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The protests in Madison, WI demonstrate that while unions and their supporters can rally a lot of people when the cameras are on, their ability to communicate the social value of unions and the union movement, for the benefit of both their members and the rest of us, is sketchy at best. The union movement needs vastly better PR, and they better get busy making up for lost time, or the movement will go out of the unions.
I don’t vote in Wisconsin, but I own a home, spend a lot of time and care about the people here — after all, my grandfather was one of the local citizens who bailed out the Green Bay Packers in the 1920s. So, why is Walker wrong?
Yes these are tough economic conditions to address, and “shared sacrifice,” as Walker calls it, is called for to address state budget issues. BUT, Walker recently passed more than $100 million in new tax breaks for business, then turns around and asks to help make up for that by cutting the benefits and future negotiating power of the unions representing certain state employees. Of course he exempts the fire and police unions that supported his election campaign, but nails those, including the teachers unions, that didn’t. That is vindictive politics all right, but it’s also asking chronically under-compensated teachers to give up current and future compensation, just when we need better education more than ever. Meanwhile, highly compensated business owners wallow in new tax breaks.
How dumb, how vindictive, how peevishly political, how shortsighted can a so-called leader be! If the Democrats are substantially behind organizing the teachers and other state employees to occupy Madison to make their plight known statewide and nationally, at least their efforts are transparent, while Walker threatens behind the scenes to slash state jobs if those protesting don’t back off and encourage Democrat legislators to cave in.