You’ve probably noticed the gigantic demonstrations going on in the Wisconsin state capital. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is asking the Republican-controlled legislature to pass a “budget repair bill” that would make the states public employee unions essentially useless.
The proposal would take away the unions’ rights to negotiate on issues like health care, hours and working conditions, and would leave public employees defenseless.
State workers would also have to increase the percentage of salary that they contribute to their pensions and double the percentage of contribution to health insurance premiums.
Reuters reports that:
Leading Republican lawmakers say workers have to share the pain of shoring up the state’s unsustainable financial problems — a projected $2.9 billion biennial budget deficit for fiscal 2012 and 2013. This year’s budget totals $12.7 billion.
The proposal has outraged Wisconsin labor unions and Democrats. Reuters also reports Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller as saying:
“If Republicans get their way, workers will no longer be able to negotiate over the hours they work, the safety conditions they labor under or the health insurance and retirement benefits they and their families depend on.”
Unions and progressive groups are now on the defensive, running TV and radio ads against the proposal all over Wisconsin.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has been airing an ad, which you can see in this video.
Outrage is also growing among teachers and other state workers, and many are banding together to express it.
Meanwhile, at the Middleton High School listening session, the rage aimed at Walker grew intense as comments about his budget repair bill went from inflammatory to incendiary.
“Democracy is messy. Dictatorship is easy,” said listening session attendee Bill Delaney. “We do not intend to have a dictatorship.””
Accusations of a “Dictatorship” in Wisconsin grow as Gov. Walker prepares the National Guard to deal with a strike, which some say may be workers’ only way of standing against the proposal. While reports say that Gov. Walker hasn’t called in the Guard and doesn’t expect a strike, he has briefed them in preparation for it.
Unions have kept the peace between public employees and managers for decades, but now Gov. Walker is looking to change that. Without unions to protect and stand up for workers’ rights, public employees will be helpless against a state that obviously hold its own needs above those of its workers.
Is paying a states’ bills worth it if its citizens can’t pay their own?
Tell Governor Scott Walker to respect union rights and protect public employees by signing the petition here.
Photo credit: istock