Why It Matters
The attack on the middle-class in the United States has the serious potential to spill across the border and do much harm to working families here in Canada too.
Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker’s current budget repair bill, which is openly backed by big business, would see public sector unions lose their ability to bargain benefit contributions, health and safety, workplace conditions and much more. This is an affront to the hard working families of Wisconsin.
We must dispel this myth that the budget shortfalls of states and provinces are the result of public employee wages and benefits. The current deficits come from mismanagement at the boardroom table, not from families at the kitchen table, yet ordinary working families are again paying for the mistakes of big business and big banks.
What happens in Wisconsin matters to AUPE members and other Canadian union activists because this type of thinking is already spreading to other states and there are calls for similar attacks on the public service here in Canada. Even tougher anti-union legislation is being considered in Ohio, while other states are toying with similar attacks.
Meanwhile, the smear campaign against the public service in Canada is growing shriller. Last month the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released a “backgrounder” that said public sector wages have exploded in recent years, while the private sector has suffered. This is nonsense. Stats Can figures show that in the past five years public sector wage increases are on par with technical services and professions in the private sector, and well behind the mining and energy sector. That hasn’t stopped the media from using the backgrounder to attack public sector pay. Now, some members of the Canadian media are calling union bashers like Walker “heroes” and labeling protesters “reactionaries.” With politicians in Alberta so bent on privatizing public services, it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to eliminate the provincial deficit by gutting our contracts.
- AUPE’s brief and timeline
- Michael Moore’s Mar. 5 speech to Wisconsin protesters
- Wisconsin AFL-CIO blog post on public support for workers
- Chris Hayes & Naomi Klein Video – Why Wisconsin Matters
- Forbes – Scott Walker has lost the war
- Rabble – Direct Action in Wisconsin
- Defend Wisconsin – Resource for updates on the issue
- We Are Wisconsin – Cataloguing much Web 2.0 content on the Wisconsin battle
- Uppity Wisconsin – Progressive Wisconsin Blog
- Palm trees, in Wisconsin in February?
- Sign the petition!