Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A statewide travesty: collective bargaining rights stripped

The major aspect of the budget repair bill -- the stripping of collective bargaining rights for state workers -- is now as good as law.

State Senate Republicans stripped all financial parts of Scott Walker's budget repair bill in order to pass the most controversial part: the removal of bargaining rights for state employees. The bill passed tonight 18-1.

Here's why this vote was utter bull----.

First, Scott Walker included the removal of these rights because it was critical to the budget -- his words, not mine. The actual effect of the removal of bargaining rights would be minimal, if anything. But Walker insisted, time after time, that these rights had to be removed, that it was critical to the budget. It was all about the budget. The budget. The budget. THE BUDGET!

Then the Senate Republicans stripped all of the budgetary items from the bill in order to pass the removal of collective bargaining rights.

Why is this important? To pass a budget bill, quorum must be met. Fourteen Senate Democrats fled the state in order to prevent it. That meant the entire budget repair bill couldn't be passed.

So by stripping the budget aspects from the bill, passing only the collective bargaining part of the bill, Scott Walker and his Republican allies effectively admit that removing collective bargaining rights isn't a budgetary issue.

Get it yet?

It's never been about the budget. It's not about the budget. The budget doesn't matter to these people, these Republican legislators.

What matters is the removal of power for unions -- perceived or real -- that prevents governments from dictating, not negotiating, contracts. Workplace conditions, sick leave, vacation time, maternity leave, classroom size, and a host of other important issues are now non-negotiable.

Which is great for a Republican-controlled state. Not so much for middle-class families whose lives depend upon the paychecks of these workers.

That tens of thousands of protesters were unable to sway the opinions of these legislators speaks volumes. That one man was so arrogant to think that he was righteous in his opinion, that negotiation between Republicans and Democrats was never an option, speaks to his true character.

Scott Walker's actions have awoken a sleeping giant -- middle-class families who finally see what this man stands for, whose side he's on, and how far he will go to make sure that Wisconsin is only hospitable for big-business. The question is: is it too late to make a difference?

I hope not. Balancing a budget upon the backs of working class families is not acceptable, especially when those families are STILL struggling with the effects of the recession.

This bill was passed in one night. The committee hearing took seven minutes, didn't include any input from the public. That may be illegal, may invalidate the vote -- we shall see.

The recall efforts have been very positive. Democrats report that they've received more than 15 percent of the signatures needed in a single weekend for all Republican Senators eligible. Let's hope that this event encourages more to support this effort.

The damage is done, and reversing it won't be easy. It will require a Democratic-controlled legislature (not just the Senate, but the Assembly as well). It will take years to reverse. It will take the removal of our current governor as soon as his time comes.

Tonight is a blow to the movement. Tonight, no doubt, there are tears being shed. But this is not the end -- it's the beginning. The attacks on the middle class will not go unanswered. We will respond, in kind, to these vicious manipulations of government control, to these alterations to the state we've come to love.

Wisconsin is a wonderful state, full of wonderful people. I've met many of them at the protest rallies. But the support for this movement goes beyond Capitol Square. It goes to the families who will be affected by this dismantling of our culture, the families who will be destroyed by Walker's ambitions.

We must never give up. Never, never, never. Grieve over tonight's outcome. But do not mourn; work for a better tomorrow.

This rant went all over the place -- and I apologize for that. But given the circumstances, I'm sure you understand.


No comments:

Post a Comment