Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scott Walker tramples upon workers' rights

The proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to remove the rights of public service employees is nothing short of disgraceful. It is, after all, the right of all workers to bargain collectively, even if that right hasn’t been realized yet in all sectors of employment.

Workers deserve to have a collective voice equal to that of their employers. When an employer decides that it’s time to lower wages or benefits, the workers have the right to tell them no, to say that we’ll stand together and fight this change in policy. Compromises are made through a series of measures – a general strike among them, if needed – in order to create a situation that is agreeable between the two parties.

Within this mess, Gov. Walker has decided to bypass that process altogether, to ignore the employees who work for state and local communities and to tell them that their union membership is obsolete. He is bypassing their rights as a collective body to compromise with the government on concessions that are acceptable, on tradeoffs that can be made, simply because he believes there’s no room for compromise.

Is this the leader the state elected? There have been no negotiations made, no agreements passed, between state workers and the government. Striking a blow to five decades of precedent, this governor has decided that it’s his rule that matters, and if public service employees don’t like it, that’s tough. His behavior is barely shy of dictatorial.

Passage of this proposal in such a short span of time would be despicable. Passage of it without input from the unions that represent these workers would also be appalling, a violation of the workers’ rights to have a say in their benefits packages, which directly affect the livelihood of those affected. Through bypassing the unions’ collective bargaining rights, a move that hasn’t been done in over half a century, Scott Walker tells state and local employees that they’re not worth it, not appreciated by the state, and aren’t valued by the government which employees them.

And that’s a sad, sad thing to hear from our chief executive. He truly has trampled upon the rights of thousands of workers across this wonderful state.

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