The ability of Scott Walker to hold his seat after ushering in cuts to public-worker bargaining rights, health-care benefits, and pensions signals yet again the triumph of corporate greed over protection of individual worker rights. Walker insists that the cuts are necessary because of the $3.6 billion debt he inherited as governor. Yet, his policies continuously undercut the potential for job-growth and chip away at the progress union workers have made over the past 50 years in securing safe and decent livelihoods. He rejected federal money for a high-speed rail line, repealed Wisconsin’s equal pay law, and cut its health-care program. In campaigning against the bail-out, he raised $30.5 million, eight times as much as his opponents. Over the course of the recall, spending reached nearly $100 million. Voters struggle in an economy that has been hard-hit by the recession, and middle class Americans are made to pay out of their pockets for government debt while Walker spends exorbitant amounts to ensure he can buy his way into staying in office.
This disturbing trend of anti-union legislation is seen elsewhere throughout the country. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder eliminated collective-bargaining rights for home-health-care and child-care workers with an executive order last year. In New Jersey, legislature is considering a bill that would allow cities to consolidate services, leading to job cuts and eliminating protections, such as compensation for layoffs, for unionized workers. Just last year, Governor Christie pushed through legislation that eliminated the ability of the Communications Workers of America to negotiate health benefits, despite a march of thousands of Union workers on Trenton.
In the words of Mike Tate, the Democratic Party Leader of Wisconsin, “The debate must continue. Unions must be able to bargain collectively and provide workers with basic protections. The middle class must not be asked to give up protections built together over the years even while the richest among us sacrifice not at all.”