Union sympathizers who continue to support the state worker protests in Wisconsin are only hurting the cause of unions overall, including private sector unions. By railing against lawmakers who were lawfully elected by the majority of Wisconsin voters, the protesters in Madison are really doing nothing more than disrespecting their neighbors.
Faced with massive budget deficits, the Republican lawmakers and governor in Wisconsin decided that part of the solution to trimming costs would be to require state workers to contribute more towards their own retirement and medical benefits. They also sought to disallow collective bargaining among state workers for anything other than pay, with the exception of law enforcement and firefighters.
Certainly, having to pay more towards your own retirement and medical benefits is unpleasant when you're not used to doing so. The entitlement mentality that persists among the protesters, however, is an affront to anyone who works in the private sector, which is the vast majority of the population. In coming off the heals of a major recession, we’ve all either experienced or have known people who experienced a loss of job or a major cut in pay.
After first staging massive protests for the entire Republican proposal, the unions have since offered to concede on benefit contributions, but insist that state workers still have the right to collective bargaining. Insistence upon this notion, however, continues to miss the mark.
Voters in Wisconsin elect lawmakers who should have the right to decide how much taxpayer dollars are allocated to which resources, including human resources. By allowing collective bargaining, however, the state must go through the added process of negotiating pay and benefits with the unions. In other words, under the current scenario, voters can’t just decide to elect those who promise to cut wages without first getting an okay from the state workers, who are always going to negotiate on behalf of what’s in their best interest, not in the best interests of the state.
The us-versus-them mentality may work in the private sector, where if you are not a part of the industry, it doesn’t matter to you. When it comes to taking that attitude with government, and by extension the voters who put the government in place, it creates an entirely different atmosphere, especially given that Wisconsin residents have no other state government they can go to, and they have to pay taxes for services whether or not they agree with them or need them. After many of us have experienced pain in the wake of this recession, protestors in Wisconsin are giving the impression that they shouldn’t have to sacrifice.
Unions are dying out by the day. If union supporters wish to maintain their credibility and relevance in the future, they would be best off leaving this issue alone.
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Jason Griffin is a Columbia, Missouri based writer, producer, journalist and marketing consultant. Stay current on new articles as they are released. Like on Facebook. Follow on Twitter. Subscribe with RSS.