March 17, 2011
By Bruce Ventimiglia
The showdown in Wisconsin, in Ohio and other states seeking to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees is a dagger aimed at the heart of both business and labor. The attempts to eliminate collective bargaining must be rejected entirely.
BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, was formed to find common ground between business and labor. The right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining is essential in a democratic political system.
If we look at non democratic societies there is no freedom of the press, no freedom of speech, no right to vote and no union representation nor is there collective bargaining. Only at the bargaining table through collective bargaining can we achieve a fair and productive working environment.
Though often on the opposite sides of the negotiating table, BALCONY’S businesses and labor unions understand that only through honest good faith talks can a contract be hammered out which is equitable to both sides. It is through the collective bargaining process that workers and management earn the respect of each other. Collective bargaining helps to ensure that workers have dignity and justice in the workplace. Businesses need employees who are committed to their jobs, better trained and are valued customers of the services and products of small businesses.
We are encouraged that public opinion polls show that most Americans in fact support collective bargaining and the rights of public employees to negotiate their contacts for salary and benefits. We are heartened that many of New York’s legislators, and other statewide elected officials, support collective bargaining and the practice of settling policy differences at the table and not by legislative fiat.
We urge all Americans to support the rights of Wisconsin public employees and others to negotiate with their employers. We must continue to work together to create a better society that will protect our families, keep us safe, teach our children well, provide quality health care, plow our streets and help our seniors.
Public employees must not be scapegoats as the cause of our recession, the root of our state’s fiscal crisis nor the reason for our personal economic crisis. We must realize that the solution to our economic plight is through shared sacrifice.
Bruce Ventimiglia is Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management and Co-Chair of the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, BALCONY.
March 17, 2011