Thousands are rallying in Wisconsin and across the nation to oppose conservative governors who are attacking the collective bargaining rights of our civil servants. And the people in the streets are not just public sector union members.
Why? Why are so many who are not part of a union so committed to protecting the role of organized workers in our government and our economy?
1. Weak Economies Need More Demand: Our economy is struggling and our state budgets are distressed because increased unemployment and falling home prices have reduced economic demand. Weakening the ability of any workers to negotiate fair pay and secure retirements will only weaken demand further, hurting the overall economy.
2. Strong Standards Strengthen The Middle Class. When public sector workers can negotiate for fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, that puts pressure on private sector CEOs to do the same, or else they risk losing talent to the public sector. Making public sector work less inviting does nothing to make private sector jobs pay better. We need to raise the bar, not lower it.
3. Decent Government Pay Means Decent Government: Most everyone wants our federal, state and local governments to function effectively. That means being able to attract skilled, productive workers with fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, all of which will be lost if public workers can no longer bargain for their compensation packages.
4. Public Employees Are Not The Problem: Study after study shows the public employees do not receive extravagant compensation, and that the problems with state public pension systems are largely overblown. State budgets are reeling from an economic recession caused by reckless Wall Street speculators, top end tax cuts and corporate tax avoidance. The projected shortfalls in public retirement benefits derive mostly from skyrocketing health care costs thanks to private insurers, and poorly performing pension investments thanks to deregulated firms.
Furthermore, civil servants in Wisconsin and elsewhere have repeatedly said they are willing to make concessions regarding pay and benefits. Unlike conservative corporate executives, they have proven their willingness to share the sacrifices. What we can't negotiate is their right to negotiate.
5. Scapegoating Lets The Culprits Get Away: Right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers are pumping millions into a nationwide effort to break the public employee unions. Why would they bother? Because if they can get most people to blame public employees for the nation's economic ills, they won't hold irresponsible corporations accountable and force the ultra-rich to make any sacrifices, such as higher taxes and tougher regulations.
Now that you know why the assault on public employee unions affects us all, what can we do about it?
Sign The Petition: The AFL-CIO has a petition supporting fair pay and worker rights, to be delivered to all 50 state legislatures.
READ: Wisconsin Workers' Rights Battle Goes National at Pivotal Time for Labor - Bloomberg