(NNPA)—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has set off a firestorm among the state’s unions and public employees. To compound matters other states are proposing similar laws and will soon have to deal with their own revolts. Walker, in the name of balancing the state budget, has proposed legislation that will essentially deny public employees their collective bargaining rights and increase their payments to the state’s healthcare and pension plans.
Union employees, including teachers and others, from around the Midwest (some even came in from New York) flocked to the Wisconsin state capital en masse to protest and continue to do so. The state legislature’s 14 Democrats oppose the plan and don’t want to vote on it. Instead of staying in Wisconsin and simply not showing up for the vote, which would have been in violation of the law, they left the state to prevent the state legislator from having the necessary number of members needed to vote on the legislation.
Wisconsin definitely has a big mess on its hands. Soon, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio—all of which have similar legislation in the works—may be dealing with their protests and stonewalling from state Democrats.
Supporters of the proposals in all the states say these types of cuts are necessary to reduce state deficits. Yet, Governor Walker, a Tea Party backed Republican, has proposed tax breaks for corporations. If Walker is truly interested in sorting out Wisconsin’s finance, why would he, on one hand, give away revenue by cutting corporate taxes and then, on the other, jeopardize the job and financial security of union employees, all of whom are tax paying citizens? Something here doesn’t compute.
Also interesting is the fact that Walker received more than $40,000 in campaign contributions last year from a political group run by David and Charles Koch. The two Koch brothers run a booming gas and oil business and have been uncovered to be major financial supporters of the Tea Party movement. Is Walker, and other politicians like him, doing his own bidding, or is he paying back the Tea Party for its support by moving their agenda forward?
We may never know for certain. But, we do know this: balancing the budget, whether it be at the state or federal level, on the backs of public employees who provide the services we all need to maintain and enjoy our quality of life is unfair, especially when rich corporations are being given tax breaks. Walker’s attempt is an old maneuver from the Republican playbook of the past and the Tea Party of new. Opponents of union busting legislation must stand strong and reject these modern day union busting efforts.
(Judge Greg Mathis is vice president of RainbowPUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.)