Commentaries Politics

The Attack on Unions in Wisconsin

We had all expected that the conservatives will use this economic downturn to restructure the state and local economies to suit the interests of the powerful: the attack on the Unions, spearheaded by the Wisconsin Republicans, is the beginning salvo of this onslaught on the last remaining defenses workers have against corporations.

The Republican argument is that the Union-bargained wages are unaffordable and tax the public treasury too much. Hence, the best strategy, in the bizarre world of voodoo economics, is to deny the the workers the right to come together to fight for a contract. in other words, they want us to take on our employers alone if we want better wages. And as another one of their mantras is laissezfaire economics, we as individuals cannot even look to the government if we somehow feel exploited, as the government, they assert, should have nothing to do with business.

This attempt to change the Union laws, let us be clear, is not about balancing budgets or affirming fiscal responsibility: this is an attack on labor rights, and an offering to the corporations who, let us not forget, have been lobbying hard to weaken the Unions. Surprisingly, the Republicans in Wisconsin and some other states have singled out teachers unions as the main culprits. So, while our no-unionized administrators have guaranteed big salaries, the teachers, somehow, need to be made more vulnerable, and the best way of doing so is to  deny them the right to draw on the collective strength of their laboring brothers and sisters.

Yes, the unions can sometimes be an impediment to fast-paced demands of the global economy, but that does not necessarily mean that they need to be defanged and destroyed, especially if the general trend in legislation is already antigovernment and pro-corporation.

We should not only object to this attack on our right to fight together for our rights, but also point out that the Republicans, by attacking the rights of the working Americans, are clearly fighting for the corporations that fund their campaigns and their think tanks.

So, it is not just about the unionized workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, or New Jersey, but the right of people to fight exploitation and job insecurity, both of which, it is certain, are likely to increase if the right to collective bargaining is rescinded.

We can sum up the Republican argument about economy in simple words: the global economy needs cheap labor; unions make labor expensive; let us eliminate the unions so that we can have the cheap labor needed for the economy.

I have two simple questions: if this often lauded economic system goes into a tailspin if we can’t find cheap labor, then what good is it? And, pray do tell us, what good is an economy if it cannot succeed without exploiting labor?