By Velma J. Butler, President, CFT Council of Classified Employees
There is no denying or candy-coating it: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was not recalled in the June 5 special election. Progressive voters led by public sector employees fell short of that goal, beaten in large part by a 7-1 flood of anti-union money.
The media, however, missed a big part of the story. A key progressive vote in the Wisconsin Senate, plus the earlier recall of two conservative senators, has stopped Walker in his tracks. Without a compliant Legislature to rubber-stamp his Tea Party agenda, the wheels have come off the governor’s wagon.
But a burning question remains: Why did Walker attack the rights of Wisconsin workers to bargain collectively when the public sector unions agreed to more than $100 million in healthcare and pension concessions? That wasn’t enough for the governor, who was bankrolled by a national network of corporate political action funds disguised as “non-profits.” He was clearly playing to a broader audience of special interests.
The crisis in Wisconsin gave some credibility to an utterly false notion that public workers are paid too much. It is outrageous to attack firefighters, nurses, school employees and others when tax cuts for the wealthy were a major cause of this economic crisis. How can this be fair and economically sound? Wisconsin has started a domino effect, judging by local ballot measures passed in San Diego and San Jose that cut the pensions of public employees.
Working families in Wisconsin and across the country, however, will never give up the fight to protect the communities where we live and serve. In California, the CFT is co-sponsoring a measure on the November ballot that will raise taxes on the wealthiest Californians to restore funding for vital public services. Every California student deserves an opportunity for an affordable education.
Through it all, we remain in solidarity with our Wisconsin brothers and sisters, who sparked both the Occupy movement and a labor resurgence.