Guest Author - Stephanie Romero
Last week I wrote about the “Budget Repair Bill” that Governor Walker in Wisconsin is attempting to pass. As of today there is still no “winner” in the debate. The Senate Democrats continue to refuse to come back and do their jobs, a vote can’t be done and we continue to have protestors inside and outside the Capitol building in Madison.
But don’t get me wrong…this isn’t just a Wisconsin issue. My state happens to be getting a great deal of coverage because of how volatile the situation is but this is really just an indication of similar issues in other states.
Now let me first backtrack to the whole issue of the Senate Democrats refusal to come back to the state of Wisconsin and debate the bill. I have heard many Wisconsites applaud their actions because they feel they are standing up for the rights of union workers. However I don’t look at it as “standing up” for rights because they are in hiding. That isn’t really courageous if you ask me.
I bet most of us would agree (whether or not you are for or against the challenges being made to unions), that if we were to walk off our jobs today and go hide in another state because we didn’t agree with our boss, we would be out of a job. Why should it be any different for them?
However there are at least three Senate Democrats who may be recalled if some Wisconsin citizens get there way. There is an attempt to recall them and looks like they could possibly be successful.
But let’s get back to the whole union issue. What it basically comes down to is reducing the deficit versus cutting union benefits. Polls are a little confusing as some indicate that most Americans are against cutting benefits for public employees. But there is a question as to who was polled…were these union employees?
I guess what I find interesting about this is that almost from the beginning a large majority of teachers here in Wisconsin were willing to give up some of their benefits but they weren’t willing to give up collective bargaining. It seemed to be that cutting benefits wasn’t the biggest issue, yet according to some polls, most Americans are against that.
Honestly I would guess that only someone who is a public employee would vote that way. The rest of us in the private sector who pay astronomical costs for healthcare and such would probably have a hard time sympathizing with them. As a private employee swimming in medical bills, I am one of them.
Now when it comes to collective bargaining, the polls show that most Americans are against Governor Walker’s plan to get rid of them. In reality, there is probably a pretty even split between Americans when it comes to all of this.
Now President Obama is siding with the union but Governor Walker was quick to point out this, “I’m sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay…” Walker also goes on to say that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance than what is being asked for in the state of Wisconsin.
So here is what it comes down to for Wisconsin and other states that are facing a financial crisis…without reducing the ability to control union costs there are limited options in balancing state budgets. Governor Walker has threatened layoffs, which will become a necessity unless this bill is passed.
The only other options would be to raise taxes on the rich and in corporations. Yet if this were to be done, it would be difficult to see jobs grow. Cutting taxes and cutting union benefits seem to be the way to go. While there is always someone who will get hurt in the process, the good of the state as a whole needs to be taken into consideration in order to balance the budget.
I have personally never belonged to a union but if I did, I could certainly understand the concerns. I have heard many examples given where the rights of workers were protected in unfair situations because of the union. I think that’s great. But never having been in a union, I have not had that fortune. I have been in situations where I had no one to defend me…I was on my own.
While I can sympathize with the concerns of union workers, I tend to have greater sympathy for the economical situation my state is in and the future of my children.