Monday, February 28, 2011

A different kind of protest sign caught my eye...

I recently came across a set of protesters who were downtown. They weren’t like the majority that were there, though I have seen a few like them before. They looked like the other protesters, were middle-aged, and had even carried signs.

These protesters, however, were in support of Scott Walker.

This is perfectly fine, of course: democracy requires us to be accepting of any individual that chooses to voice out their concerns for their government, chooses to disseminate their views in order to influence the debate in some way.

Still, these protesters bothered me a great deal. What was it about them that bothered me so much?

It was their sign. It read: “When we miss work, we get fired.”

It’s a perfectly fine statement to make. And it’s true for a lot of people, myself included: if I skip work to protest, unless I get permission to take a personal day, I get written up and possibly fired.

However, what these conservative protesters failed to recognize was that for much of the 20th century many union workers DID miss work in order to fight for the reforms (of their time, at least) that we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, weekends, safe workplace conditions, the right to even form a union...these were struggles that weren’t won easily. These were battles that had many casualties, both figurative and literal.

The struggle between Gov. Scott Walker and public service workers (and the private sector workers who have since joined them in their fight) is one that is noble, just, and fair. And just as it’s fair for those workers to stand up against Gov. Walker and his Republican allies, it’s also fair for supporters of Walker to voice their dissatisfaction with the protesters.

But it would do a lot of good for people to understand the sacrifices that have been made, the struggles that have been waged, in order to get where we are today.

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