One of the key points of the Walker bill is that it would remove public employees' right to bargain collectively for anything, except for higher wages. However, any wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index rate of inflation, thus inhibiting any real wage increases.
Further, the proposed legislation would force public employees to have new union elections every year and employer collection of union dues would be prohibited. Such actions would severely handicap and inhibit public employees' unions from functioning.
Walker claims the reason for such drastic legislation is because the state is facing a deficit and public employees are paid too much and need to sacrifice. Yet the fact is, is that Wisconsin was facing a budget surplus until Walker brought in two corporate tax breaks, thus lessening state revenues. So while corporations will see extra profits, workers' standard of living and democratic rights are under threat.
Walker is one of many Republicans supported by the Koch brothers who run Koch industries. The Koch brothers, who are billionaires, fund millions of dollars to think-tanks that deny global warming. They also provide similar amounts of money to the right-wing Tea Party movement. Finally, they have provided millions of dollars to support anti-labour legislation and to bust unions in the USA.
But the people of Wisconsin are not taking it lying down! Rallies have been growing, with attendance reaching 70,000 and 100,000 and workers have even occupied the State Capitol! There is even talk and attempts to broaden the fight back and organize a general strike. What we are witnessing is one of the most momentous mobilizations by working people in North America in decades.
We gather here not merely to show our solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are fighting for their right to organize, to represent themselves collectively and democratically, but also to draw attention to the similar attacks here in Canada.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has stated he wanted to see public transit declared an essential service. He's now gotten the help of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose government has introduced legislation that will strip the unionized Toronto transit workers of the right to strike. The right to withdraw their labour when an employer refuses to negotiate is an essential right workers have fought and won over many, many decades in North America.
The only way to win is to broaden the scoop of struggle and solidarity to oppose the war on workers. An attack on any section of working people, is an attack on all working people. By undermining unionized workers, all workers face the threat of lowered standards, wages and quality of life. If the labour movement is to grow and extend itself it must fight. An injury to one is an injury to all!
Telecommunications Workers Union