The raging battle in Wisconsin has all been about workers’ rights. Protest signs are splattered with references to workers’ rights. Union supporters are parading before the cameras declaring that Governor Walker’s actions are an attack on workers’ rights. Union employees are screaming that the evil Wisconsin Republicans are violating their rights and on a mission to bust the union.
But what seems to be getting lost in the weeds is that the six million citizens of Wisconsin have rights too.
As the employer of the state’s public service employees, they have the right to have a voice in determining how their money is spent. They have a right to be a part of deciding what benefits are granted to their employees. And they have a right to demand their state operate within the confines of a balanced budget.
Whereas state employees have a union to represent them in disputes, the other six million citizens of Wisconsin are reprsented by the State Legislature duly elected by the people to act on their behalf on all matters related to spending their money and operating the state in the most efficient manner possible.
The fight in Wisconsin is not between Governor Walker and the unions. It’s a battle between public service employees and their employer: the people.
If this were truly a debate about workers’ rights, then the discussion would have to include the rights of those in Wisconsin who want to become a teacher without being forced to join a union. Consider a teacher who happens to be a Republican that is being extorted into forced contributions to the campaign coffers of the very party responsible for keeping them shackled in union chains. Do those workers have rights too?
To call collective bargaining a “right” for Wisconsin state employees is somewhat misleading. There are no Federal laws that protect collective bargaining rights of public service emplyees at the state level. Each state may grant or deny collective bargaining by their employees through legislative action – i.e. by passing a law.Through the electoral process, the people of Wisconsin have delegated that power to their legislators and they have the sole power to giveth or taketh away bargaining priveliges to their employees.
The battle in Wisconsin is not about workers’ rights and it is not about money. It’s about one thing and one thing only: power. The unions have way too much if it and refuse to give any of it back. Their employer is equally determined to take back some of that which they themselves gave in the first place.