Sunday, January 26, 2014

Scott Walker - Union Organizer

In 2008, Sarah Palin unintentionally motivated community organizers across the nation when she belittled their job:
And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.
In an instance, she became a community extraordinaire.

Now, our own version of Palin, Scott Walker has proven himself to be quite the union organizer himself.

As everyone in Wisconsin knows, in 2011, just after taking office, Walker and his fellow corporate-controlled Teapublicans dropped "the bomb" of Act 10 on public sector workers   Walker and his echo chamber tried to sell this as a win for workers and taxpayers alike.  They claimed that this would give public sector workers a choice to belong to the union or not - ignoring the fact that the workers had this choice all along.

In reality, what Act 10 did was take thousands of dollars out of each workers' check each year so that Walker could give that money to his corporate sponsors.  The only choice public sector workers had was whether they could afford to pay their union dues and still keep a roof over their head and food on the table.  Sadly, the pay cuts were so big that many could not.

It didn't have its intended effect of completely busting the unions, but there is no denying it did hurt them a lot.
But Act 10 did have other effects, such as taking so much money out of the economy that it severely hurt the private sector.  If people don't have the money to spend, they aren't going to spend it.  This cost the state tens of thousands of good-paying, family-supporting jobs.  People that were able to keep their jobs saw their wages severely cut.  Those that were able to find new jobs in the poor state economy Walker created also saw their pay severely cut.

But now, after three years of Walker's maleficence, people are realizing that he indeed was selling them a false bill of goods. They realized that the unions were actually good for them and that they were still very much needed.

As I've been saying for months to anyone who would listen, the union membership is back on the rise.

In 2012, Wisconsin had the third largest decrease in union membership.  In 2013, Wisconsin baffled many of the "experts" by having the seventh largest increase in membership:
There was a surprise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report Friday on union membership: Trade unions appear to have gained ground in Wisconsin last year.

Wisconsin’s union membership rate -- the percentage of wage and salary workers who belong to unions -- rose from 11.25 percent to 12.34 percent, the seventh biggest gain in the nation. This after 2012, when Wisconsin had the third largest decrease in the nation.
But as the gentle reader knows, when it comes to all things Walker, there is more. There is always more:
The report shows Wisconsin had an increase of about 24,000 union members in 2013, while the overall number of wage and salaried workers dipped by about 36,000.
So while Walker's agenda was costing the state tens of thousands of jobs, those managing to hang on to their jobs or get new ones were even more eager to join or rejoin the unions.

This was also exemplified when most unions were able to recertify at the end of last year despite they way Walker tried to manipulate the voting by putting insane obstacles in the way.

I've got to hand it to Walker.  That is some mighty impressive union organizing.

But as for the reason for this upsurge in union membership - and the same reason the corporate special interests are spending billions of dollars each year to try to bust the unions - really isn't that surprising.

In fact, it was highlighted in a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that just came out last Friday, unions help their members get fairer compensation and benefits, not to mention better work conditions:
Workers who have a voice through collective bargaining earn more and have better access to health insurance, retirement security and other benefits, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among full-time wage and salary workers, median weekly earnings were $950 among union members. That’s $250 more than for nonunion workers.

“When workers have a seat at the table, they are better able to bargain for their fair share of the value they helped create; and that leads to greater economic security and economic mobility for everyone,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said Friday. “As our economy continues to recover and we work to create good jobs, we need to ensure workers can lift their voices to raise wages, reduce inequality and help more people climb ladders of opportunity.”

Other data shows that union members had greater access to employment-based benefits such as health insurance, a retirement savings plan, and sick and vacation leave, Perez noted.

Approximately 16 million workers in both the public and private sector were represented by a union last year. That figure includes those whose jobs are covered by a collective bargaining agreement but who are not dues-paying members. Those union contracts helped build America’s middle class by providing workers with wages to support their families, and a voice on the job to protect their rights.

“Workers’ ability to form unions and engage in collective bargaining has been a cornerstone of a strong middle class,” Perez said. “The decline in union membership over the last few decades has contributed to more working families struggling to get by.”
While Act 10 has greatly limited the unions' ability to do any real negotiating, they are in no way powerless, as demonstrated by their ability to fight the cronyism and nepotism that came along with Act 10 and to preserve workers' rights right here in Milwaukee.

Walker's intention might have been to bust the unions, but as with everything else he does, he's shown himself to be an utter failure.  At least for this one occasion, that worked out in our favor for a change.

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