This week in Wisconsin, conservatives are making perhaps the single biggest assault on collective bargaining that's taken place in the last 60-80 years.
The republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature is trying to take away the collective bargaining rights of state, county and municipal workers.
These takeaways include:
- Automatic yearly elections where 51+% of all employees in a bargaining unit would have to vote in favor of union representation or the union would be decertified;
- No more union shops where membership or an equivalency fee are required as a condition of employment;
- Would limit wage increases to a small percetage based on the increase in the cost of living;
- Would force employees to pay nearly 13% of their healthcare costs;
- Reduces employers pension contributions.
And those are just the highlights. Basically, it would do away with public employee unions in Wisconsin.
No subtlety or subterfuge here. This is an open frontal assault on workers - union busting on a grand scale, like hasn't been seen in this country in 60-80 years. And conducted by a state government, no less.
For the full details of the legislative changes Click here
The unions involved have already agreed to make the wage and benefit concessions. But even so, the republican controlled legislature insists on pressing ahead to repeal their collective bargaining rights. Governor Walker says he will not back down.
No, they're not being subtle at all. It's obvious that their real agenda is to do away with unions. Money is not the real issue. It's worker's rights.
The battle is on!
Wisconsin employees have been fighting back hard, with union members holding massive demonstrations at the capitol in Madison on a daily basis. They've been staying away from their jobs, conducting mass sick-outs.
The Tea Party has also been busy conducting its own counter demonstrations. Based on this, we can only assume that doing away with unions will become a mainstay of the Tea Party platform all over the US. Not that I can say I'm surprised.
If conservatives are successful at outlawing public employee unions in Wisconsin, then emboldened, it's a given that similar battles will soon be fought in every state.
A number of other states (OH, IN, NJ and others) are already looking at enacting similar laws in the next few months for their public employees. But that's likely to just be the start.
If it can happen in Wisconsin, it can - and will - happen anywhere. And potentially it won't be limited to just public employees.
You better believe almost every private sector employer in the country is watching with great interest, just wishing they could do the same exact thing.
No union is immune from this sort of attack. Any successful attack on union rights in the US diminishes our power collectively. And it moves each other union just that much closer to having to fight these same battles themselves.
This is the time to mobilze!
Local public employee unions are planning rallies here in Washington, and I'm sure elsewhere. I urge everyone to get out and show your support for public employees.
And if you can't, send bucks: Myself, I sent $100 to the Wisconsin State Employees Union. I think I'll send more next week. If you'd like to donate, here's a link to the Wisconsin AFSCME website, Click on the "Donate" link there -
I also hope all unions will send groups to Wisconsin to demonstrate solidarity.