December 21, 2014

Wisconsin decision will embolden extremists

MADISON, Wis. – A divided state supreme court here June 14 ruled in a 4-3 decision that the state’s controversial law revoking collective-bargaining rights for public employees may go into effect – overturning an injunction issued by a lower court.

This is important to UTU members for two reasons:

  • Political extremists in other states and in Congress will be emboldened by this decision, and that means a more concerted attack to fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security; privatize Social Security and Medicare, ending those programs as we know them; eliminate federal funding for Amtrak as a first step toward shutting it down; abolish income protection in railroad mergers, line sales and abandonments; and decimate workplace safety regulations and income.
  • The Wisconsin state supreme court decision would have gone the other way had a labor-friendly challenger to the incumbent won that seat on the court in a recent election. The challenger, written off early as unelectable, came within a few thousand votes of victory only because the state’s attack on collective-bargaining rights so enraged Wisconsin voters. Those voters became enraged because of a public outcry fueled by labor-union activism made possible by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and similar programs initiated by other labor organizations.

In fact, labor-union activism in Wisconsin generated such substantial support that many of the lawmakers who voted to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights now face recall elections this summer. The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund will assist in educating Wisconsin voters and helping to energize them to go to the polls and cast votes to recall those lawmakers.

If the recall is successful, it is possible that the law will be changed by a more moderate Wisconsin legislature where many lawmakers who supported the anti-union measure are now rethinking their votes in light of the public outrage. In the Wisconsin House, language is being prepared for insertion in a budget bill to reinsert the collective bargaining language that was stricken under the leadership and bullying of political extremists.

Additionally, in Ohio, where the legislature passed a state law similarly curtailing public employee collective bargaining rights, the measure is now on hold and headed for a voter referendum in November because of labor-union activism made possible by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and similar programs by other labor organizations.

Voters across the nation are recognizing the threat posed to working families by political extremists intent upon dismantling government and turning back decades of progressive legislation.

Hundreds of UTU members and retirees, along with UTU locals and general committees, have made generous contributions to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.

More is needed. The Collective Bargaining Defense Fund is accomplishing what it was established to do.

Meanwhile, the UTU PAC is in need of additional contributions to help labor-friendly candidates challenge and defeat extremists in congressional and state elections in November 2012.

For more information on the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:

http://utu.org/utu-collective-bargaining-defense-fund-2/

For more information on how UTU members can join the UTU PAC, or increase their contributions, send an email to legis@utu.org, or click on the following link:

http://utu.org/washington/utu-pac/