Since Gov.-elect Scott Walker was elected on Nov. 2, he has made numerous attacks on organized labor, including his intentions to rescind bargaining rights for state employees. He is picking a fight with a labor force that is hot-blooded from years of pay cuts, furlough days and increased costs for essential benefits, not to mention the 400 public sector jobs lost in November alone.
Wisconsin workers and their families have had enough of Walker’s political rhetoric, and they are ready to fight back against threats to their livelihood. For three decades, the State Employment Labor Relations Act has protected public employees and has kept the peace between workers and the state. However, Walker is testing his invincibility by threatening to change the law — a law that protects state workers from unfair labor practices.
Walker’s intention to attack state jobs as a way to repair the state’s debt is misguided. He said, “You are not going to hear me degrade state and local employees in the public sector,” but that is exactly what he is doing.
By cutting jobs, salaries, and benefits, Walker is angering many hardworking public employees which is most definitely degrading. It sends the message that public employees and the services they provide aren’t valued.
Mike Thomas is president of SEIU Wisconsin State Council, which coordinates the legislative and political agenda of Wisconsin’s eight SEIU locals.