Why Wisconsin Matters
May 21, 2012
By Danny Donohue President, CSEA /AFSCME Local 1000
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who Wisconsin voters have chosen to oppose Gov. Scott Walker in that state’s June 5 recall election, has pledged to end what he called “the Civil War in Wisconsin.”
Civil War. That’s an appropriate analogy for what’s been happening over the past year and a half, not just in Wisconsin, but also in many other states across America where governors, who have been given their marching orders by a handful of corporate billionaires, have launched an all-out attack on middle class workers — particularly those of us who deliver public services.
Public service workers are under fire from Wall Street CEOs and the rest of the one percenters who are blaming us for economic conditions we did not create. It’s just so they can continue to get away without paying their fair share. Our wages, our pension and benefits, even our right to a voice at the bargaining table are all under attack. We’re being asked to sacrifice while millionaires push for more tax cuts and are living it up at our expense.
What we’re seeing in Wisconsin and in other states like Ohio, Indiana, Florida and Minnesota, is a concerted attempt by the rich and powerful to dismantle public service workers’ unions and silence the political voice they give working class Americans. They know that the political clout yielded by public sector unions is perhaps the only remaining roadblock preventing them from pushing their self-serving political agenda through at will. They’ve already taken care of any say most private sector workers used to have through their unions.
Corporate generals like the Koch brothers and others have used their bankrolls and the media to turn the public against public service workers and their unions simply because we have managed to retain some of the benefits that most workers once had and still deserve. As a result, some of our friends and neighbors who never envied our pensions or benefits and who certainly never blamed us for the state of their personal finances began to believe the propaganda against us.
Thankfully, there are still people out there who understand that bus drivers and highway maintenance workers, education and health care professionals and other public workers are not the enemy. More thankfully still, there were enough in Wisconsin to bring about this historic recall election, allowing us to wage what may be the decisive battle in our fight to save the American Dream.
CSEA is proud to have stood with our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin from the very beginning of this fight and we’re going to be there again in the weeks ahead with volunteers and whatever other resources are necessary to help Wisconsinites declare victory on June 5.
I urge other union members who go out to earn a living every day to do the same. Other states are watching what happens in Wisconsin and the future of middle class America is riding on the outcome.