I’m putting this out today as a reminder to everyone in Wisconsin that we need to be careful about what we can consider expendable. People are not expendable, especially when it comes to demoting their pay and benefits for the sake of the budget. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker vowed to create jobs, yet he is making it difficult for many to be able to keep theirs. Please help. At the end is a website to visit and find out what you can do: contact your representatives, get the word out, help us let Walker know that he can’t toy with this.
It’s obvious that Walker is scared. By calling the national guard out, he threatens our very right to speak out about this injustice. Let’s tell him that we are not scared, that we are willing to fight for our basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If Egypt has taught us anything, it is to not step aside when the government steps in to take away our rights. We have to fight, we have to stand up for what is right and we will win. The good-guys always win.
A note from my friends at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
I’m forwarding the most recent email I got from my union with suggestions on how to write and call your Wisconsin state legislators in the coming days–along with other more labor-intensive suggestions–to protest Walker’s proposed “budget repair” strategy of gutting collective bargaining rights in the state.
A personal note: the faculty at UWM isn’t unionized, but we won the right to do so in 2008, and we might be soon; faculty at several other UW institutions already are. One of the reasons faculty within the UW System are particularly interested in unionizing is the fact that although out benefits have always been quite good, our salaries are not anywhere close to competitive with those at “peer institutions.” (In general, faculty at UW are hired at competitive wages and then never given any significant raises, so the wages become non-competitive within a few years.) This year, Walker has included within his budget repair bill a requirement that all state employees contribute 5.8% of their salaries to the state pension fund (up from 0.2%) and pay 12% of health insurance premiums, also up significantly, which will amount to somewhere around a 10% cut in take-home pay for most state employees, including me, beginning in April–so now our salaries will be really bad, and our benefits not very good either. This part of the budget repair bill does not need to be approved by the legislature and can just be done by Walker’s mandate, so it doesn’t look like there’s any way to challenge the increased “salary contribution” (i.e., a selective tax increase against state workers, a group presumably somewhat less likely to have supported Walker than the general population). If we lose the right to unionize, there will be no way to make up these losses (or whatever additional cuts Walker has in mind) in the future. And of course, faculty are some the state employees most able to absorb these losses. Other state workers at UWM are already unionized, and if the food workers, custodial staff, office support staff, etc., have their current contracts invalidated, as Walker has proposed, and then lose their rights to unionize, these cuts are going to affect them in much more painful ways.
So anyway, if you feel like giving your state representatives and senators a call–encouraging Democrats to fight the good fight, and potentially giving some Republicans the strength to challenge Walker on one of the more controversial elements of his budget–I’d appreciate it.
I would appreciate it, too. Thanks friends!