Letters to the Editor

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UNIONS: Pensions and elections at stake

Letter by Elise DeGuiseppi, Puyallup on March 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm | 53 Comments »
March 14, 2011 1:22 pm

The heartening thing about recent events in Wisconsin is that people, union members and non-members alike, are turning out in support of collective bargaining and workers’ rights.

The Wisconsin Republicans who passed this recent legislation stripped public employees of their rights to collective bargaining and instituted rules requiring public employee union members to vote every year on union membership. The new law signed by Gov. Scott Walker also prohibits union dues from being deducted from members’ paychecks.

These are clear attempts to break unions. If this can happen in Wisconsin and Indiana, it can happen in Washington.

Let’s not be complacent about our rights as workers, because this is a national effort to undermine public unions’ ability to contribute to political campaigns in 2012. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. FEC, gave corporations and unions the go-ahead to contribute without limit to political campaigns.

If unions can be stymied, money flows from corporations to Republican campaigns. President Gingrich, anyone? How about President Palin? Vice President Scott Walker?

Most state pension systems are in good shape. They represent a very deep pool of money that Wall Street has little or no access to – yet. (Remember the Bush administration’s unsuccessful push to privatize Social Security?) If public employee unions can be broken, then public pensions will be the spoils.

The Republicans’ strategy pits public employee against private sector worker. They are counting on our disunity–it keeps us from identifying the real stakes in a genuine class war.

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