Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yes, Virginia, Unions Are Still Very Much Needed

Sometimes, other people say things so well, one can only point the gentle reader to their words.  This is one of those times:
Contrary to the notion in the Journal Sentinel July 23 editorial that Act 10 means public employee unions "lost many of their reasons for being," Wisconsin's lagging economy since Act 10 underscores exactly why these unions are needed more than ever.

Gov. Scott Walker set out to drive down the standard of living for the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens who provide public services. He succeeded and, in doing so, took the rest of the state down the drain.

Since Walker took office and immediately "dropped the bomb" on thousands of nurses, teachers, snowplow drivers and janitors, Wisconsin has trailed our neighbors and the national average for job growth. In fact, for most of Walker's time in office, Wisconsin has ranked near the bottom in job creation.

This should be no surprise. Wisconsin's public employees, who work and live in every corner of the state, have lost about $1 billion a year in buying power as a result of Act 10. Unlike wealthier people who have the option of putting a big chunk of their earnings into savings or foreign investments, most hourly workers put most of what they make immediately back into the local economy.

In a consumer society like ours, Walker's austerity policies throw a wet blanket on economic activity. As researcher Jack Norman noted recently about Walker's latest state budget, which doubles down on failed policies: "Wisconsin needed a stimulus. The governor fed us a sedative instead."

Without unions to advocate for fair compensation, safe working conditions and job advancement based on what you know, not who you know, workers have no way to fight back against the lavishly funded corporate agenda of anti-worker politicians such as Walker. This hurts everyone.

As Marquette University professor Paul Secunda noted in this newspaper, Walker's attack on unions went far beyond fiscal concerns. It included punitive measures designed specifically to undermine unions, such as requiring unions to waste resources on annual recertification battles while making certification practically meaningless.

But, like so many of Walker's policies, this just takes us backward to an earlier time.
Read the whole thing here (JSOnline pay wall).

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