Your Opinion: Bargaining rights under assault

Dear Editor:

There is much that must be included when interpreting events in Wisconsin that cannot be defined by labeling or stereotyping with terms such as “labor bosses” and “liberals.” Such communication is satisfying but fails to convey relevant information. Appreciating and recognizing that information can be clarifying and revealing.

For three weeks Gov. Walker insisted that legislation to eliminate collective bargaining was about the budget deficit. Three facts discredit that façade.

First, labor had already acceded to the pay cuts requested by contributing a greater portion to their health care and pensions. The economic contribution from labor had been granted week’s prior.

Second, the Wisconsin Senate in its zeal to reduce bargaining rights separated that particular portion of the budget asserting that the removal of labor’s bargaining rights had nothing to do with the budget and then passed it without a quorum.

Obviously, either Gov. Walker misrepresented the justification for passage or the Republican senators misrepresented their justification when they stripped it from the budget. The two positions are mutually exclusive.

Finally, Republican Gov. Walker and Republican state senators knew that the labor concessions already conceded amounted to approximately $165 million.

Both also knew the budget included $140 million in tax breaks and incentives for business. The lost benefits of the workers were gifts to business. The much-vilified transfer of wealth occurred except the haves took from the working men and women of Wisconsin. There was no net change in the deficit.

The last clue to the core motivation here was given by Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-majority leader) in a Fox interview when he stated, “President Obama is going to have a much more difficult time getting elected and winning Wisconsin.”

Further, upon passage, Republican senators from Wisconsin flew to Washington, D.C., to attend a major fundraiser. I would expect the recipients of the $140 million were suitably represented.

Considering the critical and multiple issues we Americans face, viewing those critical needs as primarily political opportunity undermines our essential principles. Congressman McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) adequately demonstrated zealots only promote discord and confrontation. James Madison said, “A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government and many other points … render them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to cooperate for their common good.”

So, as we watch this assault on bargaining rights in Missouri, should we not consider the wisdom of James Madison’s caution? Economic fairness demands a level playing field.


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