Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Third World state: Wisconsin

(NOTE: The following is a cross post from Brian's Blog, written by Brian Aldes, secretary-treasurer of Teamster Local 320 in Minnesota)

In the past few weeks some alarming news has developed within Wisconsin. It appears that Governor Scott Walker, famous for busting public employee unions, now wants to go after police and firefighter unions. In 2011 Walker pushed for and signed “ACT 10” making it impossible for public sector unions to negotiate over issues such as working conditions, overtime, health insurance, sick leave and vacation. Moreover unions can now only seek raises that are no greater than the rate of inflation as determined by the employer!

Police and firefighter unions were exempted from most aspects of ACT 10; however, many law enforcement and firefighter units lost their right over the past two years to bargain over health insurance and other health care related issues. Just last week, Walker has signaled his intent to place Wisconsin police and firefighter units under the full application of ACT 10.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Walker said the following:

"I think now for those areas, having seen that the world didn't come to an end for all the municipal employees and county employees, there might be a greater opening going forward because they'd say, 'Hey things worked out'" [...] 
Pardon my bluntness, but things did not work out for Wisconsin public employees under ACT 10 and Walker has proven himself not only to be a union-buster, but a bold-faced liar!

In last week’s article for Salon “New labor movement emerges in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin,” Marty Beil, the director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, said things have not worked out for the majority of state workers. He says, “work sites have become hell holes. Every day there’s a new set of rules that people have to understand. Act 10 prohibits union members from bargaining or filing grievances over day-to-day working conditions: shop-floor rules, scheduling, performance evaluations or even discrimination. Workers have responded with petitions of no confidence against their supervisors, confrontational appearances at administrative offices, and more” [...]

Meanwhile in Minnesota the top three candidates vying to unseat Governor Mark Dayton, Republican Sen. Dave Thompson, Rep. Kurt Zellers and businessman Scott Honour, have all advocated for policies similar to ACT 10. Sen. Thompson told MPR that he is willing to revisit the contentious right-to-work FOR LESS (emphasis added) issue that put him at odds with Minnesota’s labor unions and triggered loud protests in 2012.

Teamsters Local 320 stands in solidarity with its Union Brothers and Sisters of Wisconsin against Gov. Walker’s oppression. We also ask Minnesota Teamsters to remain vigilant against Walker clones here at home.