Do Not Be Deceived, the Fight in Wisconsin is About More Than Bargaining Rights

By Richard Thayer

The vote by Wisconsin’s Republican legislators Wednesday should be sending shock waves of monumental proportions throughout the nation. The highly questionable maneuvering by the state’s governor and his colleagues in class warfare is about more than balancing the budget. That cover was blown weeks ago. Stripping public sector unions of their bargaining rights has absolutely nothing to do with balancing the budget and everything to do with neutering unions’ political influence on both the state and national level.

But it’s more than even that. What we are witnessing in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and other Republican dominated states where bargaining rights are being eviscerated under the guise of balancing the budget will ultimately affect more than the bargaining rights of public sector employees.

The action taken in several states to hamstring unions affects not only them but every working American, whether they be public or private sector. As goes these public sector employees’ bargaining rights, so go the rights of every working American whether they realize it or not.

Corporate-fueled propaganda machines would have one to believe that public sector employees make way more than those in the private sector. Not withstanding the skewed means by which these figures are obtained, the real argument shouldn’t be that union employees wages and benefits be reduced to those of the private sector but that the private sector’s wages and benefits be raised to match those of union employees.

Instead of attempting to raise the quality of life in America through better pay and health insurance for its citizens, politicians, under the smoke screen of “balancing the budget,” are fighting that pay and benefits for all Americans be lowered. It’s insanity.

If Wisconsin is any indication-and I think it is-working class Americans of both political parties are realizing what is actually going on here. Polls, both partisan and non-partisan in Wisconsin show that a majority of voters are in favor of unions keeping their collective bargaining rights. The governor’s approval rating had already tanked before Wednesday’s vote, now it will sink even further.

Governor Walker and his Republican colleagues, under the auspices of balancing the budget have bankrupted their state morally.

Fortunately, and despite what those smug despots in Wisconsin may think, we still live in a democracy. Unlike Libya and Egypt, we can depose our dictators through ballots instead of bullets. Although Walker isn’t vulnerable to a recall election until January of next year, many of his Republican allies are.

If Walker thought the issue of collective bargaining was laid to rest on Wednesday, he is in for a rude awakening.

He and his corporate backers may have won that battle, but they are destined to lose the war.


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