, well, Vespa.

I won't go into detail, but lemme just say I'm paying almost $200 per month as a single, healthy person for a high deductible healthcare plan. No dental. No vision. I would kill to have, for example, $20 co-pays and less money taken out of my paycheck per month.

All of this being said, I will say this...

It's wrong to strip workers of their rights. It may even be unconstitutional...I'm sure we'll find out if this bill passes.

Walker is effectively trying to all but disband unions. Read this if you think that won't have consequences for you. Or this.

You don't have to be a public employee to feel the effects of this legislation.

You want educated, trained teachers for your children? Want educated, trained, and caring individuals to take care of your baby while you return to work after maternity leave?

Sorry. Those educated, trained workers had to leave their jobs for ones that will pay them a living wage.

For folks who think this issue is simply about paying more toward healthcare and pensions, you're, well, put it bluntly and lightly.

It's about our governor, without first trying to negotiate and bring all players to the table, enacting a piece of legislation that strips people of their rights.

That this legislation excludes unionized public safety employees - whose unions contributed heavily to our governor's campaign coffers - is entirely another matter for another post.

Fun Fact: By including public safety employee unions (i.e. police, firefighters) in his bill, Walker would save the state another $19 million - from the city of Milwaukee alone - to the already estimated $30 million in savings. That's almost double what the current bill saves in union "concessions" through the end of June.

Feel free to educate me on your position. I welcome comments. As I said in the beginning of my post; I simply am not the expert and don't know all of the facts from every facet of this issue. Though I've tried to read as much about it as I can, I think knowing everything would be impossible. What I do know is despotism when I see it (though if you compare Walker, or any American politician for that matter, to Stalin or Hitler, I will seriously question your intellect).

Thank you for listening.

PS - I'm sorry if Blogger is eating your comments. It ate my response to Gregg and I've been getting some messages on Facebook. So, first off, thank you for your comments, and second, I'm sorry Blogger eats them here.

PPS - This article, though opinion-based, has the numbers breakdown on WI's budget. On 1/31/11 the Legislative Fiscal Bureau - a nonpartisan group - sent a memo to newly elected Governor Walker outlining the state of WI's budget. He, in fact, did NOT inherit a budget that required a repair bill. In other words, yes, WI's long-term budget needs some work and difficult decisions, however, there is time to try negotiations first. There's no reason to rush this through in less than a week.

PPPS - This is my personal sticking point, but I just want to say...Walker ok'd $140 million in special interest spending in January and now claims $137 million shortfall in February. What's up with that? Anyone know?

1 comment:

Gregg, Esperanza, and MarilĂș said...

I am not a union member, nor is any member of my large family (I have five siblings and two adult children).

But John, the guy that picks up our garbage, is a unionized public employee.
The guy that plows our snow is a unionized public employee.
The people that supply our clean water and sewer services are unionized public employees.
The police officers and firefighters that protect us are unionized public employees.
The teachers in my 15 year old's school, and the people that clean and maintain her school, are unionized public employees.
The workers who maintain our county parks are unionized public employees.
The people who maintain the city streets, and the county and state highways, are unionized public employees.
Many of my neighbors are unionized public employees.

The list goes on and on.

So when Scotty Walker and his ilk attempt to unilaterally strip these people of their bargaining rights, and to decertify their unions, I take it very personally. It is nothing less than a cynical, mean spirited, cynical, political assault on the very people who help provide me, my family, and our entire community with a good quality of life by working for the common good, and I will not stand idly by and watch it happen.

Walker and his vicious band of political thugs MUST be stopped.