Jenny EriksonThousands of union supporters descended upon Wisconsin’s state capital this week to protest Governor Scott Walker’s budget-balancing proposal. In order to save his state from bankruptcy, the Republican governor has called for public employees to contribute to their pensions and pay part of their health insurance premiums. His budget also limits government collective bargaining to just wages, and prevents government unions from forcing taxpayers to fund their luxurious benefits.
The schools in Madison had to shut down on Wednesday and Thursday because so many teachers abandoned their students to go protest Governor Walker’s partial dismantling of union ‘collective bargaining rights.’ Nothing says, “I’m here for the kids!” quite like shutting down schools because your cushy union benefits might be slashed.
Newsflash to public sector unions: We are all struggling. We are all scrambling to pay our bills, to deal with the ever-increasing cost of living, and we generally thank God every morning we wake up and still have a job. What makes you so much more special than us?
Public sector unions claim to protect against oppression of the worker, yet they ironically force everyone in a given field to join or be fired. Take the teachers for example -- Wisconsin public school teachers have to join the union, and their wages are garnished to a tune of $1,100 a year. The union thugs are then able to contribute to handpicked candidates and get them elected, and that politician shows his gratitude by pushing legislation to give the public unions more and more taxpayer dollars.
Did you catch that? The organization that supposedly protects against oppression oppresses workers by forcing them to join a union, whether they agree with it or not.
The unions are claiming that Governor Walker is a big old meanie that’s trying to take away the voice of the people. Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell told a crowd at the Capitol Wednesday night, "This is not about protecting our pay and our benefits, it is about protecting our right to collectively bargain.”
How is it collective bargaining if the members don’t have a choice over whether or not they want to join? That’s not collective bargaining, that’s oppression by union bosses that tell you that they know better what you need than you do. No one is taking away anyone’s right to collective bargaining by stripping public sector unions of some of their power.
Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t need a union to organize the black citizens of Montgomery to boycott the buses after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white guy. No union for the bus boycotters, yet this is one of the most prominent examples of collective bargaining in history. Every person got to make a decision for him or herself as to whether to join the protest. Dr. King didn’t claim to know what was best for every black person in Montgomery and force him or her to play along. Everyone collectively came together to bargain for equal rights, no union required.
Public unions don’t collectively bargain; they force people to join, and then make decisions on their members' behalf. That’s not freedom, that’s tyranny, and it’s bankrupting Wisconsin. Congratulations to Governor Walker for having the guts to stand up to the public unions, rather than raising taxes or laying off 6,000 government workers. One step at a time, we can take away the unions’ power and give it back to the people.