Today, protests against conservative attempts to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights continued in Wisconsin and other states across the nation, with new Main Street Movement demonstrations against attacks on the working class planned in both New Jersey and Florida. MoveOn.org is planning weekend rallies in all fifty states to “Save the American Dream.”
This movement began as a response to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) attempt to strip his state’s public employees of their collective bargaining rights, under the guise of a budget crisis. If Walker and the Republican legislature had their way, Wisconsin’s teachers, government employees, sanitation workers, and public university professors would be essentially barred from bargaining collectively. But in a direct rebuke to Walker, the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse voted overwhelmingly yesterday to join the American Federation of Teachers:
Faculty at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse voted 249–37 of a unit of 328 in favor of union representation through AFT-Wisconsin, a statewide labor federation affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The vote comes in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker having introduced a budget repair bill that would slash workers’ rights and remove academic staff and faculty’s right to collectively bargain.
“What we’ve seen at UW-La Crosse today is an extension of what we’ve seen across Wisconsin for the past two weeks,” stated Susan Crutchfield, an associate professor of English. “Like the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who have rallied in Madison, Superior, Fond du Lac, and dozens of other communities across our state, La Crosse faculty stood united today in saying, ‘We deserve a voice in the workplace.’”
Prof. Crutchfield added that Walker’s union-busting legislation was one of the reasons that the faculty moved to approve the new union. “When it became clear that the governor’s extremist legislation had nothing to do with balancing the budget and everything to do with denying workers’ rights, UW-La Crosse faculty realized the urgency in this vote,” she said.
Earlier this week, Gallup released a poll showing that 61 percent of Americans oppose Walker’s plan to bust public employee unions. The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent adds that, when these numbers are broken down, only those in the poll’s highest income category support Walker’s proposal, while “low-to-middle class folks all oppose it.”