Thoughts on Wisconsin

My great-great grandfather John M. Maxwell was involved in unionbusting in the 1800’s.  He ran a tannery in Woburn, MA (Maxwell Tannery) which was involved in a number of labor disputes, one of which culminated in a “suspicious fire.”   

What would he think if he knew that his great great granddaughter served as union president in the 1990’s?  I was president of Local 987 of SEIU in Oregon, the newly organized union at the Parry Center for Children.  Our struggle to unionize was hard fought, including having to threaten to go on strike just to get management to come to the table to bargain our first contract, but at least we didn’t have to resort to setting fires and no one got hurt.   

The recent Wisconsin recall election worries me, because I think much like with the right to have an abortion, Americans have become complacent about our right to unionize and what this means.  We are allowing the ultra rich 1% to steamroll over our rights as workers, under some failed American dream that we can someday become part of that elite group too.  And we won’t truly know what we are missing until it’s gone, until we have returned full circle to the days when we have to fight to the death for our jobs, and for our right as workers to be treated like human beings.  

And that day is coming, I am sure.  If union strength continues to erode, workers will eventually find their way to fighting to get them back – remember, they didn’t care whether it was illegal to unionize or strike when they first had to fight for their rights.  Right wing government like Scott Walker in Wisconsin. John Kasich in Ohio, or Rick Snyder in Michigan can try to criminalize unionization — all in the name of “smaller government” just for irony’s sake — but they cannot take away a worker’s will to be treated like a human being, which is ultimately what the struggle is all about. 

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~ by realsupergirl on June 6, 2012.

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