by Steve Ayers at IWW
Walker’s bill, if passed, will strip public-sector unions of the right to collectively bargain regarding all workplace issues other than basic wages. Workers would no longer have a legal say in their pensions, their healthcare plans, workplace safety, or any other pertinent issues. Without collective bargaining, we have no legally-recognized way to influence how we are treated at our jobs. Workers with access to a union have an opportunity to make their workplaces more democratic. Think about how much time we dedicate to work and work-related activities. With so much of our lives spent in undemocratic workplaces, how could we have real democracy in the rest of our lives?
The impact of Walker’s bill reaches far beyond unions and public servants. Stripping public workers of their right to bargain affects the rights of everyone who works for a living. This attack on workers’ rights will not stop with the public sector or with Wisconsin. These anti-union bills are spreading around the country from Indiana to Ohio to Nebraska in an effort to serve the corporate elite by lowering labor costs and weakening all labor.
What Does Any of This Have to Do With A General Strike & With Wisconsin?
In the recently released prank call by a journalist pretending to be billionaire David Koch, Scott Walker said, “All week there’s been 15-30,000 [protesters] a day, but I remind our lawmakers that there’s 5.5 million people in this state and just because a bunch of guys who can jump off work because of their union[s]…doesn’t mean the rest of your people are with you.” The truth is that these protesters are not “guys who can jump off work” – they are students, activists, union and non-union workers from the public and private sectors, Wisconsin families, and members of the religious community. Additionally, unionized and non-unionized workers both risk job security by taking time to protest. Essentially, Governor Walker doesn’t think that the protesters represent the rest of the state. He thinks that the majority of Wisconsin agrees with his attempt to strip workers of basic rights. He is wrong. Despite facing opposition from millions, Walker still won’t budge from his position on this issue. It will take something bigger from the unions, and from the working-class as a whole: a general strike.