FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

What’s at Stake in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin State Capitol sits in the center of the Isthmus in Madison, a narrow funnel connecting the East and West sides of town. 80,000 protesters jam things up. I’ve seen crowds on the Isthmus, never like this, not since Vietnam. Wisconsin is again rising to challenge oppressive government.

I do not belong to a union, never have, never will. By my own choice I do not have collective bargaining rights, no benefits package and no weekends off. I wish I did. These are things that should be a right for everyone, rights won by union workers putting their lives on the line for everyones future. My work, farming, does offer other benefits, but that’s not the story here.

Governor Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill” will supposedly save $150 million by cutting wages and benefits for public employees, money he claims is needed to offset a $137 million deficit. A coincidence that, in just over one month in office, he has run up a tab of $140 million on new special interest spending?

So, I can understand that he would want to keep his credit score clean in the new job, and go after someone to pay the bills, why not the public employees? And as long as he has carte blanche to write whatever onerous language he wishes, why not get rid of collective bargaining, leave some room to scrap Medicaid and BadgerCare at some point and, in time, shift more power away from the Legislature to himself. This is how you impress the Republican National Committee. This is what Autocracy looks like.

Walker is talking a big lie, the unions have said they are willing to negotiate wage and benefit cuts, exactly what he said was needed to fill the budget gap. Still, he won’t negotiate. Obviously this bill was never about saving money or balancing a budget, it’s about shifting money from the middle class to corporate interests and the wealthy—- a payback to those who funded Walkers rise to power. It’s about busting the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions, it’s about getting rid of unions.

Wisconsin is a test case, if the public employee’s union falls here, other states will try union busting as well. If the union fall here, all unions are at risk, Teamsters, IBEW, SEIU, all of them.

The Republicans and corporate America want unions to go away, and Scott Walker is apparently the point man. Flushed with power from the November elections they see no need to compromise, no need to debate, no need to listen to the people,— just humor the Tea Party, the conservative bloggers, and Fox News.

So, why should I or anyone else care what happens to union members pay and bargaining rights? Well, because it’s the right thing to do. Everyone should care, we all owe the union movement. I know the power of corporations and how government works in their interest. They don’t like small farms, they don’t like unions, solidarity! We fight the same battles.

What about cooperatives; health cooperatives, farm cooperatives, they were formed to bargain collectively, will they be targeted as having an unfair advantage over private enterprise?

In the long view we come to this,– targeting one group, dividing and conquering the middle class, helps no one in the middle class. “Everyone does better when everyone does better.” That’s why everyone should care.

No doubt about it, Walker is smooth, he has good coaches and aspirations for a future in national politics. Wisconsin’s Republican Legislature, like Walker, has plenty of hubris and an agenda targeting unions, social programs and a deep passion to shift more wealth to the wealthy. But in this fight, they are dead wrong. They are not, as Molly Ivins would say “dancing with them what brung ya”

The protesters have shown us what Democracy looks like.

Governor Walker is showing us what Autocracy looks like.

The Republican Legislature is showing us what dupes look like.

And the Tea Party wants to show us how tearing down over 100 years of union organizing for social justice will somehow better their lot (logic is apparently not their strong suit).

Making health care more expensive, cutting wages, putting pensions out of reach will not repay decades of no holds barred military spending. It will not bring back jobs and industries exported in the name of higher corporate profit. It will not stop the economic spiral to the bottom, indeed, it will only hasten it.

Cutting wages and benefits to teachers will not give us better schools, nor will we have better hospitals and municipal services if we allow Governor Walker to crush collective bargaining.

It comes down to this, will Wisconsin continue to be a “Laboratory of Democracy” or will we become a Laboratory of Autocracy?

JIM GOODMAN is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

 

 

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail