Every year I get a one week paid vacation. This year I'm spending 3 days of it traveling to Wisconsin to witness the recall of Scott Walker. My co-workers are stunned, they keep saying: "A Wisconsin election wont impact you Luchia, you are crazy to waste 3 of your 5 vacation days there. Not to mention the amount of money you're spending just to get there!" It's true a Wisconsin election won't directly affect me since I'm a New York resident still, I feel compelled to go. I want to meet the hard working people who took to the streets in record numbers after Kochsucker Walker took away the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions. I also want to help them GOTV during their final hours of battle. I'm not a union member. I've never even had a union job but I am deeply grateful for unions because I benefit from everything they fought and died for. Below is a picture of me on Mayday 2012. I made a huge pro-union sign and proudly marched through the streets of Manhattan with it. I wanted people to think about why we get paid time and half when we work more than 40 hours per week. My hope was that they would begin to see unions in a more positive light instead of the 'thugs' they are constantly portrayed to be.
The demonization of unions has been a death blow to the middle class. As you can see from the chart below, the working class had its highest share of the nation's income from 1960 to 1969 when unions were strong.
Rather than continuing to pay American workers decent wages with benefits, the 1% shipped our jobs overseas to be done by slave labor for pennies on the dollar. Probably paying little, if any, taxes on the profits they make as a result of that slave labor. According to a January 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1983 20.1% of American workers were union members. In 2011, just 28 years later, only 11.8% of American workers are union members. The BLS report also found that in 2011, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median weekly earnings of $938; while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $729. That's 28.7% LESS than union workers!
The benefits union workers receive compared to those of non-union workers are also far better.
Granted the recall in Wisconsin came as a result of Walker's attack on public sector unions but it is worth noting that as U.S. corporations claim that they can no longer 'afford' to keep decent paying union jobs in the United States, they are sitting on $2 TRILLION in cash. If corporations are sitting on $2 TRILLION in cash, they can afford to pay union wages--they just don't want to pay union wages. They would much rather keep the 28.7% difference in pay for themselves and they are willing to spend any amount of money to do it. As this chart illustrates, during this recall election, GOP special interest groups outspent Democratic groups on television ads by 3 to 1!
And when it came to individual fundraising, Walker raised five times as much as Barrett collecting more than $20 million while Barrett took in less than $4 million. Thanks to Citizens United, these numbers didn't shock me. What did shock me is David Koch's honesty about donating to this campaign. Usually the Koch brothers are stealth in their support of union busting candidates but David publicly pledged to spend big to keep his little Kochsucker in office.
I do not believe that the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and their wealthy conservative counterparts just randomly chose to go after unions in Wisconsin. They are determined to crush unions in Wisconsin because Wisconsin has a vast Pro-Labor heritage. Here are just some of their historical landmarks:
- On May 5th 1886, seven people were killed by National Guardsmen after they fired upon a crowd of workers marching for an eight hour workday.
- In 1911 Wisconsin was the first state to enact a workers' compensation law
- In 1919 Wisconsin was among the first of 15 states to enact a minimum wage law
- In 1934 Wisconsin was the first state to create unemployment insurance
- In 1934 Wisconsin native Arthur J. Altmeyer helped FDR draft the original Social Security legislation. The President fondly called him 'Mr. Social Security'.
- In 1945 Wisconsin was among the first three states to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin or ancestry in employment. This law became known as the Fair Employment Law.
- In 1959 Wisconsin was the first state to codify collective-bargaining rights for local government workers. (Isn't it ironic that a Wisconsin governor was the first to give state employees collective bargaining rights and just 52 years later another Wisconsin governor took them away)
It's obvious what's happening here, Wisconsin is a target because it's strong. The one percent's strategy is: Break The Back of the Strongest First and The Rest Will Follow.
If they can kill collective bargaining rights for workers in Wisconsin, rest assured it is only a matter of time before their money, their power and their destructive agenda make it's way to your state. They already tried and failed in Ohio; unfortunately they were successful in Indiana thus why this recall is so important. We cannot continue to sit back and allow the one percent to break unions. We have to stand with labor! If we don't push back now, they won't stop until ALL union jobs are gone forever!
I try not to give too much credence to polls unless I know exactly how the poll was taken and who was asking the questions however the Voter Participation segment of the most recent Marquette Poll warrants a mention if for no other reason than to get the base fired up!
Republicans are more likely to say they are "absolutely certain to vote" on June 5, at 92 percent, while 77 percent of Democrats say this. Eighty-four percent of independents say they are absolutely certain to vote.When asked the same question two weeks ago, the reply was:
Republicans are more likely to say they are "absolutely certain" to vote on June 5, at 91 percent, than are Democrats and independents, both at 83 percent.Notice what they are saying here, they're saying that not only are Democrats less likely to vote than Republicans but that the percentage of Democrats committed to voting on June 5th has gone down not up. Now if this doesn't get every Progressive on their feet and ready to do whatever they can to help GOTV in Wisconsin, I don't know what will! I may not be able to vote in this recall election but I'll gladly take three vacation days to travel to Wisconsin and encourage those who can. After all if it weren't for unions, I wouldn't have these paid vacation days in the first place!
If you would like to volunteer on the ground, phonebank from home or donate to Tom Barrett, all three links to do so are below.
Republicans may have billionaire donors, a corporate controlled conservative media and an easily fooled base but we can't quit now! Remember David and Goliath. David faced insurmountable odds in his battle with Goliath yet in the face of fear, he fought anyway and won. The only way David would've lost that battle is if he never showed up to fight it. Ladies and gentlemen in spite of the well oiled, right wing, billionaire funded, Kochsucking propaganda machine against us, we CAN still win in Wisconsin--all we need to do is show up! See you on the battlefield!